With the South African autumn in full swing, the Southern Double-Collared Sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus) is a frequent and conspicuous visitor to the garden, particularly to the Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis) and the Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha), both now in bloom.
The latter only flowers in autumn but the former does so all year round and so the Southern Double-Collared Sunbird (and its impressive cousin, the Malachite Sunbird (Nectarinia famosa)), are always about. They dig deep into the flowers for nectar which they extract with their long, thin tongues. If you look closely at the second image, you will see a small part of it protruding from its beak.
In the third image, notice the blue and red collars from which “double-collared” in its common name is derived. Though not visible in these images, since it is not usually on display, there are also yellow tufts hidden on the male’s shoulders which he flaunts in the sunlight when looking for a mate becomes a serious pursuit.
These little birds are very forgiving of their admirer, and so I am able to photograph them up close (provided I do not make any sudden movements).
Presently live-streaming my screen whilst working on the “To a Swallow” poem, extracting from its drafts the most promising variations thus far.
Made during the livestream:
On Thursday, I passed through the Houwhoek Mountains and flashes of red amidst the autumnal greens caught my eye. I ascended a precipitous hill—camera in hand—to investigate and was rewarded by my first ever sighting of what I believe to be Tritoniopsis triticea. It is known in Afrikaans as the Rooibergpypie1 (“red little pipe”) and is related to Tritoniopsis antholyza, an equally fiery-flowered plant that adorned the Perdeberg2 (“horse mountain”) slopes I visited in early summer3, 2018.
In fact, when I saw the red flowers scattered upon the Houwhoek Mountain slopes on Thursday, I instantly thought of Tritoniopsis antholyza. Both flower between January (mid-summer) and April (mid-autumn)—though Tritoniopsis antholyza starts two months before in November—and so I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was a new species (to me) in the same family. Tritoniopsis triticea is more delicate4 and taller but no less beautiful. I hope to see more in the weeks to come!