Tag Archives: birds

Sunbirds

Sunbird 1

I spotted a male Lesser Double-Collared Sunbird enjoying his evening meal on my honeysuckle recently.

I was standing inside the lounge with the stoep door open and I held my arm outside with my trusty Canon to snap photos without the bird seeing me.

Sunbird 2

It was a little hit and miss, but I caught a few shots.

Sunbird 3

After a while, a female came to tell the male it was time to go home.

Sunbirds 4

She was insistent! So the male took heed and flew off after her.

Sunbirds 5

Though he was back again early in the morning – without her!

 

post script: If you’re wondering what the empty bottles are doing in the pool in the background, they act as a sort of pool cover to help prevent evaporation due to the wind. We still have water restrictions here in Cape Town, due to the drought, and are not allowed to top up a pool.

However, as I write this, there is no need; as a large storm front has just swept by and deposited a few centimetres of much needed rain. We channel rain water from the roof to the pool and unbelievably it has filled right up!

 

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Hold the Line!

Swallows 1

Look who’s back, sitting on my telephone wires:

The European Swallow or Barn Swallow.

Swallows 2

I seem to remember they picked a cloudy day last time to perch here; mostly our skies our clear blue at this time of year.

I wonder if they are making a long distance telephone call to reserve their accommodation for their return migration?

.

You can see many more photos of European Swallows in these posts –

Swift

Bird on a Wire

Not Yet Departed

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Hello Ducky

White Duck 1

We came across this lovely duck, resident at one of the many vineyards around here.

He’s white as snow; not that he’d know that, living in Cape Town where it never snows!

White Duck 2

Contentedly rooting around near our pathway, he seemed quite happy to have his photo taken.

White Duck 3

Besides this solitary brave soul, we spotted many other white ducks behind him in the undergrowth.

White Ducks 4

Even though there was a very large pond for them to swim in, they had all gathered in the vegetation under the trees.

How many can you count?

 

post script: ‘Ducky’ is a British form of address, meaning, ‘Dear’. 

I count 13 or 14 ducks.

 

Black Eagle

Black Eagle 1

Haiku 94

Heard long before seen

Scanning blue skies for a glimpse

As you scan for food

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I was out walking in the Green Belt with my daughter one morning, when we heard the unmistakable cry of a large bird of prey.

Craning our necks back we searched the skies, finally catching a brief glimpse of a tiny speck high up in a wisp of cloud.

Black Eagle 2

I took four photos; three of which I found out later were just plain sky!

The fourth is the photo above, enlarged many times to blurriness, but still showing the classic shape and colouring of a Black Eagle.

Magic!

 

post script: The Black Eagle of Southern Africa is also known as Verreaux’s Eagle, Aquila Verreauxii.

 

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.

 

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.