Tag Archives: birds

Not Yet Departed

Swallows

Haiku 53

Not yet departed

Borne aloft on southern winds

Spirited away

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Once again I saw many European Swallows flying over my garden. They were milling round overhead, massing together rather than catching insects on the wing.

I dashed inside for my trusty Canon, but when I got back outside they were no longer flocking.

I caught one last glimpse of them over the rooftops, as they headed off – South?

Yep. They were definitely headed South, so I don’t think they’re ready to go back up North just yet!

Also, it was strange to see them flying in a skein formation like this. They’re not geese after all!

 

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Bird on a Wire

Swallow 1

So, if you were wondering what the European Swallow actually looked like, after my post Swift, here are some better shots of the little bird.

Swallow 2

Having taken literally hundreds of photos of the fast little bird on the wing, I was very happy to find one just sitting on the telephone wire when I looked up when hanging out the washing!

Swallow 3

In the photo below there is a faint hint of the lovely blue I believe they have on their head and backs, but colours are muted against such a bright sky! You can also see just how long their wings are.

Swallow 4

At first I thought there was only the one bird, so I took many photos of that. Then I noticed there were two more birds on the other telephone wire!

Swallow 5

Another day when I was hanging out washing again, I spotted five swallows above me on the wires. It was a grey cloudy day so the photos are not as clear.

Swallow 6

They were all busy preening their feathers. It is very important to keep their flight feathers in good working order to be able to execute those swift turns on the wing.

Swallow 7

One bird had very long tail feathers. I don’t know if he was an adult and the others were more junior, but they did seem to give him respect.

Swallow 8

One of the youngsters is even pointing his wing at the big guy! See Below.

Swallow 9

Bird on the Wire is a well-known song written and performed by Leonard Cohen. I like this version, sung by the Neville Brothers; Bird on a Wire. Their song appears in the 1990 action/comedy movie Bird on a Wire, starring Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn.

 

Swift

Swift 1

Actually I think he’s a Swallow, but he really was Swift!

Swift 2

These little birds were very hard to capture as they zoomed overhead;

Swift 3

– darting all over the place, presumably catching insects on the wing.

Swift 4

The best I could do was to hold my little Canon camera above my head, aim in the general direction of the bird as I glimpsed it and try to track its rapid flight as I took my shot.

Swift 5

If I was lucky and actually caught one in frame, the bird was only about one pixel.

Swift 6

And there were many, many, oh so many, shots of pure blue open skies with not a speck of bird to be seen.

Swift 7

Exit Stage Left!

In fact, when processing my photos afterwards, I spent many minutes zooming in on supposed bird specks, before I realised that I needed to clean my laptop screen!

Swift 8

Still, what I did manage to catch was enough to identify the bird from my Newman’s Book of South Africa Birds. Funnily enough, he’s not South African at all, but rather a European Swallow.

Swift 9

Sooo – Just exactly how many photos did I take? Are you ready for this? One hundred and fifty three. Yes that’s right. 1  5  3!

Swift 10

Now you know why some posts take a while to produce; squinting through 153 photos looking for a speck and then zooming in, only to realise I am trying to magnify the speck of dirt on my laptop screen!

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Swallow Migration

No one used to know that swallows migrated; that they flew the whole length of Africa, from England in their winter to South Africa in our summer. In 1911 a man ringed the leg of a swallow chick which was subsequently found the following year in South Africa. This was the first time it was discovered that they migrated. You can read about that epic event in this newspaper article.

Such a tiny bird to make such an arduous journey. No wonder they flitted round my garden with consummate ease!

 

Silhouetted

White Eye

I was sitting outside on the stoep enjoying the cool evening air as the sun set. Often if you stay very still then after a while birds will join you.

Sure enough, a few Cape White Eye flew to the grape vines overhead on the stoep and twittered as they flittered about, eating the ripening grapes.

They are tiny and very hard to capture as they dart swiftly around. Also my little Canon does not do well in low light.

Finally, one stopped for a moment on a branch, silhouetted against the dimming sky.

Gotcha!

 

Gottle O’ Geer!

Olive Thrush

What have you got there, Buddy?

Oh sorry! I guess you can’t speak with your mouth full!

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This cheeky Olive Thrush is a very regular visitor to my garden. He chases the lovely Cape Bulbuls away from Little Monkey’s water bowls, which they use as bird baths. Seen here, he has just raided the bush for golden berries and has one in his mouth. Yum!

post script: “Gottle o’ Geer” is what you say for “Bottle of Beer” when you are not a ventriloquist! It is very hard to say ‘B’ without moving your lips.

 

Robin Redbreast

Cape Robin – photo credit M

This little guy might not be quite what you were expecting from the title. Maybe you are more familiar with the tiny European Robin, frequently depicted on Christmas cards?

Well, this is a Robin, albeit a Cape Robin. He does all the usual Robin activities, such as flying straight down to investigate any patch of earth you have just dug over in your garden and singing a lovely tuneful song.

Here you see him sitting on a branch of my giant Eugenia tree above a hanging basket (the purple handle.) He’s a frequent visitor to my garden and I much prefer him to the pushy Olive Thrush. Somehow the Robin just seems more sophisticated and has more manners!