The garden birdbaths attract many birds and vervet monkeys too, plus of course insects, such as bees and wasps. I have also seen geckoes venturing out to drink from the rim. The birdbaths are especially heavily used during the winter, which is our dry season.

These photos were all taken at one of the garden birdbaths during the past two days – that is Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Unlike during the summer, hardly any of the birds actually bathed while visiting – they seemed intent only on stopping by to drink.

Olive thrush drinking at birdbath, South Africa

The olive thrush is a particularly elegant visitor, elevating its bill to swallow while keeping a keen eye on the surroundings. Olive thrushes have an imposing presence and usually have the birdbath all to themselves.

In order to be able to photograph the visitors to the birdbath, I made a temporary hide (or blind) by attaching (using clothes pegs) some fabric to the nearby fence of the cats’ garden, leaving a porthole-style opening to look through. I sat inside the cat’s garden and for the most part managed to avoid the fence wires with the camera when I took these photos through the fence. The cats took this process in their stride and indulged in a little bit of bird watching through the fence too.

The most colourful and spectacular visitor by far is the purple-crested turaco (loerie).

Usually quite shy about coming down to drink, the ‘hide’ seemed to make these usually wary purple-crested turacos relaxed about drinking even though I think they knew that I was there.  

This is an unusual angle on a purple-crested turaco.  They have a distinctive posture and way of moving with a strange agility as they creep and hop along tree branches when foraging.  To hear their penetrating repetitive call, view the video in this previous post .

Usually mannikins visit in small flocks, lining the perimeter of the birdbath to drink. However, my ‘hide’ did not fool the cautious mannikins, and only one came down to drink while I was watching. Now this mannikin’s markings are unusual. It would be either a bronze or a red-backed mannikin, but the plumage of this bird is not typical of either, even for a juvenile. I wonder if anyone can identify this bird?

Cape white-eye at birdbath, South Africa

Perhaps the commonest visitors to the birdbaths are the very cute Cape white-eyes

The Vervet monkeys also drink from the birdbaths. This female vervet has just noticed my camera peering  through the ‘porthole’ in my fabric hide. This is the same monkey in the header photo in yesterday’s post. Because of her bemused expression I used the photo to illustrate the headline “Uh! Whaddya mean its Thursday already?”, but what she was most likely thinking was along the lines of “Uh! Why are you hiding and peering through that gap?”.

This is another monkey, having a drink from the birdbath in the bright morning sunshine while watching the lens of the camera. The monkeys tolerated me watching them better if I kept the camera up in front of my face preventing direct eye contact. Staring is not polite monkey etiquette.

Oddly enough, usually I am not in a ‘hide’ and the monkeys are used to seeing me around. But then they are uncomfortable if I lift the camera and point it at them, but the camera lens poking through a gap in the fabric appears to have a different effect.

Dark-capped bulbuls at birdbath, South Africa

A pair of dark-capped-bulbuls enjoying a drink at the birdbath.

Dark-capped bulbul perching on a stem

This dark-capped bulbul pauses on a stem before descending to drink at the birdbath.

Black-headed oriole perching on a stem, South Afric

On Wednesday I was thrilled to see this gorgeous black-headed oriole alighting on a stem above the birdbath. Unfortunately it decided not to drink this time, perhaps because of my presence, but the next day I did see it drinking, but I did not have the camera handy at the time.

Southern boubou and thick-billed weaver

A female southern boubou approached the birdbath ‘on foot’ over quite a long distance along the ground. Most other birds arrive by flying in. No sooner had she got to the birdbath when a female thick-billed weaver arrived. The weaver was not the politest, at times leaning forward gaping her bill, but the boubou (on the left) pretended not to notice.

A southern boubou, dark-capped bulbul and thick-billed weaver at birdbath

The two were joined by a dark-capped bulbul and the weaver moved along to the other side of the birdbath and proceeded to ‘pull faces’ at the bulbul that stood its ground.

A southern boubou, dark-capped bulbul and thick-billed weaver at birdbath

Not putting up with that, the thick-billed weaver intensified its threat causing the bulbul to fly up and away. After that the weaver left too, leaving the boubou in peace until the arrival of a large red-eyed dove caused it too to move on.

Red-eyed dove at birdbath, South Africa

A red eyed dove at the birdbath. This one has rather dishevelled breast feathers, as if he has sustained a slight injury. For the past week he has been hanging out with a pair of red-eyed doves but frequently charging at them while they forage on the ground, sometimes bobbing his head and sometimes hopping energetically as he chases them. He is recognisable because of his tousled breast feathers and also because he is slightly darker than the other doves.

Cape white-eye at birdbath, KwaZulu-Natal

And to finish, a photo of another Cape white-eye.

Tomorrow, I will remove my temporary fabric hide from the fence, and resume watching the birds from our small front deck at a more comfortable distance.

Posted by Carol