Boston Wildlife Sightings – September 2016

Caroline McKerrow of Stormy Hill

We have had quite a lot of activity over September. Some good, some bad.

We saw a large mongoose with dark colouration run across the road on our way out one day. Possibly either a Large Grey Mongoose or a Water (Marsh) Mongoose?

The Common (Grey) Duiker is a regular visitor and then we had a wonderful sighting with the small Bushbuck herd. We saw the ram, a doe and fawn and another male (could this be last years baby?) all together.


Bushbuck ram


Young Bushbuck


Bushbuck fawn


Bushbuck doe and fawn

We were so chuffed, then about two weeks later we had a tragedy. The dogs kept barking towards nextdoors indigenous forest so we went to look. After pushing through the American Brambles, we came across what we think was the baby Bushbuck caught in a snare. We couldn’t be sure as it had got quite badly decomposed so was not too easy to identify. We think that the dogs were picking up the scent by that time as it did smell a bit. Such a shame. We have seen two of the bushbuck again but not the baby.

The Hadeda Ibis and Village Weaver birds are busy nesting in the bird tree. The Speckled Pigeons seem to be nesting everywhere and the Red-winged Starlings are in the shed. I’ve seen the resident African Paradise Flycatcher too.

We were building some better steps over the balcony wall for Pisch man who is Stormy Hill’s elderly cat when we came across the Red-lipped Herald snake in a concrete block at the base of the old steps. So now we know where he lives! We’ve named him Harry and he seems quite content living in the cat steps. Maybe he’s waiting for them to drop a mouse or two.


Harry the Red-lipped Herald Snake


Harry the Red-lipped Herald Snake

Christeen Grant of Sitamani

September Spring has been wonderful, mostly warm days, a few thunderstorms and a surprise snowfall on the eighteenth,


followed by a magical sunrise a few days later.


Many flowers have sprung up through the greening grass, though the water table is still very low. Amongst those seen, Acalypha sp.; Argyrolobium marginatum; Asclepias stellifera; Aster bakerianus; Chrysanthemoides monilifera; Clutia cordata; Convolvulus natalensis; Dierama cooperi; Eriosema salignum;


Acalypha sp.


Argyrolobium marginatum


Asclepias stellifera


Aster bakerianus


Chrysanthemoides monilifera


Clutia cordata


Convolvulus natalensis


Dierama cooperi


Eriosema salignum

Eulophia hians var. hians with an exciting sighting of an ant like insect, probably the pollinator with pollinaria stuck to it’s back;

Eulophia hians var. inaequalis;

Gerbera ambigua;

Gymnosporia uniflora, Dwarf Spikethorn, a first for me;


Gymnosporia uniflora

Hebenstretia duraHelichrysum aureum;


Hebenstretia dura


Helichrysum aureum

Helichrysum caespititium and I found a new population;

Hypoxis argentea and costata;


Hypoxis argentea


Hypoxis costata

Kohautia amatymbica; two different Ledebouria sp.;


Kohautia amatymbica


Ledebouria sp.

Pentanisia prunelloides; Raphionacme hirsuta;


Pentanisia prunelloides


Raphionacme hirsuta

Senecio macrocephalus and oxyriifolius leaves;


Senecio macrocephalus


Senecio oxyriifolius

Stachys aethiopica; Thesium pallidum; Tritonia lineata; Tulbaghia leucantha; Vernonia hirsuta and another smaller sp.; plus Vihna vexillata.


Stachys aethiopica


Tritonia lineata


Vernonia hirsuta


Vernonia sp (small)


Vihna vexillata

A few other observations were, Carpenter Bees;


Carpenter bee

a Drone Fly, Bee-mimic;


Drone Fly

a Marbled Emperor moth;


Marbled Emperor Moth

a Wasp nest neatly placed in a rock crevice


Wasp nest

and finally I nearly stepped on a rather large Puff Adder sunning himself near his hole… He slid inside it as I tried to take a quick photo, not in good focus!


Puff Adder

Crystelle Wilson of Gramarye

Welcome spring rain generated fresh growth on the hillsides and while out birding, I was pleased to see a snake lily (Scadoxus puniceus)


Scadoxis puniceus

and giant anemones (Anemone fanninii)


Anemone fanninii

Spring is also the time of year when many birds respond to the urge to reproduce. For some time I have been keeping an eye on a large nest in trees along the Elands River on the Dargle Road. It might have originally belonged to Long-crested Eagles, but has also been used by Egyptian Geese and this season by a Jackal Buzzard. The first picture show the raptor on the nest on 2 September


Jackal Buzzard

The second picture was taken on 24 September and there appears to be a fledgling in the nest. The adult was sitting on a tree nearby.


