Sunday, 25 December 2011

Big birding at Littlewood Garden

Taking a break in activity at Blue Hill Escape, Anja and I decided to celebrate her birthday by heading to Knysna for the Knysna Rocks festival to watch the godfather of South African musicians – Johnny Clegg. That was fun, but there were no big lens cameras allowed in the venue so I couldn't document the action.

For me, the highlight of the break was the stay at Littlewood Garden. The owners, Martina and Philipp, have worked for over ten years to develop the garden for birds. Now there are many of them, and most are habituated to human presence, allowing for fantastic shots of a variety of species in a range of settings. If you are ever planning a trip down the garden route, I can highly recommend a stay at this very comfortable guest house, with amazing d├ęcor and luxurious ambience – one feels like one is in a tropical rainforest.

All these photos were taken in just a few hours around the garden. While I also took a walk around the nearby Knysna estuary in the early morning, birds were few and far between (may have something to do with dog walkers) and it would have been time more worth my while to try capture a few of the other iconic species that escaped the lens – including Black-headed Oriole, Knysna Turaco and Brown-hooded Kingfisher.
The Leopard of Littlewood Garden – the owners have commissioned a range of beautiful African style artwork that adorns their home

A Cape White-eye awaits its turn on the feeder, while a male Amethyst Sunbird enjoys some sugar water

An immature Amethyst Sunbird enjoys some New Zealand flax. These plants are hot property among the nectarivorous birds – with Cape Sugarbirds top of the dominance order

A confused juvenile Amethyst Sunbird perched on my cap. Nice to have a bird in the hand that actually wants to be there!

A habituated Fork-tailed Drongo takes some cheese bits offered by Anja

King of the Castle. Male Cape Sugarbird on the New Zealand flax. The flax also attracts bees and we saw a few unlucky ones end up as Sugarbird lunch.

A Red-eyed Dove and a little fairy pose together for the camera

Forest Canary in a Pompon tree (Dais cotinifolia)

A colony of exceedingly relaxed Large Fruit Bats lives in the fronds near the swimming pool. At this time of year we glimpsed the occasional head of a youngster normally wrapped safely in the wings of their mothers.  

“Leave some for me!” this young Amethyst Sunbird seems to be saying to his dad.

The splendid breeding plummage of  a male Pintailed Whydah

Stop! And take a photo of me! says this Fork-tailed Drongo

Streaky-headed Canary thinking of heading home after a late night at the saloon bird feeder.

Luxurious accommodation for this Swee Waxbill – indoor plumming noggal!


A few night shots of the lovely evening lighting
  

1 comment:

  1. I recently discovered Johnny Clegg at the start of the month and now each morning listen to "Spirit of a Great Heart" and "The Crossing". Both evoke deep feelings for the country I love and a great uplifting start to the day.

    I like it when you find places with birds like these. I remember a place in Wilderness where Drongo's and Lourie's fed off the breakfast table.

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