Monday, December 31, 2012

31 Dec and the last day of the year

The end of the year, and another New Year about to begin.I look back upon this year with immense gratitude for all the blessings in my life.

I am blessed with a warm, generous, caring husband, whom I love dearly.
I am blessed with a loving family and a great circle of friends.
My good health is a blessing that I don't take for granted, for I am able to enjoy the outdoors and keep myself fit.
My pets are all a joy to me and keep me active, and laughing all day.

And I am blessed that our dear Pot Plant Owl nested with us again. The first attempt at breeding may not have been successful, and in this period we lost little Rosie unexpectedly. But each set back is a lesson learned and a chance for us to take stock and reflect on what happened, and perhaps see what can be improved upon.

2013 - I look forward to greeting you. I am ready for another New Year, and another chance to celebrate this wonderful thing we have in our clutches - this thing called Life.

Be merry. Laugh. Have fun. Embrace. Rejoice. Act a little silly. Dance as if no-one watches you. Celebrate.

From very proud parents, Pot Plant Owl and Pappa, we wish you all a Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

29 December and our family is strong

Our little chick is coming along very well. Each day it appears to grow inches in front of our eyes. Yesterday, I noticed the start of the false ear tufts growing which, at this time, resemble tiny cottonballs stuck onto its head.

The most noticeable development in a new owl chick appears in the face. From a young age, the chicks take on 'Mini Adult' faces - the sharp, black beak; the dark patches around the eyes; the piercing stare. When the chick opens it wings, you notice how quickly the owl wings are developing too.

Here's a picture taken this morning:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

And here's our owl family....

18h30 on 26 December - our owl family...

Not a good picture of Pappa but it does show you that he is indeed alive and well. This pic was taken with my small camera through the office window.

And here's PPO with her little 'Soon-to-be-named' Chick!

26 Dec and our chick is buried

Last year, after much debate and thought about it, we removed an unviable egg from the nest after it became clear that it was not going to hatch. I'll never forget the feeling of calm that washed over the balcony as I stepped back inside the house with the egg in my hand. Within minutes, PPO appeared more relaxed and threw her energy and attention into preening her chicks.

The same thing happened this morning. We looked at the frail body of the dead chick in the nest, and decided to bury it for PPO. We switched the cam off and I headed out onto the balcony - without an umbrella. Carefully, I crept to the nest - all the while talking softly to PPO. PPO kept a beady eye on me, while pushing her chick under her for protection.

I crouched down right next to the nest and slowly reached out and grabbed the dead chick. PPO froze in place and kept watching me. Slowly, I backed away and closed the balcony door.

We buried the chick in our 'bird' garden - a small section of the garden fenced off to allow birds an area to eat and bath in peace. Our dog, Destin, cannot access the area, so it is a perfect spot for our chick to be buried.

We are saddened and shocked by the sudden passing of the chick. Unlike Teeny, this chick did not deteriorate slowly in front of our eyes. The chick was up and about one minute, and lying still the next. Without going into detail, the chick had a big wound which may, or may not, have been the cause of its death. I'm not sure if the chick had anything internally wrong with it.

It's difficult to lose a chick after what this breeding season has already brought. Can you imagine what it must feel like for our sweet PPO? And for Pappa?

I can only send out all my love and prayers to the remaining chick, and hope that not survives, but thrives.

RIP little one!

25 Dec and this Christmas is bitter sweet...

We lost one of the chicks.

This is the first time in five years that we've had a fatality in the nest. For a number of hours, we all noticed that the little chick didn't move despite PPO's best efforts to coax the chick to eat.

I took the liberty of copying Bob Pruner's report from Facebook about what he saw, as we were sleeping at the time:

"I am so sorry to see that the youngest PPO owlet suddenly took ill. Here is what I saw. It seemed fine yesterday. Then this morning it appeared to be sleeping in the back corner but did not get up all day even when PPO tried to feed it. She fretted over it between feeding the other owlet but finally at about 12:30am Wednesday(nest time) appeared to decide that it would no longer respond and carried its inert body to the front of the nest where we could see that it was no longer alive. She has moved it a couple of more times as I write this and may remove it from the nest by morning. My condolences to all the chatters who love this little owl and especially to Tracy and Allan. Rest in peace little Rosie (as some of us had taken to calling her/him) PPO appears to be taking it in stride and concentrating on caring for the remaining owlet. What a trooper!"

Monday, December 24, 2012

24 Dec and Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas!
Happy Hanukkah!
Happy Holidays!

From all of us in Jozi, South Africa.

For those travelling to visit loved ones, we wish you safe travels.

Come back and visit us soon!

Friday, December 21, 2012

21 December and the end of the world as we know it

I like to think that today, the 21st December, marks the end of the world as we know it. Now before devout religious fanatics or athiests alike get up in arms with my statement, hear me out.

I love new beginnings. A New Year where all ones past woes are left behind as one starts afresh. I love birthdays that mark another milestone in ones life. I love the dawn - the beginning of a new day unlike any other. I love the start of a new life form - a seed that grows into a magnificent tree, and a small egg that reveals a tiny chick.

