The poplars seemed to have changed from their summer garb of green to their orange underwear overnight, in preparation of their winter undressing. Yet the Bokmakierie still stakes his claim to the hills around the houses with his loud and exuberant call. Autumn isn't putting him off. Now that the kids have flown the nest, the resident Red-winged Starlings have had some quiet time to snuggle and re-establish their pair bond. And our resident House Sparrows, Jack and House (after pirate Jack Sparrow and cheeky Dr Gregory House), have recruited another young male to the entourage of crumb-beggars outside the kitchen door.
But Fynbos is about the Proteas – so while the rest of the southern Hemisphere may be mourning the departure of the swallows and waders as they dessert us for Europe and Asia, the hills around us are PUMPING nectar, thanks to the prolifically flower Protea repens, with Protea neriifolia and Protea lorifolia just coming into bloom. Their deep roots are tapping into the soils still moist from last years record rainfalls, while the beautiful flowers are engines turning water and carbon dioxide into sugar.
This bonanza of food means the unburnt areas around us are full of fancy flying feathers, and Tom Amey (volunteer from the UK) and myself have been ringing for hours on end to see who is enjoying the Fynbos Feast.
The great thing about ringing is you really get a chance to see who is what. So, are those untidy Malachite Sunbirds non-breeding males or juveniles? Turns out that at the moment the hills are alive with hundreds of young Malachites as well as Southern Double-collared Sunbirds that would have fledged over the warmer summer months. Up close and in the hand, one can confirm the presence of the yellowish juvenile gape.
Other highlights from the past couple of weeks include the first ever recapture of a Protea Seedeater, and locally our longest recorded movement for a Cape Bulbul – just over 5km.
Today it is 5 degrees outside, and drizzling – the first winter greeting of a winter that seems to be approaching a little too fast. But now there is time to update blogs and enter data.
|Beautiful Bokmakierie, eternally announcing their presence to the world with their loud, distinctive calls|
|Bokmakierie tails look like the elaborate ornamental feather headdresses worn by some Amazon Indian tribes|
|Adult male Southern Double-collared Sunbirds are so much prettier than the upcoming juveniles|