Beautiful Reed Frogs of the KZN Midlands

-By Nick Evans –

Despite ‘frog season’ slowly and sadly coming to an end, one can still go out and see some of the region’s most striking species, the Reed Frogs.

Painted Reed Frog by Nick Evans

Painted Reed Frog by Nick Evans

The Reed Frogs, amongst a few others, will still be active for about another month or two. After that, once Winter arrives, the evenings will be a lot quieter without Africa’s amphibian chorus. Most frog species only breed and are active during the rainy months (Spring/Summer). That is when the night skies are at their loudest, with hundreds of frogs serenading each other! So if you don’t get a chance to go and see them this season, get ready to see them next Spring!

Yellow-striped Reed Frog by Nick Evans

Yellow-striped Reed Frog by Nick Evans

As their name suggests, Reed Frogs spend most of their time in reed beds, where they are a key link in the food chain. They are crucial to the health of the environment, just like all other frogs. They’re predators of insects such as mosquitoes and flies, and they are preyed upon by birds, snakes and more. They’re excellent climbers of course, and during the day, they are often found sticking to people’s windows and doors, hiding away from the hot sun.

Waterlily Frog by Nick Evans

Waterlily Frog by Nick Evans

Here are three of the Reed Frog species that occur in the KZN Midlands:

1. Yellow-striped Reed Frog (Hyperolius semidiscus).
A beautiful species that is a little bit larger than the other Reed Frogs in the area. They are quite easy to identify, look out for those glorious yellow-stripes going down either side of the light green body, and for their blunt snout! You’ll often hear their croak-like call coming from dams and other bodies of water.

Yellow-striped Reed Frog by Nick Evans

Yellow-striped Reed Frog by Nick Evans

2. Painted Reed Frog (Hyperolius marmoratus marmoratus)
A very pretty species. Interestingly, there are three sub-species in South Africa, ranging from the Western Cape, all the way to Northern KZN and further North.
As their name implies, they look like they’ve been hand painted, their colours can be absolutely stunning! They’re not always too easy to identify, as juveniles, which are a light brown colour, often throw people off. Their call is unmistakable though, an ear-piercing, short whistling sound. Stand near a group of breeding males and feel your ears eventually start to ring!

Painted Reed Frog by Nick Evans

Painted Reed Frog by Nick Evans

3. Waterlily Frog (Hyperolius pusillis)
One of the smaller species of Reed Frogs, Waterlily Frogs are generally found on low-lying vegetation on the water. They make quite a loud insect-like chirping noise! Obviously they love waterlilies, but they also like to sit on Duckweed, an alien invasive plant that starts to cover entire ponds. Dead reeds on the surface of the water is a favourite hang-out too.
They’re very cute little frogs, which almost appear to be see through. Look out for a female that’s full of eggs, you’ll be able to see them inside of her!

Waterlily Frog by Nick Evans

Waterlily Frog by Nick Evans

A great way to spend an evening is to go ‘frogging’! Get a small group of people together, and venture off into the nearest wetland/pond (just be security conscious of course), and have a look for these beautiful frogs, and all the other interesting animals that occupy these damp areas. Your eyes will be opened to the magic of nature! All you need is a torch, gumboots, maybe a camera, and some enthusiasm, and you’ll have a wonderful time!

Yellow-striped Reed Frog by Nick Evans

Yellow-striped Reed Frog by Nick Evans

Nick Evans runs a programme called KwaZulu-Natal Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, a chapter of The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization. The aim of the programme is to promote awareness of these ecologically important animals, and to educate the public. For snake awareness and identification talks, or frogging evenings, please email Nick at nickevanskzn@gmail.com. With assistance for snake removals, you can contact Nick on 072 8095 806, who will put you in touch with the closest snake catcher. (Nick is based in Durban).

Sprightly Sparrows’ Birding Big Day Experience

BLSA and Club logos

Sally Cumming describes her wonderful experience during Birdlife South Africa’s 31st Annual Birding Big Day (BBD) held on the 28 November 2015. Team Sprightly Sparrow, from the KZN Midlands Bird Club, consisted of four participants with Pam Nicol as their leader, Sally Cumming, Rosemary Forrester and Gail Glyn.

One of the goals of the Birding Big Day was to collectively tally as many of South Africa’s 846 bird species in a single day. In the end, a total of 621 bird species were recorded. Another goal is to fundraise money for bird conservation, and R60 000 was raised in donations and sponsorships from over 120 teams and individuals who took part in the 2015 event. Birding Big Day 2015 also created an awareness for the importance of citizen science, with the help of BirdLasser.

We started by birding in Amber Valley, just catching the African Sacred Ibis and Cattle Egrets roosting on the trees in the pond before they flew off on their daily search for food. Falcon Dam in the game area produced a Reed Cormorant, Southern Red Bishops, and the call of a Rufous-naped Lark, among others.

Southern Red Bishop

Southern Red Bishop

Our next stop was Howick Falls in the hope of seeing the Peregrine Falcon, but we only found Olive Thrush and Green-backed Camaroptera before moving on to the Fairways car park to tick Village and Cape Weavers and Common Mynas!

The drive out to Thurlow at Midmar was unproductive, as the road is busy and travelling slowly is not advisable, but once inside the reserve we were able to concentrate on looking out for birds. Not far from the gate we ticked White-necked Raven, Speckled Pigeons, and Pied Crow. The water level in the dam was extremely low, so the first inlet, which is usually very productive, was almost deserted. However, we were done proud as regards Raptors, for we saw Yellow-billed Kite, Black-shouldered Kite, a pair of African Fish-Eagles with a youngster, Long-crested Eagle, Jackal Buzzard and, as we were leaving, a Rock Kestrel. Further into the reserve we eventually saw our highlight for the day, a rather distant view of Southern Red Bishop, over 30 Grey Crowned Cranes, and an Osprey.

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

From Thurlow we headed to Queen Elizabeth Park. Lots of bird calls greeted us in the forest, and we saw and heard Chorister Robin-Chats. Continuing on to the end picnic site – the road potholed and muddy – we had a cup of coffee while admiring the dainty white Mystacidium orchids flowering on the branches of several trees. I was not permitted by our driver to “adopt” one orchid which had fallen out of a tree, and instead hid it in another tree in the hope that it would take root on its new host.

