It's the beginning of summer and everything in the garden is running smoothly - we've had a couple of weeks of a heatwave, but Chrissie and I managed to stay on top of most of the chores - the lawn has had it's first mowing, edges are neat, leaves have been dug in to serve as compost, excess growth has been trimmed, trees have been neatened up and the pond is clean.
Mulched and composted, the Hydrangeas are just starting to recover from the winter
So what is there to do now while the rake and spade are enjoying a well-deserved rest?
Redheaded Finch (Amadina erythrocephala) - watercolour in Moleskine - Maree
It's obvious - watch the birds! They're enjoying everything the garden has to offer - seeds and fruit, bird baths and shelter for nesting. My binoculars, camera and sketch-books have been working overtime - the Redheaded Finches (pictured above) flocked to the Butterfly bush at the pond and for weeks on end there has been constant chattering and fighting over the best vantage and nesting points. Some Bronze Mannikins (Spermestes cucullata) joined them, but the two groups occupied two different bushes, putting up a big show of territorial behaviour should anybody stray from one to the other.
"Red Bishop" - sketch in an old soft-cover book - Maree
The Red Bishops are a beautiful sight, their red flashing from tree to tree and their presence at the bird table is always a joy - they're very tolerant of everybody else, yet don't hesitate to defend their territory if necessary.
I was cleaning up earlier on and came upon some old books, so I carried them to the patio with a cup of tea and was busy going through them to decided which ones to throw out, when the Bishop in all his glory caught my eye. The male's buzzing song alerting the female to the nest he's building for her is always the first to alert me of their return. I was so excited to see them that I grabbed one of the books, opened it and started sketching him sitting on the fence post. I then rushed to get some paints and got his colours while he was flitting around, showing off to the female. So now none of the books are being thrown out - I've found a new use for them!
The Fiscal Shrike is rearing four babies this season and here one of them contentedly takes a nap after feeding.
Once your garden is up-to-date and you are scrounging around for chores to do, take a moment and enjoy the fruits of your labour! Take a seat on a garden bench and let your eyes roam over all your hard work, noticing the beautiful flowers, the insects pollinating and ensuring future generations of blooms and the birds enjoying your gifts to them. That is what makes it all worth-while!