The Southern Double-Collared Sunbird

With the arrival of the South African autumn, the sunbirds are more active than ever. They are “chee-cheeing” in the trees and darting about the flowering bushes in an iridescent display. Southern Double-Collared Sunbirds (Cinnyris chalybeus)—and Malachite Sunbirds (Nectarinia famosa)—are regular visitors to the garden from the nearby woods where they nest. A few days ago, I photographed a female.

She was accompanied by a male who could not quite decide what bush was to his liking, and so I was unable to photograph him on that occasion. I include, therefore, a male I photographed in April last year. I must add that in the case of the photograph of the male, there is no enhancement of the image; its feathers are as splendid as they appear—in fact, they are even more magnificent to the naked eye!

A Southern Double-Collared Sunbird Female (Cinnyris chalybeus), 29 March 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
A Southern Double-Collared Sunbird Female (Cinnyris chalybeus)
A Southern Double-Collared Sunbird Male (Cinnyris chalybeus), 3 April 2018. Copyright 2018 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
A Southern Double-Collared Sunbird Male (Cinnyris chalybeus)

More of the Chandelier Lily

I was delighted to photograph a Chandelier lily1 as it emerged from the ground directly from the bulb, and as it began to unfold into the branched flowerhead, from which it derives its common name, one week later. What a sight!

A Chandelier Lily Reborn, 22 March 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
A Chandelier Lily Reborn
A Chandelier Lily Unfolding, 29 March 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
A Chandelier Lily Unfolding


  1. Brunsvigia orientalis, possibly Brunsvigia litoralis, a slight variant.

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The Agonising Paradox

“Letting Go”1 promises deliverance but embraces sweet enthralment. In a piece just under two minutes long, nearly half of which is devoted to a playground field recording over which a wistful synthesiser presides, a sorrowful melody briefly loops, then disappears.

The theme here is not “abandon”; there is no celebration as the title suggests, only “longing”—for connection, intimacy and approval. If there is a “letting go”, it is unwilling and temporary—the artist’s pain is comforting and familiar to him; his grief, consoling.

Consequently, he presents it to us in a disarming, innocent and sympathetic melody wrapped in a misleading title and nostalgic cover art. This is not deception, however, but a raw exploration of an inner conflict: the paradox of loving our psychological afflictions.

The Beautiful Mirage

“Longing” is reflected in the black and white cover image: the children, a symbol of blissful abandon, run away from the photographer. The melancholy picture, the ephemeral field recording and the plaintive melody all suggest that peace to the artist is unattainable.

He knows the darkness from which his composition emerges—too well to truly let it go. Like the tune, he wants to be optimistic, but in a minor key—his despairing sense of life—struggles to be so. Artist and artwork, by their very nature, resign to despondency.

For as long as this resignation lasts, the music rises in a slow and desolate pitch, reaching for a beauty beyond its grasp whilst mournful synthesised voices yearn for salvation and joy. Yet they will not tear themselves from the shadows and ultimately fade away.

“Letting Go” glimpses beauty, but it is a mirage to the artist; or perhaps the artist is a mirage to it, for he needs it to be . . . distant . . . justifying his unwillingness to seize it. Still, we shall not rush to blame him; what, after all, is more terrifying to the wretched than joy?


  1. “Letting Go” by Distant