At the feeder

After a quiet time at the feeder, the birds are back in numbers again. Perhaps they found somewhere else to eat, or just enjoyed sipping on nectar from the last of the summer blooms, but we are in favour again. Cape Bulbuls used to be numerous but disappeared for a few months, with only one pair having returned this week. Weavers remain boisterous and bossy, chasing away any interesting bird the moment we spot it, but no successful nests were built in our trees and they must be travelling to get here. A pair of young Amethyst Sunbirds are currently reappearing from nearby and it looks as they may well settle in the area. A real challenge to photograph as they are the most skittish of all birds.

Resident Karoo Prinias have successfully bred in the myrtle hedge, and it has been a delight to watch parents and two fledglings chirping and posing on the highest twigs. They do not come to the feeder, but rather find their tasty morsels in the air and the undergrowth – insects. Hopefully they will remain and become a permanent feature in the garden. Other insectivores include the Southern Boubou, Common Fiscal, Fiscal Flycatcher and the Malachite Sunbird on occasion. Sugarbirds have also snatched a bee from the buddleia and so I feel confident that the birds coming to the feeder are not reliant on it, but merely supplement their diets with some easy pickings. There are days when I don’t put out anything except fruit, just to set them back on the straight and narrow!

A welcome visitor yesterday morning was a new Black Sparrowhawk, unringed, and he preened away in the dead gum tree while pondering his unsuccessful hunt of a pigeon breakfast. No sooner had he flown off than a Peregrine Falcon appeared nearby. It could very well have been the forerunner of the hunt, chasing away the prey, so the Sparrowhawk will doubtless be back. They breed up the road at Imhoff Farm, where they are usually ringed, but this may be an outsider.

Daily observation leads to greater knowledge of the birdlife in the garden. A few of the things I have learned are: the Cape sparrows pop out of the shelter of the milkwood tree to enjoy late afternoon sun around 5.30; the sugarbird baths just after sunrise and again around 4.30 and the Cape White-eyes are regular fountain splashers at 4.15. I am sure this will be adjusted as the seasons change, but for the moment it brings much pleasure to the birdwatching experience, looking out for particular birds.

Over the last two years, we have had 92 species of bird land on our trees or fly over the property, or perch in a nearby tree, and I consider this to be quite an impressive number for a garden on the very southwestern edge of the Cape Peninsula with a lighthouse for a landmark.

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