Then it was on to Darvill Sewerage Works, where the ponds are overgrown with reeds, but we did see a large flock of Cattle Egrets, several Spur-winged Geese, a couple of Goliath Herons, and pair of Red-billed Teals, as well as Weavers and Bishops. We had hoped to take in Albert Falls, but with a couple of participants needing to get back for another commitment, we headed back to Howick from Darvill. We unfortunately got caught in Saturday road works on the N3, as all traffic was diverted into one lane, holding us up considerably.

Red-billed Teal

Red-billed Teal

Our count amounted to 94 species, which was a little disappointing but understandable in cloudy dull weather, and Pam was able to send R1 000 to BLSA for their conservation projects.

Click here to view the Sprightly Sparrow’s Bird List.

Threatened Plant Species – Dierama pallidum

IRIDACEAE: Dierama pallidum [Vulnerable]

Dierama pallidum is a beautiful brightly colored plant found between Pietermaritzburg and Durban (Table Mountain, Valley of Thousand Hills, Mt. Vernon, Noodsberg and Inchanga). It grows on open stony and sandy grass slopes.

Dierama pallidum by Richard Boon

Dierama pallidum by Richard Boon

Dierama is a genus of flowering plants in the iris family, Iridaceae. Botanists rarely (if ever) use common names for plants, however, various species of Dierama are loosely known by common names such as Fairy’s Fishing Rods, Fairy’s Wands, Fairy Bells, Wedding Bells, Hairbells, Harebells. You will have noticed their similarities which refer to the bell-shaped flowers on slender scapes that bend gracefully under the weight of the inflorescences, nodding in the wind.

Dierama pallidum by Richard Boon

Dierama pallidum by Richard Boon

Dierama pallidum consists of either a single stem or a few growing in close groups. They have few and reduced enveloping leaves (about 4) which arise so close to the base of the stem they almost appear to come from the roots.

They have flowering stems that grow between 500–1000 mm. The inflorescence hang, with the lowermost flower stalk growing about 200 mm long. Flowers are somewhat crowded (tip of each bract reaching to or nearly to base of second bract above it). Dierama pallidum can be seen flowering from October to March.

Dierama pallidum

Dierama pallidum

Bracts are about 20 mm long and 8 mm wide, narrowly egg-shaped and gradually narrowing to a long point on the tip, white with specks on midline and at the tip. Perianth (flora) is about 16 mm, tepals about 10 mm long and 5 mm wide, cream to pale yellow, rarely tinged pink or purple. Dierama pallidum is related to Dierama sertum, but can be distinguished by its white bracts where the veins diminish in the upper parts; flowers are crowded.

If you have seen this plant, please contact Mbali Mkhize, CREW programme: KZN Node Project Assistant m.mkhize@botanicalsociety.org.za

REFERENCE:

  • HILLIARD, O.M. AND BURTT, B.L. 1991. Dierama: The hairbells of Africa. Acorn Books, Johannesburg and London.

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – December 2015

Malvina van Breemen – Old Furth Estate

December has seen increasing competition for the puddles remaining in our dams and we have seen numerous Herons, African Spoonbills, Spur-winged Geese, Egyptian Geese, Hamerkops, Teal, Yellow-billed Ducks, African Black Ducks, loads of raptors, disconsolate African Fish-Eagles, Sacred Ibis and even Grey Crowned Cranes visiting the ever-shrinking pools. The dam closest to the house is now completely dry and only has a mud puddle to show for the tiny amounts of rain we have received so far. Most of our little streams are dry and the stream which feeds the house is still just managing to keep going. We are deeply grateful for that! The Furth River is so low it is just threading its way between the rocks. We are also deeply grateful that at least our livestock has grass to graze on thanks to the little bit of rain – unlike areas in the rest of SA where there is just spectacularly nothing. I recently travelled to Joburg and there was a howling dust storm all the way from Harrismith to Joburg. Heaven knows where that part of the Free State went….

Chameleons (Natal Dwarf) thankfully are still bountiful and I am gleefully awaiting the tiny babies who will appear all over the garden. The hot days have delivered numerous little brown grass snakes of varying sizes who have required rescue from our cats.

Midlands Dwarf Chameleon

Midlands Dwarf Chameleon

The Cicadas have been loving the heat and we found one emerging from its casing inside the house in late November, after the sightings had been listed.

Cicada (superfamily of insects in the order Hemiptera, suborder Auchenorrhyncha)

Cicada (superfamily of insects in the order Hemiptera, suborder Auchenorrhyncha)

Thousands of baby Praying Mantis have been hatching as well.

We had a lovely visit from the Knysna Loeries (or Turaco), who have increased their flock from two to five. What a delight to just catch the flash of their beautiful plumage as they explore the indigenous forest along the stream bed near the house! Various Flycatchers and Sunbirds have been very active in and around the garden and the Paradise Flycatchers are often seen flitting upstream to where the waterfall should be running (but is not) near the house – they must have a nest there again this year.

On returning from a recent road trip to Gauteng, we were welcomed back to the Midlands by the most spectacular sight of thousands of Amur Falcons (previously known as Eastern Red-Footed Kestrels) arriving in Mooi River at sunset, seeking a roost for the night in the big London Plane trees near the Spar. I could not have asked for a better welcome home! Hopefully they will decimate the huge swarms of locusts we have been having in the garden now that they have arrived.

Amur Falcons

Amur Falcons

Wishing everyone in our wonderful Valley all the very best for an excellent 2016, hopefully we will get some rain next year!

Wendy de Waal – Honeywood Cottage

HAPPY 2016 EVERYONE!

BIRDS
The junior Crowned Crane and its parents went away for a few days and then they were back without jnr. Did they deliver him/her to its mate? They seem to have made two paddocks their home territory. I see them every day.
The village weavers have been entertaining in their tree right in front of the veranda. Many nests on the ground testify to frustrated hens not being ready to mate. Broken egg-shells tell of success and busy-ness. I’ve noticed the Drongo checking out the possibilities of a meal, as does the resident Fiscal Shrike.
The entrance porch is home now to a pair of house martins (I think). One flew into the cottage to the delight of my old cat who could do nothing but chatter. It was evening so I switched off the inside lights and it soon found its way out.

MOTHS
Never have I seen such a variety of insects as those that invade any lighted room in my cottage!

 

Metarctica lateritia

Metarctica lateritia

Does anyone know the ID of this brown moth?

Does anyone know the ID of this brown moth?

GUTTURAL TOAD
The insects invite predators so of course I have had to remove frogs from the cottage. At last I remembered to photograph one: the flash in the bucket has given the toad an unusual colour but its patterns show quite clearly. The cross on its back is reminiscent of the cross on a donkey’s back, but I don’t think there’s any linking the toad to that legend!

