Boston Wildlife January 2012

Boston View Cottages

The flowers were prolific in the grasslands. A few samples: Pachycarpus grandiflorus, Periglossum angustiflorum, Satyrium cristatum – red splashes on inflorescence.

Paddy and Sue Carr on Netherby

Five Blue Cranes near the Amanzimnyama river; one Half-collared Kingfisher at upper dam near to farmhouse

Terry and Basil Cuthbert of Jaluka Estates

a Hamerkop at our dam 2 x Secretary Birds (second sighting) in the land behind our house 4 x Night Adders (one of which was very large). Unusual here as – for the past nine years – we’ve only ever seen Rinkals and never Night Adders before.

Ian and Jenny Lawrence of Endeavour

A Thick-billed Weaver

Barbara and David Clulow of The Willows

This rain-sodden Pippistrellus capensis bat gave me a bit of a surprise when I returned home on New Year’s Eve, put my hand down to lift the gate latch, and felt something furry. Next morning he/she had discovered his/her/my error and was gone, off to enjoy 2012.

Jan 2 – Spotted Eagle-Owls calling at night; lesser Striped Swallows are active once again.

Jan 4 – overhead The Willows at midday; suggested to be a sub-adult African Fish-Eagle.

Jan 4 – Group of 16 Gladiolus dalenii on stream bank on “The Drift”

“The photo is of a ‘Common Water Scorpion’ (Laccotrephes sp.) – despite the name it is not a scorpion but a bug (Hemiptera) of the family Nepidae. Not uncommon but usually in water with the long posterior siphon sticking out of the water like a snorkel. They do fly around, usually at night, to find new ponds. They are predators and feed on a variety of things including tadpoles. Your second photo  is an antlion (Neuroptera: Myrmeleontidae) of the genus Palpares. This group have been called ‘veld antlions’ as they fly actively in grasslands. They are often hard to photograph as they fly off when you get too near”  -ID’s and comments kindly by Dr JGH Londt

Jan 13 – Grey Crowned Crane on a nest at The Drift dam – not easily seen -well done Crystelle Wilson for spotting it. It’s Sunbird time again and this Amethyst found plenty of honey in the Agapanthus. Pity not to have managed a photo of the greyish, flecked-fronted, female, but she was far more wary and flew speedily away every time.

Jan 18 – in the half dark of evening at the Elands river, two Duikers sported on the level ground, chasing about frantically, running from side to side:

January 28 – three Grey Crowned Crane chicks hatched out at the dam, seen several times

Neil and Gail Baxter on “Mosgate”:

First clutch of Helmeted Guineafowl chicks seen on 7th January

Trevor and Cheryl Scheepers on “Lapa Lapa”

Another sighting of the Monitor Lizard at the dam. Then a few days later the nGuni cattle were seen chasing across the field, in hot pursuit of the Monitor Lizard, which sought refuge in the dam.

Clutch of Yellow-billed Ducks eggs destroyed at the dam by a predator, but one of the eggs was rescued and put under a domestic Goose and hatched out – but stand-in parent and babe did not speak the same language and Goose soon lost interest. The eggs from Helmeted Guineafowl also hatched by Silky hen and three babies doing fine.

Ivanhoe farm CREW Outing on 18 January:

A combined Wildflower/ Birding Outing, which was successful in every respect – Birding totalled 74 species for the Pentad. From the Wildflowers’ point of view, three future protected Wildflower enclosures were earmarked for the future – One hillside; one wetland; one grassland strip. A visit to the Indigenous forest presented a spectacular view.

Philip and Christeen Grant of Sitamani

Bokmakerie which has taken up residence in the garden area, a pair of Barn Swallows passing through and a flock of Glossy Starlings around temporarily at the moment. Many fledglings, Cape Robin Chat, Groundscraper Thrush, Olive Thrush and Speckled Pigeons.

Seen a very dark-coloured Caracal on several evenings. Reedbuck and Duiker continue to be seen close to the house.

A stunning array of wildflowers; for me a new one for Sitamani, Tritonia disticha. As is one of a Hadeda Ibis, a pair often on the roof of the garage in the mornings.

