Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Birds and the Bees

The excitement of this week came in the form of a swarm from our bee-box. Not the first, but definitely the biggest. I watched them regroup on the usual tree before slapping forehead and running for camera. Hoping for dramatic shots of a swirling cloud, I waited, trigger poised. 20 long minutes later we were treated to a very blustery rainstorm, which failed to shake off the bees but instead encouraged them to cling on for hours whilst they dried out. You may be fascinated to know that during adverse weather conditions, tree-hugging bee swarms form very tight balls and layer their little bodies in a totally uniform direction, rather like furry wing-ed thatch. Clever little B's, aren't they? Anyhow, boredom eventually set in and I was miles from the camera, pinned to the sofa by a demanding cockatoo when they finally decided to take to the air. Cockatoo's are not something you can just fling off and apologise to later, hence the lack of bees-in-action photos.

I have my trustee assistant Jerry installing a shower for the parrots this week. And when the dry season decides to show it's ugly face, I'm sure they will be very grateful. We have also broken out the fag packet for the design stage of the veloceraptor enclosure (fags are British cigarettes, by the way - always have been, always will be, despite what the New Dictionaries say) We've watched the pertinent bits of Jurassic Park 3 times now and are weighing up the merits of an electric fence -just in case they manage to chew their way through the steel in the night. Speaking of which, if anyone knows the whereabouts of the container with the steel fittings in, could you please alert Builder's Hardware.

This has also been a week of discoveries:
We discovered that Belizeans still like to eat iguana meat, iguana eggs, hickatee, gibnut, deer... all protected, some endangered, some critical. We also discovered that no-one wants to make a fuss about such illegal practices as it is 'part of the culture'. As Jerry says, human sacrifice was part of the Maya culture, but you know, times change, roll with it.
We discovered that the survival rate of newly hatched ducklings by our lake is not good: a clutch of 20 can disappear at the rate of 4 or 5 a day until they are all gone.
We discovered that the Great Blue Heron has a penchant for newly hatched chicks. (repeat after me - all birds have a purpose, no bird is more important than another, every bird has to eat)
We discovered that TACA, our new dog gets lost easily. Those 3 hours were nearly as much fun as watching the chicks being eaten.

Jerry has still not finished construction of his hydroponics. I am writing this in the hopes that he is shamed into a rapid conclusion. I shall keep you posted. Literally.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


This week we are minus one horse. A bullet to the brain definitely does the trick; the old boy went quickly, quietly and happy in his state of blissful unawareness. A set of dentures would have given him a few more years, but at 27+ his day was done. Miss you, Rocket.

We are up one dog. Tucker arrived a week or so back, an ex-rescue dog who's rescuers needed to return to the US. Their sad loss is our happy gain. He goes by the name of Tucker. Cue great hilarity as our Spanish workers make aeroplane noises and point gleefully at the dog. We have given up correcting them, so - TACA he is. He's a little ray of sunshine, and can outrun Jerry on the motorbike. That surprised the hell out of our lot, who thought they were fast runners (as my friend's teacher once scathingly said to her - "my dear girl, one’s performance rather depends on with what one makes the comparison." Aren't teachers great? How to make ambition wither and die). Anyhow, a happy balance of madness restored to the pack.

We were given a magnificent hawk, courtesy of Looey who hiked the poor soul all the way out of Mountain Pine Ridge. It couldn't fly, could barely stand, and on close inspection...oh, guess what? It had been shot. I'm sure it was imperative that this bird should die: wild, in the bush, miles from ‘civilization’, it was obviously causing immense problems. It survived 3 days before succumbing to its injuries. I wish I could say the same for the moron with the gun.

The agouti is growing fast. She has free run in and out the house (lovely) and comes and goes to her favourite drainpipe as if she owns the place. She is still sucking milk from a syringe and can down 10ml in 6 seconds flat; a course record. The dogs are leaving her alone - mostly - although TACA has an unhealthy interest in her nether regions. I'm not surprised - she stinks - and the house is not the place for a rat, Royal or otherwise. (Don't know why I'm wasting my time, Jerry never reads this anyway).

We got two new parrots last week - red loreds - courtesy of an expat headed home. Iran & Michael (yes, of course we renamed it Iraq). They have a long way to grow with their freshly clipped wings, but they are otherwise physically and mentally healthy so it shouldn't be an uphill struggle. The veloceraptors are finally taking flight. They can make the length of the living room in a single bound. Chili has become an expert fighter-pilot with advanced training in mid-air veloceraptor interceptions. Belize Bird whatwasit now?

There we are - that's us up to date. Don't worry, I'll be back to my usual verbose self next time, making an otherwise short story very long.