BIRDS WITH STRIPES

The Bar-throated apalis has a distinctive narrow black collar.Sporting a much broader collar is the Black-collared barbet. Its bright red face and throat is bordered with a black stripe.

The head of a Crowned lapwing sports a black cap interrupted by a white stripe that creates a halo effect.

Often overlooked is the Grey-headed sparrow that has a charming little white stripe on its wings.

Then there are the Lesser-striped swallows with prominent black striping on their white underparts.

The last in this group of birds being showcased today is the delightful Red-necked spurfowl. Look at its dark underparts and you will see there are two white stripes on each feather.

PATTERNS IN NATURE: STRIPES

Zebras spring to mind as soon as I consider stripes in nature. As photogenic as they are, however, Zebras are not going to feature in this collection. This time the net has been cast a little wider.

This band of quartz intrusion in sandstone looks like a carefully laid mosaic.

The stripes in this rock have been polished smooth by the wave action of the sea.

This wood louse easily fits into the ‘stripes’ category.

Here is a Bar-throated Apalis.

The puff-adder sports a beautiful arrangement of stripes in its pattern.

Then there are the ‘stripes’ or wrinkles we show in our skin as we age. In this beloved dog, the gradual march of tiny white stripes (hairs) continued relentlessly as he aged.

DECEMBER 2019 GARDEN BIRDS

December has been a frantically busy month during which bird watching in our garden has often had to take second place to other activities – as wonderful as they were. I need not have worried though for one of the dubious benefits of the drought has been the attraction of a greater variety of birds to the garden. A Chin-spot Batis was a welcome newcomer that worked its way through the remaining ivy leaves in a more sheltered spot and it has been pleasing to see the return of Yellow-fronted Canaries. This one is inspecting the new feeder I received from my family in Norway.

The most wonderful sound to hear outside since 2018 was the bubbling calls of a Burchell’s Coucal. It paid the garden a very fleeting visit though. These camera-shy birds tend to take refuge in the bushes and the call of one was particularly exciting to hear for they are colloquially known as ‘rain birds’ – said to predict rain, which we need so desperately in the Eastern Cape. Perhaps its prediction was accurately short for we received a whole millimetre of rain not long afterwards! Although I hear their high-pitched calls daily and frequently see them working their way quickly through the remains of the dry Cape Honeysuckle hedge, I was pleased to photograph this Bar-throated Apalis on the ground near our wash line.

A pair of Red-necked Spurfowl have been making more frequent forays into our garden to seek out the crushed maize I scatter for the doves. This is not a good photograph of one for they are still very skittish and move off very quickly should I approach too close for their comfort. I am hoping they will become regular visitors.

The number of Black-eyed Bulbuls gathering around the fruit has increased from the usual three or four to up to seventeen individuals this month! This must be related to the paucity of naturally available food in these drought conditions. I love watching their antics and listening to their cheerful calls. Despite them being sociable birds, they can be fairly aggressive towards each other at times. I have observed, for example how a bird may spread its tail feathers and raise its crest when confronting another in order to protect its turn at an apple.

Male Pin-tailed Whydahs are generally aggressive towards other birds. This one is an exception for, as I have seen no females, I am guessing that my garden is not his territory to defend and he only comes here to feed. He is sporting a magnificent tail at the moment.

My December bird list is:

African Green Pigeon
Amethyst Sunbird
Barthroated Apalis
Blackcollared Barbet
Blackeyed Bulbul
Blackheaded Oriole
Bokmakierie
Boubou
Bronze Manikin
Burchell’s Coucal
Cape Robin-chat
Cape Turtle Dove
Cape Wagtail
Cape Weaver
Cape White-eye
Cardinal Woodpecker
Cattle Egret
Chinspot Batis
Common Fiscal
Common Starling
Diederik Cuckoo
Forktailed Drongo
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Green Woodhoopoe
Greyheaded Sparrow
Hadeda Ibis
Klaas’ Cuckoo
Knysna Turaco
Laughing Dove
Lesser-striped Swallow
Olive Thrush
Paradise Flycatcher
Pied Crow
Pintailed Whydah
Red-chested Cuckoo
Redeyed Dove
Red-necked Spurfowl
Red-throated Wryneck
Redwinged Starling
Sacred Ibis
Sombre Bulbul
Southern Masked Weaver
Southern Red Bishop
Speckled Mousebird
Speckled Pigeon
Streakyheaded Seedeater
Village Weaver
Whiterumped Swift
Yellow-billed Kite
Yellowfronted Canary

DECEMBER 2017 GARDEN BIRDS

This has been an excellent month for watching birds in our garden. However, in between entertaining friends and family, celebrating Christmas, and sneaking in a visit to the Addo Elephant National Park before the year ended, there have not been many photographic opportunities, and so you may have seen some of these pictures before.

