Rain

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.

Feathered chicks and parents

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.

The Narrow Beak

Puffin_Staffa_IslandFit for purpose, the bill of the puffin is narrowly shaped, designed to cleave through water.  But useful too in building it’s nesting burrow by cutting through the soil and then shovelling away the material with it’s feet.  It has a raspy tongue, an adaptation which enables it to hold multiple fish.  The fish are pinned  against the spines on the palate while allowing it to open its beak.  What a charismatic species.  We were fortunate to observe the colony on Lunga Island (Inner Hebrides), Scotland.

WPC: Narrow

Ostrich chicks: all feathers and legs

In November while cycling at Cape Point I encountered a large family of ostrich and posted pictures of the cute little chicks.  It’s some months later and now the chicks have grown into handsome birds.  Notice how their feathers are darkening, a couple more months and they’ll be fully grown.

Ostrich chicks_01

Except for the little “Laat Lammetjie”  (a term used generally with affection for a late birth out of season) – a chick which is much smaller than the rest of the flock yet appears to be quite a feisty little character.The littlest ostrich chick Ostrich chick_02