Jackal Buzzard fledgling

Jackal Buzzards seem to be doing very well in the district, with a number of immature birds in a variety of plumages showing up all over. The picture of one of them in flight shows the bird is in the process of moulting, and donning yet another variation in colouration.


Jackal Buzzard in flight

Another highlight was seeing four Blue Cranes flying over the Geldarts’ newly proclaimed Boschberg Nature Reserve, with another two on the ground below them


Blue Cranes

The atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 included: Southern Double-collared Sunbird, African Pipit, Pied Starling, Common Waxbill


Common Waxbill

Wailing Cisticola, Lanner Falcon, Egyptian Goose (already boasting a clutch of goslings)


Egyptian Goose with goslings

Little Grebe, Reed Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant, Grey Heron


Grey Heron

Malachite Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Kite, Brown-throated Martin, Lesser Swamp-warbler, Three-banded Plover, Red-knobbed Coot, Spur-winged Goose, South African Shelduck


South African Shelduck

White-throated Swallow, Black-headed Heron, Common Fiscal, African Sacred Ibis, Greater Striped Swallow, African Fish-Eagle, Jackal Buzzard, African Firefinch, Cape Grassbird, Dark-capped Bulbul, Brimstone Canary


Brimstone Canary

African Stonechat, Cape Wagtail, African Black Duck, Yellow-billed Duck, Cape Longclaw, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Long-crested Eagle, Bokmakierie, Cape Glossy Starling, Red-throated Wryneck, Bar-throated Apalis, African Hoopoe, Levaillant’s Cisticola


Levaillant’s Cisticola

Common Moorhen, Drakensberg Prinia, Cape White-eye, Southern Boubou, Fork-tailed Drongo, Olive Thrush, Speckled Mousebird, Hamerkop



Helmeted Guineafowl, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, African Dusky Flycatcher, Hadeda Ibis, Amethyst Sunbird, Cape Robin-chat


Cape Robin-chat

Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle-dove, House Sparrow, Village Weaver, Cape Canary, Cape Crow


Cape Crow

Cape Sparrow, (and a welcome back to migrants) Black Saw-wing and African Paradise-flycatcher


African Paradise-flycatcher

Kamberg Wildlife Sightings – September 2016

Pamela Kleiman – Connington Farm

Despite the still very chilly weather it was lovely to see the trees and veld starting to get green. The occasional migrant bird returned to the area and a few veld flowers were to be seen

A flush of new green leaves


Some of the birds seen this month

A large flock of White-faced Whistling Ducks was still to be seen on some dairy ponds


Black-winged Lapwing


Adult Grey Crowned Crane with a youngster


Hadeda Ibis preparing a nest


Young Harrier-Hawk in my garden


Female African Paradise-flycatcher arrived about mid month


Male Long-tailed Widowbird  showing off his summer plumaged


White-throated Swallow – another newly arrived migrant


I was very lucky to get a shot of this Black Crake right out in the open


Spring is in the air – a pair of Grey Crowned Cranes doing a mating dance


Green Wood-hoopoe


Found this dear little Dark-capped Yellow Warbler near our farm dam


The first of the butterflies.



A few veld flowers – quite scarce in the dairy farming areas




Boston Wildlife Sightings – August 2016

Caroline McKerrow of Stormy Hill

We saw quite a bit at Stormy Hill this August. The Bushbuck pair were visiting, as well as the Reedbuck. The resident Duiker is wandering around.


Resident Duiker wandering around

A vlei rat was helping itself to some horse food leavings at the stables.


Vlei rat

The Village Weavers and the Hadedas are building nests in the bird tree.


Village Weaver working hard on his nest to impress the female.

We went on a ride and saw a huge bird at the dam which we think was a lammergeier (it’s the only bird that fits the sighting in our bird book.) I’ve also included some photos of our resident Jackal Buzzards.


Jackal Buzzard


Jackal Buzzard

Crystelle Wilson of Gramarye

There is concern about the status of Secretarybirds in South Africa, which has been uplisted from Near-threatened to Vulnerable. This is due to factors such as habitat loss and collisions with fences and power lines. BirdLife South Africa has a special research project on these birds which can be followed at It is always a highlight to spot them in the field, and especially in an agricultural setting where they appear to adapt to their surroundings.



