Don’t know if you’re like me and always root for the underdog? With the nesting season in full swing, the birds around the garden have adapted to wary vigilance – there are raptors about, and smaller more common birds of the prey, the fiscal shrike. They too have chicks in the nest and we watch as they stake out an area and then swoop down to catch their prey. Commonly known as ‘butcher birds’ for their custom of spiking their live prey onto sharp thorns or barbed wire.
We regularly sight the little four-striped field mice and i’ve been lucky to grab photo opportunities when they’re out sunning themselves or at times raiding our kitchen. There’s no harm done (other than the loss of cotton tassels from the carpet runners used for nesting material) as we shoo them out sometimes with an added bit of encouragement with the use of a broom.
A far cuter species is the dainty Cape pygmy mouse – about half the size of a field mouse but a most engaging and agile creature. My neighbours have a policy of catch and release when these little fellas pitch up in their kitchen and for some years we’ve been relocating them in a custom designed box to an open patch of vegetation on the other side of our houses.
Imagine then, while we were quietly enjoying a beer at sunset, a butcher bird flew in and spiked a mouse on a sharp thorn at the top most reaches of the bougainvillea creeper. Brutal! But was it one of the relocated pygmy mice?! Or was it more likely to be a ‘stripey’? Darn it’s cruel out there.