Just as people, birds and animals seek water to drink when the weather is hot and dry, so do bees. The water in this shallow bird bath at the entrance to the Mountain Zebra National Park is edged with bees and flies taking in much-needed moisture.
Communal taps inevitably drip. Some taps in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park have simple cement bird baths placed under them which both helps to save water and provides for the thirst of bees – lots of them. One actually has to approach these taps with care.
Birds and animals have to approach these watering points with care too.
I was thus impressed to see that in the Karoo National Park not only are bird baths provided under the communal taps, but clear signs warn one to be careful of the bees that will inevitably come to share the water during the hot weather.
Or … perhaps these signs sensitize visitors to the importance of bees and the role they play in keeping our environment healthy.
Either way, it was good to see them.
Knysna turacos are truly beautiful birds that, despite their size, are not always easy to see. Their beautiful green colouring and white eye make-up helps them to ‘melt’ into the foliage in a jiffy. We hear them often; their hoarse kow-kow-kow calls seem to be at odds with their beauty. Occasionally we catch a glimpse of the red in their wings as they fly across the garden, yet we do not often see them. You can thus appreciate my delight when I looked up from my tea to see this:
A Knysna turaco perched on the trunk of a cabbage tree growing next to our swimming pool. That this image was taken with my cell phone might give you an idea of how close it was to me. Unbelievably, I had not heard it arrive. They are incredibly silent in their movements. Its mate flew in from the fig tree to the left, outside of this scene, across the garden to perch on a branch near the feeders. I almost held my breath as the two of them moved towards the bird bath. Still, with only my cell phone at hand, I was able to observe them drinking:
Here the one seems to be waiting for the other. A few minutes later they drank together. I watched them in total fascination for about fifteen minutes before they disappeared into the undergrowth. This was a very special garden sighting!
Having been investigating the contents of the feeding tray, this Southern Boubou perched on the edge of the bird bath. Given their propensity for skulking about in the undergrowth, it was a treat to see it so clearly out in the open.
Note the loose feather under its wing. Unfortunately the bird bath wasn’t very full, it being a day when we had no water in our taps, and so it had to bend far down to drink from the water.
It must have been thirsty, for it repeated this action several times. In between drinks it would remain perched on the edge and look around carefully before bending down for another one. Then it flew up to perch on a branch behind the bird bath, where it posed in the sun for a minute or two.
The loose feather is still clearly evident.
While the Speckled Pigeon inaugurated the new position of the birdbath, I have had the pleasure of watching it being visited by Bronze Manikins too. First, there was one:
Then, there were two:
Before long I saw three:
Soon after the fourth one had joined them, a loud sound from the main road caused them all to fly off in alarm:
The small bird bath we were gifted over a year ago has provided good service from where it was positioned in the shade of a vachellia (acacia) tree. Constructed from solid concrete, it is very heavy for its size. I have at last mustered the strength to roll it across the lawn and heave it into a much more appropriate place in the little flower bed next to our pool. Here I get the benefit of seeing the visitors and they are only a hop away from thick shrubbery should they need shelter in a hurry. A Speckled Pigeon was the first to inspect it:
This is new.
Mm … the water looks good.
It tastes good too.
It tastes very good indeed!
And so it is that the new position of this bird bath has gained its seal of approval. It has since been used by weavers, doves, bulbuls, barbets and a host of other birds.