There’s a quaint little shop tucked away in the backstreets of Kalk Bay on the Cape Peninsula, where a characterful woman sells collectable porcelain and assorted knick-knacks. It’s an intriguing hideaway. The variety of second-hand stuff available is extraordinary, and there is barely room to stand for the sheer quantity of stock on display. If you have suitably eclectic taste and a bit of cash to spend, it’s well worth a visit.

But for me the most unique and amazing thing on offer at “Whatnot & China Town” is both supremely precious and completely and utterly free. On the frayed edge of the organised chaos of bric-a-brac stacked outside the shop entrance, a couple of plain, flat bowls have been placed on a shelf. Each of these bowls is kept brimful with sugar-water, and every day each of them is beset by a jewelled throng of nectar-feeding birds.

My family and I popped in at this enchanting emporium the other day, and while they trawled the heaps of hidden treasures, I spent some time watching and photographing the rush-hour traffic of habituated Orange-breasted Sunbirds, Cape Sugarbirds and Cape White-eyes teeming around the feeders at the door. It was a dim, rainy day when we visited, which made getting decent pics technically challenging, but on the upside the grim weather seemed to accentuate the flamboyant colours of the birds, and somehow gave the scene a warm and intimate feel.

From the moment I arrived I was hypnotised by the glowing brilliance and frenetic activity of the foraging birds, as they were irresistibly drawn to the bowl of artificial nectar less than 2m away from me. I had to duck and dive around paying customers, and was forbidden from using flash, but emerged with one or two images that possibly capture the seductive essence of this wonderful experience. I will definitely be going back…


2 Replies to “Sugar free”

  1. I know this shop! John and I used to have a little office in the building next door! There were sugarbirds and sunbirds hanging around all the time.

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