Equally pleasing was catching sight of a Wattled Crane, a long distance away from the camera.


Wattled Crane

The atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 included: Cape Glossy Starling, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Natal Spurfowl, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Red-necked Spurfowl, Spur-winged Goose, African Firefinch, Cape Wagtail,


Cape Wagtail

Black-headed Oriole, Southern Boubou, African Wattled Lapwing, African Spoonbill, Grey Crowned Crane, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Cape Sparrow, Cape Longclaw,


Cape Longclaw

Olive Thrush, Red-billed Teal, African Darter, Reed Cormorant, Common Moorhen, Southern Red Bishop, Red-capped Lark, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape Robin-Chat, Three-banded Plover,


Three-banded Plover

Cape Crow, Cape Turtle-Dove, Jackal Buzzard, House Sparrow, Red-billed Quelea, African Stonechat, Pied Starling, Cape Weaver, Drakensberg Prinia, Brown-throated Martin, Long-crested Eagle,


Long-crested Eagle

White-breasted Cormorant, Egyptian Goose, South African Shelduck (the male has a grey head and females black and white)


South African Shelduck

African Sacred Ibis, Red-knobbed Coot, Little Grebe, Yellow-billed Duck,


Yellow-billed Duck

Buff-streaked Chat,


Buff-streaked Chat (male)

Bokmakierie, Hadeda Ibis, Black-headed Heron, Wattled Crane, Village Weaver, Red-eyed Dove, Common Fiscal, Cape White-eye, Fork-tailed Drongo, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Speckled Mousebird,


Speckled Mousbirds

Sombre Greenbul, Amethyst Sunbird, Hamerkop, Secretarybird, Malachite Kingfisher


Malachite Kingfisher

Christeen Grant of Sitamani

Scattered bones and new life in August. Is anyone else missing the gusty winds usually prevalent during August?


We experienced mainly mild temperatures, apart from a couple of cold fronts that brought in some wonderful rain, between there were clear blue skies, spectacular sunrises and new green grass started covering the hillsides.


After the rain new life in popped up almost overnight. Dried out Moss, Selaginella dregei, greened up;


Selaginella dregei

Bracken Pteridium aquilinum and Tree Fern Cyathea dregei fronds started unfurling.


Pteridium aquilinum


Cyathea dregei

Colourful spots appeared in the new grass, Apodolirion buchananii one of my favourite first spring flowers,


Apodolirion buchananii

Dimorphotheca jucunda, Graderia scabra, Green-tipped Fire Lily, Cyrtanthus tuckii vibrantly red, Ledebouria ovatifolia, Nemesia caerulea and Ursinia tenuiloba.


Dimorphotheca jacunda


Dimorphotheca jacunda


Graderia scabra


Cyrtanthus tuckii


Ledebouria ovatifolia


Nemesia caerulea


Ursinia tenuiloba

A few dried out seed heads of Themeda triandra interspersed in unburnt areas.


Themeda triandra

Masses of Buddleja salviifolia flowers scent the air,


Buddleja salviifolia

new leaves of the Cabbage Trees, Cussonia paniculata wave like a feather dusters on long trunks


Cussonia paniculata

and the delicate yellow Ouhout, Leucosidea sericea flowers are attracting hover flies, bees and birds.


Leucosidea sericea


Leucosidea sericea

I found a few huge Field Mushrooms, Agaricus campestris after the rain.


Agaricus campestris

Revealed in burnt off areas were two sets of scattered bones. I think the skull is of a Porcupine and the other set was a small antelope, probably a Duiker. As there seemed to be little disturbance of the bones I think they died of natural causes.


Porcupine skull


Remains possibly of a Duiker

The Common Reedbuck are still keeping close to the house and one evening a female and male casually picked their way grazing as they moved.


Common Reedbuck (female)


Common Reedbuck (male)

An exciting find was a pile of what I’m sure was relatively fresh Eland droppings.


Eland droppings

The Village Weavers are back at the Pin Oak in the garden and one male was very busy starting to build a nest. Black-headed Orioles, Black-backed Puffbacks, Cape Robin-chats, Fork-tailed Drongos, Cape White-eyes, Speckled Pigeons and Southern Boubous are some of the birds I’ve seen round the house and at the birdbaths. The Fish Eagle I hear regularly calling from the valley.


Male Village Weaver building a nest


Male Village Weaver building a nest

On my way home one day I spotted a tiny, ±2mm Crab spider, Family Thomisidae on the road. Unusual for me as I’d never seen a black one before, the ones I normally see are yellow, green or pink.