Guttural Toad

Guttural Toad

Dieter Setz – Wakecroft

The first pic is where I was walking with Inhlosane in the back. I have never seen the grass that short before and only very few flowers very low down to the ground before.

Inhlosane

Inhlosane

This purple flower was almost not visible at all.

2

This yellow flower I have seen many a times before, but this time very low to the ground and not many about.

3

Purple flower next to a fern, also not taller than 15cm in height.

4

Dung Beatle busy rolling his food store for the next generation.

5

Evening primrose normally well over 1 meter tall, this one 20cm high.

6

Never seen this before on the side of an eroded path.

7

This green friend was very happy where he was

8

Normally these Beatles are also 10x bigger. Must have been the lack of rain this year that stunned all growth up here in the upper dargle.

9

Nicole Schafer – Woodcroft Farm, Lidgetton

A large Bushbuck ram seen on Woodcroft farm, photographed from a distance

Bushbuck

Bushbuck

Brunsvigia photographed in the Mbona Private Nature Reserve

Mbona Nature Reserve - Brunsvigia 2

And here a little closer…

Mbona Nature Reserve - Brunsvigia

Charles Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Common Slug Eater (Thanks Pat McKrill for the identification!)

Common Slug Eater

Common Slug Eater

Andrew Pridgeon – Copperleigh Farm

Black and orange locust

Black & Orange Locust

David Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Black scorpion seen near the MTN tower on the top of the farm

Black Scorpion

Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm, Lidgetton

Our 2 wagtail babies hatched on a day of 38 degrees (1st dec) The 2 white throated baby swallows on the front verandah decided it was just too hot and decided to also get out of the nest and sit on top of it

White-throated Swallow sitting outside his mud nest

White-throated Swallow sitting outside his mud nest

They kept sitting on lampshade for a few days and then across to the ledge a metre away for a few hours where mom kept encouraging them to get out there and fly. Eventually on the 7th December they flew out and sat on gutter where mom and dad fed them for a few hours (they were born 23rd November approx.)

Mommy swallow flying in to feed the 2 young that had just left the nest

Mommy swallow flying in to feed the 2 young that had just left the nest

They then joined the parents and flew off into the blue skies – they returned to the mud nest each evening for 2 weeks thereafter and then we went on holiday. They were not here on our return.

I was very excited to watch the growth and feeding of the wagtail young on our verandah.

Cape Wagtail

Cape Wagtail

Both parents so diligent feeding non stop till late evening

Pair of Cape Wagtails feeding their young

Pair of Cape Wagtails feeding their young

Then on the 10th December I went out to see them and they were lying dead beneath their nest. One half eaten and very little left of the other one

Remains of dead wagtail babies

Remains of dead wagtail babies

I was absolutely devastated. I cannot understand what is happening with this pair of wagtails. First she laid 2 eggs in the jasmine creeper in spring and never sat on them. Then she made a nest in the other creeper and the 2 young just disappeared on the tenth day too. Then they came and built on the verandah in my pot plant and again death – but why and who would eat them? A few days later they decided to start building again on the verandah but this time in my maidenhair fern. That was an absolute no no. Removed the fern. They now have built another nest in the jasmine creeper but so high that I cannot see anything but see the pair of adults flitting in and out.

On the other side of the verandah the female Amethyst Sunbird started feeding her young at the beginning of December. On the 10th dec I saw one sunbird peeking its head out the nest and tweeting loudly for its food.

Only room for one sunbird at a time to stick its head out of nest

Only room for one sunbird at a time to stick its head out of nest

Poor mama was working overtime because he screamed all day long – then 2 days later suddenly another head appeared behind the front head battling to get the front position, but no room.

2 juvenile Amethyst Sunbirds

2 juvenile Amethyst Sunbirds

No wonder mom was working so hard. Dad arrived now and then to check out the progress of the young. On the 15th dec both babies left the nest at lunch time and sat on the hanging basket for awhile.

2 juvenile Amethyst Sunbirds leaving the nest for the first time

2 juvenile Amethyst Sunbirds leaving the nest for the first time

Unfortunately I was not here to see this magic emergence but fortunately my husband was, and took a few pics. Thereafter mom fed both of them in the bottlebrush tree and fuschia bushes outside my bedroom. I could not see them but could hear them and saw mom popping in and out. I was just so thrilled to know that at least the swallow and sunbird babes had survived.

There are at least 4 sets of sparrows being fed by mom on the lawn at the moment. Two have 3 each, one has one and the other one has 2, so they too have done well considering this is their 2nd batch this season.
A pair of starlings have been feeding young in the one chimney and rock pigeons feeding in the other chimney.

What was very special this year was seeing one juvenile Red-throated Wryneck emerge from its nest in the hollow pole next to the gate in front of our house.

Juvenile and adult Red-throated Wryneck

Juvenile and adult Red-throated Wryneck

The female has sat there and called for about 3 seasons now and no young ever seemed to come from this. This juvenile sat on top of the pole for a few days before eventually flying off with mom.

Juvenile Red-throated Wryneck testing his wings before flying off with mom

Juvenile Red-throated Wryneck testing his wings before flying off with mom

Another first for us was having a pair of black cuckoo calling in the trees around the house. Probably because our trees have grown large (we have been here nearly 8 years)
An olive thrush has been digging up our ground cover in the formal garden looking for grubs and worms and is nesting in one of the standard drassina bushes.

One afternoon, 2 Cape Longclaws were giving vent to their feelings for hours while sitting in the proteas.

Couple of Cape Longclaws

Couple of Cape Longclaws

I have only seen 2 juvenile Cape Robin-Chats this season.

Juvenile Cape Robin-Chat

Juvenile Cape Robin-Chat

Have only seen 16 white stork in our lands. Pat saw an oribi running through farm and also a Martial Eagle. Our gardener sadly killed another Red-lipped Herald on the verandah (~perhaps the gardener needs to attend a Snake Talk with Pat McKrill?! – Ash). Our house sitter saw a genet at 7pm walking along the stone wall behind the house.

A pair of Natal Spurfowl walked down our driveway one morning.

Natal Spurfowl

Natal Spurfowl

Another first for us was the female Buff-streaked Chat nesting under the eaves of the house. Could not see the nest but they kept flying in and out. One precious baby came of this mating.

