Spring has wafted in bringing some relief from the drought as swathes of wild flowers stretch across the veld. There’s an air of triumph about – a flap of wings and the squawking of little hatchlings. A welcome sight in our backyard is a newly fledged Cape wagtail chick. It plopped out of the nest like a little plum pudding and landed with a bump. The parents continue to fuss around encouraging it to fly, following with encouraging tweets.
Initially there was a setback with the first nest when it was abandoned after the local baboon troop came for a visit through the neighbourhood. They’d spent a week constructing a perfect little structure and had just lined it with soft feathers when the furry visitors rudely clambered right up the very jasmine creeper where it was sited and partially dislodged it in their rush to jump over the wall. The birds were so spooked that they took off and disappeared for a while before returning to choose a new site to rebuild. Happily there was a successful outcome and if the pattern of past years is repeated the adult pair may well produce two more batches of chicks this season.
A feeling of elation lingers as the soft rain which has fallen over the last two days, soaks into the parched earth and the raindrops glisten like jewels. The dam levels supplying Cape Town’s needs are still way below par but through this respite we can visibly see the vegetation greening up and the first signs of spring are emerging. Through my dining room window there’s a buzzing scene. Wagtails are in-coming carrying nesting material, while the sugarbirds and sunbirds flit about foraging for nectar. The protea pincushions (Leucospermum) are coming into bloom though i still put out the occasional bottle of sugar water (fructose/sucrose formula) for the sunbirds.
The ‘tweeting’ going on is full of robust conversation; the wagtail pair call constantly with urgency – “Where are you, where? Bring in the next twigs, need fluff, fluff?” While the sugarbirds have the gruff throaty voice of nightclub singers; deep and croaky. They have the least melodious of songs while the dainty sunbirds have ‘chirp’; full of small bird attitude. My guidebook describes their calls as a wheezy single “tsearp” or double “teer-turp”. And with that, a jubilant “hallelujah” from all of us here on the rainy shores of the Cape Peninsula.
As time rolls on there’s a shift as spring gives over to summer and trending now is the season for cute babies: parenting roles come to the fore. There is much activity in our backyard with the chirps and cheeps from the pair of feisty of wagtails and their chicks. This year they built their nest craftily anchored to a trellis supporting a jasmine creeper. Two rotund chicks have fledged but the parents will continue feeding them until they are self sufficient.
Other nesting pairs are sitting (though fortunately not in the backyard) or guarding nest spaces and like a maiden aunt i am anxiously awaiting results. On the left, is the spotted thick-knees which have previously featured here in this blog. By scoping out the nest with binoculars when the parents change sittings I can make out that there are two eggs.
Ostrich in his black night attire is inconguously sitting in broad daylight, which rather debunks the theory that the female with her drab colouring is better camouflaged for duty during the day. They go for big broods and lay between 15 – 20 eggs.
The last on the right, is the Kittlitz plover, a shy retiring, little bird.
Hopefully, soon I will have more to report on the happy flutter of new arrivals.
There was a lot of wriggling in the nest, the dominant chick stands on two siblings.
The two larger chicks ventured further and flew off over the garden wall, while this little one found shelter under the garden bench. The parent birds started rebuilding their third nest on the 7th October and five weeks later the chicks have fledged. They will continue feeding them for another couple of weeks and I hope that they will stay awhile in the shelter of the backyard.
In a previous post “Mid-winter Chat”, a pair of wagtails started nesting and six weeks later a single chick fledged from the nest :
It became self sufficient quickly with the full attention from both the parent birds and within ten days it had flown the backyard coop.
The parents were soon back in the nest with a second batch of eggs when disaster struck. After a bout of galeforce winds, the nest came adrift from it’s position on a broad aloe leaf and collapsed to the ground spilling the four beautifully formed eggs.
A costly disaster for the pair; but a couple of days on the resilient pair were building a new nest from scratch higher up in the aloe plant:
It’s a little over two weeks now and soon I expect to hear the first cheeps. The nest is too high for a glimpse to check out the numbers, but I’m eager to know whether they aimed high with four again.