Friday, 5 February 2016

Meet Frikkie III


About two and a half years ago, a pair of wagtails started frequenting my garden. So I got hold of some freeze-dried meal worms, which I put out for them.
A couple of months later they disappeared. Then, last spring, there was a new wagtail. This one became quite tame, coming indoors and feeding at the table in my barbecue room. A month later he started bringing his mate along. Towards the end of winter, they would eat their fill, and then carry off some worms, two or three at a time. Freeze-dried worms are not easy to come by if you live on the remote West Coast, so I started breeding my own meal worms (not as easy as it sounds, either). Somewhere in the bush their eggs had hatched, and those little chicks had huge appetites.

Then, about a month ago, they showed up with their three young offspring. I was as happy as they were, except for the fact that my worm farm was not yet in production. Cape Town is a long way away, but I had no choice - step up the freeze-dried worms.

Initially the five of them would spend their days hanging around on the driveway and, of course, tucking into the freebies. It got to a point where I considered scraping guano off my driveway.

Then the parents decided enough was enough, and they started driving their offspring out of their territory. Two of the youngsters left promptly. Not so Frikkie III - he decided he liked it here, and fought back, feathers literally flying. Some mornings he would pitch up for breakfast looking as if he had been in a bar fight the previous night. He still looks a bit scruffy at times.

Then he discovered the worm farm had started producing fresh, live worms, and there was no stopping him. This went on for about a week before the parents conceded and took off. He is still considerably smaller than his parents, but he's got the heart of a lion and the persistence of a honey badger.

Once king of the roost, he started taking over big-time. When I'm in the veggie garden he would appear out of nowhere and land on my head or shoulder as if we'd been life long buddies. I am having a hard time convincing him to limit his indoor visits to the barbecue room and my office. Monica takes a dim view of him taking over the rest of the house, proclaiming furniture and sofas as part of his territory. How the hell do you house train a wild bird?

We have now settled for a fairly acceptable compromise. When I start working in the early hours, I make sure all the doors and windows in 'my' territory are open. Just after first light he would come zooming in, ready for breakfast.

Having eaten his fill he would perch on my arm and preen himself thoroughly. Then to work: I'm sure this little bugger can read. He seems to check if I have made sufficient progress and if the story line is still to his liking.

After wasting about an hour of my time he seems to get bored and takes off for the wide outdoors.

But he's back every hour or two, even if just for a quick snack or a chat. I simply love the little bugger.

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