Twenty-five years ago my garden consisted of a collection of alien cacti surrounded by gravel and very little in the way of grass and trees. Now it is a veritable jungle of indigenous trees that create thick shade with a small lawn and boasts an ever lengthening list of lively and interesting bird visitors.
I find that one of the most relaxing activities is to take a pot of tea into a shady spot of the garden and to watch the birds as they go about their daily lives – that our cat often joins me in bird watching is not a deterrent.
There has not been as much time to bird watch this year as I would have liked and so my garden bird list is a sparse 63 species ranging from the Steppe Buzzard that alighted in our enormous fig tree in January to the Red-chested Cuckoo (Piet-my-vrou) whose ventriloquent calls cut across the valley from as early as 3 a.m. in the summer!
We feel honoured to have a regular pair of Lesser striped Swallows nesting under the eaves and have an annual view of the Hadeda Ibises bringing up their chicks in their scruffy nest in the Erythrina tree in our back garden.
The most regular visitors throughout the year are the Laughing Doves and the Village Weavers whose antics provide endless entertainment.
I will be looking more closely at several of my garden visitors in the coming months.