Bird photography is challenging at the best of times. As a newcomer to this hobby, I still have to develop the patience and planning required, and most of my photos are taken at home, where I have a variety of bird feeders and indigenous plants to attract birds to the garden. I started off with a suet ball and leftover rice, as well as various fruits (nobody eats fruit in my family, so it’s nice to find an outlet for that which I do buy!), which attracted up to 8 species, and the sunbirds were always at the aloes. Despite having a hunting cat that has made a small dent in the bird population, I mostly have been able to save the victims, and they have become used to Mango and Biggles lying in the pot plants, thinking they are well camouflaged.
This week the sunbirds, which have always been very much in evidence, have apparently found more exciting fare at the neighbours and although they perch briefly in the upper twigs of the dead tree between us, they swoop up and down at such speed that it’s hard to focus the camera before they’re gone. Today there were four brightly iridescent Southern Double-Collared sunbirds playing a game of tag – that’s all I can describe it as – as they twittered incessantly, flying in and out of the garden and swooping down out of sight and then suddenly reappearing, for at least an hour. With a cloudy, darkish day, the light was very poor for good photos of these delightful birds, and most of my photos had to be taken through a very dirty upper floor window, but I did what I could. The fact that I already have about 400 pics of these birds didn’t stop me. You can never have too many sunbird pics (or waves, for that matter).
A pair of sugarbirds alighted briefly on the dead tree but disappeared as soon as they saw the camera and I had to make do with some long-distance shots. Similarly a pair of malachite sunbirds made a brief appearance in the gloom. And even more exciting was the sudden appearance of two Cape Robin Chats. It was a day for pairs, as a Southern Boubou called from the top of the gum tree and was immediately answered by another lurking in the hedge.
Further complications arose with twig interference in focusing, with the bird being fuzzy and the twig sharp enough to win a competition. The fact that I was sorting my photos on the computer and kept having to grab the memory card and reinsert it in the camera before rushing to the window and focusing on the boisterous activity in the treetops didn’t help, but it did give me a little exercise!
(The photos are not all from this day due to the aforegoing, but are all regular visitors.)