Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hadeda Saga Finale...

I have been waiting a long time to get this shot. Finally, after six long months, a happy ending for the Hadeda family in my garden.
You may recall one of my earlier blogs in which I lamented the fact that for six years the Hadedas have returned every October to nest in my trees. It was rare for more than one or two chicks to survive. Last year, all of the chicks died.

However, I was amazed when the parents immediately began building another nest. By the end of January, three little heads were peeping out of their precarious nest.
Oh dear, I thought. How many of these chicks will survive, especially since we were entering the very hot and rainy part of our summer season?

Then another disaster struck. My trees had to be cut back for safety reasons without delay. The Hadeda nest was now in serious peril. What to do? I fretted and worried and finally consulted Free Me, a bird rescue centre. Their advice: relocate the nest so the parents can continue to look after them. Well, Operation Relocation was complicated to say the least.

I was very lucky because I had a sympathetic tree doctor who was prepared to go the extra mile and help with the relocation. Not an easy task as the surrounding trees had to be cut first using ropes and pulleys to lower the branches to ensure no damage to the surrounding properties. Then a suitable site was chosen for the new location, the careful removal and replacement of the chicks (and their nest) into the tree fork that had been created for them. Finally the cutting of the last branch which was their old home, leaving my trees looking very bare.

My biggest concern was the lack of shade and shelter from the elements (we tried to put large leaves over the nest but these did not stay in place long).
There were thunder storms and lightning almost daily with temperatures soaring up to 30C. Nevertheless, each morning three chicks still peered down at me.

The strongest, Chick No 1, left the nest first (accidentally or purposefully) and landed on the ground. But it was not strong enough to fly back to the nest. In the second week, it was Chick No 2 who made the big leap and actually flew to an adjoining tree. This inspired Chick No 1, to make a vertical flight up to the tree. Last of all to spread its wings, was the runt of the litter, Chick No 3. The parents' task is far from over as they have to teach the chicks to forage for food by themselves.

I got this rare picture of them all together yesterday evening. They usually roost on different branches, especially the parents who need to escape the continual harassment by their chicks for food.
Hats off to these Hadeda parents who have been working hard for over six months to finally produce a family.
So nice to have a happy ending for once.

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