Spring day at Kirstenbosch

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens is currently exploding with colour and teeming with animal activity.

With all the flowers that are blossoming, there is a prolific amount of birds around the gardens. I had a couple of first time sightings again, which is always exciting when spending time outside.

One of these sightings occured at the start of the trip already. I saw a couple of small Swee Waxbills on the lawn. To my surprise I saw them numerous times around the garden, throughout the day.

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One of my goals for the day was to capture some great action around the protea and pincushion sections. I had not seen the King Protea in the garden before so I really wanted to pay a visit there. I really hoped that I might see a Sugarbird or Malachite Sunbird feeding from the King Protea. To my delight, a male Cape Sugarbird actually paid a visit and spent a brief moment on the King Protea.

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The Cape Sugarbirds were very active during the morning and I spent a considerable amount of time with them.

One of the more common birds that a lot of people might ignore, or find a nuisance, is the Helmeted Guineafowl. I find these birds to be highly entertaining and actually very photogenic. In my opinion they must be one of the most beautifully ugly birds around.

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One of the birds that I haven’t seen for ages was the pair of Spotted Eagle Owls that nest in the gardens. I got really excited when I managed to spot these raptors. The male was napping in the tree and the female was hidden in the bushes at the nest sight.

I managed to capture a shot of the owl just peeking at me during its snooze.

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Every time I visit the Afromontane forest section, aka The Braille Trail, I see something truly amazing. I was really hoping that the visit this day wouldn’t disappoint. It was around lunchtime and it was starting to get pretty hot in the sun. I knew that it would be a good idea to get some shade and just relax there in the forest. After sitting quietly for a while, a noticed a flash of orange fly through the forest.

I didn’t get a clear view of what it was, but I knew it would be worth investigating. I had wishful idea of what it might be, but wasn’t too hopeful in my search. It was very shady in the forest so I had to search diligently. Eventually I saw that iconic orange body that I was so hopeful for. It was a female African Paradise Flycatcher. I had never seen one and was ecstatic when I found it.

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It was a very productive day in the garden and with the wonderful spring weather that we’ve been having, I can’t wait for summer to arrive.

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Not just another Egyptian Goose

There are many species that we have become so accustomed to, that we often take their beauty for granted. One such species for me is the Egyptian Goose.

On a recent visit to Intaka Island, I saw yet another pair of Egyptian Geese moving around the wetland area. I generally don’t pay them much attention, but I noticed some odd behaviour from this specific pair. I saw the male swimming purposefully towards the female. I was pretty sure he was looking to mate with her. One thing that I noticed is that they were in the middle of the water.

Within a couple of seconds the male approached the female in the middle of the water. He simply climbed on top of her, pushed her under the water and proceeded to mate with her.

Once all of this commotion was over, they performed a quick post mating dance and then continued with their daily activities.

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Picturesque Postberg

There’s a reason why people make such a fuss about the flower season on the west coast. It is one of the highlights to see around Cape Town in the spring time.

I spent a day in the Postberg Flower Reserve within the West Coast National Park. This section is usually closed to the public, but the landowner opens it up every year from August through to September. One can either drive through the reserve at your own leisure or book a hiking tour through the reserve.

I opted for a self-drive and I was mesmerized by the vast array of flower patches around the reserve. Most of the flowers are daisies that come up just after the last winter rains. While I was there the predominant colours were white, yellow and orange. At some sections the white flowers are so plentiful that it looks like a blanket of snow covering the ground.

In between the large patches you will some pink and blue coloured flowers.

Some of the landscapes in the park provide great opportunities for panoramic shots. The only issue when getting out of the car is contending with the bees. There were a few times when I abandoned some photo opportunities due to the bees harassing me.

I came across a healthy variety of game in this little reserve. I managed to see some Eland, Kudu, Springbok, Zebra, Wildebeest, Gemsbok, Steenbok and Ostrich. I was also pleased to see that the Yellow Billed Kites have returned from their migration.

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The park does get quite full during the day so I would recommend getting there rather early. The gates to Postberg open around 9am, but the greater park opens its gates earlier. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and hope to make my way there once again.

Malachite Mating Dance

It has been a long while since the Malachite Kingfishers have made a consistent appearance at Intaka Island. This may be due to the fact that the larger Pied Kingfishers are nesting where the Malachite’s nested the previous season.

I made a turn at Intaka recently and was presently surprised to see not one, but two of these spectacular little wetland inhabitants. The pair perched on a nearby branch and just seemed to sit there for a while.

Then one of them, assumingly the male, started flying around the other bird, assumingly the female. This persisted for quite a couple of minutes. Each time the male would land closer to the female. It seemed to me as if they were performing a mating dance or ritual. It was quite comical to see this. The male looked quite hesitant to move in too close.

I knew that the Pied Kingfishers had been gone for a while. I was pretty sure that they would make an entrance very soon. Before I could take any more shots, they came swooping in, making a large racket! The male proceeded to chase the smaller Malachites out of the area and that was the last I saw of them for that day.