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letting nature back in

nature and nurture in suburban spaces

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naturebackin

Sharing insights and celebrating the creatures and plants that inhabit and enrich suburban spaces, with images mostly from my own garden in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands in South Africa and sometimes from further afield.

Sunrise, dawn and times of transition

Conventionally, the rising of the sun indicates the promise of a new day Dawn brings a transition from darkness into light ranging from the subtle to the dramatic, a transition associated with awakening, hope and possibility. Continue reading “Sunrise, dawn and times of transition”

A feisty strategist: The Fork-tailed Drongo

Fork-tailed Drongos are active visitors to our garden. In the summer months they are at their most conspicuous, issuing their jumbled call while perching in trees, sallying forth to hawk insects.

In the 1985 edition of Roberts Birds of South Africa the calls of the Fork-tailed Drongo are rather delightfully described: “Song loud jumble of strident twanging, creaking and rasping sounds like unoiled wooden wagon wheels; imitates other birdcalls; call note single trumpetlike twank or twilling; vocal on moonlit nights”. Continue reading “A feisty strategist: The Fork-tailed Drongo”

Wildflowers, war and wonder: Mementos of an English childhood

Many people hang on to keepsakes from their childhood. Photographs, letters, drawings, cards and other reminders are special tokens from times past and distant spaces. Continue reading “Wildflowers, war and wonder: Mementos of an English childhood”

Autumnal orange flowers

Orange is associated with autumn. In our garden this colour is most evident in flowers blooming during March and April, rather than in leaves turning colour on the deciduous trees. Continue reading “Autumnal orange flowers”

Blood-red Acraea butterfly: A complete life cycle in one shrubby tree

The African dog rose is usually admired for its flowers, but it also plays host to many small creatures, including a species of butterfly, enabling it to complete its life cycle from egg to adult. Surprising as it was to find one plant sustaining so much life, it surprised me more that it sustained so much interest in me. Continue reading “Blood-red Acraea butterfly: A complete life cycle in one shrubby tree”

In the path of the storm: Cyclone Idai

Tropical Cyclone Idai has led to the deaths of hundreds of people, injury to many more and the displacement of thousands and caused catastrophic damage and protracted flooding. Large areas in Mozambique and in neighbouring Zimbabwe and Malawi have been affected and the death toll is anticipated to rise to horrific numbers. Continue reading “In the path of the storm: Cyclone Idai”

Rediscovering a sense of wonder: Seeing insects as tiny treasures

Highlighting a bleak future in the wake of the unchecked use of pesticides, Rachel Carson’s landmark book Silent Spring (1962) raised awareness of the vulnerability of nature and our dependence on it and motivated many people to become active in environmental protection. Possibly less well known is the sense of wonder in nature that inspired her, a wonder that stirs joy and a sense of mystery in children and adults alike

Continue reading “Rediscovering a sense of wonder: Seeing insects as tiny treasures”

Hadeda ibis: From wetlands to birdbaths

From being primarily associated with wetlands and woodlands the hadeda ibis has successfully expanded its range across much of the country even where it was formerly absent, and nowadays populations flourish even in urban areas. In suburbia it continues its association with water in the form of well-watered lawns, ponds and swimming pools. Continue reading “Hadeda ibis: From wetlands to birdbaths”

Weekly Photo Find: Thoughtful vervet monkey

An apparently thoughtful young vervet monkey photographed while quietly savouring a small fruit on the back deck of our house. Continue reading “Weekly Photo Find: Thoughtful vervet monkey”

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