A glimpse of Life on a small nature reserve in Cape Town.

An interlude to our African Travels.
I decided to invite a friend of mine, Tracy, to give you a glimpse into her world as she lives on a nature reserve close by to me. Although the nature reserve is surrounded by suburbs it lies quite close to the coast so I have included some pictures of the flowers of our spring too. I always find visiting her such a treat as I immediately feel like I am on holiday. I hope you enjoy her description of life at the nature reserve.

My family and I live on a small nature reserve in the Western Cape of South Africa.  Although the reserve is surrounded on all sides by residential suburbs, our passers-by are seldom people, more often they are one of any number of birds or animals. There have often been tiny busy white-eyes bathing in the drips from the gutter, loud bustling spurfowls looking for discarded domestic bird seed, cheeky mongooses playing in the braai area and checking for even the slightest smell of meat or a long golden cobra just passing through. One night, I noticed an owl watching suspiciously from the corner of the opposite roof top and to my delight, I realized his eyes were following a genet delicately picking its way through the undergrowth. The resident hippo family is heard more often than it is seen but I have been woken at night by the sound of their grazing outside the bedroom window.  On those nights, if it wasn’t for the pane of glass between us, I would have been able to reach out and touch them.

My favorite passer-by has been a young female grysbok (small antelope) who for a few months, started browsing on a bush directly outside our bedroom window. She would be there mid-afternoon, contentedly browsing on the lower leaves, never seeming to realize that she wasn’t supposed to be out and about in the daylight hours.  She should have hidden herself away until the dusk started to fall. 

I started getting into the habit of popping into my bedroom every afternoon when I got home from work and there she would be two, maybe three, times a week.  She didn’t seem to be bothered by me; most likely she couldn’t see into the room because of the sun reflecting off of the glass on her side of the window. She’d be aware that there was some kind of movement somewhere and would raise her head, seeming to look directly at me. Her ears would be pricked straight up and her liquid brown eyes would appear to be asking a question.  She was in perfect condition – healthy tan coat with flecks of grey along the back and a tummy so round that I wondered whether she was pregnant. 

Some days just seeing her was enough; knowing that she had passed by.  Other days I would lie on my bed and read, enjoying the knowledge of her being there, keeping me company.  Eventually I would pause in my reading to look at her again and she would be gone.  I would imagine her tiptoeing on her impossibly small hooves through the veld looking for another succulent bush on which to graze and her almost sighing in contentment when she found one as tasty as the one outside our bedroom window.

Some visitors have not been quite as welcome.  There is the resident boomslang (venomous tree snake) that usually just hangs out in the tree above our front day.  Once he slipped into our bedroom through an open window and required quite some encouragement to leave again. 

There was also a lazy puffadder (venomous viper) that lay in our driveway waiting to strike rather than to slide away to a quieter area.  Despite these incidences, I am aware of the great privilege I have of spending every day surrounded by nature in the heart of a busy city.

I want to thank Tracy for sharing a her wild life and photos. Next time I will continue with our tale of our travels back from Malawi.

Till then, take care.

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