Have you noticed the birds in camp?
Over the last few weeks we have experienced a unique stillness around the lodge. We are deep into the winter season and the bush has changed into its usual hues of grey and brown. However, with the lodge gardens still being carefully maintained over this lockdown period, it has become a welcomed refuge for various birds and smaller creatures.
A water bath is always a sure way to attract bird life, even if it is in your garden back at home. It is interesting to sit and watch which birds will visit this mini oasis during this dry period in the bush. Various birds prefer certain times of the day. Some birds will happily tolerate your presence nearby, while others take a lot longer to warm up to the idea of having spectators. Sometime some of the really colourful birds, like this Black-collared barbet, will put on a little show.
Having native flowering plants in the garden is another great way to ensure various birds will come to visit. We have enjoyed a wonderful aloe flower display this season with colours ranging from yellow to orange to red. The nectar rich flowers will almost guarantee a visit from various sunbirds, prized for their beautiful iridescent colours. The white-bellied sunbird is one of the birds to look out for. It is quite a vocal bird so one does not have to look hard in order to find one.
There are also a few birds that will take full advantage of the fresh supply of flowers. These will typically be your fruit and flower eating birds like the grey go-away bird. As annoying as it might be to see him eat all the pretty flowers, he has an extremely nasal squawk which is sure to make you chuckle.
No bird list will be complete without the humble dove. Often overlooked, some of our dove species have the most beautiful pastel like colours like that of the Laughing Dove.
The Cape Turtle Dove also has an easily recognizable call. If you listen close enough in the mornings you may hear him chant “Work harder, work harder”. During the afternoon don’t be surprised if you hear him change his tune to “drink lager, drink lager”.
For those that enjoy a challenge, there is a great variety of smaller, fast moving birds that will greatly frustrate you when trying to capture their image. Waiting patiently might yield some great results as many birds have unique behaviours. The Black-back puffback will often puff up white feathers creating a snowball effect. He may even fly around with this puff of white feathers.
Whether you will be visiting Leopard Hills for the first time or coming back home, do remember to take notice of the assortment of birds that also call our lodge home.
Written by – Cal Butler