Juvenile male Buff-streaked Chat

Juvenile male Buff-streaked Chat

One morning I heard a commotion out the front and saw dad chasing his son around the rockery – poor little guy was terrified and screeching his head off.

Adult father Buff-streaked Chat chasing his juvenile son away – little chap hiding behind rockery

Adult father Buff-streaked Chat chasing his juvenile son away – little chap hiding behind rockery

Dad eventually left. Juvenile male buff streaked chat resting on rock after being chased by dad…

Juvenile male Buff-streaked Chat resting on rock after being chased by dad

Juvenile male Buff-streaked Chat resting on rock after being chased by dad

Ingrid if you are reading this, I have about 12 photos for you if you are still interested, as you told me last year that there was only 1 picture on the internet of a juvenile and then the one I took last year. Now I have some lovely ones of him which I will post next month or contact me should you need the photos.

I think this may be a juvenile Malachite Sunbird?

I think this may be a juvenile malachite sunbird

Eidin Griffin

Spotted lots of these giant African land snails on the D16 between Corrie Lynn and the river. Saw them around the same time last year too. I was in and out of the car a couple of times moving them so they wouldn’t get squashed by traffic. Must ask the Corrie Lynn school kids to make a ‘Beware of the Snails’ sign :-)

Snail

Barend & Helen Booysen – Crab Apple Cottages

The Carnivorous snail on the right is busy having a dinner of Agate Snail in Kilgobbin Forest…

Untitled

Carl Bronner – Old Kilgobbin Farm

I was riding with a friend up on our main hayfield last week and we saw two huge black birds with red faces. When we got home and checked in the Roberts’ bird book, we found out that they were ground hornbills! Quite rare in our area. We didn’t get too close as we had dogs with us, and the birds marched along the edge of the field and then disappeared into the forest.

Ashley’s Response: Thanks Carl! That is a rare and a great find. Southern Ground-Hornbills are listed as ‘Vulnerable’ throughout Africa by the IUCN, but within South Africa they have been classified as ‘Endangered’, as their numbers outside of formally protected areas are still declining. If you have a moment and can possibly provide additional info such as exact location and GPS coordinates, please go to the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project website:

http://www.ground-hornbill.org.za/

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

American brambles (declared Invasive Alien Plants) are a terrible curse that we are battling to get rid of on the farm, but after 3 years we are almost winning the battle. The berries are delicious though…I will miss them!

American Bramble Berries

American Bramble Berries

The dandelions are certainly popping up all over the countryside.

Dandelions

Had a plague of beetles arrive the one day, luckily they soon disappeared.

Beetle plague, here one day and gone the next

A large green locust came to visit.

Large green locust

And a hairy worm was playing on the lawn.

Large hairy worm

This beautiful large moth was sitting on the dog’s blanket.

Large moth on dog blanket

On one occasion I picked up a dead leaf from the hydrangea bush and found this very large yellow spider inside (Hairy Field Spider), I set him down and made my retreat!

Large yellow spider inside a Hydrangea leaf

Hairy Field Spider

One evening the dogs were going mad, so I went outside to find out the cause…

 

I found a very docile Natal Black Snake Natal black snake...1which didn’t seem at all worried about all the commotion it was causing. It slowly slithered through the grass, and went down the drain pipe.

Natal black snake...2

This beautiful Painted Reed Frog came into the kitchen one evening so I tried to take it outside. I found out it had really sticky foot pads as I struggled to get it off my hand!

Painted Reed Frog

Every evening these black beetles are attracted in their hundreds to the gate security lights

Thousands of small black beetles drawn to the security lights

A couple of coiled up Millipedes found under an old tyre.

Tightly Coiled Millipedes

And a strange bug I found, never seen one before.

Unknown bug

The wild Aloes were managing to collect some of the dew drops.

Water collecting in wild aloe leaves

Water running down the road after a big rain! Sadly it was short lived and we still needs lots more to add to the little puddles of dams in the area.

Running rain water - a welcome sight

Jenny Fly – Kildaragh Farm

The dry weather continues with just enough drizzle to keep things green. The Pavetta lanceolata,  (weeping brides bush )in the garden was looking very pretty but with the intense heat and no rain, it was soon over.

Pavetta lanceolata

Pavetta lanceolata

At the beginning of December we noticed a pair of Gurney’s Sugarbirds in the gigantic Jochroma cyaneum ( South American ) known as blue cestrum. One of the few exotics in the garden as the sunbirds, amethyst, malachite and Southern double-collared, love it too.

Jochroma cyaneum

Jochroma cyaneum

In the 12 years we have lived on Kildaragh, we have trotted up 128 bird species. Residents, holidaymakers and daytrippers. A motley selection outside the kitchen.

3 - Birds

The rye field alongside the garden, has attracted the tiny Zitting Cisticolas, and we constantly hear their loud, high pitched call as they fly dipping over the grass. Recently, in the early of the morning, we have heard the nkonyane’s (bladder beetle) eerie call . Our children used to think that the Martians had landed and were always rather wide eyed at the sound.

Our gardener, while eating her lunch noticed an umhlangane running across the wide lawn to cover, on the other side. It must have been a confused, large , grey mongoose.

A night adder paid us a Christmas visit. Tried to gain entry to house, but I shooed him off.

Night Adder

Night Adder

The Alberta magna gives us a good display of lovely bright flowers each summer.

Alberta magna

Alberta magna

The little Eucomis humilis

Eucomis humilis

Eucomis humilis

Boston Wildlife Sightings – December 2015

Caroline McKerrow of “Stormy Hill”:

In November, I saw two large grey mongooses or it could be one that I saw one twice as it was in the same area on both days. A jackal ran across my path when I was out riding. Two bushbuck were grazing when taking a trail ride. A couple of mountain reedbuck, and then at home I saw a Common Reedbuck and Duiker

Crystelle Wilson of “Gramarye”:

Breeding season is in full swing. A necklace of Southern Red Bishops paints a picture of colonial harmony,

Southern Red Bishop

Southern Red Bishop

but there are a lot of territorial disputes between males

Male Southern Red Bishop

Male Southern Red Bishop

All these activities are keenly observed by Diderick Cuckoos for the slightest opportunity to slip into a nest and deposit an egg

Dideric Cuckoo

Dideric Cuckoo

Another parasitic species, a Dusky Indigobird, put in a surprise appearance on my kitchen stoep on Christmas morning. I haven’t seen them around for some time and this one was probably checking out the presence of African Firefinches.

