We woke to thick mist casting a white mantle over the garden – not surprising, for last night we enjoyed the rare treat of rolls of thunder and flashes of lightning that turned the sky purple. Such joy it is then to find almost 20mm rain in the gauge – an amount worthy of photographing!
The excessive heat along with the lack of water has put paid to most flowers in the garden. I was thus surprised to see these poppies providing a brave show of colour.
They are among the few successes I have had with growing plants from seeds so far. The marigolds all shrivelled and died once they had put out their first proper leaves – the rain came too late for them, but I shall try again. Meanwhile, the Pompon trees – many of which are self-seeded – have put on a magnificent show this summer, filling our garden with pink delight. They have passed their peak now, yet there are still patches of new blossoms to enjoy.
The other great delight was the later than usual return of the Lesser-striped Swallows. They have deliberated long and hard about the best site for their mud nest. The rains have come at the right time for them and they have made good progress this week at the site of the original nests that have been built here for the past twenty-odd years. They need to complete the cup and then build the tunnel.
I had to negotiate the damp garden path with care in order to photograph the carpet of yellow Tipuana flowers from the tree in our neighbour’s garden. They became very slippery when wet!
While I was walking around our delightfully damp garden, I heard the clopping of hooves of a small group of the Urban Herd walking along the road next to our front fence.
You might just make out some of the lilac Jacaranda tree blossoms that are strewn across the road.
November is a month that seems to have sped by. I have been on the road more than usual and we have had inconvenient time slots for power outages – all of which have contributed to the late posting of my monthly overview of the birds visiting our garden. The third of November heralded the blooming of the first Pompon tree flowers and now our garden is brightened with the trees covered in beautiful pink blossoms.
November is also the start of having pesky mosquitoes around and is the time from which I can expect ants, spiders and beetles to land on me from the shady branches I sit under whilst watching birds! The first bird to draw my attention was a Black-eyed (Dark-capped) Bulbul displaying the avian version of panting in the heat – called gular fluttering.
We have experienced temperatures of up to 36°C, so there has been need for all of us to pant a little! Red-eyed Doves are more sensible and generally remain within the shade of the trees and have seldom been seen in the open during the hottest parts of the day. The heat has meant that Cape White-eyes have been visiting the nectar feeder regularly – they have also been enjoying the apples and pears. The Bronze Manikins continue to delight as they fill the feeders with their little bodies.
While the Laughing Doves generally gather in the nearby trees for at least twenty minutes before coming down to feed, there are always a few of them that prefer to filch seed from the feeder rather than joining the masses on the ground. I found the antics of this one particularly amusing.
Southern Masked Weavers have been kept busy feeding their chicks. I enjoy watching them stuff their beaks with fruit to feed their chicks perched nearby. At one point this month the Cape Weavers appeared to be the dominant weaver in the garden. They have now been usurped by Village Weavers.
The Common Fiscals have also been taking food away for their chicks. Meneer still seems to prefer the titbits I offer in my hand rather than helping himself from the dish. While on the subject of feeding, it has been interesting to note that the Black-headed Orioles have shown a definite preference for meat over fruit, which makes me think they too might be feeding chicks hidden somewhere in the dense foliage.
To round off, the Hadeda Ibis chick has made the successful progress from being nest-bound to walking around the garden in the company of one or both parents.
My bird list for this month:
African Green Pigeon
Black-eyed (Dark-capped) Bulbul
Cape Turtle Dove
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Southern Masked Weaver
I follow the principle that each new day is a fresh start for me, no matter how the previous day ended.
It is like starting with a fresh slate; a new beginning that holds the promise for greater fulfillment and positivity.
Sometimes one simply needs a new perspective in order to get back onto an even keel or to find the solution to a concern.
Each new life holds the possibility for exploration … and each new day is akin to starting from the beginning, only a little wiser.
There is a sense of a new adventure waiting in the wings every day, if only we care to look around us.
I have so far enjoyed the adventure of discovering wild flowers in this new season as spring unfolds different floral treasures every week. The pompon trees in our garden are just coming into flower and will soon be covered with a mass of these pink beauties.
It is at this time of the year that the Cape Honeysuckle puts on a fine show of cheerful bright orange flowers so beloved by sunbirds, weavers, Cape White-eyes, bees and butterflies.
Aloes vie for space among the crassulas plants edging our swimming pool. They too provide cheer and attract the Greater Double-collared sunbirds, weavers, Black-headed orioles, and Black-eyed Bulbuls as well as bees and ants.
The Spekboom growing in various places in the garden does not mind either the icy weather or the drought.
A large flock of Red-winged Starlings visit the fig tree daily and often perch in the top branches of the Erythrina caffra to catch the early morning sun. These trees are now devoid of all but the hardiest of leaves and are covered in clusters of black seed pods that have split open to reveal the scarlet ‘lucky beans’ inside. Flower buds are making their spiky appearance, so before long the trees will look resplendent in their scarlet blooms.
A Black-headed Oriole perches in one of the many Pompon trees that are rapidly losing their leaves. The formerly beautiful pink blossoms now look like miniature floor mops that have been hung out to dry.
A male Garden Inspector / Garden Commodore (Precis archesia archesia) sees what the Canary Creeper flowers have to offer. We have seen very few butterflies in our garden so far.
Every summer we are treated to a delightful flush of fragrant, pinkish-mauve flowers that cover the many Pompon (Dais cotonifolia) trees in our garden. Some of these we planted, but most are self-seeded. They looked particularly lovely during December, when the trees were blanketed in pink blossoms.
Now the trees are covered with the more muted colours of the dried flowers and the swimming pool has to be regularly cleared of the petals as they are separated from the trees by the hot wind fanning through the garden. Their fairly brief period of glory is over. But wait … look at these bright spots poking through the foliage.
Here and there a branch, or even a whole tree, has brought forth a fresh range of flowers for us to enjoy.
Although these trees occur naturally along the eastern part of South Africa, from the Eastern Cape, through the Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and into Limpopo and Mpumalanga, the flowering season seems to vary slightly. Here it is usually between November and December, so to find such pretty flowers coming out near the end of January is a real bonus!