Occasional quite cool and damp spells of weather have interrupted a January mostly described as warm and dry. Yet again we had a marvelous three days in the Kammanassie, with still, cloudy days and 150 birds in the nets over 3 mornings. Then back to Blue Hill, where wind and sun were always too high on the agenda to result in anything too exciting. So the photos below are from some action on a multicoloured bouquet of Watsonias flowering in a moist valley below the Protea eximia band dominated by Cape Sugarbirds.
In the meantime, David has made the grade to be qualified as a ringer (well done!), freeing me up from the nets to do point counts on a more concentrated scale in the Baviaans, Kougas and Tsitsikamma mountains. The aim of those is to try and identify population fluctuations in relation to fruiting and flowering patterns at the local landscape level, as we still don't know how the birds are using the resources in this dynamic part of the world – low on rain, but big on variety. Point counts have not always proceeded that smoothly – on one transect line into Antoniesberg (a small mountain range that could be regarded as an extension of the Swartberg, connecting those more well-known mountains to the Baviaansberg) I misread the terrain and got bogged down in mud.
All alone and with no cell-phone reception, those situations can be a bit scary. With no other option, all alone I had to dig out the mud around the tires with my hands, pack in rocks, and after about an hour and a half of that I managed to rev free and back-track my way back to safety. While the Suzuki Jimney is in my mind the best value 4x4 out there, a diff-lock would be a very useful feature for those truly sticky situations.
|Malachite Sunbird male feasts on nectar from a Watsonia, pollinating the flower in the process|
|Striped Mouse eating young Watsonia seeds|
|Victorin's Warbler in a rare pose - perched on top of a Protea|
|The light sure shines out of his ....|
|This weevil looks like he is having problems balancing on this Berzilia flower|
|Naughty thief! Southern Double-collared Sunbird male robbing nectar from the base of a Watsonia flower|
|I love the way the light shines through this Scrub Hare's ears!|
|This guy was out of his element on the side of the road during the day|
|With the summer moult well under way, I had to spice this birdie up a bit with the old Adobe PS|
|But this is pretty much true colors for this MSB|