Dusky Indigobird

Dusky Indigobird

A disaster though, on the same morning, was when I found that part of the nest of the Greater Swallows had broken off and an empty egg was lying on the stoep below.

CW5 - Egg of Greater Striped Swallow

Despite the dry conditions and shortage of suitable mud, the parents wasted no time to begin fixing the damage

Greater Striped Swallow

Greater Striped Swallow

I was delighted to notice that one chick seemed to have survived in the nest. During the days following, the parents were kept busy alternating between feeding their offspring and repairing the nest

Surviving chick of Greater Striped Swallow

Surviving chick of Greater Striped Swallow

Breeding success for other species meant there are a number of fledglings flopping around in the vegetation, trying out their balancing acts, like Levaillant’s Cisticola

Levaillant's Cisticola

Levaillant’s Cisticola

And Amethyst Sunbird sitting pretty

Amethyst Sunbird

Amethyst Sunbird

And African Stonechat testing its vocal skills

African Stonechat

African Stonechat

I was very pleased to find a posse of Orange-breasted Waxbills feeding on a path. By standing very still, they came quite close and allowed themselves to be photographed.

Orange-breasted Waxbill

Orange-breasted Waxbill

SABAP2 atlas sightings for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 included: White-throated Swallow, Cape Robin-chat, African Sacred Ibis, Brown-throated Martin, Helmeted Guineafowl, Black-headed Oriole, Red-knobbed Coot, Pied Starling, Brimstone Canary, African Firefinch, Barn Owl, Natal Spurfowl, African Black Duck, Cape Grassbird, African Rail, Yellow-fronted Canary, Cape Canary, Common Waxbill, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Wailing Cisticola, Cape Longclaw, Speckled Pigeon, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Bar-throated Apalis, Jackal Buzzard

Jackal Buzzard

Jackal Buzzard

Sombre Greenbul, Wattled Crane, African Wattled Lapwing, Red-billed Teal, African Snipe, South African Shelduck, Black Crake, Common Moorhen, Reed Cormorant, Three-banded Plover, Blacksmith Lapwing, Barn Swallow, Little Grebe, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Cape Wagtail, African Darter, White-breasted Cormorant, Yellow-billed Kite,

Yellow-billed Kite

Yellow-billed Kite

Drakensberg Prinia, African Stonechat, African Reed-warbler, Little Rush-warbler, Red-chested Flufftail, Red-collared Widowbird, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Yellow-billed Duck, Southern Red Bishop, Cape Crow, Common Quail, Burchell’s Coucal, Pied Kingfisher, Red-billed Quelea, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape White-eye, Speckled Mousebird, Black Saw-wing, Amethyst Sunbird, Green Wood-hoopoe, Black-headed Heron, Bokmakierie, Red-capped Lark, African Pipit, Village Weaver,

Village Weaver

Village Weaver

Cape Weaver, Zitting Cisticola, Red-necked Spurfowl, Common Fiscal, Spur-winged Goose, Egyptian Goose, Fork-tailed Drongo, African Dusky Flycatcher, Olive Thrush, African Hoopoe, Southern Boubou, Cape Turtle-dove, Red-eyed Dove, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, House Sparrow, Cape Sparrow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Diderick Cuckoo, African Paradise-flycatcher, Greater Striped Swallow, Hadeda Ibis, Long-crested Eagle, Cattle Egret, Grey Crowned Crane, (cutting a lonely figure in a dam drying out)

Grey Crowned Crane

Grey Crowned Crane

African Spoonbill, Dusky Indigobird, African Fish-Eagle

African Fish-Eagle

African Fish-Eagle

Christeen Grant of “Sitamani”:

At last rain, thunderstorms, misty mornings and damp overcast days.

After the storm

After the storm

Although it seems too late for most of the indigenous flowering plants, flower numbers are way down compared to most Decembers, many of the wide variety are represented. The insect world however has come alive, particularly moths.

There were two first sightings for Sitamani, both have the common name ‘maiden’ although not the same genus, African Maiden Moth, Family Thyretidae and Cool Maiden, Amata kuhlweini.

African Maiden Moth, Family Thyretidae

African Maiden Moth, Family Thyretidae

Cool Maiden, Amata kuhlweini

Cool Maiden, Amata kuhlweini

Then many more of which I only have three ID’s, Marbled Emperor; a stunning red moth Metarctica lateritia and Plum Slug, Latoia lastistriga which is quite apt as the caterpillars eat plums and we have an orchard of them!

Marbled Emperor

Marbled Emperor

Metarctica lateritia

Metarctica lateritia

Plum Slug Latoia lastistriga

Plum Slug Latoia lastistriga

02 Moth P1050939 02 Moth IMG_1422 02 Moth P1050942 02 Moth P1050945 02 Moth P1050946

Other insects include butterflies, Common Meadow Blue, Cupidopsis cissus cissus and a Pirate, Catacroptera cloane cloane this was a first sighting here.

Common Meadow Blue, Cupidopsis cissus cissus

Common Meadow Blue, Cupidopsis cissus cissus

Pirate Catacroptera, cloane cloane

Pirate Catacroptera, cloane cloane

Bees are plentiful in the indigenous brambles and any other flower they can find.

Bee

Bee

Then I wrote last month: “The distinctive sound of the Bladder grasshoppers echoes at night, ‘gonion, gonion’, but I haven’t seen one yet”, and one appeared!

Bladder grasshopper

Bladder grasshopper

A gorgeous Blister Beetle, a shy Mottled Veld Antlion, a Praying mantis that pretended to be a stick insect and an interesting small wasp of the Enicospilus genus which lays its eggs in Cut Worms.

 Blister beetle on Cyanotis speciosa

Blister beetle on Cyanotis speciosa

Mottled Veld Antlion

Mottled Veld Antlion

Praying mantis

Praying mantis

Wasp of Enicospilus genus

Wasp of Enicospilus genus

The Village Weavers are still busy building, but one female is happy, she laid an egg now hatched and both parents are frantically feeding the demanding vocal chick! Other birds that attracted my attention was a Cape Longclaw, four Greater Striped Swallows and a disconsolately damp Red-throated Widow on top of a tree in the damp drizzle!

