Tag Archives: birds

Camouflage Techniques in the Wild

Dikkop 1

Look what Little Monkey and I found just down the road; a little family of Spotted Dikkops.

They are amazing birds, with bright yellow legs and knobbly knees, giving rise to their other name of Cape Thick-Knees.

Their colouring blends in so well with their stony surroundings, that their main defence is to stand stock still and hope that a predator simply does not see them.

LM and Dikkop 2

As you can see from the photos, this defence works very well. Dogs notice movement more than anything, so often pass by very still prey.

I have walked with three dogs and passed within a metre of a Black Headed Heron and not one of them noticed it. Now, this is a large bird, standing nearly a metre tall, not including its long beak that it held vertically upwards. But it stood stock still and so escaped detection.

Unfortunately, the tiny youngster did not entirely trust this defence mechanism just yet and he started slowly creeping towards one parent. The other parent, on noticing this, also started walking slowly after the chick, trying to distract us.

Dikkop 3

They are very good parents and the first that I knew they were back in the neighbourhood was when Little Monkey and I came across both adult birds outside the property, with one of them right in the middle of the street.

LM and I crossed to the other side of the road to give them as much space as possible, but the one bird remained chirping in the middle of the road.

Then we saw two dogs dragging their owner round the corner of the road ahead of us and then I realised that the bird was trying to distract them and lead them away from her chick.

Now I’ve met this owner and dogs before, so they know LM needs space and fortunately they stopped and waited. This gave me time to gently herd the bird back into its property. It was extremely unwilling to go back, in its mind leading me towards its chick, but eventually I managed to get him safely to the railings.

LM will not chase birds while on the lead, but the other dogs looked like they knew no such rules.

Then LM and I could proceed on our way, in the opposite direction to the other dogs.

So I am very happy that this little family is back in our neighbourhood and hope that the chick makes it to adulthood.

They are unique birds.

 

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Territorial Dispute

Guinea Fowl 4

Haiku 78

Guinea Fowl battle

Staccato machine gun fire

It is 2 a. m.

.

 

It is almost summer here in Cape Town and every animal is twitterpated. We are used to hearing the sounds of Egyptian Geese, Hadedah and Guinea Fowl squabbling loudly over territory all day long; but not usually in the middle of the night!

This is the third morning in a row I’ve had a very early wake up call. Add to this my crippling allergies and I am walking around during the day like a Zombie!

 

post script: For Scooj – I know you’re counting! Strictly speaking ‘fire’ is one syllable, but regional accents may break it into two; ‘fi-yur’. So if you pronounce it that way here is an alternate second line: ‘Rapid machine gun fire’.

I went with ‘staccato’ because it conveys the sound better. 

 

Natural Selection

Baby Geese

Natural Selection

Tiny Guinea Fowl chick abandoned by your flock

Scratching in the dirt as you’ve seen your parents do

But without their guidance and protection

And only a few inches tall

You will not survive alone

Breakfast for the Magpie chicks?

Sadness

Heart-rending peeps follow me down the path

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Egyptian goose with the badly broken leg

Each halting step agonisingly painful

Yet still you hobble near your chicks

Protecting them alongside your partner

Your commitment ensuring

The survival of your genes

Endurance

Raucous screeches follow me down the street

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On our walks around the neighbourhood Little Monkey and I have come across many new-born chicks: Guinea Fowl and Egyptian Geese.

When I see an injured or abandoned bird it is hard not to interfere, but there is nothing to be done. The injured bird is still protecting its chicks and the abandoned chick will either survive on its own, or not. It had a near miss when LM spotted it before me!

I did search for the parent Guinea Fowl, with the intention of guiding the baby chick back to their safety, but they were nowhere to be seen. Guinea Fowl are notoriously bad parents.

It reminds me that life out there in the ‘wild’ is tough.

It really is the survival of the fittest.

 

If You Plant It He Will Come!

Sunbird 2

We planted these honeysuckle last year and my, how they have grown!

Sunbird 3

We hoped they might bring the sunbirds to our garden more often and we have been amply rewarded.

Sunbird 1

These are Lesser Double Collared Sunbirds; the male with beautiful iridescent colouring and the female a typical drab brown. Both are visible in the above photo.

Sunbird 5

Here you can see just how tiny he is in the grass, next to the raindrops.

Sunbird 4

And you can even see his little feet in the photo above.

Sunbird 6

As usual, I was taking shots from way back inside my house, on the maximum zoom available, with my little Canon camera. I’ll be impressed if you can spot both birds in the above photo.

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So, as the saying goes from the 1989 film Field of Dreams“If you build it he will come”  “If you plant it he will also come!”

 

Tea and Peacocks

Tea Time

Sitting out under the trees

On an overcast day

Enjoying tea and scones

Peacocks 1

You can’t get much closer to Nature

Than the accompaniment of

The plaintive cries of Peacocks

Peacocks 2

As they scramble about

On the thatched rooves opposite

Squabbling over who gets the girls

Peacock 3

Even when not displaying to his ladies

The male is magnificent

Iridescent light on a dismal day

.

 

High Above Me

Crow 1

Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane?

It’s SuperCrow!

I heard one crow cawing high above me as I was bringing in the washing one afternoon. I craned my neck back and saw it circling round and round.

Crow 2

It was soon joined by another crow and then another. I dashed inside for my trusty Canon and leaning right back took a few photos of what looked to me like clear blue skies. I knew the crows were circling away up there because I could still hear them cawing now and then, but they were far away and very hard to see.

Crow 3

However, I did manage to catch all five of them in one shot in the end.

They are Pied Crows, quite large birds around 50 cm in length.

Crow 4

Then after all their aerial manoeuvres they flew off into the deep blue sky. I bet all you can see in the photo above is just that! I assure you there are some birds there.

 

post script: The collective noun for a flock of crows is a Murder or Horde of crows.

And because you are probably thinking of it, here is a link to the song by Tal Bachman, She’s so High.