Crab Spider

On Mt. Shannon, Mondi Plantation, Philip came across a very weak Long-crested Eagle on the ground, it had a ring on one leg. On investigation he discovered that it had been ringed by Lindy Jane Thompson, as an adult bird, on the 25th March 2015, on the Boston-Dargle Road. When he returned it had gone, leaving no trace.


Long-crested Eagle

On another day we saw a pair of South African Shelducks, Yellow-billed Ducks and a Reed Cormorant on the dam as we walked past.


Three Yellow-billed ducks in the foreground, two South African Shelduck in the middle (male and female), and a Reed Cormorant in the background.

Kamberg Wildlife Sightings – August 2016

Pamela Kleiman – Connington Farm

A very quiet month as far as creatures and plants go, however, being an atlasser it was great to see the start of the migrant birds coming into the area.

Early in the month I was pleased to see quite a large group of Cape Vultures near the Connington road from Rosetta. They seemed to be feeding on something small hidden under some willow trees in a small gully where they were joined by a Yellow-billed Kite and some Pied Crows.


Cape Vulture


Cape Vultures

There have been a lot of young Jackal Buzzards around, some of them with very confusing colour variations


Jackal Buzzard

Down my end of the valley I usually only see Southern Red Bishops so was nice to see some Yellow Bishops for a change – still in their Winter plumage


Yellow Bishop

Cape Longclaw one of my favourites – just love their kitten-like mewing call


Cape Longclaw

The first signs of Spring


Halleria lucida


Buddleja salvifolia with its gorgeous scent

Two early migrants, Yellow-billed Kite and White-throated Swallow


Yellow-billed Kite


White-throated Swallow

A first record for pentad 2915_2950 was a Squacco Heron


Squacco Heron

Egyptian Geese and Common Moorhen in amongst the water lilies


Egyptian Geese in the foreground and Common Moorhen in the background

The male Village Weavers are suddenly in full summer plumage and looking so dapper


Village Weaver (male)

Hlatikulu Conservancy Area by Pamela Kleiman

The mountains were looking splendid in their covering of snow earlier in the month.


A lucky close sighting of a pair of Oribi


Oribi (female)


The male Oribi silhouetted against the snowy ‘berg

A few early flowers after the fire season



I unexpectedly found this pair of Denham’s Bustards on a recently burnt hill


Denham’s Bustard

A pair of Ground Woodpeckers flew out of holes in the road cutting as I drove past


Ground Woodpeckers

I have come across Sentinel Rock Thrush in a few places now


Sentinel Rock Thrush (female)


Sentinel Rock Thrush (male)

I often see Buff-streaked Chats I the area


Buff-streaked Chat (male)

It’s not too often I get to see a Red-throated Wryneck out in the open, let alone get a reasonable photo of one!


Red-throated Wryneck

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – Winter 2016

Nicola Storkey

I photographed these snow scenes whilst on the way to Ivanhoe Farm.

Snow 1

Snow 2

Snow 3

Kilgobbin Forest

Dargle Primary learners visited Kilgobbin forest recently. Thanks Midlands Meander Education Project and WESSA Eco-Schools for facilitating the lesson of forest diversity.

Dargle Primary learners explore the forest floor.

Dargle Primary pupil makes friends with a grasshopper

Jen Fly – Kildaragh Farm

Haven’t seen much except for a couple of Crowned Hornbills (unusual) in the garden that hung around for a few days eating the fruit of the Outeniqua Yellowwood, Podocarpus falcatus. On the 2nd August, Derek spotted his first YBK of the season in the D 17 valley. I noticed him a couple of days later. Very early.

David Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

A snare which was found in the natural forest on our farm.


Snow & the mayhem it produces!

Some images that were sent in of the “human wildlife”, mostly from PMB and Durban areas, on their way towards Inhlosane Mountain and Impendle. The dirt road was quite a mess afterwards with all the vehicles that got stuck and had to be pulled out by farmers and landowners by Landrover and tractors!


Vehicles driving past Beverley



Inhlosane had a few pockets of snow which had eventually melted after a couple of days







Wendy de Waal – Honeywood Cottage

My dog, Missy, very proudly brought this treasure home. I think a jackal or dog may have chewed off the ends. Could anyone identify what buck this came from? Oribi or Bushbuck? [Editor’s Comment: The leg is from a Bushbuck].

