Sunday, March 23, 2008

A wild life.

I love how untamed life still is around here. To some extent, at least. Though there are no longer zebras on our main roads (not in this part of Kenya, but in other parts, yes), we have our share of critters. And because of the rains today, they seemed to all have wanted to come out and party.

I was sitting outside for most of the day, trying to get through a rather dry text book. I was happy to be distracted by lots and lots of birds. A bee-eater kept stopping by, and I'd watch it dive through the sky to catch insects. Same with the malachite kingfisher, probably my favorite of small birds.

The white-browed robin-chats were all over the place, coming after the goodies that had just been dug up by the tractor in preparation for planting. And the blue flycatchers seemed everything but blue. They were bouncing all over the place. The yellow weavers were rather raucous! The males have been working very hard at weaving perfect nests from the branches hanging over the river, and they seemed intent on making sure the right females catch their eyes and they'd soon fill those nests with eggs... The cinnamon-chested bee-eater seemed to be the only solitary bird out there today. (Can you spot him in the tree?)

Colleagues stopped by for lunch and shared how they saw a dik-dik along their walk. It had been caught and slaughtered. "Those big eyes looked like they were still alive!" they said. I felt sorry for the creature. This smallest of the African antelopes are hardly bigger than a hare. And they're fiercely loyal to their partners, to the point that if one gets killed, the other would starve itself to death, or even do something as serious as jumping off a cliff. So, within a few days, there's bound to be a second dead dik-dik in the area.

Later this evening, while I was enjoying home-made sushi for dinner, I saw something in the corner of my eye. Hop. Hop-hop-hop. A frog. Just a little one, though. I carefully helped him find the way out.

Not the same for the next two critters, though. A huge, fat spider ran across the kitchen floor. Squish! Fortunately, I was wearing shoes.

The grossest of them all, though, was when I opened my eyes in the shower after rinsing my hair, and I kid you not, there was a slug no shorter than the length of my hand and at least the width of my thumb, just clinging onto the wall. I didn't want to throw him out the window since he's bound to eat my tomato plants. So he might currently be trying to find his way out of our sewage tank. Flush!

Fortunately, that was the extent of the critters around my house for tonight. The other night as I was walking home from dinner at friends' house, I saw something move in the beam of my flashlight. It was a huge snake, crossing the road in front of my friends and I. We let it pass before we continued our journey. But after I sent staff out on assignment to take photos after the workshop I presented on Tuesday, one came back with this picture... It might be the same snake we ran into. I doubt it. I cannot remember ours having markings like this. With all the plowing going on at this stage, these guys are bound to be coming out of hiding to find someplace safer.

I've closed the window for the night. Flannel will just have to stay indoors. I don't want any more critters coming into the house tonight.


  1. Geezz, can you spell "window screens"????

  2. OK, to many critters! I would have my windows closed too. We feed squirrels so they come right up on the deck, which is fun.

    They have cute personalities as they come back day after day.

    Happy Easter!

  3. Annamaria, you make me laugh. My home is indeed the only one here (and possibly in a radius of very many miles) with some window screens. Those are the windows I usually leave open for fresh air. But I need to leave my bathroom window open for Flannel. She's an indoor/outdoor cat. Tried to make her an indoor cat only when she was little, but it's simply not fair. My home is small, and there are many, many things to play with outside. Even though a lot of them are critters.

    Jenny, squirrels can be cute, but I prefer feeding birds, and the squirrels usually eat the bird food, which is a gourmet meal to them. And one they gulp down tooooo fast.

    Happy Easter, indeed.