Tag Archives: birds

Sunbird on my Finger

Sunbird 1

Haiku 142

Sit on my finger

As light as any feather

Tiny green wild thing


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)


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!



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!


Ducks cannot read!

Ducks swimming

Haiku 127

Swimming unaware

Can’t you read the danger sign?

Effluent waters!


Ducks swimming 2 – No Swimming Sign

Since these ducks cannot read, they swim regardless. I guess it goes hand in hand with their quack having no echo!

Ducks swimming 3

Still, they looked perfectly healthy – and happy!


post script: We met a man while walking round the wine estate and he told us that this little pond had filled up 18 inches with the recent rain. However, you can see that it is still seriously empty, as are all our proper dams.


Winter Landscape: A Study

Winter Tree 1 – Gold

Haiku 116

Sunlit and golden

Stark in early morning mist

A murmuration



I have mentioned before that it never really looks like winter here in Cape Town, as most of the trees and plants are Evergreen and many bloom beautifully throughout winter.

Winter Tree 2 – Blue

However, my neighbour’s tree is always a good indication of the seasons as it is deciduous. It stands out in its starkness in the surrounding winter vegetation.

One night it was lit up by the setting evening sunshine and a lovely golden colour, as you can see in the first photo.

Early one morning the light was completely different, bathing the tree in cold blues and turning the branches black, as shown in the second photo.

Winter Tree 3 – White

I love to see the tree swathed in a rare early morning mist. It was difficult to capture this shot as, even though it was misty, I was shooting directly into the sun. This third photo shows the tree in winter white.

Finally, one day the tree was overwhelmed with Red-winged Starlings, all whistling away to each other. I tried to capture them perched on the top most branches. Again it was difficult to get the shot as the light was dim and I was shooting directly into what little sun there was. The fourth and final photo shows the starlings.

Winter Tree 4 – Starlings

Absolutely marvellous to see them all, and even better to hear them.


post script: A flock of starlings is called a murmuration; which is also the name for when they swoop about the sky in large co-ordinated groups.

You can listen to their beautiful whistling here. This is a good audio recording of hundreds of the starlings chattering away to each other, but not a good video. You can also hear the solitary haunting whistle of one bird here. This is what mystified me in my earlier post, The Mysterious Evening Whistler!


Marvellous Mousebird

White-backed Mousebird 1

I was waiting in my front garden for my friend to pick me up last week, as we were going out for lunch.

I looked up and saw a bird sitting in the bougainvillea. He was a little hard to see at first, but then I noticed his long tail. Hooray, it was a Mousebird; more precisely, a White-backed Mousebird, (colius colius.)  His white back is only visible in flight.

White-backed Mousebird 2

As I had my camera with me I managed to take a few shots. He sat there quite happily, staring down at me, till some rowdy Hadedas flew by, squawking loudly and scaring him away.

You can see the serious thorns on the bougainvillea, particularly in the first photo. Those thorns tear me to shreds whenever I attempt to prune this massive ‘tree’! I’m surprised any birds want to sit here, but, apart from this lone Mousebird, Cape Bulbuls frequently do so.

White-backed Mousebird 3

I only see these birds rarely in my garden. Sometimes one would sit in the apple tree. However, they perch so vertically that they blend in with the branches and are hard to spot.

I tried to get a good shot of this little guy, but it was difficult as I was taking pictures from underneath him with the bright sky as a background. The shadows of the bougainvillea made him all stripey!

White-backed Mousebird 4

Still, it’s always nice to see him in my garden.


Fiscal Shrike

Fiscal Shrike 1

I was hanging out the washing when I heard some birds giving an alarm call in the neighbour’s tree. There was quite a raucous going on, so I knew the birds were trying to defend their nests or chicks from a predator.

Perched right on the top of the tree was a bird that was causing all the trouble. However, squint as I might, it was too far away for me to make out properly. I thought maybe it was a bird that I haven’t seen around our garden for a very long time.

I went back to the house to fetch my trusty Canon camera and took a few shots on maximum zoom, hoping that when I enlarged the photos later on my laptop I’d be able to make out what the bird was.

Fiscal Shrike 2

And there you have it. It was a Fiscal Shrike, also known as the Butcher Bird here.

He was a little tricky to identify from underneath, as you can only see the white chest and a little of the black back and head. The adults have a lovely white stripe in their wing feathers when seen sideways on, or a white V shape from above.

We used to have a resident mating pair in our garden. The young chick would be seen begging for food, sitting on the fence, or the pole of the rabbit enclosure.

Fiscal Shrike 3

The photo above shows what I was working with and why the images are blurred. Yes, the Fiscal Shrike is sitting right on top of that tree!

I know they get a bad rap, as they eat other birds’ eggs and chicks, but they are beautiful and I have missed them.


You can listen to a short clip of the Fiscal Shrike singing here.


Lady Sunbird

Female Lesser Double-Collared Sunbird 1

Lately we have had many visits from the lovely Lesser Double-Collared Sunbirds, since planting more honeysuckle around the garden.

The other day my husband told me there was a sunbird on the plants on the stoep. I grabbed my trusty Canon and took a few shots before it flew off.

Female Lesser Double-Collared Sunbird 2

I apologise for the poor quality of the photos. It was very much a point and click exercise in the hope I caught something; as you can see from the last photo below.

Yes, the little bird is in there!

Female Lesser Double-Collared Sunbird 3

Looking at my photos later I realised it was a female sunbird.

The funny thing is, both my husband and I were sure it was the male sunbird that we saw, with his bright green iridescent plumage, not the female, with her drab grey-brown.

I scanned my photos carefully, but there was no sign of a male anywhere; only the female.

Just shows how the eye and the mind can play tricks on you!