BLACK-HEADED ORIOLE

Most of the photographs I have posted of a Black-headed Oriole (Oriolus larvatus) have been taken while one has been visiting the nectar feeder. It has been easier this way as they tend to frequent the tall trees and so are hidden by the foliage. The latter is thinning out now that winter is upon us, making it easier to spot this one perched in the branches of the Erythrina caffra growing in the back garden.

There were two of them – too far apart to frame together – calling to each other, their liquid sounds passing to and fro between them. This one has been captured whilst calling to its mate. You can see its strong bill, which aids its diet of fruit, berries and insects – apart from nectar, which it is partial to.

ERYTHRINA SEEDS

The Erythrina caffra trees in our back garden epitomise the strange weather patterns that have characterised the past year: they are sporting green leaves and yellow leaves, are shedding brown leaves and have clusters of open seedpods clinging to them in the gusty wind, exposing their scarlet seeds.

This is one of many pods that have been detached and scattered by the wind.

WHERE THERE’S A WILL …

… THERE’S A WAY.

I usually scatter crushed mealies on the ground for the doves and pigeons to eat and fill this hanging feeder with the finer seeds for the smaller birds to feed on. Thus was the order for many months. The Laughing Doves became dissatisfied with this arrangement. Having tasted the smaller seeds that are inevitably dropped by the weavers – really messy eaters – as well as the Streaky-headed Seedeaters, they wanted more. They wanted to get to the source of this tasty food. Several tried and failed to get a perch on this hanging feeder. Where there’s a will there is a way, however and their persistence paid off in the end.

This Laughing Dove launched itself off a nearby branch and, after missing its footing more than once, got a grip and began pecking away. As it tips the feeder this way and that more fine seed falls out, to the delight of the other doves below. Later in the day there were actually three Laughing Doves on the feeder – not for long at a time though. I think the third one is one too many and gets bumped off its perch! The willpower or determination of these doves to achieve their goal, no matter how difficult it is, has proved to be a good example of this proverb that has been in use since the 1600s.

ANOTHER TEA VISITOR

Our garden is alive with lizards and geckos of all sizes at this time of the year.

Postscript: Dries has identified this as a Common / Cape Dwarf Gecko (Lygodactylus capensis). Unlike the common house Geckos, these geckos seem to enjoy being active during the day and frequently bask in the sun. 

NOTE: Click on a photograph if you want a larger view.

MAY 2019 GARDEN BIRDS

I cannot adequately convey how wonderful it is to hear the sounds of the Cape Turtle Dove in our garden at different times of the day. They used to be regular visitors to the feeders until elbowed out by the sheer number of Laughing Doves and Speckled Pigeons that wolf up the grain within twenty minutes of it being scattered outside. So, I hear the Cape Turtle Doves calling from the Erythrina trees in the back garden and see them pecking for food in the kitchen beds more often than they come to the front to see what the masses have left. Cape Turtle doves remind me of my childhood in the Lowveld and our visits to the Kruger National Park as well as the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, where this photograph was taken.

My favourite visitors are the Cape Robins that are among the first birds to greet the dawn and which come to peck at the fruit and other titbits when the garden is quiet and most of the other birds have left to seek food elsewhere.

A pair of Greyheaded Sparrows also prefer to visit the feeders after the doves and weavers have left. Some of the weavers are beginning to sport their winter tweeds, yet there are still many males looking as though they are ready to find a mate. A few males have been seen carrying strips of grass to tie onto thin branches – perhaps we need a really cold spell of weather to make them realise that there is still the winter to get through!

Of some concern is that the population of Speckled Pigeons nesting in our roof has increased to the point that they may have to be moved on and we will have to reseal the eaves. They are lovely birds to look at, however the mess they make is awful – our front steps and some of the outside walls are covered with their faeces, which cannot be a healthy situation in the long run.

Redwinged Starlings have been gathering in large flocks over the past few weeks. They fly around in flocks of between fifty and a hundred, sometimes breaking off to fly in different directions and meeting up again. They often settle in the Natal Fig, only to be frightened by loud noises from passing vehicles and a cloud of black rises up noisily to whirl about again: their reddish wings look beautiful against the light.

So do the bright red wings of the Knysna Turaco. How fortunate I was yesterday morning to watch a pair of them flitting around in the trees near to where I was sitting and then to drink from the bird bath situated only a few metres away from me!

A really interesting sight was an African Harrier Hawk (Gymnogene) flying low over the garden before perching in the Natal Fig. It wasn’t there long before I saw it take off with a single Fork-tailed Drongo in hot pursuit. The Drongo chased it right across the garden and back before the hawk changed direction to fly further afield. I am impressed with the feistiness of the Drongo!

I have already highlighted my photographs of the Green Wood-hoopoes that visited our garden last weekend, so will end with a photograph of an Amethyst Sunbird that posed for me briefly, albeit in the shade:

My May bird list is:

African Green Pigeon
African Harrier-Hawk (Gymnogene)
Amethyst Sunbird
Barthroated Apalis
Blackcollared Barbet
Blackeyed Bulbul
Blackheaded Oriole
Boubou
Bronze Manikin
Cape Robin (Cape Robin-chat)
Cape Turtle Dove
Cape Wagtail
Cape Weaver
Cape White-eye
Cattle Egret
Collared Sunbird
Common Fiscal
Common Starling
Fiery-necked Nightjar
Forktailed Drongo
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Green Wood-hoopoe
Greyheaded Sparrow
Hadeda Ibis
Klaas’ Cuckoo
Knysna Turaco
Laughing Dove
Olive Thrush
Pied Crow
Redeyed Dove
Redfronted Tinkerbird
Rednecked Spurfowl
Redwinged Starling
Sombre Bulbul
Speckled Mousebird
Speckled Pigeon
Spectacled Weaver
Village Weaver