Considering I have spent two weeks away this month and that we have experienced over a week of unusually rainy weather, a list of 37 different species of birds in our garden is not unsatisfactory.
The first on my list was the restless, busy looking Barthroated Apalis which can be heard long before being spotted as it flits through the undergrowth. They eat insects, including caterpillars, and work their way through the leaves and flowers of the canary creeper, Cape honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis), and the bushes of Leonatis leonuris – the latter is coming into bloom and will soon attract sunbirds, weavers, bulbuls, white-eyes and canaries.
Newcomers this month are the Spectacled Weaver – very seldom spotted in my garden; a Redfronted Tinkerbird – which I heard days before it appeared on a branch just above me while I was having tea; the beautiful Greyheaded Bush Shrike which I cannot help admiring for its handsome colouring; and the last on April’s list – a Gymnogene.
There has always been at least one pair of Gymnogenes in our town. We sometimes see one soaring silently over the garden and I am rather surprised to note it so late this year as we have seen them as early as January before.
Ten years ago, an adult Gymnogene alighted on a branch in the large Tipuana tree growing in our neighbour’s garden close to my study window. I was excited to see it bearing a dove in its talons and listened to it emitting a purposeful harsh sounding shriek. Before long a juvenile approached and alighted on the same branch.
The adult appeared to offer the juvenile its prey and moved to a branch nearby. It remained there long enough to seemingly satisfy itself that the juvenile was eating and then took off. We had a marvellous view from an upstairs window as the juvenile tucked into its meal. When done, it moved along further up the branch, cleaning its beak on the rough bark as it did so. Then it too flew away, leaving us feeling privileged to have seen them from such close quarters!
My April list is:
African Green Pigeon
Black Crow Black Sunbird (Amethyst)
Cape Turtle Dove
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Greyheaded Bush Shrike