The weather was real summer, sunny for morning walks, stormy in the afternoons. The birding was excellent. The cuckoos – Red-chested, Black, and Klaas’s were in full voice. The White-rumped Swifts did their best early morning swirl over the lawn before following their insect prey ever upwards as the air warmed. A couple of Alpine Swifts were among them. The lawn was also graced with a pair of Swee Waxbills delicately picking seeds from the grasses that the mower had missed.

Piracy is alive and well. The Cavern pirates are canaries and seed-eaters, not as cute as they look. Watch how they feed. When feeding on flowers they bite the base to squeeze out the nectar, bypassing the pollen. Swizz. Or they attack the unripe fruits of composite plants, embryo and all. These are not designed to be eaten; they have fluffy parachutes that are carried by wind.

Plenty of glamour, with several pairs of Violet-backed Starlings often on show. Paradise Flycatchers were back too. Another gem was a Puffback, not a rarity but often unobtrusive. Gurney’s Sugarbirds were in the garden, the first time ever in summer. At this time of year they usually disperse, looking for proteas.

Big game was in short supply, but we did get a good view of two Mountain Reedbuck on the slope opposite the Cavern.

It’s the time of year when snakes get busy. Two Night Adders appeared, never a real threat, but best rounded up, and were relocated far away.

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