South African readers will attest to the inquisitive nature of the Cape Robin-chat. They are shy birds – yet, with time, endear themselves to their garden hosts by adopting a confiding demeanour. This relationship is enhanced if food becomes a part of it. The Cape Robin-chat vies with the Olive Thrush to be first to inspect the offerings on the feeding tray – both get chased by the Common Fiscal, only to return in a flash once the latter has flown off. Cape Robin-chats love cheese and finely chopped meat. I have written before of one which made itself very at home in our house when we still had a cat. It would inspect nearly every room in the house, making sure to help itself to cat food in the kitchen, and would even peck at any crumbs left on the dining room table. We would sometimes be treated to a song while it perched on the door of the lounge while we were having tea!
With the demise of our cat came the absence of the Cape Robin-chat. I missed its visits, although not having to clean up behind it! Recently I began to be concerned that we might have nocturnal visitors in the form of mice for I found tiny droppings on the windowsill in the lounge. Then I found the odd squishy visiting card on the back of the couch, on the table cloth on the dining table, and on a shelf in the kitchen … a familiar image came to mind. Caught in the act: I looked up from my knitting to see this little creature perched on a bookcase.
It was quite at home and clearly knew its way around. What a happy sighting! They are always on the lookout for food, often just peeping out of the shrubbery.
Everything is carefully scrutinised.
Even an apple will do.
Robin-chats are very wary of potential dangers and can be gone in a flash. There are times though, such as this, when one comes almost within touching distance of me in the garden.
Such encounters leave me with a warm feeling inside.