FEBRUARY 2022 GARDEN BIRDS

This has been a very hot month and the neighbouring cats have been relentless in using our garden as a hunting ground. The birds featuring on my list below are regarded as real warriors by me – even though in many cases my sightings of them have been fleeting. They regularly visit the bird baths in this heat, and have been able to visit the nectar feeder in relative safety as well as the hanging feeders. It is the birds that prefer feeding on the ground that do so in particular fear of being caught by a cat.

Six birds have made a brief foray into the garden for the first time this year: African Hoopoes are intermittent visitors which mainly come when the ground is soft enough for them to probe it with their long beaks; the Black Cuckoo-shrike was absent last month; we seldom get to see a Bokmakierie in the garden; a Fork-tailed Drongo gave a fine aerial display across the garden the other day; a Red-fronted Tinkerbird came tantalisingly close to me but would not be photographed; and a few Yellow Weavers paid a flying visit to the hanging feeders before disappearing.

The Hadeda Ibises do a good job of waking the neighbourhood every morning – fortunately this is gradually becoming later as the sun takes longer to peer over the mountains. During this heat it is comforting to hear the burbling sounds of the Laughing Doves from within the shade of the trees.

The Greater Double-collared Sunbirds have been making their presence known and rush back and forth from the nectar feeder – never in good light or when I have my camera handy though! Cape Turtle Doves call in the late afternoons and the Black-eyed Bulbuls wolf down bits of fruit – always with a wary eye open for a cat lurking about. The Bronze Manikins mostly take food from the feeder these days as picking fallen seeds up from the ground is far too dangerous for them.

I often hear the Cape Crows go ‘boil boil’ during the day. At least one of them enjoys calling from the top of the cypress tree next door after sunset.

The pair of Grey-headed Sparrows have become very wary of approaching the feeders and almost seem to keep a look out for each other.

The colour scheme this month appears to be a sombre one – a reflection of the times perhaps.

My bird list for this month:

African Green Pigeon
African Hoopoe
Black-collared Barbet
Black Cuckoo-shrike
Black-eyed (Dark-capped) Bulbul
Black-headed Oriole
Bokmakierie
Bronze Manikin
Cape Crow
Cape Robin-Chat
Cape Turtle Dove
Cape White-eye
Cattle Egret
Common Fiscal
Diederik Cuckoo
Fiery-necked Nightjar
Fork-tailed Drongo
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Green Woodhoopoe
Grey-headed Sparrow
Hadeda Ibis
Klaas’ Cuckoo
Knysna Turaco
Laughing Dove
Lesser-striped Swallow
Olive Thrush
Pied Crow
Red-eyed Dove
Red-fronted Tinkerbird
Red-winged Starling
Southern Masked Weaver
Speckled Mousebird
Speckled Pigeon
Village Weaver
White-rumped Swift
Yellow Weaver

NOVEMBER 2017 GARDEN BIRDS

What a bumper month this has been for seeing birds in our garden! The Black Cuckoo could be heard long before it was seen; I have only had glimpses of the Paradise Flycatchers – which is not surprising as our garden consists of a tangle of trees and bush. Despite their name, Common Waxbill, these birds are not common in our garden and so their presence for several days running came as a pleasant surprise. Redbilled Woodhoopoes also paid us a flying visit, although I hear them calling around the neighbourhood far more often than I see them. The solitary Red Bishop that visits every now and then remains a mystery – where does it come from and why doesn’t it invite any of its mates to the bounty of food available in the garden?

A pair of Grey-headed Sparrows come to inspect the feeding tray either very early in the morning – before the mass of assorted doves and weavers arrive – or to see what is left once the initial feeding frenzy is over. I recognise their ‘chirrups’ among the leaves well before they appear.

There must be a lot of fruit around elsewhere for the Redwinged Starlings are not as prolific as they have been. Here a female has knocked an apple off the feeding tray to peck at on the ground.

My November bird list is:
African Darter
African Green Pigeon
Black Crow (Cape)
Black Cuckoo
Black Sunbird (Amethyst)
Blackcollared Barbet
Black Cuckoo Shrike
Blackeyed Bulbul
Blackheaded Oriole
Bokmakierie
Bronze Manikin
Cape Robin (Cape Robin-chat)
Cape Turtle Dove
Cape Weaver
Cape White-eye
Cattle Egret
Common Starling
Common Waxbill
Diederik Cuckoo
Fiscal Shrike
Forktailed Drongo
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Greyheaded Sparrow
Hadeda Ibis
Hoopoe
Klaas’ Cuckoo
Knysna Lourie
Laughing Dove
Lesserstriped Swallow
Olive Thrush
Paradise Flycatcher
Pied Crow
Pintailed Whydah
Red Bishop
Redbilled Woodhoopoe
Redchested Cuckoo
Redeyed Dove
Redwinged Starling
Rock Pigeon (Speckled)
Sacred Ibis
Sombre Bulbul
Speckled Mousebird
Streakyheaded Canary (Seedeater)
Village Weaver
Whiterumped Swift
Yellow Weaver

BIRDING OVER COFFEE

It was during a twenty minute coffee break in the shady part of our garden this morning that I observed an Olive Thrush hungrily stabbing at an apple on the feeding tray. Its head bobbed up and down as the juicy flesh was hastily consumed: eating as if there were no tomorrow. It wanted the fare to itself and chased off any other potential feeders – mostly weavers – which hovered on the branches above or dared to perch on the edge of the tray.

A pair of Rock Pigeons pecked at the coarse seeds scattered among the still un-mowed grass, joined by a small flock of Laughing Doves so skittish that they would ‘whoosh’ up in a flurry at the slightest sound: a power drill next door, a light aeroplane flying low overhead, or a heavy truck passing along the street below.

laughing doves

A more daring one later usurped Morrigan’s bench-like feeder for a more ‘secure’ breakfast.

laughing dove

A solitary Cape Weaver, sporting the delightful blush of the breeding season, took the gap during the absence of the Olive Thrush to swoop down and gobble up bread crumbs on the feeding tray. Village Weavers opted to feed on the fine seeds in the hanging feeder I call the ‘seed house’.

village weavers

In a surprising move a Southern Boubou hopped onto the ‘seed house’ to peck at the fine seeds within. It usually skulks along the ground to peck at titbits dropped from the feeding tray above or picks at the fruit. A more varied diet was called for this morning, for it then grabbed a sizeable morsel of bread to eat on the ground in the shadows before perching on Morrigan’s feeder for more fine seeds: peck, look around; peck, look around …

Meanwhile, Cape Turtle Doves cooed from the treetops whilst a bevy of Cape White-eyes flitted between the branches above me, chirping loudly as they scoured the foliage for food. Just then a pair of Grey-headed Sparrows perched on a branch, waiting their turn to muscle in between the weavers on the ‘seed house’. They too took the gap to breakfast on Morrigan’s feeder.

grey-headed sparrows

Then there was the Black-headed Oriole that came to quench its thirst.

blackheaded oriole