Tag Archives: birds

Rare Visitors!

Swee Waxbill 1 – Male

Haiku 197

Spot a flash of red

Tiny pretty feathered thing

Rustling in the bush

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Every morning I do my heavy chores then reward myself with a cappuccino, sitting quietly outside in the garden, armed only with my trusty Canon camera.

I listen to the many different birds chirping and calling to each other in the surrounding trees. I can identify them by their particular song, so I knew the Sunbirds were back again, long before I caught a glimpse of one.

Swee Waxbill 2 – Male

However, the other day as I sat there quietly sipping my coffee, enjoying the cool air, wispy streaks of clouds in a blue sky and the sun beginning to warm up the day, I saw a little bird fly to the honeysuckle and rustle around in the branches. It looked as though he was trying to gather some sticks or grasses for nest building.

Grabbing my camera I took a few shots. I could clearly see the branches moving, but could not get a clear view of the bird. It looked more like a little Mossie (Cape Sparrow) than a Sunbird, or perhaps a Cape White Eye.

Swee Waxbill 3 – Female

Then a bird flew to the lavender and obligingly sat there for a moment, while I quickly took a photo. It’s amazing how light birds are, as this one was resting on the merest stalk of lavender.

This bird was similar to the one I’d just seen, but did not have the black head. Now I could see that the beak was short, thick and triangular; typical of finches. I had once spotted a Common Waxbill by my pool a long time ago, so wondered if it was this again.

Swee Waxbill 4 – Female

Then the bird flew off to a solar lamp, where she paused for a second. I snapped an action shot as she took off again, and you can see her lovely red colouring.

Afterwards, on enlarging my photos of the tiny birds, I identified them from my book, Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa. They were a pair of male and female Swee Waxbills.  Click on the link for excellent photos. The male has the distinctive black face while the female is greyer, but both have the red back and triangular bill.

What a treat! I have never seen them anywhere before.

It just goes to show, that if you sit quietly and patiently, eventually you’ll spot a new (to you) species of bird, even in your own back garden.

 

post script: I apologise for the blurred photos. The birds were tiny and far away from me. It’s the best that my little camera and I could do!

And as I have discovered before, the best advice Google can give me for sharpening up a blurred image, is to take another photo – in focus!!

 

Mousebirds

Mousebirds 1

Haiku 187

What could be more fun

Than hanging out together

Solidarity!

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These chaps were happy hanging out on the edge of the old concrete bird bath, even staying put when other birds came to use the actual bird bath!

Mousebirds 2

I’ve been trying to capture a good shot of these White-backed Mousebirds for a long while. I hear them chirping in the trees and often see them fly overhead, when their magnificent long tails are clearly visible, but they are far too swift for me to take a photo.

I’ve snapped shots of them in the syringa tree. I know they are there as I can hear them and see the leaves moving, but they are hardly visible when I look at my photos later on my laptop, even when enlarged. This is because they tend to roost almost vertically against an upright branch and so blend in very well, their long tails in line with the branch.

So I was pleased to see them hanging out here for a while, even if they are still blurred because I can’t zoom any closer!

 

Such is the pressure of English Grammar that I am sorely tempted to call these two Mouse Birds, Mice Birds!

 

Look Out!

Cape Bulbul 1

Haiku 184

Find a look out point

Just eight inches off the ground

Better than nothing!

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Cape Bulbul 2

Here is a Cape Bulbul in my garden, keeping a look out from the top of a solar lamp. He didn’t like the fact that I was sitting outside having a cuppa, in his garden. So he flew closer for inspection.

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While the Coronavirus pandemic has hardly begun in South Africa as yet, it is rampant in other parts of the world.

I hope that all my Readers and their families keep safe and healthy during these trying times.

Look after yourselves, my friends.

 

Exquisite

Orange Honeysuckle 1

Haiku 181

No Sunbirds answer

However exquisitely

You call out to them

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Orange Honeysuckle 2

My honeysuckle is starting to burst forth in beautiful blooms one bush after another.

Very sadly, I haven’t seen a single Sunbird lately, though there were two breeding pairs in my garden for most of the summer.

Even if I hadn’t seen a Sunbird, I would know that they had visited my honeysuckle, because I would find many flowers on the grass under the plants, knocked off by the eager little birds as they drank the nectar.

All my honeysuckle plants are still intact and there are no flowers on the ground.

Orange Honeysuckle 3

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I sorely miss you my little friends.

Still, I keep on watching – and live in hope.

 

Sacred

African Sacred Ibis 1

Haiku 179

Exotic Ibis

Images in black and white

Nature’s monochrome

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African Sacred Ibis 2

These are African Scared Ibis, spotted recently at a local vineyard.

Apparently they are called Sacred because of their role in the religion of the Ancient Egyptians, where they were linked to the god Thoth.

Apart from the dramatic black and white colouring and being a little larger, the Sacred Ibis are very similar to the Hadeda Ibis that are frequently to be found eating insects on my own lawn.

African Sacred Ibis 3

This African Sacred Ibis on the grass at the vineyard looks like a youngster, as his plumage is not yet fully black.

There’s a saying, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

I wonder if “A bird on the lawn is worth two on the fence?”

 

Robin

Cape Bulbul

Haiku 174

Closest I can get

To a cute Robin Redbreast

Bulbul Yellow Bum

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There are a couple of Cape Bulbuls nesting in my garden. Though it’s a little hard to see in the photo, they have a distinctive yellow underbelly.