Village Weavers have continued to entertain us with their cheerful chattering, bright yellow plumage and their constant bickering at the feeding stations. Despite several nests having been crafted all over the garden, few have actually been used for breeding.

Laughing Doves are regulars too: they queue up on the telephone cable in the mornings, waiting for me to scatter seed on the lawn. They gradually move from the cable to the trees, coming ever closer until they alight cautiously. The flock (for there are many of them now) rise in an audible ‘whoosh’ at the slightest movement or sound that triggers their alarm system, only to return moments later.

Cape White-eyes are among the first garden birds to stir before first light. They are making a meal of the ripening plums at the moment! These are figs in the picture below – I haven’t one of them gorging on the plums to show you.

The Greater Double-collared Sunbird has been making ‘guest appearances’ this month as there is plenty of other food about. I always enjoy the metallic sheen of its feathers.

After a brief absence, it feels good to have the Barthroated Apalis back.

My December bird list is:

African Darter
African Green Pigeon
Barthroated Apalis
Black Crow (Cape)
Black Cuckoo
Black Sunbird (Amethyst)
Blackcollared Barbet
Blackeyed Bulbul
Blackheaded Heron
Blackheaded Oriole
Bronze Manikin
Cape Robin (Cape Robin-chat)
Cape Turtle Dove
Cape Weaver
Cape White-eye
Cattle Egret
Common Starling
Diederik Cuckoo
Fiscal Shrike
Forktailed Drongo
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Greyheaded Sparrow
Hadeda Ibis
Hoopoe
Klaas’ Cuckoo
Knysna Lourie (Turaco)
Laughing Dove
Lesserstriped Swallow
Olive Thrush
Paradise Flycatcher
Pied Crow
Pintailed Whydah
Redchested Cuckoo
Redeyed Dove
Redwinged Starling
Rock Pigeon (Speckled)
Speckled Mousebird
Spectacled Weaver
Streakyheaded Canary (Seedeater)
Village Weaver
Whiterumped Swift

MARCH 2014 GARDEN BIRDS

MARCH 2014 GARDEN BIRDS

This March has been an exceptionally busy month with a lot of work to be done, travelling, and getting home late from work. That I have only recorded 31 species is not a reflection of decreasing bird life in our garden, but rather a lack of opportunity to truly enjoy the birds. Certainly the early mornings are still heralded with the soft, melodious calls of the Cape Robin and sometimes the distinctive sounds of the Barthroated Apalis flitting through the foliage outside my window. Interestingly enough, the Streakyheaded Canary was the first on my list this month. Outside of aloe blooming season these birds, for some reason, seem to prefer the back garden. As noted last month, they have started visiting the bird feeder in the front. The dapper Bokmakierie slid into the last position – yes, I am cheating for the month has not ended yet, but I am shortly to be on the road again. I love listening to the Bokmakierie calling in the early mornings and later in the afternoon and feel very privileged to see one hopping about on the lawn.

bokmakierie
The mud nest of the Lesserstriped swallows has fallen down from the eaves and these beautiful birds are gathering in increasingly large flocks swooping through the air in the late afternoon light. I will miss them when they go and I am in awe of the long trek they make between continents.
My March list is:
Barthroated Apalis
Black Crow
Black Sunbird (Amethyst)
Blackcollared Barbet
Blackeyed Bulbul
Blackheaded Oriole
Bokmakierie
Bronze Manikin
Brownhooded Kingfisher
Cape Robin
Cape Turtle Dove
Cape Weaver
Cape White-eye
Cattle Egret
Forktailed Drongo
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Greyheaded Sparrow
Hadeda Ibis
Laughing Dove
Lesserstriped Swallow
Olive Thrush
Redbilled Woodhoopoe
Redeyed Dove
Redwinged Starling
Rock Pigeon
Sombre Bulbul
Speckled Mousebird
Streakyheaded Canary
Village Weaver
Whiterumped Swift
Yellow Weaver