I have been late before, but never this late with my monthly report on the birds visiting our garden. Blame it on the hours spent sourcing the necessary information and having to travel all the way to Cape Town to lodge visa applications – no, we don’t have our passports back yet. Keep calm, breathe deeply … that is the only way to deal with bureaucracy. April was a month in which I welcomed several new visitors: Sombre Bulbul, Grey-headed Bush Shrike, Common Starling, Amethyst Sunbird, Black Sparrowhawk, Crowned Hornbill, African Hoopoe, Spectacled Weaver and Yellow Weaver.
Strangely enough, the Common Starlings have mainly visited the Natal fig tree and have found something to eat in the Erythrina caffra instead of coming down to ground level – which they have often done in the past.
It is the African Green Pigeons that have provided great delight with their coughing, deep-throated laughing sounds and occasional views of them peeping through the leaves of the fig tree. With the mornings becoming ever colder and the sun taking longer to rise, I have sometimes seen them sunning themselves in the higher branches of the Erythrina caffra.
Once, when a particularly noisy truck passed along the road below our home, over sixty of these beautiful birds took to the air with a collectively loud beating of their wings.
Laughing Doves still take at least twenty minutes of perching in branches before feeling comfortable enough to flutter down to eat the maize seeds on the ground. There are still a number that insist on clinging onto the hanging feeders to get at the fine seed there. Pied Crows fly overhead regularly and occasionally perch in the upper branches of the fig tree or on the top of the cypress in the next door garden.
The Black-headed Orioles have not enjoyed me moving the feeders to the other side of the garden and have taken a while to visit the nectar feeder and the fruit tray. The Cape Robin-chats are also wary, even though there is plenty of cover for them to hide. They tend to come out when few other birds are about and are quick to fly off at the slightest sound. They must be on the constant lookout for the cats next door.
Huge flocks of Red-winged Starlings have been feasting on the figs. The air is filled with their mellifluous calls and their fig-fuelled droppings are all over the garden. They too are sometimes startled by unexpectedly loud sounds from passing vehicles and take to the skies.
I often remark that the Knysna Turacos are more easily heard than seen in our garden. Sometimes I am fortunate enough to see one flying across the garden, but this month I was able to photograph one perched in the back garden.
My bird list for this month:
African Green Pigeon
Black-eyed (Dark-capped) Bulbul
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Grey-headed Bush Shrike
Southern Masked Weaver