Every time I go outside the Bulbuls instantly come and check me out. Not shy, they’ll sit right by me; on the chair, solar lamp or railings; and chirp away to let me know just whose garden this is!

 

Seen Out and About

Egyptian Geese 1

Haiku 167

Seen out and about

Showing off their family

The new residents

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Egyptian Geese 2

I was driving back home one day and came across this little family of Egyptian Geese on my street.

This is the house where the funny-looking Dikkops live; I only hope they have not been displaced!

I stopped my car and got out to take a few photos. As I did so, the parents became more watchful, protecting their clutch from me; they are very good parents.

Egyptian Geese 3

One little chap had no such reservations and came towards me to see who I was! The parents looked nonplussed, but stayed with the main group of goslings.

The bold youngster waddled closer, had a good look and then returned to his family. I think he will go far and become a Leader among Geese.

In the meantime he is a headache for his parents!

 

Mr Fancy Pants Returns

Mr Fancy Pants Pigeon 1

Haiku 158

When the sun beats down

It’s any port in a storm

For a thirsty bird!

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We were all sitting out under the shade of the trees one afternoon, enjoying the new summer warmth and each other’s company.

I noticed a flutter up on the roof of our house and saw a smart looking pigeon had just landed there. He looked like a racing pigeon, which had either got lost, or decided to take a pit stop at our place.

He strolled down the angled tiles to the corner and looked around.

Mr Fancy Pants Pigeon 2

Next second he flew down to the pool. I guess he must have spotted this “mini lake” as he was flying by and decided to stop for a drink. He walked right up to the edge and tried to step onto the floating bottles, only to quickly flap away as they sank under his weight.

Mr Fancy Pants Pigeon 3

The poor bird must have been very thirsty as he tried repeatedly to access the water in the pool. It was too deep to reach by standing on the side and every time he stepped onto what he thought was a ledge, the bottle gave way.

He wasn’t to know it, but we have a perfectly decent bird bath under the shade of the apple tree. In fact, birds were drinking and splashing in it right at that moment! There is a Cape Robin in the photo below.

Mr Fancy Pants Pigeon 4

My daughter picked up one of the dog water bowls from the stoep and carried it towards the pigeon. Not realising this was fresh water for him, he got a little nervous and walked off circling the pool, still trying to find a way into it.

I got up and filled a watering can with fresh water. Mr Smarty Pants was over on the other side of the pool by now. I carried the dog bowl and watering can to my side of the pool and put the bowl down. With an exaggerated gesture, I poured water into the dog bowl from a height, so it was obvious that here was water.

Then I retreated back to my seat in the shade of the trees.

Mr Fancy Pants Pigeon 5

The pigeon carried on circling the pool and finally came to the dog’s water bowl. He stopped and drank – and drank – and drank!

I have never seen a bird drink so much in one go! He must have been so thirsty, poor thing.

Mr Fancy Pants Pigeon 6

We all enjoyed watching him as he hung around for a while, but eventually he flew on his way.

 

post script: “Any port in a storm”: In adverse circumstances you welcome any source of relief.

For those wondering why there are empty bottles in the pool: they help to reduce evaporation from the wind and sun, as we still have water restrictions and are not allowed to fill up the pool. 

 

Sunbird on my Finger

Sunbird 1

Haiku 142

Sit on my finger

As light as any feather

Tiny green wild thing

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I walked into my lounge the other day and heard a fluttering sound coming from the window. On investigating I found a tiny trapped male Lesser Double-Collared Sunbird, desperately trying to get out of the closed window.

Sunbird 1

There was no time to take any good photos, as he was clearly distressed and I was worried he would harm himself.

Just approaching him to try to open the window freaked him out even more and the frantic flapping of wings increased.

Sunbird 2

Very slowly I reached past him and opened the window as much as it would open; which was not a lot. This window is never opened and was very hard to move.

I thought he would simply fly away, but he was too confused and still kept bashing against the window pane.

I tried to guide him gently towards the open part, but he panicked even more.

Sunbird 3

Finally, I cupped my hands around him very carefully and edged him towards the opening. He stopped struggling immediately and was perfectly calm in my hands.

I opened my hands to let him fly away, but he hopped onto my finger instead and sat there quite happily.

This was a wild bird! I felt blessed by his trust.

In the end I put my whole hand out of the window, with the tiny Sunbird still perched on my finger.

Sunbird 4

Finally he realised he was free to go and flew straight up into the Poinsettia tree. He sat there for a few minutes to get his bearings and recover from his ordeal. Then he flew off to be about his business.

This is the second time we’ve had a Sunbird in the house. The previous time I also had to scoop the poor bird up in my hands and take him outside and place him on the honeysuckle bush. (This is the first photo)

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Since these tiny birds are so cute, here are a few fun clips of humming birds, snoring and drinking sugar water.

 

Wake Up Call!

Who Me? – Olive Thrush 4

Haiku 130

What is wrong with you?

There’s not a light in the sky

My Arch Nemesis!

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It is pitch black here in Cape Town at 05.30.

Not a creature is stirring; not even a mouse.

But my Arch Nemesis, the cheeky Olive Thrush, has decided it is morning and is singing his little heart out.

Very Loudly!

A Wake Up Call indeed!