Village Weaver male

Village Weaver male

Village Weaver egg

Village Weaver egg

Greater Striped Swallow

Greater Striped Swallow

04 Bird Cape Longclaw IMG_4493

Red-collared Widowbird

Red-collared Widowbird

Flower species seen were: Agapanthus campanulatus, Asclepias albens, Berkheya speciosa, Commelina africana, Cynaotis speciosa,

Agapanthus campanulatus

Agapanthus campanulatus

Asclepias albens

Asclepias albens

Berkheya speciosa

Berkheya speciosa

Commelina africana

Commelina africana

Cynaotis speciosa

Cynaotis speciosa

both green and orange Dipcadi viride,

Dipcadi viride

Dipcadi viride

Dipcadi viride orange form

Dipcadi viride orange for

Dipcadi viride seeds

Dipcadi viride seeds

Gadiolus ecklonii, another first sighting just a single plant, Eulophia calanthoides, Eulophia ovalis, Eulophia zeheriana,

Gadiolus ecklonii

Gadiolus ecklonii

Orchid, Eulophia calanthoides

Orchid, Eulophia calanthoides

Orchid Eulophia ovalis

Orchid Eulophia ovalis

Orchid, Eulophia zeheriana

Orchid, Eulophia zeheriana

then an exception that is flowering profusely, some colonies of between 10-15 plants plus individuals scattered around, Orthochilus foliosus, Pachycarpus natalensis, Pelargonium luridum, Spotted-leaved Arum Zantedeschia albomaculata, Tephrosia purpurea, Watsonia confusa, Zornia capensis and fruiting Searsea discolour.

Orchid, Orthochilus foliosus

Orchid, Orthochilus foliosus

Pachycarpus natalensis

Pachycarpus natalensis

Pelargonium luridum

Pelargonium luridum

Spotted-leaved Arum Zantedeschia albomaculata

Spotted-leaved Arum Zantedeschia albomaculata

Tephrosia purpurea

Tephrosia purpurea

Watsonia confusa

Watsonia confusa

Zornia capensis

Zornia capensis

Searsea discolour

Searsea discolour

Black-backed Jackals yip and howl in the evenings. A male and female Common Duiker are regular visitors in the early morning and evening and have been enjoying the bounty of fallen plums!

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – November 2015

 

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm:

Sadly November was another extremely dry month for those of us living here in the Dargle, and indeed, South Africa as a whole. I believe that it is prudent that we as custodians of the earth need to do our part to conserve water during this time of drought. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir, but if some of you would like some ideas as to how to conserve water, click on the link below to go to a website giving you some hints and tips, which you could also pass on to employees or people in your place of work and help us all to conserve our precious water:

http://forloveofwater.co.za/facts-tips/water-saving-tips/

Mavela dam is getting quite low now, the ducks and other water birds generally just wade in the water around the little island, and on one occasion I woke up and these 3 Spoonbill were busy wading in the shallow water.

African Spoonbill

African Spoonbill

Later, some of the Cormorants had been swimming around the dam before they came back to land to catch a tan.

Cormorants sunning themselves

Cormorants sunning themselves

The Grey Heron was trying to outdo the Cormorants by tanning on the other side of the dam!

Grey Heron sunning itself

Grey Heron sunning itself

Not a very sharp picture of the African harrier-hawk (or Gymnogene), but he was rushing from one weaver nest to the next and I just managed to capture this image

African Harrier-Hawk (Gymnogene)

African Harrier-Hawk (Gymnogene)

…before he was after the ‘take aways’ in the willow tree next door

African Harrier-Hawk (Gymnogene)

African Harrier-Hawk (Gymnogene)

The Greater Striped Swallow (Cecropis cucullata) is feeding lots of noisy babies outside my office window

Greater Striped Swallow

Greater Striped Swallow

We had a new arrival this month, the Greater double-collared sunbird. I spent last Sunday afternoon trying to get close ups of his magnificent colours

Greater Double-Collared Sunbird

Greater Double-Collared Sunbird

From the front, a very red chest

Greater Double-Collared Sunbird

Greater Double-Collared Sunbird

All natural nectar!

Greater Double-Collared Sunbird

Greater Double-Collared Sunbird

The Cape Weaver is a bit of a menace to the other birds in the garden

Cape Weaver

Cape Weaver

as he believes the water bottle belongs to him!

Cape Weaver

Cape Weaver

One Sunday we had some friends join us for lunch, and were treated to the Grey Heron catching a frog in the dam in front of us

Grey Heron with a frog

Grey Heron with a frog

…before it took off with it’s prize!

Grey Heron taking off with frog

Grey Heron taking off with frog

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin:

Asclepias sp.

Asclepias sp.

Kniphofia breviflora

Kniphofia breviflora

Hibiscus sp.

Hibiscus sp.

Helen Booysen – Crab Apple Chapel:

Amethyst Sunbirds’ little home in Crab Apple Chapel

Amethyst Sunbirds` little home in Crab Apple Chapel

Amethyst Sunbirds` little home in Crab Apple Chapel

Brian & Marashene Lewis – GlenGyle:

Some of the images from the trail camera this month.

Bushbuck

Bushbuck

Porcupine

Porcupine

Bushbuck

Bushbuck

Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm:

The African sunbird completed her nest on 27th Oct.

Sunbird sitting

Sunbird sitting

She then got together with male for a week and then presumably started laying her egg(s)? She started sitting on the 12th November and it looks like youngster may have hatched today 1st Dec as she is flitting in and out of nest. That’s on the right hand side on verandah.

Feeding on my fuchias

Feeding on my fuchias

On left side of verandah, right in corner next to our study, a pair of wagtails decided they wanted to build in my pot plant.

A pair of wagtails building nest in pot plant on verandah

A pair of wagtails building nest in pot plant on verandah

As both doors from dining room and study lead onto verandah at that point, I thought this would not be a good idea as too much interference from humans and dogs coming and going. Removed potplant for 3 days and she moved off but when I put it back again, she was back again and in 4 days, the 2 of them had finished their nest. What a feat. Even in the drizzle they continued building, not like the sunbird who did not.

1 wagtail egg

1 wagtail egg

Wagtails finished building on the 10th November and laid one egg on 17th, 18th and 19th nov. The one egg was cracked so she threw that out. She started sitting and babies hatched on 30th November. Very exciting.

Wagtail sitting

Wagtail sitting

Our lives have been turned upside down, as we cannot sit on the verandah with our tea while admiring the view, as both sunbird and wagtail get very agitated wanting to come in –they are both very nervous about movement on the verandah and also inside the house, so curtains stay closed and also doors, which is a nuisance when one wants to get some air into the house, being so hot. I have had to take all my photos of the wagtail through glass doors, so not good pics due to reflection.

