Birds & Birding, Home

Birdfest

Since the new year rains the garden has been bursting with noise and activity.

Overhead the fish eagle and crowned eagle, the goshawk and the YB kite; In the trees the trumpeter and crowned hornbills; In the garden toppies (black-capped bulbul), yellow-bellied bulbul, GT and cardinal woodpeckers, brown-hooded kingfisher and FT drongos dipping into the pool for a bath and after drowning insects. black and dusky flycatchers, the first paradise flycatcher, golden-rumped tinker, scaly-throated honeyguide, black-collared barbet, white-eared barbet, black-headed oriole, white-eyes, cameropteras, TF prinia, bar-throated & yellow-breasted apalis, black-bellied, redwinged and glossy starlings; Hadedas probe the lawn, hamerkops inspect the pool; Pied crows and gippo geese sit on the high office building above us. Black, Klaas’, Diederiks’ and piet-my-vrou cuckoos.

In the shrubbery the natal robin (red-capped robin-chat) calls and mimics and a trilling noise tells me there are firefinches or (hopefully) twinspots around – haven’t been able to spot them yet. Boubous and puffbacks lurk. Red-eyed doves, mousebirds, Indian ringneck parakeets screech as they whizz past overhead.

Amethyst, collared, white-bellied and olive sunbirds. Bronze and black-and-white (redbacked) mannikins and YF canaries love the seeds in the long grass, swaying on the thin stalks; Loud louries arrive and chase each other around before stopping for a drink; The woodhoopoes are also loud; Spectacled and spotted-backed weavers compete with the sunbirds (and the vervet monkeys!)  for the nectar in the strelitzia flowers; Forest (dark-winged) weaver sings his lovely high-pitched squeaky song; The streaky-headed canary also sits and sings happily; At night (late, 3am) the wood owl calls pondo, pondo no-shilling and earlier the nightjar says good lord deliverr us as the francolin settle down noisily.

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Gotta have jungle and scrub and hideaways for birds. And a dripping tap.

Birds & Birding, Family & Kids, Home

Rain and Meals on Wings

At last some good rain. And the flying ants are out in force! Wings and scurrying bodies everywhere, clustered around our lights.

“We’ll have fat geckos and I hope the owls and nightjars have a feast, Tom! Even the monkeys will love it if they’re still around tomorrow”

Grumble grumble I don’t like them he mutters. Then Why don’t the monkeys come out at night? Are they too scared of leopards? he asks.

“I think so”, I say. “I think its bred into them that night-time is dangerous and it’s not their time to eat.”

20151114_072256 10 Elston hornbill (2)

wings and bougainvilla ‘petals’ – this guy is lovin’ it

Birds & Birding, Travel Africa

Early Morning Aerial Dogfight

Today’s the third morning I’ve watched an urgent, furious ruckus in my front garden. A bird screaming its head off while furiously chasing another like a fighter jet in hot pursuit. So fast that I couldn’t get a good view as the target dashed in and out of the copse of trees and shrubs. I was facing into the sunrise which meant even when I got a half-decent glimpse it was of a silhouette with his beak open, screaming like a banshee. Interesting! Made me late for work!

I figured it was a black-collared barbet, and if so that would be a hole-nest parasite he’d be chasing – which would be a honeyguide. But I needed to see. Yesterday I got a good view of the pursuer: Red face and throat, stout beak. That was him alright.

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Today I got a glimpse of the suspect: White outer tail feathers. Most likely a Lesser or Scaly-throated Honeyguide. I’ll try to make sure, but I don’t think he’ll be sitting still in plain view anytime soon. I wonder if it’s the male, and while the barbet is doing his over-zealous patrol, his lady friend is plopping her egg in the hole nest?!

I’m on their side – I hope they lay their egg in the barbet’s nest so a luta (the struggle) can continua!

Scaly-throated_Honeyguide_3  Lesser Honeyguide_001

scaly-throat and lesser (all internet pics)

Family & Kids

Moving? Don’t use Swanie’s Van Lines!

We were moving don’t ask me why. I would happily die here, I said to Aitch. “It’s outside the best schools’ catchment area” Aitch said to me. Which was why I was loading stuff into a rented trailer after fifteen years in River Drive.

Look, it wasn’t a bad trailer. It was – OK, it was a BIG trailer. And it was cheap. It was covered, too, in case it rained, which it didn’t. We had picked Pickfords to do the bulk removal, but I was doing the fragile and precious stuff, me being reliable, dependable, organised, punctual – OK, some of those. We were only moving about 4km to our new temporary home while Aitch searched in earnest for her ideal place.

Picture frames, certain favourite pot plants, some old furniture was expertly packed by me, learning as I went.

So I hitched it to the kombi and off we go. River Drive is right at the bottom where you have to be to be on a river, so I gunned the kombi up the steep hill. She battled at first but then seemed to catch power and roared off lustily. I started humming that song from the removals ad on TV. Y’know: The toothless ou driving along oblivious that his load is falling off the back . . ?

A glance in the mirror showed the trailer right there behind me. Except it was getting smaller . . . Whoa! The trailer had escaped! Which is why the kombi had suddenly felt quick! I watched in horror as it careered down the hill heading straight for Geoffrey’s new gate and wall!

Yanking up the handbrake, I leapt out and ran after it in slow motion, like in a movie. Pointlessly. What would I have done if I’d caught it? Luckily it slewed to the right and hit a small palm tree on the pavement just before Geoff’s gate and smacked to a halt.

Ignoring the big gouge out of the tar where the disselboom had hit the ground, I reversed the kombi up to it, hitched it up again (checking the ball hitch more closely this time), and gunned the kombi up the steep hill . . .

Moving-Truck-Losing-Furniture

I would clean the potting soil off the pictures later.

footnote:

We found a lovely new home in the Palmiet River valley right near “the right schools”, just as Aitch had planned. Then – Murphy’s Law – the kids were sent off to a remedial school in town 20km away!! The best-laid plans of mice and Aitch . . .


Aitch did have the last laugh, though:

https://bewilderbees.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/a-plan-comes-together/