Tag Archives: birds

The Phoenix

The Phoenix 1

Haiku 249

Mythical fire bird

Wings aflame as you fly off

Mystery intact

.

I heard a bird singing somewhere in the bare branches of my neighbour’s winter tree. It took me a while to spot him, but I couldn’t make out his species.

Suddenly he took off, with a flash of his wings.

The Phoenix 2

It was a Phoenix! The mythical fire bird.

And in a blinding light, he vanished!

How fortunate was I, to witness this extremely rare bird, from my back garden!

 

post script: I think from his size and song, he was a Red-winged starling. It explains why his red wing feathers lit up as he flew away, with the sunlight shining through them from the behind.

 

Catching the Red-Eye

Red-Eyed Dove 1

Haiku 243

Catching the Red-Eye

Involves stealth and much patience

But mostly Dumb Luck!

.

Many pigeons visit my garden, scratch around in the grass, drink from the dog bowls and splash in the bird bath.

Red-Eyed Dove 2 – Photo page 197 of Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa

Most are either the small Cape Laughing Dove, (25 cm) Number 4 in photo above, or the larger Cape Turtle Dove (28 cm) Number 3 above.

One day here was this giant, quite unique and bigger than all the rest (33 – 36 cm) Number 2 in above photo.

He is a Red-Eyed Dove, the largest of the ring-necked doves, with a thicker black neck band and a very prominent Red Eye!

Red-Eyed Dove 3

Conveniently, he posed on top of the tree trunk and I was lucky enough to snap a quick photo. He even caught the morning sunlight on his face for a perfect portrait!

 

post script: I’d heard the expression, “Catching the Red Eye”, probably in American movies! It refers to a late night flight that arrives early the next morning.

 

And – Action!

Cape Robin 1

Haiku 234

Lights and Camera

Robbie leapt into action

Complete the Mission!

.

Cape Robin 2

CUT! CUT! CUT!

“We need to see your face so the audience knows you’re performing your own stunts!” the Director shouted. Try Again!

Cape Robin 3

Robbie hung his head despondently. His audition for Mission Impossible 7 wasn’t going too well!

 

Orcas of the Sky

Pied Crows 1

Haiku 232

Orcas of the sky

Black and white killing machines

And noisy to boot!

.

 

No matter how bad a day you’re having, there’s always someone having a worse day.

I was in the kitchen boiling the kettle to make a cup of tea one afternoon, when I heard a lot of noise coming from outside.

Looking through the window I saw several Pied Crows flying around, cawing loudly. There were two, then three birds, flying from one tree to another nearby.

Pied Crow 2

They kept returning to the top of the large tree in my neighbour’s front garden. It looked like they were trying to perch there, but it was extremely windy with strong gusts, so they just kept hovering over the uppermost branches. They had to work hard to maintain their position, with wing and tail feathers splayed, as shown in the first photo.

Then I heard the most plaintive loud chirping coming from somewhere inside the foliage at the top of that tree.

I assumed these sharks of the sky were trying to kill a baby chick.

The peeping was pitiful. This prompted my thoughts above – No matter how bad a day you’re having, there’s always someone having a worse day.

I felt very sorry for whichever little bird was being harried incessantly.

Pied Crow 3

I could still hear the cawing and plaintive cheeping when sitting outside with my tea. So, I walked round the side of the house with my camera to see if I could find out what was going on.

I took a few shots of the large birds battling the strong wind currents. The photo above captures one crow flying with its beak open, cawing loudly!

The three crows kept coming back in turn to this one tree, where the peeping was coming from.

Finally, a big grey bird shot out of the tree, chirping loudly as it flew. The adults immediately followed it.

It was their own large youngster that they had been trying to encourage to move out of the top of the tree!

The family flew off together into the distance and the plaintive peeping stopped.

I was very happy to have been mistaken in thinking that they were trying to kill another bird’s chick.

They were simply protecting their own.

 

I am very lucky to have a garden with lots going on to entertain me (and provide Blog content) during our endless Lockdown. Otherwise by now I would have had to resort to showing you my collection of teaspoons!

 

Red, Red Robin

Cape Robin 1

When the Red, Red Robin

Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’

Along!

Cape Robin 2

I rarely see a Cape Robin in my garden, so when he does pop by I am honoured.

Cape Robin 3

This little chap flew down onto the lawn near the stoep, hopped onto a solar lamp and looked at me.

Cape Robin 4

There are four solar lamps in a row on my lawn. He started on the one farthest away, then he hopped onto the next lamp closer, and stared again, then onto the third lamp.

