Friends in My Yard (Part Two)
January 23, 2017
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A continuation of the series covering my favourite subject: birds. As promised, here is Part two! And I won’t tell you too many stories. Dig right in…

Hadada ibis

Another noisy one! It gets its name from the loud “ha-daa-daa!” calls. It has glossy feathers on its flanks and a prominent red at the top of its beak. Primarily, Hadada ibis feed on insects found in grass/ soft soil. Apparently they are preferred on golf courses because they eat insect larvae that would otherwise decimate the grass!

Hadada ibis wide eyed.
Hadada ibis on lawn.
Strutting for the camera.

Speckled mousebird

Largely known for their ‘mohawk’ hairstyles, these birds are comical in appearance and behaviour. They love hiding in thick foliage and while in the trees, they scurry around like mice. Their tails make up for almost half their body length! Watching them fly from tree to tree is amusing. They usually hang out in clusters according to some hierarchy and also to keep warm in cold weather.

Speckled mousebird in tree.
Check out that long tail! (Sorry for the washed out photo).
Speckled mousebird feeding.
Snack time.
Speckled mousebird in tree.
Back off! I’m eating!

Montane white-eye

Don’t know much about this bird, but it’s pretty and sweet! For the past 1 year that I’ve taken up serious birding, I have only spotted it twice.

Montane white-eye.
Hiding in (partially) plain sight.
Montane white-eye in tree.
I’m waaay up…

African pied wagtail

Rumoured to help lost people find their way home, according to some African beliefs. Apparently, if you are lost, you could ask the bird, “Which way is home?” And the direction to which it points its tail is home! I love how it moves the tail up and down (hence the name wagtail).

African pied wagtail singing.
Sing like no one’s watching.
African pied wagtail.
Who’s up there?

African paradise flycatcher

And now to my favourite birds! First up is the African paradise flycatcher. The first time I saw it, I knew it had to be in my bird photos collection. Such beauty. Such cuteness. This was when I’d just began shooting birds, and capturing this one was quite a challenge. It rarely stays still for more than 2 seconds!

Royal pose.

Unlike most bird species, both male and female have striking colours. Main difference is the tail: males have very long ones to attract females. Insects are their main food. Watching them sallying as they feed is the stuff of satisfaction.

African paradise flycatcher couple.
Male flossing his tail.
African paradise flycatcher preening.
Don’t be shy…
African paradise flycatcher in tree.
Funny guy.

Common bulbul/ Yellow-vented bulbul

I could say this is my favourite neighbourhood bird. The name is sweet to the tongue, and their calls sweet to the ears. At dusk their calls sound like laughter.

Common bulbul pair.
Birds of a feather…
Common bulbul front view.
Got a problem, bro?

They have a variety of calls, all of them interesting. They will grant you a few poses if you put some food out (as they watch you keenly of course). I have found it easier to photograph birds while they are feeding because they are slightly less alert.

Common bulbul feeding on bread.
Tasty snack!


Thought this whole post was about birds? Got you! Cats are so interesting. Just look at the number of memes that have been made about them. You could think you have bonded with a cat and then…it just turns and walks away! No chills whatsoever.

Did you know that cats eat avocados? Neither did I. first I thought the neighbour’s cat was just starving until I saw this black male doing the same and the theory was confirmed.

Black male cat eating avocado.
Yum! I love avocados.


These are not really my friends but I threw this in just because. They are excellent at terrorizing maize plantations and stealing cobs. And they leave quite a mess afterward. The noise they make while scampering on the roofs can wake the dead. Their loud chattering is no fun either. With such a bad reputation, how did they even make it to this post? I find them interesting to watch as they play and eat. And the babies hanging onto their mothers’ bellies -very comical.

Male Sykes monkey.
Look at that tail- male Sykes monkey.
Male Sykes monkey.
O Lord bless this food before I partake.

Once there came a 3-limbed male. He was missing one arm, and it seemed he was born that way. It was totally not there. No stump or anything. His ‘disability’ meant he could not run around with the rest of the troop. He was walking alone slowly. I got out my camera and to my surprise he was very approachable. I got close. Really close. And not just with the long lens. I asked my brother to get some bread. I held out a piece and the monkey took it. Felt like a National Geographic moment.

Male Vervet monkey close up.
My 3-limbed friend looking pitiful.

I hope you have enjoyed this post. Maybe even turned into a bird lover? This neighbourhood is a nature enthusiast haven. I dread the time when I’ll have to move. I hope it won’t be soon…leaving behind these friends in my yard won’t be easy.

Speckled mousebird in tree.

Have a question about birds? Drop it in the comment section below and I’d be delighted to get back to you. Thanks for reading!

African paradise flycatcher preening.
This is how birds would look if they could sneeze.

About author

Michelle Ajema

Michelle Ajema is an artlover who is deeply fascinated by the exciting world of DSLR photography. She loves shooting nature, and can often be found stalking monkeys and birds in her backyard.

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