There are few things that draw your attention more than vibrant colours. I spent the last Saturday of February 2016 at the world renowned Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town. I went with one goal in mind and the goal was achieved.
This prestigious garden is not only beautiful to look at. The tranquillity of the morning, before the masses arrive, provides a charm of its own. I arrived as the gates opened and for a brief moment it felt as if I had the garden all to myself. My aim for the day was to spend the majority of my time in the Protea and Erica sections. The multi-coloured sunbirds were what I was after.
To my dismay, the proteas were not blooming in abundance. I forgot that most of them flower in spring. This did not set me back and I still kept a positive attitude. There were still a few flowering here and there.
I was grateful for the many benches placed throughout the garden. One forgets how hot the summer sun can be. Even at 8:00 in the morning. I took some cover in the shade. While resting I heard an all too familiar, high pitched tweeting. I knew for sure that this was a sunbird.
I was right. Across from where I was sitting, I saw some Double-collared Sunbirds flying by. They perched on top of the braches of a bush, proudly showing off their plumage.
To my delight, the tiny bird displayed something which I had never seen before. The plumage of the Double-collared Sunbird was in full display. What I had never seen before was the added yellow tufts of feathers on its shoulders. Apparently it is a display of dominance and/or breeding plumage. This got me really excited for what else I could possibly see.
It was interesting to see the development of the various sunbirds. Some were still very grey, where others were in magnificent display. Even the plain ones were a sight to see. Especially when feeding on the vibrant Erica flowers and Red Hot Pokers.
The highlight of the day still had not arrived. I was in search of the Orange Breasted Sunbird. I had not seen this extravagant bird in quite some time. I was certain that if I were to find it, it would be in the Erica section.
I positioned myself in front of the Ericas, comfortably leaning against a solid tree. This would be my shady spot for the next hour. Some sunbirds came by, but not the one I wanted.
I could feel the strain of sitting still for over an hour. I was considering moving along, but knew that I would miss what I had set out to see. Finally, I saw some movement in the bush. It was indeed an Orange Breasted Sunbird. It was exactly what I was hoping to find. Best of all I managed to capture the bird in all its glory.
I am really glad that I found what I was looking for. Even though these birds are strikingly beautiful with their metallic colours, there is so much more to be on the lookout for at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.