November has been a fulfilling month for watching birds in the garden, with an average of twenty or so birds making it to my list all while I am enjoying a pot of tea!
There has been a lot of activity too in the avian world: the number of Laughing Doves has swelled with a new generation of paler youngsters and the Rock (Speckled) Pigeons have increased from the regular two to six. Apart from the breeding pair in the roof above my study, another pair quickly moved in above the bathroom when a gap appeared in the eaves after a storm.
I have observed a pair of Olive Thrushes following a circuitous route around the garden while taking food to their young in a nest hidden in some bushes only metres away from where I usually sit.
The pair of Lesser-striped Swallows have changed the direction of the tunnel entrance to their mud nest this season. So far there has been no dislodging of their building material and I note, from the increasing frequency of their use of the entrance, that they must be raising their young.
While many Village Weavers and Cape Weavers are kept busy feeding their young, others continue to build nests in the fig tree.
The Hadeda Ibis chick in the fig tree has progressed from flexing its wings while perching on a sturdy branch to walking all over the garden in search of food.
A pair of Cape Wagtails were the first birds to be noted this month as they pranced around the edge of the swimming pool and chirrupt from the edge of the gutters on the roof. I regard them as a cheerful asset to any garden.
It has also been fascinating to watch the Fork-tailed Drongo dive-bombing the swimming pool. At first it was obvious that this canny hunter was after an insect floundering on the surface of the water. Later, as this behaviour was repeated several times in a row, we couldn’t help feeling it was literally taking a bath ‘on the wing’ – unless what it was after was microscopic.
Two Redbilled Woodhoopoes serenaded me from the bathroom windowsill last week. Who says one has to be outdoors to appreciate birds?
The regular dawn chorus includes the Bokmakierie, Blackheaded Oriole, Black-collared Barbets, and the Sombre Bulbul. What a delight it has been to see Paradise Flycatchers flitting through the trees these days.
A newcomer to my list is the White-necked Raven that has appeared a few times over the past fortnight. Three Black (Cape) Crows hung around for a while recently too, often perching on the telephone wires. A few days ago they caused a consternation in the garden when they raucously settled into the fig tree. Their harsh calls and various gurgling notes caused the other birds to scatter, only to regroup once the dark trio had left. This same scattering for cover has been repeated every time a Black Harrier was seen for several days in a row.
The Barthroated Apalis was the last on my list after an absence of over a month. I saw it working its way through the shrubbery after I had heard the return of its familiar call earlier. I read that it is regularly parasitized by Klaas’ Cuckoo – that is still around, as is the Red-chested Cuckoo. The latter is vociferously calling ‘Piet-my-vrou’ as I write.
By the way, Bryan the tortoise, has been seen more regularly too. He chomps at the grass and nibbles some of the broad-leaved weeds, drinks from the bird bath set on the lawn, and seeks shelter in a shady patch during the hottest part of the day.
My November list is:
African Green Pigeon
Black Crow (Cape)
Black Sunbird (Amethyst)
Cape Turtle Dove
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Greyheaded Bush Shrike
Rock Pigeon (Speckled)
Southern Masked Weaver