On the other verandah out front, the swallows hatched out about 12 days ago and every morning a huge amount of poo has to be washed off the verandah. The parents are very aggressive and dive bomb anyone who goes out there, especially when I need to water the formal garden – because of this, my groundcover has died. Yesterday saw 2 little faces peeping over the nest and today the one is sitting on top of the nest.

We have had a number of raptors around here lately sitting on our dead trees around dry ponds searching for food.

Steppe Buzzard

Steppe Buzzard

Long-crested Eagle

Long-crested Eagle

2 baby robins flew off at 16 days old – I have not seen them again. Still a lot of reedbuck around.

Female Common Reedbuck in garden

Female Common Reedbuck in garden

They come out in the evenings and a number of them have been jumping over the fence and coming into the garden to graze as our grass is long and lush now.

Male Common Reedbuck grazing in our garden one evening

Male Common Reedbuck grazing in our garden one evening

Young male Common Reedbuck

Young male Common Reedbuck

I saw a Pin-tailed Whydah trying to chase a female chat off its perch on the dead tree. The chat held her position while the pintail fluttered up and down trying to intimidate her. He eventually gave up.

We have about 10 baby sparrows flying around. I have noticed sometimes that when the mother feeds them on the grass, the male comes along and chases them away. Not sure if he is jealous of all the attention that mom is giving them or telling them to go find their own grub!

Baby Sparrows

Baby Sparrows

Strangely this year, the Buff-streaked chats nested under the eaves. They usually nest up in the hills inside the rocks. Got pic of dad with food.

Buff-streaked Chat

Buff-streaked Chat

Nice to see that some of the male birds do get involved in the rearing of the young. The male sunbird puts in an appearance every now and then and sits on the balustrade twittering at his partner in the nest.

Saw thousands of flying ants for 3 hours one afternoon while visiting on the D18 road.
Seen quite a few bush buck and samango monkeys and duiker on D18 and a duiker in our garden this morning. He must have got in yesterday while gate was left open. We chased him out.

The male malachite sunbird came and sat on balustrade and fluttered his feathers showing his yellow mating feathers and tweeted loudly trying to attract the female but she never arrived.

Male Malachite Sunbird

Male Malachite Sunbird

Saw a gymnogene being chased by a fork-tailed drongo – he then flew into the gum trees and terrorised the birds there for a few minutes before flying out again to once more being chased by drongo.

A Hamerkop flew into garden next to pond (the only one which has some water) and caught a frog

Hamerkop

Hamerkop

He hammered the poor thing to death before swallowing it.

Hamerkop

Hamerkop

Jenny Fly – Kildaragh Farm:

The garden has abundant Midlands bird life and the list is very similar to Sandra’s so I won’t repeat it. This weekend, the last in November, we heard a pair of yellow billed kites calling. These birds are usually silent, so it was wonderful to hear and see them flying above our house, swooping and turning in their intra pair interaction.

It is sad to see the dearth of so many Reedbuck on the hills around us. As others have noted, the numbers are right down. We can only speculate as to the cause – blue tongue? hunting dogs?

The Tree Hyraxes in the Dargle Forest above us have been very noisy these last few nights, with their snorting, screaming calls. We were told many years ago by the old farmers that they heralded the rain! Hopefully there is some truth in this!

Finally a fun photo to end off. The thick billed weavers continually raid Scruffy Parrots seed dish. Here is a male doing just that.

Thickbilled Weaver

Thickbilled Weaver

Wendy de Waal – Honeywood Cottage, D17:

Pat McKrill responding to Wendy’s Snake Sighting Below:

“Yup, it’s a Night Adder – with attitude as always. But once they’ve told you who’s in charge, they calm down and continue with the task at hand – whatever it was. Aside from colour and any additional markings, the arrow on the head is diagnostic. I am a firm believer that Night adders are our most even tempered snakes and are quite comical to watch as they continue after all the bluster of hissing and mock striking, to bustle about their work, secure in the knowledge that the aggressor now knows where he/she stands. Thanks for this, and on the assumption that it wasn’t bopped on the head after the photo shoot, well done to your member.”

Night Adder

Night Adder

The other evening I came around a bend about 500m from home and a beautiful Bushbuck ram was in the road. The next day I came around the same corner at about 17h00 with the sun behind me and saw an animal in the road: long legs, the size of an Africanus dog, thin, yellow fur and deeper yellow spots, cat-like face and black tufts of hair on the tips of the ears. I thought serval but the colour was wrong, also the ears. Then lynx or caracal. It disappeared into the long grass and the small birds followed it for a way. The ‘bobbejaan’ spiders are invading! Three in the house and one on the verandah. I need to be rescued! Have identified three cuckoos by their calls: Red-chested Cuckoo, Dideric Cuckoo and Klaas’ Cuckoo.

On Thursday I heard the gardener calling in isiZulu. After a time I realised I was being called. She was stabbing at what looked like a cornucopia shell. I asked her to bring it to me and then I realised she was saying it’s a snake. I didn’t believe until she fearfully put the ’shell’ in my hand. It was a small light brown snake with a white belly. Its head was hidden inside and only a couple of mm of tail stuck out the narrow end. I estimated the coil to be about 2,5cm long. The gardener was inclined to think it was a baby and the mother/father had left it on the ground while it took to the trees to escape her gardening. I asked her to throw it into grassland beyond the garden fence. Any idea what it could have been? I never thought of a photo while I was holding it.

Boston Wildlife Sightings – November 2015

Rob Geldart of ‘Boston View’:

Rob took these pictures of Cape Longclaw chicks hatching.

Cape Longclaw chicks

Cape Longclaw chicks

He often sees Wattled and Blue Cranes in his potato fields. On one occasion Rob and one of his sons, Michael, counted nine Blue Cranes.

Rob Speirs of ‘The Rockeries’:

Robert reports hearing a Burchell’s Coucal calling in his garden for the first time ever.

Crystelle Wilson  of ‘Gramarye’:

For the first time I can remember I heard a Greater Honeyguide, Crested Barbet and Black Cuckoo calling in my garden. It is likely that the drought is influencing the behaviour and movements of birds and it should be interesting to keep an eye out for unusual sightings.

Black-headed Heron at the Elandshoek dam

Black-headed Heron at the Elandshoek dam

Dam levels dropping dramatically have in some cases resulted in making it easier to see birds normally sheltering in reeds or emergent vegetation. They now have to cross bigger expanses of mud moving between the water’s edge and the plants. A rare sight was at 09h45 one morning finding an African Snipe resting on the mud at the dam on Elandshoek.

