The blessing of Spring babies

Spring is officially here, with buds appearing overnight on my fig tree, soft pink blossoms bursting open on the twiggy branches of the almond trees – only to be turned into instant confetti by the first winds – and a general sense of aliveness.

And this year the fiercely territorial resident Cape Robins have chosen to bless me with a tiny nest in the undergrowth under my study window.¬† I had a careful quick peek while the parents were out foraging, but all I could see was a little pile of dappled down, so I’m not sure how many little fledglings there are.

Feeding is a full time job though and keeps both parents busy from dawn to dusk. Robins are notoriously elusive and timid, so they first survey the surrounding area from tree height, then dive into the undergrowth with an assortment of snacks for the young. At times this part of the garden is like an airport with one parent leaving the nest as the other one arrives with more food.Who would think that hidden under those geraniums, surrounded by spiky ferns, is a perfect little cup-shaped nest?I can’t wait to see the babies learning to fly ūüôā

 

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Water Bottle Wars

My back garden is like a war zone at the moment. The horrible drought that has taken a grip on Cape Town has forced more and more wild birds to leave their mountainside habitat and look for water in domestic gardens. Lately I’ve had species of sunbird I don’t normally get to see in my garden coming to feed and the squabbles and antics are fascinating to witness.

Dry and hot weather¬†results in quite a few scraps among the different species.¬†¬†Most of the time it’s like watching kids in a playground as they¬†fight for a spot at the spout.

Although sometimes different species do ¬†get along and it’s quite a civil affair.

There are more take offs and landings in my garden than at Heathrow at the moment ūüôā

And then there are the domestic disputes. Or maybe it was a mating ritual. Either way I photographed their interaction for 10 minutes. In heat of 32 degrees C !!

As for the ubiquitous and gutsy Cape White Eyes, there’s often a tag team to take on the competition – although squabbles amongst themselves are equally common ūüôā

Then there are the playground bullies who scare everyone else away.  Male weaver birds are notorious thugs.

And the shy guys.  Cape Bulbuls are regular visitors but are always on high alert while the other species are uber bold by comparison.

Robins return

After last year’s sad¬†loss of one of the resident¬†Cape Robins (who was killed by¬†a rat trap) I’m over the moon to see another pair¬†hopping around my garden.¬†¬†¬†They’re elusive as always until you turn on the sprinkler.

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Visitors – welcome and otherwise

We are really lucky to have an abundance of birds in our garden.¬† They’re lovely to watch and hear – and they provide a constant source of moving targets to test my photographic skills on ūüôā

The plants¬†are a huge attraction, but I’ve hung¬†several small¬†bird feeders strategically¬†to attract the seed and fruit eaters.¬† The trouble¬†is that the feeders have also been attracting looters.

I thought the main one was inaccessible to rogues until I discovered otherwise this weekend after watching a very nimble rat scale a tree, launch onto the feeder and flee back down the tree in seconds.  See if you can spot him making his ascent!

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He obviously¬†had his eye on something I bought at the¬†Greyton¬†Saturday market recently – a pinecone filled with peanut butter then rolled in birdseed – but I’ve wised up to Mr Rat and his associates by suspending this from a high branch using very thin wire.

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The birds love the pinecone – in fact it’s practically demolished,

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Even the Cape Robin has landed on the cone a few times, but seems a lot more comfortable foraging the dregs on the ground.

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I may just have to swallow my words and borrow Janie from The Hedgecombers’ recipe for Rodent Pie after all ūüôā