Animals bring joy to our lives
Gone Fishing AUDREY J. HOLMES
When I was 15 years old, we moved from the suburbs of Perth to a house in Bull Creek, by the river. My cat Woody, a black and white cat, naturally came with us. He was my loving pet and I had owned him for about five years. I had a canoe and loved to paddle along the Swan River, while my loyal friend Woody waited for me on the jetty. It was lovely at night to look over and see my loyal cat sitting by the lantern waiting for my return.
Woody quickly discovered that in the morning when the tide went out, little pools of water were left along the edge of the river, and trapped in these pools were little fish. So there he would sit, patiently glaring at them until he was ready. He’d then quickly pat the water with his paw, making the fish jump so he could gobble them up. Woody even learned to drag the fish out with his paw. This became Woody’s breakfast. The standard joke in our house was that if we couldn’t find Woody, he’d probably gone fishing. What a clever cat.
Humming with Activity MARION BALL
My husband, Dennis, was in our backyard watering the garden when a female hummingbird buzzed past his ear. We soon found her nest on our tall prickly pear cactus.
As a birder and photographer, I was delighted to see that she had
laid two eggs. A couple of weeks later, they hatched, the babies not much bigger than bees.
On the first Monday in April, I discovered that disaster had struck. The mother was frantically flying around the cactus, searching for the nest. I found it on the ground with one baby still safely inside. Sadly, the other had perished.
Dennis and I took action. He held the nest while I gently applied some glue, and we reattached it to the cactus. After the incident, Mum Bird formed a bond with us. She had no problem with me taking photos or checking on the baby. Dennis could turn on the hose and water the garden without frightening her or the baby. She even came in to feed the nestling while I was standing there, almost as if we were family.
A week later, the forecast spelled rain, and I was concerned that the glue would dissolve. I attached pins all around the nest, hoping to prevent it from falling again, but our worries were far from over. Several storms were headed our way. To protect the nest we rigged an umbrella on top of the cactus and even held the umbrella when it was windy.
One day, the sky turned black, with high winds and rain. I ventured outside with my umbrella when, out
of nowhere, a microburst struck. Unable to hold the umbrella, I cupped the nest and baby with my hand and blocked it with my body as hail pelted me. When it was finally over, I was soaked from top to bottom, but the baby was OK, sitting snug as a bug in its nest. Day 20 of this amazing odyssey arrived and Mum Bird exhibited a new behaviour. After every feeding, she would poke the youngster on the back, as though trying to pressure junior to leave the nest. The next day, the young bird sat on the rim of the nest but made no attempt to fly. Junior finally took wing, crashing twice before landing safely on the backyard wall. Mum Bird came and fed it, and from there it flew to my husband’s shoulder, with Mum Bird in tow. We couldn’t believe it!
Having a front-row seat from birth and early tragedy to watching this little hummingbird grow up was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.