The windy season in the Cape has arrived with a vengeance. The South Easterlies pump in over the south Atlantic hurling in at gale force and are ever challenging for the residents of the Peninsula. Here in our backyard a small drama unfolds as three fledgling Cape wagtails battle to cope with the elements. As it happens the yard is a sheltered haven, but risky in that the downdrafts have an equally upward motion, and the first of the fledglings out of the nest got scooped up and deposited way downstream. The other two luckily, landed plump-side up and have stayed within the confines of the walls for the last couple of days, trying out short flight paths between the garden terraces. We admire their hard-working industrious parents who must provide the meals. The whole process of choosing the nesting site, to construction material highlights their experience in parenting skills.
This is their second brood of the season, the first hatch produced one strong, rotund dumpling of a chick. It was independent within a fortnight and thereafter the parents went straight back to producing their next hatch.
Their wings appear to be perfectly formed for flight, although their tail feathers must still increase in length.
The parents worked hard that first day, relaying food to the two above as well as locating the chick which had been whisked away by the wind. By nightfall they managed to ‘fly’ it back to the nest.
Both parents are providing a variety of insects including – moths, worms, coachroaches, flies, ants.
Robert’s Birds of South Africa record that incubation averages 13 -14 days; nestlings 14 – 21 days – both parent feed. Two broods a year are recorded in the Cape, while generally three in Gauteng.