Saturday, 13 July 2013

Enjoying a very warm winter

I'm supposed to be seeing how our endemic birds behave in freezing conditions, this time of year is when its meant to happen, and its not. Okay, its been around zero on a couple mornings first thing, but its been quickly up to over ten once the sun has come out. I shouldn't complain I guess, last year I was camping in the snow and watching raging floods. Weather is anything but predictable.
Well, in truth, the days have been beautiful. Its odd to say this mid-winter, but spring is in the air. Flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing, there are buds on the Mulberry tree. Birds that nest in spring are in full breeding plumage (Malachate Sunbird) and I discovered a nearly completed nest of a Southern Double-collared Sunbird too not long ago – the female was busy bringing in fluff for the inner lining.

I did have one challenge – loosing a R3000 piece of equipment on a survey on Monday, so I had to abandon my survey in order to traipse the mountain to find it. Unsuccessfully. Today I roped in my dad to drive me up in the Landcruiser so we could get a different perspective on the search and rescue mission, and we'd found it after about an hour. Shew!!!
Other survey highlights include a resighting of a color ringed Cape Sugarbird from the Welbedacht section of Baviaanskloof, a Hottentot Buttonquail (more on that one day I promise), and several signs of leopard, including near our campsite and from another nature reserve down the road – Quaggasberg. Here are a few pics.

A toad stops to smell some Eriocephalus flowers

Protea Seedeater sits atop his breakfast - Protea repens seed
Colour ringed Cape Sugarbird, nicknamed Rasta

Leopard track

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Beauties of the Bird Feeder

Since I like to illustrate blog posts with pretty pictures, the blog stream has been suffering recently as winter and too much laptop time have left the camera feeling rusty. To take a snap and to snap out of it I made the most of some winter light and a colourful bird feeder to reassure you all I'm still on the go. The Cape Bulbul has just learnt to use the feeder, which has been property of the Cape Weavers and Amethyst Sunbirds up until this point. Cape Sugarbirds are still feasting on the proteas on the hillside and have not visited the cherry flavoured sugar water yet. Greater Double-collared Sunbird and Malachite Sunbirds have been the only other visitors to date.
The sugar water feeders are home made - Vitamin water bottles have a good shape for tying on some wire, and the soft lid is easy to pierce in order to insert a 15mm elbow joint normally used to couple irrigation pipe together. The solution is a cup of sugar to a liter of water, with a table spoon of cherry flavoured isotonic Game sports drink. Sure keeps the birds on the go. I'm also confident this mix is not harming the birds - all of them are ringed (see the Amethysts below) and they keep coming back.

Cape Bulbul
Amethyst Sunbirds - ladies last in their world apparently

Cape Weaver - splendid breeding plumage male
Female Cape Weaver

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