African Snipe

African Snipe

A picture taken at the dam on The Drift shows the difference in sizes between a Black Crake and Common Moorhen, as well as the distinguishing colour combinations to help with identification. The crake has red legs with a yellow bill and is smaller, while the moorhen has yellow legs and a mostly red bill.

Black Crake and Common Moorhen

Black Crake and Common Moorhen

The tree on the little island in the middle of this dam continues to be well used by a variety of birds

CW 5

But one morning there was only one bird on the tree: a juvenile African Fish-Eagle!

Juvenile African Fish-Eagle

Juvenile African Fish-Eagle

Another juvenile raptor that made use of the fast-food potential offered by the Cape Weaver nests on this tree was an African Harrier-Hawk

African Harrier-Hawk (Gymnogene)

African Harrier-Hawk (Gymnogene)

Rising insects over the dam provided meals for Brown-throated Martins

Brown-throated Martin

Brown-throated Martin

And for the first of the Barn Swallows I saw this season.

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

A Three-banded Plover gave an obliging view of the patterning on its back as it flew across the water.

Three-banded Plover

Three-banded Plover

The Great Egret put in another few appearances

Great Egret

Great Egret

The Egyptian Goose family is growing up fast, with the goslings reaching teenager status by the end of the month.

Egyptian Geese

Egyptian Geese

Atlas sightings for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 included: Long-crested Eagle, Purple Heron, White-necked Raven, Forest Canary

Forest Canary

Forest Canary

Red-chested Cuckoo, Sombre Greenbul, Amethyst Sunbird, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, White-rumped Swift, Barratt’s Warbler, Wailing Cisticola, Yellow Bishop,

Yellow Bishop

Yellow Bishop

African Snipe, South African Shelduck, Grey Heron, Steppe Buzzard, Cape Glossy Starling, Pied Starling, Crested Barbet, African Wattled Lapwing, Black-winged Lapwing, Black Crake, Red-chested Flufftail, Yellow-fronted Canary, Cape Canary, African Hoopoe,

African Hoopoe

African Hoopoe

Spectacled Weaver, Great Egret, White-throated Swallow, Spotted Eagle-owl, African Fish-eagle, Three-banded Plover, Cape Crow, Speckled Pigeon, African Darter, Giant Kingfisher, Red-billed Quelea, African Pipit, Zitting Cisticola, Jackal Buzzard, Blue Crane, Barn Swallow, African Harrier-Hawk, Cape Longclaw, Common Moorhen, Little Grebe, Red-knobbed Coot, Brown-throated Martin, Cape Weaver, Blacksmith Lapwing, Bokmakierie,

Bokmakierie

Bokmakierie

Helmeted Guineafowl, White-breasted Cormorant, Little Rush-warbler, Yellow-billed Duck, Cape Grassbird, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Spur-winged Goose, Egyptian Goose, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Southern Red Bishop, Black-headed Heron, Red-necked Spurfowl, Black-headed Oriole, Common Fiscal, Red-collared Widowbird,

Red-collared Widowbird

Red-collared Widowbird

African Rail, African Spoonbill, Grey Crowned Crane, Reed Cormorant, Cattle Egret, African Sacred Ibis, Pied Crow, Hadeda, African Stonechat, Drakensberg Prinia, Cape Wagtail, Diderick Cuckoo, Common Waxbill, Common Quail, Fork-tailed Drongo, Cape White-eye, Village Weaver, Olive Thrush, Cape Batis, Cape Turtle-dove, Red-eyed Dove, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape Sparrow, African Paradise-flycatcher, Southern Boubou,

Southern Boubou

Southern Boubou

Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, House Sparrow, Cape Robin-chat, Speckled Mousebird, Pin-tailed Whydah, Black Saw-wing, Greater Striped Swallow, Green Wood-hoopoe, Greater Honeyguide, Brimstone Canary.

Brimstone Canary

Brimstone Canary

Christeen Grant of ‘Sitamani’:

On the 3 November a fall of snow covered the Drakensberg. Although we didn’t have much rain, the first proper rain fell in the last week of November.

Snow on the Drakensberg mountains

Snow on the Drakensberg mountains

There have been some spectacular cloud effects in the mornings and evenings. Despite the dry conditions many different flower species bloomed, albeit in smaller numbers and size. Orchids have not yet appeared.

Spectacular cloud effects

Spectacular cloud effects

Some of the flower species seen were: Ajuga ophrydis, Aristea woodii, Berkheya macrocephala, Haemanthus humilis subsp hirsutus, Merwilla nervosa, Moraea inclinata, Papaver aculeatum, Silene bellidioides and burchellii, Striga bilabiata, Watsonia socium and Xysmalobium involucratum.

Ajuga ophrydis

Ajuga ophrydis

Xysmalobium involucratum

Xysmalobium involucratum

Watsonia socium

Watsonia socium

Striga bilabiata

Striga bilabiata

Silene burchellii

Silene burchellii

Silene bellidioides

Silene bellidioides

Papaver aculeatum

Papaver aculeatum

Moraea inclinata

Moraea inclinata

Merwilla nervosa

Merwilla nervosa

Haemanthus humilis subsp hirsutus

Haemanthus humilis subsp hirsutus

Berkheya macrocephala

Berkheya macrocephala

Aristea woodii

Aristea woodii

There have been some interesting moths about, Slug moth Family Limacodidae, Tri-coloured Tiger and Tussock or Gypsy moth Family Lymantriidae.

Slug moth, Family Limacodidae

Slug moth, Family Limacodidae

Tri-coloured Tiger

Tri-coloured Tiger

Tussock or Gypsy moth, Family Lymantriidae

Tussock or Gypsy moth, Family Lymantriidae

A lovely Praying Mantis sunned himself on the step. Striking red Millipedes forage busily and a spider ‘home’, funnel and web sparkled after light rain. The distinctive sound of the Bladder grasshoppers echoes at night, ‘gonion, gonion’, but I haven’t seen one yet.

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis

The Village Weavers, (identified by Stuart McLean), are still busy building nests on the Pin oak tree. Either the females are rejecting them or they are blown down by strong winds and lie scattered over the lawn amongst the ‘pruned’ leaves.

Millipede

Millipede

Black-backed Jackals yip and howl in the evenings. On several mornings I’ve seen the Common Duikers and once a male Bushbuck in the evening on my way home.

Spider home

Spider home