The drought does not seem to have affected the breeding success of the smaller bird species in these parts. The Cape Weavers have gamely battled high winds and daily visits from several African Harrier-Hawks – it always surprises me that any progeny make it through to adulthood. The cuckoo chicks have been easy to find due to their incessant peeping; how the inadvertent parents stand it I do not know. A Red-chested Cuckoo youngster (the chest still black rather than red) was seen moving restlessly from bush to bush, complaining all the while. A pair of Cape Robin-Chats were in the area but I could swear they were trying to hide from the ever-hungry baby.
There’s a Little Sparrowhawk couple with a nest – they are surprisingly noisy for such a reclusive species and most mornings can be heard chatting back and forth in high-pitched tones. They are impossible to photograph and I only get the merest glimpse of the spotty tail as they zip away. Early in the week I saw a patient African Paradise Flycatcher mother coaxing her chubby tailless juvenile to undertake its first few “flights” between low shrubs. This babe also shrieked non-stop, trying to convince the parent that this was a reckless and foolhardy endeavour for so small a bird as he and to please not fly so far ahead. A few days later I found the youngster, now with Dad, confidently flitting between the treetops.
The resident Fiscal Flycatchers have a single sturdy spotted offspring, still expecting food handouts despite being the same size as its parents. The older birds did, however, manage to slip away for a bit of romance on the washing line. As I watched from the breakfast table, the male hovered directly in front of the female, tail splayed, looking for all the world like a black and white hummingbird, an impressive but too brief display.
Photo caption: Juvenile Fiscal Flycatcher