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It’s just past dawn at Flowerbook and as the first shafts of light pierce the canopies of the trees on the eastern side Java figures out it’s going to be another bright and sunny morning. Having just returned from Colombo and the misery of traffic snarls, flooded roads, amplified ‘religion’ blaring from temples, garbage on the streets and all the other aspects that make the outstations seem like heaven, I take the dogs for an early morning walk around the property feeling blessed and digging it. The inter-monsoonal rains that wreaked havoc in many other parts of the country during the past weeks gave us reasonable rainfall without causing any serious damage, but did nothing for the veggies and herbs, making things a bit difficult in that respect.
The migrant birds left in mid to late April, a sure sign that the winds were changing and the South-West monsoon would soon be upon us. The trees that flowered in March and April included the Brazilian Fire Trees (Schizolobium parahybum) that burst out even more than they usually do, Spathodea (Spathodea campanulata), the Australian Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia), Cassia multijuga, Ice Cream Bean (Inga edulis, from Oz), Oleander (Nerium oleander) and various Guavas (Psidium sp). Some of the Guava trees were laden with fruit and brought Brown-headed Barbets (Megalaima zeylanica), Yellow-fronted Barbets (Megalaima flavifrons), Parakeets (Psittacula sp), Red Vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus cafer), Mynahs (Acridotheres tristis), Black-headed Orioles (Oriolus xanthornus) and Lorikeets (Loriculus beryllinus) among others, to vandalize the trees. The Jungle Fowl (Gallus lafayettii) are all over the garden and we have managed to stop the dogs from chasing them – maybe their familiarity with the domestic chickens helped! The highlight of the month, however, was the first flowering of a Flamboyant (Delonix regia) whose seed pod I had brought back from Kenya ten years ago. Now around forty feet tall, I was beginning to fear that it would never flower, so when I saw the first blooms earlier this month I was ecstatic. The dark crimson shade blew Java away as he studied it closely after imbibing some buds that originated in Ecuador!
A Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjac) strayed into the garden last week and was chased by the dogs with a screaming Java in hot pursuit trying to stop Sally, Rocky and Buster from catching it. It was a ‘first’ for Tripper (now just past eight months old and relishing new experiences) who also joined in the chase. Fortunately for all (except the dogs) the deer got away. The poor deer (‘Mouse’ – Moschiola memmina and ‘Barking’ – Muntiacus muntjac are the two most frequent visitors) often stray into the garden as we have two lots of undeveloped land bordering two of our boundaries and they hang in there as their habitats are fast being lost and they have no suitable environment in which to sustain themselves over a long period of time. Then just this morning the dogs spotted a Rat Snake (Ptyas mucosus)and again fortunately I was around and managed to stop them from their usual routine of catching it and snapping it like a whip, which usually breaks its spine, after which they pull at it from each end until it breaks in two. Bad scene!
Other mammals spotted at Flowerbook over the past two months included Hare (Lepus nigricollis) and Mongoose (Herpestes sp), with the Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) being conspicuous by their absence for a while now. There again, destruction of habitat has led to a serious dwindling of the Boar population in the village.
Looks like today is going to be a scorcher, as it’s just past noon and it’s now 27C in the shade. Time to get a cold brew whilst Java processes another Ecuadorian bud and then it will nearly be time to tune in to the French Open and hope it’s not raining in Paris!