When I was grounded last year with a broken foot, I started putting out bird seed in the front garden every morning and afternoon. I could then lie in bed with my morning cuppa and watch the birds scrabbling over the seed in the feeders and on the ground. Towards the end of the year a francolin started visiting the garden. I don’t know how I knew it was a male but there was something very cocky about the way he strutted about and he became known as The General (Franco). After he had cased the joint, he brought along his two floozies and for months the three of them would visit the garden morning and evening. At first they were very skittish and I had to leopard crawl to the window to photograph them but after a while they became quite used to me. Sometimes when I was weeding the lawn in the late afternoon they would saunter past me on their way to the seed. I saw The General mate with both of the floozies and in February this year they returned with their three chicks. I’m heartbroken though because The General has not returned, perhaps hands-on fatherhood was not for him. I’m hoping he will return in the mating season.
Also towards the end of last year a cute but very cheeky pintailed whydah claimed the corner of the garden where I feed the birds as his own territory. He perched on top of a Viburnum bush and kept a beady eye on all visitors to his kingdom. If a female appeared he hovered above her, waving his tail and flapping his wings in a wonderful display of male posturing. He would then suddenly drop down in a valiant attempt to mate with her. Nine times out of ten, the female nonchalantly moved out of the firing line and he landed with a plop on the ground, his love-making thwarted and his ego not in the least bit dented. He picked himself up, dusted himself down and started all over again. If he was not chasing the ladies, he was warding off intruders; it was quite bloody exhausting just watching him. It was very entertaining though to watch this tiny bird who thought he was Rambo, protecting his territory and dive-bombing the rock pigeons that were more than double his size and shrugged him off as if he were a pesky fly. Fortunately, come summer he buggered off and peace was restored in the garden.
These are some of the other birds that visit the garden: