Dargle Wildlife January 2012

This is some of the interesting wildlife spotted in the Dargle area over the summer holidays.

Malvina and Evert van Bremem

We were really surprised to see these Star Stinkhorn mushrooms in our lawn!

Kate Pallett – Corrie Lynn Farm

I have been watching 3 wagtail chicks growing in this nest right outside my bedroom window! Similarly, we saw a Paradise flycatcher on a nest of 3 chicks on a walk with Barend last week.

On New Year’s eve we camped on top of the hill to watch the sunrise. Just after dawn we saw a group of 5 Yellowbilled Kites fly out of the forest.

Barend and Helen Booysen – Kilgobbin Cottage

On one of the forest walks we were very fortunate to see three Narina Trogons all at the same time.  Our guest, Richard Watt, was over the moon and sent this message:

“Thank you so much for the unforgettable forest walk – it was truly amazing!”

Justin and Karin Herd – Bee Tree Farm

The Carniverous snail has been with us for a number of years (Natalina cafra).  He/she is quite tame and takes the bad snails from me and polishes them off.  She deposited two eggs this year but they didn’t hatch.  I am in contact with Dai Herbert of the Natal Museum to see if I can breed them.  Also some interesting flowers that have started appearing in the grassland on my rehabilitated section.  Disa crassicornis and Pterygodium magnum.

Clive Shippey and Shirley Bishop – Northington

We, like many I am sure, often have the distant sighting and hearing of the fish eagle. Swallows abound at the moment and I had the distinct privilege of being the centre of attraction for upwards of half an hour whilst mowing a field. These exquisite little fliers swooped and dived all around me sometimes as close as a metre having no fear for the noisy tractor. There must have been in excess of 150 of these little beauties.

Eidin Griffin and Malcolm Draper – Wits End

Our sightings have been glow worms and fireflies in early January around the steps. A Burchells Couchal which is resident at the bottom of the garden and swops from tree to tree, regular sunbirds, kites, a reedbuck popped out just behind the house and of course the resident bees in the tree near the verandah which cluster together for warmth on cold days and get very busy in the heat. Thanks for collecting the sightings -it is giving us good incentive to keep the Roberts book on the verandah at all times!

Sandra and Pat Merrick – Albury Farm

About 3 weeks ago our 8 baby Shell Duck arrived on our dam, now fully grown.  What a joy to see that they are all alive and thriving.

Dec: Crested and blue crane have been at the dam on and off.

Spoonbill, spurwing, egyptian, plovers, yellowbill duck, cormorant, Grey heron

Black and malachite sunbird nesting in our plane tree. rock pigeons, swallows, sparrows, starlingsall nesting in roof and chimney of our house and our barn owl is back too.

Lately we have had a few reed buck jumping over our fence into the lower garden area to browse. The jackal have been crying out during the day lately – the sound coming from behind us at Bronners – perhaps its the babies?

a male bush buck ran down the hill, shot under the fence and disappeared into the gum plantation on our farm.

Jan: Blue crane still visiting dam and crested crane flew over today.

Saw and heard fish eagle today. 5 spoonbill on dam plus about 20 spurwing geese.  Several egyptian geese and yellow bill ducks.

Our 2 barn owls are back causing havoc with the security beams every night.  One fell down our chimney last week during the night and found him perched on a door next morning.  Pat has built an owl box which we are hoping they will settle in.

Malachite and black sunbirds active. Gymnogene, yellow billed kite, Pinstriped whydah Olive thrushs feeding their young under shrubs. Cormorant and hamerkop sitting on rock on our pond near house. Wagtails, common stonechats, rock pigeons, starlings, sparrows, and swallows, cape robin, drakensberg prinia around house area.

A sparrow has given birth to several young in hollow pole next to our gate.

Colleen van Heerden – Khululeka

The sounds of nature early in the morning, the rising of the sun, the blue & black butterflies that literally flutter by. This place is amazing, and has become so close to my heart. We are truly blessed to live in such a magical place and space.

