This has been a hectic month for the birds in our garden. Village Weavers seem to be feeding their chicks daily; the Olive Thrushes have successfully raised their speckled young to the point where the latter are able to fend for themselves; and the number of Laughing Doves feeding on the lawn has noticeably increased during the course of the month.
For some time now I have noticed a pair of Blackeyed Bulbuls stuffing their beaks with fruit to feed their offspring in an out-of-sight nest, possibly situated in the neighbouring garden. Two days ago they took turns flying into the bushes next to our swimming pool. This ‘relay feeding’ was repeated several times yesterday until the youngster was at last enticed to fly to the feeding tray. There the parents found it much more convenient to take turns helping it to feast on the pear.
The Lesserstriped Swallows some of you have shown such a shared interest in have, thankfully, successfully raised at least one chick. I saw all three of them twittering on the cable nearby and only a day or two later a chunk of the bowl of the nest broke away. The birds obviously do not need the nest anymore and I imagine that they will soon join others for their migratory trek northwards.
Streakyheaded Canaries were the first on my list this month as I spotted a pair of them pecking at the base of the orange tubular flowers of the Cape Honeysuckle (Tacoma capensis) that forms a screen outside the kitchen. I first observed these birds in our garden about ten years ago. They had become regular visitors by then, having been noted throughout the year.
I see them often when the wild figs are fruiting and they occasionally nibble at the apples, pears and oranges I put out. During the winter they feed on aloe flowers – the pollen-rich stamens and anthers are a good source of protein – and I occasionally see them eating birds seed. They do not appear in great numbers anymore, however, and when I do see them it is mainly in the back garden.
The Sombre Bulbuls have returned, as have a few Yellow Weavers – I never see the latter in great numbers. I’m pleased to report the Pintailed Whydah pops by now and then. Usually this is a single male or a couple of females, although I recently saw two males perched in the acacia tree – not for long though.
A Grey Heron made a brief appearance and I was thrilled to actually see a Brownhooded Kingfisher – I heard its calls last month, but never saw one. It was equally pleasing to spot a Cardinal Woodpecker while I was having tea the other morning, for I often hear it pecking away in the forested part of the garden.
The Diderik Cuckoo is still around, filling the garden with its plaintive, high-pitched calls.
Not in our garden, but a very interesting observation from the Prep School over the railway line from our house this week was a Gymnogene being mobbed by a large flock of Redwinged Starlings!
My February list is:
African Green Pigeon
Black Crow (Cape)
Black Sunbird (Amethyst)
Cape Turtle Dove
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Rock Pigeon (Speckled)