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 🙂

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 🙂

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.

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Cape Bulbul

With their punk rocker hairdo and distinctive white eye ring, these are the noisiest birds in my garden.  Surprisingly they are the most skittish compared to the garrulous white eyes, the southern boubou and the sunbirds who don’t take flight if I approach.  Patience and a tripod required 🙂

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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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Sunbird Magnet

It wasn’t even up for half an hour and the double collared sunbirds found the new sugar water feeder.  They’re always flitting in and out of our garden, but I suspect that after the recent devastating mountain fires, a lot more wild birds are turning to gardens for food.

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Later, gregarious little White Eyes, a Cape Bulbul and even a Cape Robin stopped by. The photo quality isn’t great, but for now I am taking pictures through a closed window, afraid of frightening them off.

Dinner at Ollie’s

I never get tired of my friend Ollie Smith’s unusual birdfeeder and the various wild birds he attracts with seed, breadcrumbs, fruit and sugar water.  The Malachite Sunbirds were in abundance again this time, outnumbering the gregarious White Eyes and Weaver birds.

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Malachite Sunbirds

A visit to my friend Ollie Smith’s home in Kommetjie always carries the promise of amazing bird life up close and personal.  This time it was Malachite Sunbirds, which was my first encounter ever with this larger cousin of the Double Collared Sunbirds that frequent our garden often.

At one point there were as many as five bright green and yellow males around the bird-feeder and it was interesting to watch the battle of wills between the sunbirds and the bees for the sugar water.

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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 🙂

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 🙂

Sunbirds

It seems really appropriate that my 100th post (yes, I have been scribbling about the tip of Africa for that long) should be something that features in my daily life – besides the pets, the garden and my travels.  Several pairs of sunbirds have been in and out of the garden for the last two days.  At times it’s like Heathrow with all the take off and landings.  They make their presence known by loud, animated twittering throughout the day, but they are damn difficult to photograph because they never stay still for long.  This gorgeous male literally flew in as I was coincidentally standing around with my camera.  It’s the closest I have been to one for any amount of time and I froze, too scared to move much.  He’s just too magnificent not to share.

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