Buck leg 1

Buck leg 2

Pauline Holden – Woodsong Farm

We have been so excited to have seen our resident Bushbuck (well they seem to be because we see them regularly). Two females (one seems to be older and is perhaps the Mother) and one male male. They are in different areas of the farm (which is only 25Ha)

We have also seen a Serval, as well as its scat often. We have seen loads of Otter Scat.

Pat & Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm, Lidgetton

It was icy cold on the 2nd July and we lit a fire early in the day – I later found our Barn Owl sitting on the ledge on the front verandah. He flew off into the forest behind us and I haven’t seen him since. He was living in the chimney for at least 2 years. We closed the entrances on the roof of the verandah where they nested for several years, due to the mess and noise. I hope Nikki’s barn owls are nesting in the barn again this year.

We had snow for a few hours the next day and then it started to rain. We took this photo of a very wet male Common Reedbuck.

Male reed buck after heavy rain with wet coat

Common Reedbuck (male)

We had regular sightings of the Secretarybird and we were fortunate to have seen two together on one day.

Secretary bird


On our walks in the evenings we saw a lot of Common Reedbuck on the green burns – counted 13 on a 1hr walk. Saw a half eaten Ibis near the dam – the African Harrier-Hawk had been flying about. Have seen this bird quite often and for the past few weeks he has been coming into the garden.

Gymnogene in my garden

African Harrier-Hawk

Very few raptors – just the Jackal Buzzard and Long-crested Eagle.

Jackal buzzard (I think)

Jackal Buzzard

Beginning of august I was very excited to see the female Black Sparrowhawk sitting on her nest on a few occasions.

Black sparrowhawk female sitting on nest

Black Sparrowhawk nesting

She raised 2 fledglings in same nest 2 years ago – The Egyptian Geese took it over last year which was very disappointing. On the 13th august we saw for the first time a bundle of white feathers sitting on top of the nest. Wow I was ecstatic to see this one chick.

Black sparrowhawk chick

Black Sparrowhawk chick

With the other 2 chicks 2 years ago we used to only see their heads sticking out the top of this very deep nest. It was only when they were completely feathered with their rufous feathers and sitting on the branches that I was able to take some decent pics. Then on the 27th august, just 2 weeks later, there he/she sat on top of the nest with her rufous colouring. Can’t believe they changed colour so quickly. (Picture next month)

On one very frosty morning there was a Hamerkop standing near the pond. His beak was tucked into his chest feathers. He kept lifting his feet up one at a time as if they were numb. He eventually sat down. Half hour later I asked Pat to go and see if he was sick as did not want the dogs to attack him. Thankfully he flew off and seemed fine.

Frozen Hamerkop



We saw three Oribi graze on the hill which has turned green

3 oribi running up the hill



One morning before sunrise saw a very large clumsy bird hopping on the leafless plane tree. Before I could get the camera it jumped down behind the shrubs – it definitely appeared to be a coucal – first time in the garden although have heard its call from the bush behind the house.


I am sure that most folk have seen the huge group of crowned crane in the vlei of the Fowlers farm at Lions river – I did stop one day and drove down the railway line and took some pics – there appeared to be about 50 of these beautiful creatures. Does anyone know if they breed on the same farm?

A few of the crowned crane at Fowlers farm Lions river

Flock of Grey Crowned Cranes

The sunbirds have returned now that there are a few shrubs in flower and they all seem to have regained their summer colours. We hung some string and baubles in the same place that the Amethyst Sunbird made her nest on last year. About ten days ago she flew around the verandah and landed on the string and gave it a good looking over. She flies from door to door looking for insects every morning. On the one day she arrived with her partner. He sat on the hanging basket while she showed him the string. No building of nest has taken place but still too early for that, so we shall see if he approved of her choice.

Pat saw a female cori bustard on the green burn early one morning.
On 26th august, 8 blue crane arrived at our puddle in the dam. They were there for a few hours – 3 blue crane have spent the last few days in the puddle – I am not sure if he is a “hanger on” or the youngster from last year who has not left the fold. We shall see what happens but the puddle is drying up fast, so if no rain soon, I am sure they will look elsewhere to nest this year once again.

A pair of duiker seen close to the house –looks like the wild life are pairing up. We have seen quite a few duiker in August.

Female duiker

The Wagtails, Sparrows, and Olive Thrush all seem to be nesting in the formal garden and of course the Rock Pigeons never stop breeding.

One morning I saw a pair of Cape Robin-chats hopping around in front of the kitchen window. He then hopped onto a branch of the peach tree and starting trying to attract her attention by flicking his tail up and down very quickly – he has a beautifully coloured tail – she did not seem interested as carried on looking for worms.

