One of the reasons I was drawn to our home on the mountainside a year ago was the established garden.  Of course it’s invariable that the more the suburbs lap up our open spaces, the more small animals are going to depend on gardens for food and shelter.  Enter one very gutsy Cape Robin-Chat who holds court from the Ivy trellis on a boundary wall.


Robins are notoriously territorial and this one is no exception, defending his turf – in this case MY back garden – with spunk and endurance I haven’t quite seen before in such a small creature.  I’m certain I’m not imagining that he deliberately soars over our dogs close enough to tantalise them, but keeping enough distance to escape being caught, tweeting victoriously as he heads back to the Ivy.


He’s super quick and very illusive, never stopping for long with his familiar hippity-hop as he forages for insects.  Turn over a flower bed and he appears from nowhere, watching intently from the safety of a garden wall or the overhead telephone lines.


He’s the first one awake every morning too, starting a chorus of birdsong from the treetops nearby.


I’ve been trying to photograph him for weeks but he’s that quick that either he’s gone by the time I get the camera or he flies off just as I focus.


When summer descended upon us this weekend though, I finally caught him.  On film that is, thanks to soaring temperatures and a full birdbath.  Robins love water and he simply couldn’t resist a dip!

Karen Larsen


The Cape Robin Chat was previously known as the Cape Robin. It feeds on insects, spiders, worms, small frogs, lizards and fruit. It will nest in dense foliage, in flowerpots, old tins, hanging flower baskets usually up to 1m above ground. (Robert’s Birds of Southern Africa).