SINGLE FURROW PLOUGH

In farming ploughs are used to turn over the uppermost layer of soil in order to bring fresh nutrients to the surface whilst burying weeds and crop remains to decay and so create more nutrients. Of course a single furrow plough can only create one furrow at a time! Using one makes the task of preparing a land for planting a time-consuming one – yet this was all my parents had when they began farming.

This one is displayed outside the popular Daggaboer Padstal situated along the N10 to Cradock – another relic of farm implements from bygone days.

JANUARY 2022 GARDEN BIRDS

The early mornings begin with such promise: I hear the twittering of Cape White-eyes; the chattering of a Cape Robin-chat; the last bubbling calls of the Fiery-necked Nightjar; and the soft urgings to get started by the Red-eyed Doves – all before the harsh cries of the Hadeda Ibises make one almost leap out of bed only to find the sun has not yet peeped over the horizon. Yes, the mornings begin with such promise … sadly, the cats that have moved in next door have created such havoc that I have replenished the bird seed feeders only once during the whole month; the mornings are quiet; even the bird baths are left abandoned despite the heat … and mostly because of the cats – one of which actually toppled the pedestal bird bath yesterday morning in an attempt to catch a Laughing Dove.

Some birds have bravely sought out where the bird feeders have moved to. This Village Weaver is one of them:

Last month I reported on Spotty, the Common Fiscal, bringing its youngster to the feeding table – and featured them in a post of their own a few weeks ago. During all this time – hardly having made sure its youngster can fend for itself – Spotty has been taking food off to feed another brood. Sure enough, this morning Spotty arrived with the latest youngster in tow. The latter flapped its wings and opened its beak widely until it was filled before starting over. It was a relentless process to watch. No camera at hand, so here is another photograph of Spotty, the able, willing, devoted and indefatigable parent:

Then, such a sad saga: I noted last month that the Lesser-striped Swallows had just completed their mud nest when it fell down. They then built another one around the side of the house, where I think – judging by the chirping and the constant flights to and from the site – they have managed to rear at least one brood. Sad saga? Well, this nest too has fallen down. The Lesser-striped Swallows migrate northwards from about February in this part of the country, so perhaps they were done for the summer anyway. They are in a difficult place to photograph and so this is one of a pair seen in the Addo Elephant National Park:

Another daring – under the circumstances of the feline onslaught – visitor has been the odd Olive Thrush. They make quick forays to see what food is available, gulp something down and disappear. Who can blame them?

It has been gratifying to watch the rapid development of the young Black-collared Barbet which came to feed on the cut apples with its parents at first and later returned several times on its own. The red colouring started showing through within days and it already looks similar to its parents.

My bird list for this month:

African Darter
African Green Pigeon
Amethyst Sunbird
Bar-throated Apalis
Black-collared Barbet
Black-eyed (Dark-capped) Bulbul
Black-headed Oriole
Burchell’s Coucal
Bronze Manikin
Cape Crow
Cape Robin-Chat
Cape Turtle Dove
Cape White-eye
Cattle Egret
Common Fiscal
Common Starling
Diederik Cuckoo
Fiery-necked Nightjar
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Green Woodhoopoe
Grey-headed Bush Shrike
Grey-headed Sparrow
Hadeda Ibis
Hoopoe
Klaas’ Cuckoo
Knysna Turaco
Laughing Dove
Lesser-striped Swallow
Olive Thrush
Pied Crow
Red-eyed Dove
Red-winged Starling
Sacred Ibis
Southern Boubou
Southern Masked Weaver
Speckled Mousebird
Speckled Pigeon
Streaky-headed Seedeater
Village Weaver
White-rumped Swift
Yellowbilled Kite

For the eagle-eyed list-readers: both the African Darter and the Sacred Ibis flew over ‘my’ airspace.

RED-HEADED FINCH

An interesting aspect of travelling is being able to see different species of the many birds South Africa is blessed with. Red-headed Finches (Amadina erythrocephala) are among the many birds I enjoy seeing when we travel up to Gauteng and beyond. Here a pair of them are sharing a branch with Cape Sparrows.

As you can see, they are similar in size to the sparrows. I loved seeing their red heads bobbing up and down as they eat grain from the feeder in this garden. I also saw small flocks of them out in the veld, but they moved far too quickly for me to capture them on film. The flecks of white on the undersides of these finches give them a scaly appearance.

NOTE: Click on a photograph for a larger view.