Cape robin being flirtatious

Cape Robin-chat

We have a pair of Gurney’s Sugarbirds.

Male and female gurney sugar birds

Gurney’s Sugarbirds

Gurney sugar bird at dusk

Gurney’s Sugarbird

On a few of our walks we have seen quite a few young Common Reedbuck.

Another baby reedbuck

Female reedbuck with her youngster

Female reedbuck

One morning three Cape White-eyes appeared on same peach tree.

Yellow white eye

Cape White-eye

An interesting picture of someone burning at sunset

An interesting picture of someone burning at sunset

Male Malachite Sunbird now in full color

Male malachite now in full color eating the flowering frelinias

Malachite Sunbird (male)

New moon

New moon

Not sure of this buzzard as very dark in color – taken in early august so not sure if Steppe Buzzards were around then?

Not sure of this buzzard as very dark in color – taken in early august so not sure if steppe buzzards were around then

Picture of the dargle hills and neighbours horses at sunset

Picture of the dargle hills and neighbours horses at sunset

Marashene Lewis – GlenGyle

This evening at about 6pm, driving on the D707, I was blessed with a wonderful sight. Just past the corner next to the Fly’s staff houses, a large Bushbuck ram stood in the middle of the road facing me. I stopped and waited for him to move. He went into the Fannin paddock, followed by his lady who had been standing near the opposite fence. Beautiful.

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

This Winter because of the drought, Samango monkeys have been very hungry, which has made them very bold. They have eaten all the fruit on my lemon tree – even eating up those that they bite and drop (usually for the benefit of bush pig and buck).


I have noticed they come back the next day and then pick up the dropped fruit and eat it all. Lots of babies have just been born, so I assume they know the drought will be over soon. Certainly hope so.

Samango Monkey

Frosty mornings make for great photos. It was a real treat to come across this paw print in the ice capped mud one morning.

Muddy icy paw print

Balmy winter afternoons are heavy with the fragrance of Buddleja along forest edges.


Helen Booysen – Crab Apple Cottages

Hello World ,  A glorious season ! Bales of hay, snow, and even some mud as I whiz over the hills in my carriages with Ntombikayise as my back-stepper . .

No humans seen ! Black fire-breaks turning green . . water flowing after some rains, with little frogs chirruping and croaking on the edges !

A sleeping Spotted Eagle Owl on the forest margin at The Old Kilgobbin Dam. . . a pair of Egyptian Geese and a Tegwaan are regulars there .

A beautifully marked Mountain Reedbuck Doe is resident just below the Dam . . she has become used to us trotting by.

Samango Monkeys counted up in the Grasslands . . 32 individuals , with four infants newly arrived .

Up on the top of Carlisle we regularly count 4 Oribi , 5 Reedbuck does and a handsome Reedbuck Ram . He tries to duck behind the old stems of Tweedie bush as we approach and remains unmoved through all of my driving .

Ntombi and I have spotted Jackal Buzzards on the Bales regularly and one on a medium -size kill . . Barend and I have spotted The Red Collared Widow Birds up and busy flirting with half-grown tails during our walks over the top in the grasslands .

Chris and I saw a Long Crested Eagle and plenty of Stone Chats along the walls .

All four Robins have been spotted up near the Oatley Hide . . and our garden with it`s fresh compost has Robins , Thrushes and Bou Bou Shrikes
scratching for and collecting yummy bugs ,

The roughly 50 kms a week that I get to roam the hills are “ Soul-Food “ Thank you for sharing your farms with our horses , Ntombi , Barend and I . . No humans seen . . Magical!!

Jenny Goddard

We found this dead otter at one of our dams this morning. No sign of injury. So sad…do you have a theory about what could have happened to him?? Not sure who else to ask!


Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Early morning mist over the valley

Ash 1

Worm in freshly cut wattle tree

Ash 2

Large pile of droppings, I’m guessing from a reedbuck as we have seen them on numerous occasions on the farm

Ash 3

A dead Oribi I found in one of our firebreaks, not sure what killed it

Ash 4

Lifted a rock at the dam and found this chap trying to hide underneath

Ash 5

Inhlosane rising above the ever diminishing Mavela Dam

Ash 6

Little dam near Selsley Farm

Ash 7

Aloes flowering on a neighbours farm

Ash 8

Ash 9

Ash 10

Recovering Olive Thrush sitting in a pot after flying into the window

Ash 11

A Black Sparrowhawk which was upsetting our lambs as it was flapping around on the ground in their night camp, obviously injured we took it to FreeMe in Howick for them to look after.