Cape Robin 5

Finally, he came as close as he dared, on the last solar lamp, had a good long hard look at me, sitting in the garden chair with my cuppa and camera.

Cape Robin 6

Curiosity assuaged, he flew off.

How lovely to see him though.

Cape Robin 7

The catchy song “When the Red, Red Robin” was written in 1926 by Harry Woods. Here’s Doris Day singing, When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along.  

 

Next Generation

Baby White Eye 1

Haiku 228

Little fluffy balls

Peeping away constantly

Next generation

.

Baby White Eye 2

Baby Cape White Eye, Mum and Dad are worn to a frazzle feeding you; keeping up with your demands!

But you are so very cute.

Baby White Eye 3

A spherical blob of downy feathers; tail and wings half grown; your flight a flurry of frantic flapping that carries you to the nearest branch. Mum and Dad are ever vigilant; concerned for your welfare.

Three Baby Chicks 4

The baby White Eye joined up with a couple of baby Cape Sparrows, locally known as Mossies.

Three Baby Chicks 5

It’s a little chick creche. I guess safety in numbers!

Three Baby Chicks 6

Either way, it’s cuteness overload!

 

Unusually, it was an overcast grey morning with what little sunlight there was, shining from behind the birds. My Canon camera does not do well in low light, so some of these photos are grainy and blurry.

 

Sunbird Defender

Male Sunbird 1

Haiku 227

Valiant Sunbird

Defender of the tiny

Mighty nonetheless

.

Female and Male Sunbird 2

The female Sunbird has dull grey plumage and is difficult to spot. Above, she is feeding from the yellow honeysuckle in the bottom left of the photo, while the male flies off, in the top right.

Male Sunbird 3 – Dark

The male Lesser Double-Collared Sunbird perches above the female on the newly-awakened grape vines, keeping a lookout while she is feeding. He appears dark grey in this photo, as it is only the bright sunlight reflecting off his feathers that makes them iridesce, and the angle is wrong here.

Male Sunbird 4 – Hidden

They are tiny birds, with a very high pitched twitter. I constantly hear the male defending his territory, and his female, from other males.

The male can also be hard to spot, especially when he hides behind the leaves as above!

Male Sunbird 5

But how magnificent he is when perched in full sunlight!

 

No Laughing Matter

Laughing Doves 1

Haiku 226

Not much to laugh at

Family, friends, birthdays missed

This Corona year

.

Still, watching these Laughing Doves eat their seed cheers me up.

Laughing Doves 2

Laughing Doves are smaller than their cousins, the Cape Turtle Doves, who chase them off their food.

But the biggest bully of all is Sparky the squirrel, who chases everyone away and eats at his leisure.

Now I put seed down in a few places, so if Sparky has chased the doves away from one place, and the Turtle Doves have chased the Laughing Doves away from the next, there is still a place for the Laughing Doves to eat in peace!

Laughing Doves 3

And for me to find a little peace watching them.

 

A Winter’s Tale

Egyptian Geese on Rooftop

Haiku 216

Winter’s not quite done

Freezing rains and gale force winds

A sting in the tail!

.

What are you two Egyptian Geese gossiping about? The cold snap? Yes, it hit out of the blue and the temperatures plummeted. But you’re alright. Feathers are incredibly warm!

There’s been snow on Table Mountain and temperatures of 2 degrees Centigrade recorded. Brrr Even the local resident Dassies on the mountain were rather confused by it all. – See here in a Local news clip.

Our coldest and wettest winter month here in Cape Town used to be July. Now it seems to be August. Still, at least it means that all the cold rain is filling up my swimming pool – and the dams, which now stand at 88.7%.

This is enough to last us through all those dry summer months to come.

I don’t mind the cold and the rain; it won’t last. Already the sun is hot when I go outside, even though the air is freezing! Such a conundrum here in South Africa. A cold country with a hot sun!

.

post script: For those of you who are interested, the variegated plant with purple flowers that I posted on Friday is actually a Periwinkle, Vinca major ‘Variegata’. Scooj got it and many others had good guesses.

 

Look Ma! No Wings!

Sunbird 1

Haiku 213

Flits from branch to branch

With a cry, “Look Ma, no wings!”

Yes; Boys will be Boys!

.

Sunbird 2

Sitting in the garden with my morning cuppa, I listen to all the birdsong. Occasionally I see little feathered things in the tops of the trees.

Sunbird 3

This morning, I could see a tiny bird flying around the top branches of the syringa tree in the front garden. He perched for a moment, silhouetted against the sky, then flitted off elsewhere. A male Lesser Double-Collared Sunbird.

While clicking away with my camera I just happened to catch that first lucky shot; “Look Ma, No wings!”