Baglafecht Weaver: photo Martin Goodey
So this is the week of our shortest day. It hasn't rained for ten days. Now we're really slipping into the cool, dry season. "Mighty Meru" our snoozing neighbourly volcano (the fifth highest mountain in Africa) each morning garners grey shawls of shallow swirling cloud off the eastern breeze. Spinning almost, around the huge dark cone, a wheel of shade is cast until after noon over the clustered human settlements, scrambling ever more untidily, onto Meru's green and fertile apron.
Right now, in our acre of semi-ecological sanity it's Sunday - nine o'clock. The ground view from my study window is also swirling all around. With "ndege kabisa" - as they might say here in Swahili culture - "birds completely". So at this arbitrary, right angle moment on the analogue clock face, what can I see?
Southern Citril: Martin GoodeyA pair of dark-faced, lime green Southern Citrils (Serinus hypostictus), lovely canaries are flitting from one loosely purple flowering (Gutenbergia cordifolia) a delicate, leggy and native composite, to another in search of nourishing native pappus. Four brown and creamy Streaky Seed-eaters (Serinus striolatus) with stubby conical bills agape, are seriously engaged in a territorial dispute in the outer branches of a Flamboyant tree (Delonix regia), a red flowering beauty native to Madagascar, which stands outside the adjacent end-room of the house. One of these pairs has a new nest, they are lining it with thread-like rootlets, in full view of this window; it's in what was once a rather more formally presented, pencil-shaped Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens - tall and skinny in the 'Aegean style'). Ever present bouncy black and golden yellow Baglafecht Weavers (Ploceus baglafecht - of the form reichenowi) whirr on stumpy wings from bush to bush, they are noisy and busy, as always. Alongside the four kinds of sunbird in our garden these weavers, in search of nectar, are the preeminent visitors to the scarlet blooms of birdman's best friend: a neotropical shrub, that in English is called Cardinal's Hat (Malvaviscus arboreus), and also known as the Wax Mallow.