It was in May 2017 that I first mentioned conflict between birds and people ( At the time I was horrified to note that three tall trees growing in a narrow garden outside a block of flats had been felled. It wasn’t only the loss of trees that upset me, but that only a few weeks before I had observed African Sacred Ibises and Cattle Egrets coming to roost in three tall trees growing next to a block of flats at the end of the day. Some of the latter had fledglings in their nests, while others were flapping their wings whilst firmly gripping the slim branches in the afternoon breeze. Doubtless residents had complained of both the noise and the mess made by the birds.

The Natal fig tree in our garden hosts well up to twenty Hadeda Ibises every night – as do other large trees in our neighbourhood. We are usually woken at least twenty minutes before sunrise by their harsh cries. They might have been annoying at first, but after 35 years of listening to them greet each other and plan their day we have grown to love them for their cheerfulness and character. It is marvellous watching them glide silently towards the branches and listen to them scuffling around before they settle down. Their mess? That all adds to the thick layer of much in my ‘secret garden’ below them, which in turn adds to the tiny creatures fed on by birds …

Back to the African Sacred Ibises and the Cattle Egrets … when those trees were felled in 2017 they found other tall trees close to the CBD to roost in. I showed the tops of some of them in February – all I could see above the buildings at the time (

In March this year I watched African Sacred Ibises and Cattle Egrets coming in to roost in a different tree growing on the edge of the Peppergrove Mall. I photographed them with my cell phone.

This week I happened to be in the same car park and was again horrified to see that same tree being felled.

Today there is not even a stump left.

These communal roosting birds regularly use alien species of trees, such as Eucalyptus, Pine trees or Monkey Puzzle trees as these provide suitable nesting opportunities based on their structure and the size of their branches. We have all of these trees growing within our urban environment and so it follows that there will be some conflict between the people and birds.

I cannot give a solution to the problem of noise and mess, but I feel very strongly that cutting down the trees the birds roost in is not the answer. They have already demonstrate that they will simply move on to use the next suitably sized one they find.

In the end, will we have no large trees left? Trees that have taken years to grow?

Do people ever consider how much noise they make whilst partying or think about the rubbish they leave behind after public events? I doubt it – they are having too much fun at the time and … it is someone else’s job to clean up after them.



The air  is dry; leaves are curling up, turning yellow or brown, and some are carpeting the ground; pot plants have shrivelled in the summer-like temperatures that have scorched us over the past few days; water in the bird baths evaporate almost before my back is turned; wasps and butterflies regularly dip onto the surface of the swimming pool to drink. Everything is crying out for water … April is not a rainy month.

All is not lost though. Canary creeper blossoms are beginning to cover the trees with a bright yellow carpet.

The blue plumbago flowers continue to provide cheer.

The sea lavender also puts on a brave show.

There is plenty of natural food for the birds too. These small Natal figs are already attracting African Green Pigeons, Red-winged Starlings and Black-headed Orioles.

These (so far) unidentified indigenous berries that hang in heavy bunches are eaten by Cape White-eyes, weavers and Speckled Mousebirds.

Ants abound both indoors and out. They are clearly on a quest for water in this hot, dry weather. I watched these ones moving up and down a stone wall outside our kitchen this afternoon.


On this beautifully bright, sunny day let me share some of the things which bring me cheer:

A lingering bright nasturtium.

Sunshine highlighting a leaf.

The excitement of seeing a lion drinking early in the morning.

Scarlet blooms of an Erythrina lysistemon.

Seeing an African Spoonbill.

A view of the Winterberg.