Living where we do here in the Drakensberg, noise is never a concerning factor and on a normal day, after the day’s work is done and our staff make their way home, the silence is only broken by the occasional pigeon who feels it necessary to make one last loud statement before settling down for the night.
However, normal seems to be a thing of the past and the greatest change currently has been the morning ritual with there being no staff coming to work. It has seemed even quieter, but as I opened the door a few days ago I was dumbfounded to witness all the activity on the lawn and in the trees nearby.
As I stood quietly watching a busy bird ‘breakfast’ session playing out in my garden the thought came to me that nature is truly an amazing phenomenon.
Autumn in the Drakensberg
Being autumn now, the early morning air has a fresh feel, the leaves on the liquid amber trees have changed colour and started to drift to the ground in their own haphazard way. Soon the trees will be bare and the leaves will create their own kaleidoscope carpet of browns and reds on the ground.
The African Hoopoe’s beak was going in and out of the ground like a construction ‘jackhammer’, pausing periodically to relish a juicy morsel that found itself quickly ingested. What was even better was the fact that Mr. or Mrs. Hoopoe was well aware of my presence and made no effort to fly off. In fact, I got the impression that he/she was showing off the worm catching prowess for my benefit.
While this was going on, the black collared barbets winged onto the bird table and grabbed a pawpaw skin to take off to the nearest rock, ensuring their breakfast would not be interrupted by the noisy weavers who were now also boisterously competing for prime position at the seed ‘stations’ on the bird table.
A slightly sad pageant was the gathering and swooping of the swallows who were making mock dives over the house in a final farewell gesture as they readied themselves for the long journey to the northern hemisphere with their new clutch of South African born babies. There are no travel restrictions in place for them but the upside is that we will see them back again in September. Safe travels swallows!
The Steadfast Drakensberg Mountain Range
As I stood taking this all in, I looked up at one of the most spectacular views in the world and no doubt one of my favourites, the majestic Drakensberg mountains stoically standing guard. The words; thankfulness, gratitude and appreciation, came to mind.
Sure, the world is a bit upside down at the moment and business is non-existent right now, but how many people would pay dearly to be standing where I was and to witness the spectacular spectacle that I had in the space of a few minutes.
It occurred to me that we, the human race, have a very inflated opinion of how much we really matter in the greater scheme of things where nature is concerned. Whether we have a crisis, or not, the birds will keep looking for worms in the ground and the trees will still lose their leaves in autumn and the swallows will travel. It is now our job to ensure that nature can survive our human plunder.