Andrew and Susi Anderson – Lane’s End

Bronze mannequins nesting in Australian bottle brush

Couple of pairs of Paradise Flycatchers nesting

Cape Robin nesting

Steppe Buzzard – hunting chickens

Dwarf Chameleon

Nile Monitor Lizard

5 Blue Cranes circling and calling

The Cape Robin reported nesting last month is raising a Redchested Cuckoo chick – have been hearing a very strange high pitched call for a few days and finally saw the culprit the cuckoo calling for food!

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

Butterflies and moths everywhere – I can’t identify many yet. Lots of colourful dragonflies – from brilliant blue to copper. Masses of beetles: Longhorns, Stinkbugs, Ladybirds; songololos, very big earthworms, bees and carpenter bees, paper wasps.

Plants:

Watsonia pillansii,  Nemesia sylvatica, Walenbergia, Littonia modesta, Kniphofia laxiflora, Lobelia, Monopsis decipens, Monopsis stellaroides, Aristea ecklonii, Allophyllus africanus, Impatiens flanaganiae, Conostium natalense, Eriosema, Hypoxis parvula, Helichrysum odoratissimum, Helichrysum ruderale, Tephrosia macropoda, Watsonia densiflora, Aloe ecklonii, Zantedeschia aethiopica, Englerodaphne pilosa, Zantedeschia albomaculata – gorgeous red colour instead of usual cream, Crocosmia paniculata, Sophubia cana.

Mammals:

Seen: Reedbuck, Samango monkeys

Heard: Jackals, tree dassies

Tracks: water mongoose, Serval and Jackal

Birds:

A group of 5 blue cranes flying overhead calling.

European storks seen for the first time this summer on 17 December.

A Reed Cormorant flew straight at me while I was swimming in the dam – I think it thought I was a rock, as it had to flap wildly so as not to land on me!

Gymnogene raiding fork-tailed Drongo nest

lots of Grey Herons and a Purple Heron and a pair of yellow billed ducks

Emerald Cuckoo, Black African Cuckoo, yellow billed kite, Egyptian geese, Pied Crows, Stone Chats, Jackal Buzzards, White eyes, Mousebirds, Thick billed weavers, Southern Boubous, Chorister Robins, Cape Robins, Thrushes, Cape Batis, Rock Pigeons, Ring necked Doves, Grey headed Sparrows, Bulbuls, Black headed Oriel, collared sunbird, Fork-tailed Drongo, Pin tailed Whydah, Knysna Loeries, Bronze mannekins, Hadedas, Swallows, wagtails nesting in ivy covering old shed.

Heard – Red Chested Cuckoo, Buff spotted flufftail, Wood Owls, Fish Eagle, Burchell’s coucal.

Reptiles:

A python was seen on Old Kilgobbin by Philemon Dlala who was clearing american bramble!  Terribly exciting, although it does mean there is a patch of bramble left unsprayed in the middle of the field.  This Rinkhals skin was found nearby.

I disturbed what I think was a green olive snake in the grass beside the forest and it slithered quickly up a tree.

There are still plenty of frogs about and lots of tadpoles in the dam.  Clicking frogs still very audible at night.

Last summer, while Joel was swimming in the dam, a green water snake swam alongside him. While he was thinking it would be best to have a little space between them, a fish eagle swooped down and snatched the snake.  An incredible experience. As Joel quipped afterwards “Most of my friends train in the pool at Virgin Active, they don’t know what they are missing.”

Katie Robinson – Lemonwood

I have seen a couple of very large porcupine running down the road in front of me when I was driving home the other night, both rattling their quills and looking larger than life.  Two Serval on the drive and a very long black looking snake (about 2 metres) crossing the drive a couple of nights ago.  A keen birding customer spotted a Narina Trogan in the forest quickly followed by a bluemantled flycatcher.  Several sightings of Tree Dassies sitting in the elbows of trees staring at walkers as they climb the hill.  The noise of the Christmas beetles is almost deafening in the forest at the moment.

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