Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Local mistletoe gives beauty and life

A recent article in the Economist reports research that demonstrates the reduction in biodiversity when mistletoe is removed.  Mistletoe attracts birds and insects, but in addition the litter from its fallen leaves provides a rich home for insect life, in turn bringing in more life.
Today I photographed the local Tapinanthus growing on an Ochna Natalitia at our entrance.  It is in flower at present; visiting it is a Grey Sunbird.  I have noticed that this and other not-so-common birds, like Collared Sunbird and Red-backed Mannikin, are frequently in our Tapinanthus.  And some has spread now to my neighbour's garden, providing its riches to more life there.
This time last year the Tapinanthus was already dying back, and the Ochna itself was in spectacular yellow blossom.  So things are later this year, perhaps because of the cool weather late in July and early August.

Great bird sightings in Pigeon Valley

This has been a marvellous time to see birds in Pigeon Valley; with dry conditions until early August the Isoglossa Woodii dies back a bit, opening up views.  As one goes up the main track, the last bird bath is on the right.  To the left of this, two of us had a remarkable sighting - the almost-never seen Buff-spotted Flufftail, moving relaxedly around next to the bush.  And then on the 14th, a bird we have never seen before here, the Lemon Dove (formerly known as Cinnamon because of the colour on the front, but now named as a mistranslation of the Afrikaans Lemoen, because it was seen around orange groves).  This was at exactly the same spot.  The lighting was a bit dim, but the bird is unmistakeable.