Crystelle Wilson on Gramarye

It could have been the story of the lion lying down next to the lamb, except the role players were a silver Black-backed Jackal and a Grey Duiker. At sunrise I was watching a flock of 34 Grey-crowned Cranes and some Spur-winged Geese in a ploughed field on Netherby across the river when I noticed the little duiker emerging from the adjacent rye. Almost simultaneously the jackal also entered the field from the river vegetation on the opposite side. From the hillock where I was standing I could see their paths were diagonally parallel, several metres apart. But then the jackal lifted its head, sniffed the air and turned towards the duiker. “Here comes big trouble,” I thought. I know the rule about letting nature take its course, and that baby jackals also need feeding, but I did briefly consider creating a diversion to avoid witnessing bloodshed. Then the duiker spotted the jackal and to my total astonishment ran towards it! And for the next 10 minutes or so the two appeared to be playing, taking turns to chase each other with the cranes and geese as bemused onlookers. Eventually the jackal trotted off into the rye and the duiker continued grazing on the edge of the field before it too disappeared into the rye.

Summer is a busy time for birding. Breeding is in full swing and everywhere one can hear the calls of territorial males or of cuckoos diverting host males so the females can sneak in to nests to lay their eggs. In the garden hungry baby birds beg for food and parents scurry around to keep the supply going. Birdlists for the pentads are also much longer, as is this one for Elandshoek 2935_3000:

Cape Turtle Dove, Helmeted Guineafowl, Barn Owl, Red-eyed Dove, Hadeda Ibis, Pin-tailed Whydah, Cape Canary, Giant Kingfisher, Fork-tailed Drongo, Dark-capped Bulbul, Bokmakierie, Little Rush-Warbler, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Fan-tailed Widowbird, African Stonechat, Common Quail, Cattle Egret, Red-chested Flufftail, Black Saw-wing, Drakensberg Prinia, Black-headed Heron, Yellow-billed Duck, African Rail, Egyptian Goose, Red-collared Widowbird, African Reed-Warbler, Cape Crow, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Spur-winged Goose, Brown-throated Martin, Red-necked Spurfowl, Diderick Cuckoo, Cape Grassbird, Barn Swallow, Cape Robin-Chat, Greater Striped-Swallow, Cape White-eye, Southern Red Bishop, Yellow-fronted Canary, Grey Crowned Crane, African Sacred Ibis, Orange-breasted Waxbill, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Amethyst Sunbird, Common Fiscal, Cape Sparrow, Black-headed Oriole, Yellow-billed Kite, Village Weaver, Red-billed Quelea, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, African Firefinch, African Harrier-Hawk, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Cormorant, African Darter, Cape Weaver, Common Moorhen, Cape Longclaw, Green Wood-hoopoe, Jackal Buzzard, Cape Glossy Starling, Pied Starling, Black Sparrowhawk, Black-shouldered Kite, Amur Falcon, Common Waxbill, Neddicky, African Olive-Pigeon, Hamerkop, Southern Boubou, Pale-crowned Cisticola, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Speckled Pigeon, Red-chested Cuckoo, Forest Canary, Sombre Greenbul, Black Cuckoo, Speckled Mousebird, Yellow-crowned Bishop, Long-tailed Widowbird, Wattled Crane, White-throated Swallow, Horus Swift, Common Swift, Yellow Bishop, Buff-streaked Chat,  Little Grebe, Blacksmith Lapwing, Blue Crane, House Sparrow, Olive Thrush, Barratt’s Warbler, Yellow Bishop, Yellow-crowned Bishop, African Purple Swamphen, Wood Sandpiper, Grey Crowned Crane on nest at “Virginia”, Grey Crowned Crane on nest at “The Drift”

Mike and Carol Fynn on Tillietudlem

A sighting I had yesterday of 11 Blue Swallow on the farm. Another interesting find last week was a dead Serval that had obviously been killed in a fight – probably either another Serval or a Caracal. Young Blue Wildebeest abound, with 40 at the last count. Unfortunately the young of the Blesbok, fallow and Mountain Reedbuck are again being hammered by predators – Jackal and Caracal – we will certainly have to take action before next season.

Regular sightings of resident Blue Crane, Secretary birds, Marshall Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle – surprisingly very few Amur Falcon this year.

The Boston sightings are compiled by David Clulow, a member of the Lions Club of Pietermaritzburg (Host), and has been approved by that Club as an official conservation project of the Club.

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