Not everything in the woods are always as it seems. While the monkeys chatter happily in the trees, and the good humans are reading to their grandchildren, others are making mischief. One such character is a dark-feathered bird, a so-called common myna. He looks like a robber – black head and neck, yellow feet and legs, beak and eye patch; white wing patches show underneath his mud-brown feathers. He and his partner are outlaws as far as other birds in the forest are concerned. These mynas find their way around other birds’ nests, causing great misery. This morning is no exception and even the monkeys stop their constant chattering to hear what the odd-looking pair of mynas cackle about.
‘I’ll show those crimson-breasted shrikes what I can do!’ Then, the male kicks their remaining egg out of the nest and whistle shrilly, ‘Be quick! There’s no time to waste. Those crimson-breasted shrikes will be back from their foraging trip soon. My dear one, lay another egg. They’re so silly and didn’t even notice our different egg in their nest yesterday.’ His partner is there in a flash, making non-stop gurgling sounds of joy, while laying another egg.
Down below, a big fat rat with straw-coloured fur squeaks, ‘That was a tasty titbit! Be a good neighbour and throw down another egg, will you?’
The two robbers cast black beady eyes on the rat and cackle, ‘Why should we be good neighbours? Even those monkeys don’t want us, but we’ll have many babies this year, and the silly crimson-breasted shrikes are going to help us. They just don’t know it yet!’ Then the pair flies off hastily, leaving the rat to devour all evidence of the crimson-breasted shrikes’ egg.
The monkeys are upset and decide to chat to Wisdom, the spotted eagle-owl, about those horrible birds. They are sure that he would have a plan how to get rid of the bad rat in the undergrowth too. Meanwhile, they begin to chant their little rhyme –
‘Most horrid birds in a tree
‘Yodelling about their feast, you’ll see –
‘Never you mind, you egg robbing thieves!
‘Assured we are of Wisdom’s cleaves . . .
‘Soon, he’ll see the end of yee!’
Later that day, the Vervet monkeys are still upset. They keep chattering about the bad rat and his new friends, the Mynas. How could such a thing happen in their forest? Why would these foreign birds kick other birds’ eggs out of their nest and lay their own eggs there instead? They chatter so much that they almost fall out of the tree when Wisdom, the spotted-eagle owl, suddenly and silently, lands next to them.
‘You monkeys are always chattering about other bush creatures’ business, but today, I overheard your chats about the crimson-breasted shrikes’ eggs. The only way to stop those Mynas is to make things unpleasant for them.’
‘I can do unpleasant,’ one of the older monkeys in the troops gibbers, ‘because my family always accuses me of grabbing all the best fruits – which is unpleasant – they accused me more than once.’ He pushes his chest forward – proud of his success.
‘Hmmm . . . Not if you’re an ant being slurped up,’ one of the smaller monkeys gibbers, but he quickly hides his face behind his mother’s back when Wisdom gives him a cold stare. Suddenly, no one has anything more to chatter or do. Instead, they all stare at Wisdom, who wants to hoot something important.
‘None of you is making sense. We must do something which will make those Mynas want to leave and not come back. So, can all you chittering chattering animals and birds ponder a plan?’ Wisdom asks and then continues, ‘Meanwhile, we should all chant our forest motto. I’m sure it’ll help us to think better.’
‘I want to start first,’ a gruff voice croaks. ‘After all, the good grandparents like to listen to me at night when they’re sitting on their porch drinking strong black coffee and lately, I see them turning their porch lights off, watching the fireflies.’ Without further ado, Fee-Far-Fun, a large bull frog, begins to croak his song:
‘Whatever the situation, it has my consideration –
‘I’ll consider the weak amongst us, and never make a fuss.’
Child Monkey again finds his courage and gibbers once more. ‘That’s not our forest motto – just your own frog song. I’ll chant our motto instead.
‘“Whatever the weather, we have recourse.
‘Friends stick together and finish the course!”’
‘That is perfect, Child Monkey! You helped me ponder a plan. For as long as it takes, I’m going to perch in the same tree those pesky mynas use. It won’t be long, and they will move away,’ Wisdom grunt-hoots, warning everyone at the same time with a final hoot, ‘And while I’m away, I don’t want any monkey business from any of you chattering monkeys.’
‘We’ll try, Wisdom,’ the monkeys agree, dropping their shoulders, just before Wisdom lifts his mighty wings and flies straight to the large pine tree where the mynas perch at night. ‘Someone is going to have a big fright tonight. I know Wisdom’s right and those mynas will take flight!’ Child Monkey gibbers a line before hiding behind his mother’s back again, happily whooping and screeching.
THANK YOU FOR POPPING IN AND ESPECIALLY THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE YOUNGER CHILDREN OR GRANDCHILDREN TO WHOM THIS SERIES IS DEDICATED.
I’m also excited to tell you that you can now order “Trials and Trials: An African Adventure – Fauna Park Tales 4” at amazon.com or amazon.co.uk. This story is somewhat different, because Flame and his friends face the desert and all it’s dangers, while in hot pursuit of Tall Leader and his gang of cattle thieves.