May has been a chilly – and very busy – month with little time to spend outdoors on leisurely activities such as watching birds. A Black Crow (also known as the Cape Crow) flew onto my list first as several of them have taken to swirling around in groups and one or two occasionally perch high up on either the Cyprus or the Fig tree while making a variety of bubbling calls announcing their presence.
I was delighted to see a pair of Cape Wagtails at last. They used to be resident in our garden and for two years in a row a pair nested in the tangle of air plants draped over the lower branches of the trees creating deep shade in part of our garden. Their cheerful movements are encapsulated in John Clare’s beautiful poem, Little Trotty Wagtail:
Little Trotty Wagtail he went in the rain
And twittering, tottering sideways he ne’er got straight again,
He stooped to get a worm and looked up to get a fly,
And then he flew away ere his feathers they were dry.
Little Trotty Wagtail he waddled in the mud,
And left his little footmarks, trample where he would.
He waddled in the water pudge and waggle went his tail,
And chirrupt up his wings to dry upon the garden rail.
Little Trotty Wagtail, you nimble all about,
And in the dimpling waterpudge you waddle in and out;
Your home is nigh at hand and in the warm pig stye,
So, little Master Wagtail, I’ll bid you a goodbye.
It has been over a year since an African Dusky Flycatcher has graced our garden with its presence. It flits about among the trees in the back garden, occasionally venturing out to sit on one of the many aloes that have come into bloom.
The beautiful Cape Robin is the last on my list. I hear it often, yet actually spotted one only recently as it serenaded me from the thicket while I was drinking tea late one afternoon. This uncharacteristic shyness is a far cry from recent years when robins made a habit of flying in and out of our home as part of their food-seeking territory: cat food in the kitchen crumbs on the dining room table, and sometimes even perching on the lounge doors to watch for the fall of tiny titbits on the carpet!
My May list is:
African Dusky Flycatcher
Black Sunbird (Amethyst)
Cape Turtle Dove
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Greyheaded Bush Shrike