Ash 12


Ash 13

Late afternoon sun streaming through some pine trees

Ash 14

And finally a wintery scene of grassland and Inhlosane looking down on us

Ash 15

Louise Ghersie – Satori Farm

A herd of Eland passing our house to the top of our farm. Beautiful sight!

Eland on Satori Farm.jpg

Boston Wildlife Sightings – July 2016

Christeen Grant of Sitamani

02 Cover IMG_6073

Fire and Ice July, the first part of the month was characterized by smoky, hazy skies from fire-break burning. A cold front brought a sharp frost on 3 July, with very chilly temperatures and a few flakes of snow on the previous day.

02 Cover IMG_6101

The dry, warmer, intervening weather was changed into a snowy winter wonderland on the 25 July, much needed moisture, including rain, soaked the dry soil for a few days.

02 Cover IMG_621602 Cover IMG_626202 Cover IMG_6273

Aloe maculata have started fruiting, there are still some bright orange flowers on the hillside;

Buddleja salvifolia burst into flower after the snow;

as well as hundreds of bright yellow Gazania krebsiana;

03 Flora Flower Gazania krebsiana IMG_6307

one or two Greyia sutherlandii flowers had opened earlier, now the tree is covered in red tipped branches;

03 Flora Flower Greyia sutherlandii IMG_6293

the Halleria lucida branches are dripping with flowers, the most I’ve seen in a long time;

03 Flora Flower Halleria lucida IMG_6297

now that the soil is damp Ledebouria ovatifolia rosette, flat leaves have tightly packed buds above them.

03 Flora Flower Ledebouria ovatifolia IMG_6327

We have been working at rehabilitating a hillside that had a stand of pine trees growing on it. It is a very slow process, nine years since the trees came down in a tornado. Removal of the trunks and large branches came first, then regular annual burns and weeding out alien species. We are seeing indigenous pioneer species coming in. Recently we cut down and removed Acacia melanoxylon

and were happy to identify small indigenous trees that grow in a grove, Canthium (now Afrocanthium) mundianum, which will remain there.

03 Flora Tree Canthium (now Afrocanthium) mundianum IMG_2301

This last month there have been several sightings of Common Reedbuck. A very fine male, with beautiful horns, regularly wanders quite close to the house. He rests in a patch of bracken, one evening he was emerging as I arrived home.

04 Mammal Common Reedbuck P1070655

Male Common Reedbuck

Then on a walk to the top of our property I saw three males and four females, the largest group I’ve seen together in recent years.

04 Mammal Common Reedbuck spoor IMG_6331

Common Reedbuck spoor

Down near the gate I found many small pieces of fur, possibly Vlei Rat, that had been discarded by a predator, possibly the Long-crested Eagle, as that gatepost is a frequent perch.

04 Mammal fur IMG_6029

A pile of Porcupine droppings indicated they are still around.

04 Mammal Porcupine droppings IMG_6312

Porcupine scat

A Black-headed Oriole has taken over from the Black-backed Puffback, trying to attack his mirrored image in the windows, defending his patch. His liquid song from the verandah, where he perched in between bouts was so beautiful.

05 Bird Black-headed Oriole IMG_6145

Black-headed Oriole

A Cape Robin-chat splashed in the verandah birdbath even though there was still snow on the ground.

05 Bird Cape Robin-chat IMG_6174

A flock of Cape Weavers sunned themselves in bare branches.

05 Bird Cape Weaver IMG_6078

Cape Weavers

The large group of Cape White-eyes are my favourite winter birds, they all keep together, moving constantly whether foraging or taking a drink and dip.

05 Bird Cape White-eye IMG_6111

Cape White-eyes

05 Bird Cape White-eye IMG_6321

Cape White-eye

The Speckled Pigeons have multiplied, there are about six living here, roosting and nesting in the carports. I regularly hear the African Fish-Eagle calling from the valley, took a flight up over the house.

05 Bird Speckled Pigeon IMG_6163

Speckled Pigeon

There are many Striped Skinks living among the wooden slats of an outbuilding. They enjoy the warmth of a winter sun, basking.

06 Reptile Striped Skink IMG_6316

Striped Skink

There are many bees and hoverflies buzzing in the few flowering plants.

07 Invertebrate Bee on Buddleja salvifolia IMG_6288

I found what I think is a Wasp nest on the ground and several huge ant nests in trees.