And I love the idea, however far-fetched it may sound to others, that a New Dawn is beginning for us here on Earth. Right here. Right now.

We have the chance to start afresh - to look at the beauty that is all around us and appreciate it. All of you who have followed PPO and her family (for months or years) are already there. You love and appreciate Nature. You respect and admire the trials and tribulations that our owl family has gone through to be with us again today.

I'd like to believe, no, I need to believe, that others, who have not taken the time to notice the natural world around them, are waking up for the first time and starting to 'get' this thing called Life.

Life isn't about fancy cars, or lots of money, or designer shoes. Yes, those items can make living more comfortable, but they are not the real deal.

The real deal is right in front of us all. In my garden, it is in this pot plant nest where two little owl chicks are finding their feet (and soon their wings).

I like to think that today marks a new beginnning - for us all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

19 Dec and eyes try to keep open

19 Dec and sound is on....

Stop for a minute and think what your life would be like without sound. Perhaps you already know what this feels like. Perhaps you have loved ones who can't hear. Perhaps your hearing is failing you.

I know that sometimes I take the act of listening to sounds for granted. And sometimes I even get irritated by a particular sound. But how would I feel if I didn't have the luxury of listening to a gentle, soothing sound? Or even the luxury of experiencing an annoying sound?

The sound for the webcam was fixed today and it's all systems go. I'm again reminded about the importance of appreciating every sense that we are blessed with - for however long. It gives me true happiness to read messages from folks around the world excited about hearing PPO and her family again - something that I take for granted.

There will be a few people tonight eagerly awaiting Pappa's robust hooting, or the sweet hissing sound from the chicks. I look forward to 'hearing' all the reports soon.

Till then, let me pause for a minute and say THANK YOU for the gremlins that crept into the old microphone and forced a momentary sound break. It's allowed me to appreciate the act of hearing again, and I am all the better for it.

Visit, close your eyes and really listen...

Chick pic

Monday, December 17, 2012

15 Dec and aren't we adorable!

PPO's nest

When people are chatting on the Africam chat site while they are watching the live webcam, I often get asked where the pot plant is. Here's a picture that explains PPO's chosen nesting spot better.

PPO is in a pot plant that is in the right hand corner of our balcony - one storey up. Her original pot plant nest is in the far left hand corner. The angled facebrick wall that you see to the bottom left of the pictures is the border of our house. Directly behind it is another garden with a gate resting against the wall - that is the neighbour's house.

For those who watched the webcam last year, you will remember when a chick got stuck between electric fencing - that is where you can see the house at the back of the picture.

You can see a children's house with a bright yellow roof - that is Yapz's garden. The tree on the far right of the picture marks the saved wetland.

As you can see, we put perches up around the pot plant nest to allow Pappa to deliver the food to his family. This he does frequently throughout the night and early morning. In another few days, you will also see PPO standing on one of these perches because there will not be enough space in the pot plant for her and her growing chicks.

You can also see soil lying on the balcony floor - that is not us being messy! That is PPO and / or Pappa doing a little bit of 'house cleaning' themselves.

14 Dec and it's the simple pleasures

It's always the simple pleasures in life - the ice cream or icy cold drink on a hot summer's day, the sound of the waves lapping along the shore as you walk barefoot in the sand, and the sound of children laughing.

And for me, there is waking up to this....

Thursday, December 13, 2012

12 DEc - pic of the chicks

12 Dec and oh, that sweet sound...

It gives me so much joy to hear the sweet sound the chicks make when they are waiting / begging for food. Today I heard this sound so loudly that I was momentarily confused and thought we had moved forward in time to when the chicks are older and exploring the balcony.

I peered out of the window and watched Pot Plant Owl tearing strips of food and feeding them to her hungry, and very vocal, chicks. In no time at all, the food was devoured and they settled down for a nap.

Sleep well, little ones.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012

9 Dec and the family are doing well

In typical PPO fashion, we were only allowed a brief glance at the chicks during the day. Pot Plant Owl manouvered her chicks to face away from the window, and spread out her wings in protection.

I believe that yesterday's sighting, with the opportunity of a few photographs, was PPO's way of saying "See - all is well now" but after that, protective mom gene kicks in again, and the chicks are covered up during the day.

At night we saw the two bundles of white fluff when PPO left the nest. Their eyes are closed and their tiny black beaks open and shut, waiting for food. At this stage, they are moving around like small snakes in the grass - wriggling around.

Pappa is very proud of his new family. He stood on the neighbour's roof and hooted his sentiments for a long period of time. PPO left the chicks alone for a few minutes, before returning to keep them warm.

In my sleep, I vaguely hear Pappa hooting once as he lands on the balcony railing with another meal for his family.

Friday, December 7, 2012

8 Dec and we have chicks!

We've got two little chicks sitting in the new pot plant nest with a very proud mom.

We've been out the past few evenings and every time we've returned home, we've found PPO sitting in the nest. Last night we came home and noticed that she was sitting more upright and stared at me when I tried to say hello.Pappa hooted on the rooftops for a long time last night and didn't fly too far away.

This morning, I opened the bedroom curtains, and there they were! Two little heads popping up from under their mom. We watched a few more minutes until feeding time...