Day 150 – Flying things

A quick trip just up the road to Kirstenbosch this morning yielded some decent (by my standards) photos.

Mainly of flying things, it seems.

A pair of Cape Sugarbirds entertained us for a while, flitting between proteas and aloes and there were plenty of Southern and Greater Double-collared Sunbirds around.

And then this little guy, lime green and hidden amongst the lime greenery:

He’s a Forest Canary. He’s rightfully¬†very proud of those eyebrows.

Who wouldn’t be?

And then, as a bit of fun, an exhibit from the Cycads and Dinosaurs exhibition. I’m not a huge fan – I don’t think the gardens need this sort of… “gimmick”(?) – but the little kids love it and I suppose it’s just a one-off thing and it’s educational so [shrug emoji].

The flying dinosaur is very unrealistic, mainly because dinosaurs died out tens of millions of years ago about half the metal used in the sculpture are quite clearly big fat scaffolding poles propping it up into a gliding position.
But take those out with photoshop and apply a bit of a dated filter, and…

… just a bit of fun, but I might try and get a better, more threatening angle next time – difficult because you obviously have to stick to the pathways. (Have a look at one slightly different effort here as well.)

A nice morning out before it got too busy and too non-social distancey. Yes, even in the wide-open spaces of the Botanical Gardens. Back home for a blog post, an afternoon nap and a Sunday evening braai, I think.

And we’re already a third of the way through that already.

[photos here]

Day 30 – Happy Birthday

It can’t be much fun having a lockdown birthday when you are 14 years old. Especially a birthday where you can’t buy anything (save for chocolate and hand soap).

Thus, our 14 year old got chocolate and hand soap for his birthday today, with the promise of “a proper gift” like a rotisserie chicken, once the unnecessarily draconian rules have been relaxed a little.

In the meantime, a long weekend (for what it’s worth) which we will make as exciting and enjoyable as possible.

Talking of birds, the kids are doing the annual City Nature Challenge on iNaturalist this weekend. Last year, there was a hike in Silvermine, walks up the Liesbeek River and general freedom. This year, we’re stuck shooting whatever we can in the back garden:

To that end, here’s a Cape White-Eye (Zosterops virens) on the Sunbird feeder. The White-Eye is not a Sunbird, but then the bottle says ‘Brandy’ on the label and it’s certainly not got that in it, so I guess a little deception is par for the course.

I was going to get some other shots of birds in the peace and quiet of lockdown, but next-door are mowing their lawn again and all the birds have flown away.

Day 16 – Two new birds

Many people have reported on the increase in wildlife in more urbanised areas due to the lack of human activity. Obviously, some (or more) of these were fake news, like the dolphins in Venice and the polar bears in Barbados, but I have something to report too.

Since the lockdown, I have seen two new bird species in the garden.

Now, I’m not (necessarily) putting this down to the lack of human activity. And were these birds really scared off by a few more cars? Actually, if anything, I’ve spent more time outside during the last 15 days, because it’s either that or inside and the other option is “inside”. So maybe that’s the reason that I’ve spotted these new visitors. Who might not even be visitors at all. They may have been there all along and just not have been spotted.

I don’t look up much. It’s a mood thing.

Anyway. Please welcome the Bronze Mannikin (Lonchura cucullata) and the Orange-breasted Sunbird (Anthobaphes violacea) to my back garden.

Photos may follow (I don’t have a very big one) (lens, I mean): I’ve only managed to see the OBS once anyway, and my quick snaps are awful. But rest assured that they were there.

Tomorrow, I go looking for the dolphins and the polar bears.

Little one

Let’s be honest about this: mine is nowhere as big as some people’s. And I doubt that it will ever get that big.

But size isn’t important – it’s how you use it that matters, right?

Right?

Anyway, that’s why I popped my small one out earlier in the back garden and pointed it skyward. Right at this little fellow.

Here’s a bigger version. And here’s a different angle.

He’s a Pin-tailed Whydah (Vidua macroura) and that ridiculous tail is his way of attracting Mrs Pin-tailed Whydah. And wow – doesn’t he just like to flaunt it?

He’s backwards and forwards across the neighbourhood hoping for a bit of nookie from first light through to sunset, and he’s a chatty little bastard as well. I’m not sure if his efforts have yielded any success yet, but if they have, then it’s very clear that he would like some more success please, Ma’am.

He’s even more spectacular in flight with a stiff… breeze blowing, but that wasn’t happening today. If I do spot him in those conditions, I’ll whip my small one out again and give it my best effort.

White-Eye

We got a new sunbird feeder at the market on the weekend.
I had previously made my own sunbird feeder, and it worked well, but this one is more aesthetically pleasing and if you’re going to hang it where you can see it (which obviously¬† we are), well…

I’m sure that there will be plenty of photo opportunities, but we did a quick test shoot in the unappealing light this afternoon.

Result:

Yeah, that’s no sunbird. The local Cape White-Eyes have taken to it with great enthusiasm.
There have been a couple of sunbirds around as well though (and an opportunistic red-wing starling), but when the light is better I’ll do a proper set-up and hopefully get some better shots (maybe even to rival my daughter’s efforts from last week).

Watch this (that?) space!