07 Invertebrate Wasp nest IMG_6308

Possible wasp nest on the ground

07 Invertebrate Ant nest IMG_6314

Ant nest in the tree

A beautiful Painted Lady butterfly soaked up warmth from a rock on the hilltop.

07 Invertebrate Butterfly Painted Lady IMG_6310

Painted Lady Butterfly

Caroline McKerrow of Stormy Hill

We are getting quite a lot of activity at Stormy Hill Horse Trails. The buck are coming to drink at our horses’ water trough on the hill, so we have spotted a pair of Bushbuck, a Reedbuck, including a ‘teenager’ Reedbuck, and our resident Common (Grey) Duiker. We have even had a Bushbuck doe eating the rose bushes in the garden, which is great as it will save me some pruning.

We were quite excited to see a pair of Knysna Turaco (previously know as the Knysna Lourie), so I’m hoping that they have decided to nest in the area.

Crystelle Wilson of Gramarye

Birds have evolved very efficient ways to regulate their body temperature, but in winter it is hard not to think they are feeling the cold when they are sitting all huddled up like the Speckled Pigeons on the roof of a barn


Speckled Pigeons

or facing into the cold wind like a group of Helmeted Guineafowl


Helmeted Guineafowl

Black-headed Herons also appeared to huddle together in supporting companionship


Black-headed Heron

The atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000: Cape Weaver, African Sacred Ibis, Spur-winged Goose, Blacksmith Lapwing, Red-knobbed Coot, Yellow-billed Duck, Egyptian Goose, Red-winged Starling, Lanner Falcon, Rock Kestrel, Denham’s Bustard, Green Wood-hoopoe, Bokmakierie, Forest Canary, Pied Starling, Buff-streaked Chat


Buff-streaked Chat

African Firefinch, Sentinel Rock-thrush, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, House Sparrow


House Sparrow

Cape Wagtail, Grey Crowned Crane, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Levaillant’s Cisticola


Levaillant’s Cisticola

Black-shouldered Kite, Long-crested Eagle, Black-headed Heron, Cape Sparrow, Jackal Buzzard, Cape Robin-Chat, Cape Crow, Cape Turtle-dove, Fork-tailed Drongo


Fork-tailed Drongo

Cape White-eye, Speckled Pigeon, Village Weaver (the males beginning to practise their building skills)


Village Weaver

Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Cape Longclaw, Yellow Bishop, Little Grebe


Little Grebe

Drakensberg Prinia, Red-eyed Dove, Hadeda Ibis, White-necked Raven, African Stonechat, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape Canary and Southern Boubou (which appreciated having water available in the bird bath).


Southern Boubou

Winter Frogs

– Article by Nick Evans of KwaZulu-Natal Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

Frog activity is relatively low-key during the winter months, as it’s generally too cold for any frogs to be out and about, catching insects or calling for mates.

There are, however, two frog species which may be heard during the winter months, namely the Striped Stream Frog, and Common River Frog. Both these species can be heard during the day and at night, and they both have a similar body structure, but their colour and markings allow you to easily differentiate between the two.

The Striped Stream Frog (Strongylopus fasciatus), is a pretty little frog. It has a golden-yellow colouration, with dark stripes going down the body. These agile frogs have an exceptionally long toe on each of the back feet!


Striped Stream Frog (Strongylopus fasciatus)

Striped Stream Frogs favour wetlands and open grassy ponds, or any body of water in fact. They’re not too fussy when it comes to habitat. They have a fast, high-pitched chirping sound.

The Common River Frog (Amietia quecketti), grow to be much larger than the Stream Frogs. Their colour can vary. They’re often a dark, patchy green colouration, and sometimes brown. They have a stripe running along their back. In the more brown specimens, their stripe colour varies too, between orange and yellow.


Common River Frog (Amietia quecketti)


Their back toes are more webbed than the Stream Frog. These frogs (along with the Grass Frogs, usually found in more Northern parts of S.A) could go to the animal Olympics, if there was such an event. They are incredible jumpers and powerful swimmers. You can tell they’re good at that by looking at their large, powerful legs.

Common River Frogs can be seen and heard alongside rivers and streams. They make a strange, croaking sound, followed by a few clicks!

Common River Frog

Common River Frog (Amietia quecketti)

Spring is almost upon us, and some other frogs have started to wake up after the much needed recent rains. Let’s hope we get a lot more rain in the very near future, the land desperately needs it, and those keen on frogs need it too! Once we get a bit more rain, and the temperature starts to increase, frog season will be in full-swing!