Boston Wildlife Sightings – April

Brighton Trail opened in April 2012

Following the eastern bank of the Elands river, from “Elandsvlei” to “Elvesida”, an hour’s hike along a good path on “Netherby”, with a variety of views; plenty of Leucosidia sericea trees; challenging flower identifications for Selago and Sutera enthusiasts; also some Persicaria, Plectranthus and swathes of Helichrysum. Bird-life depends upon the time of day; evidence of Reedbuck, Duiker and Bushbuck. A fine footbridge crosses the Elands riverat “Elvesida”, making a return to the Dargle road comparatively simple. Alternatively return to Boston T-Party for refreshments.

Paddy and Sue Carr of “Netherby”:

Whilst on a drive around “Netherby” on a beautiful Easter Day afternoon, we saw a pair of Wattled Cranes on a harvested maize land up near the Sappi boundary.  On the same drive, we also saw a Denham’s (Stanley) Bustard and a Blackbacked Jackal.

George Edlmann on “Parkside”:

A Spotted Eagle-Owl in  the forest on “Parkside”; an Emperor Swallowtail butterfly; a Bonnet ground orchid, 3 mm across. Emperor Swallowtail butterfly. a small Green Grass Snake crossing the steps of the verandah at Parkside. It seems the Knysna Turaco have now left for a warmer clime. This is the first week (in early April) that he has not called, affected by a cold front and light frost, A surprise was the presence of two Eland on the iNhlosane near the summit, not far from the beacon, on Friday morning 20 April. They were near, and in and out, of the Ouhout (Leucosidea sericea) below the cliff line, much of the day.

Trevor and Cheryl Scheepers on “Lapa Lapa”:

Barn Owls have a nest in the large shed, where already three chicks have been hatched from 10 eggs. They have chosen a well-protected corner, and are well-protected from the winter chills, despite the three frosts of the winter season already experienced; eighteen Grey Crowned Cranes on “Harmony” near the potato fields; pair of Egyptian Geese hatched out chicks on “Harmony” but visit “Lapa Lapa with the seven chicks in tow; fourteen Black-Headed Herons in the recently cut maize field on “The Drift”; two Reedbuck, one a large male in the Dargle road.  Woodpecker, pecking at the window pane.

Neil and Gail Baxter of “Mosgate”:

April 13 – The two Grey Crowned Crane chicks are now flying

Pete and Frances Nel of “Four Gates”:

Barn Owls, three Southern Ground Hornbills fairly often in field eastof house early in the morning, a pair of Grey crowned crnes at the dam.  April 29 – the Ground Hornbills early morning on Sunday; no sighting due to mist but calling for about ½ hour from about 5.30am; 1 Denham’s (Stanley) Bustard. An African Fish-Eagle near Boston village; three Grey Crowned Cranes  near bottom dam, plus all the geese.  April 30 – two adult Duiker near house. 

Rob and Celia Speirs on “The Rockeries”:

A pied kingfisher at the dam; 3 African Fish-Eagles, circling for a long time above our house (that was a first!); a Purple Heron; 4 Blesbuck in the cut maizelands on top of the hill; Paradise Flycatchers still in the garden; but no more visits from the Cape Parrots.

Ian and Jenny Lawrence of “Endeavour”:

Four Blue Cranes often as well as regular visits by Grey Crowned Cranes in the former cabbage lands; Long-crested Eagle; one Denham’s Bustard.

Carol McKerrow on “Stormy Hill”:

While out horse-riding saw a large Otter at a Mt Shannon dam; it soon disappeared, unlike the smaller one seen at the same place earlier.

Rory and Sue Brighton of “Elandsvlei”:

A Spotted Eagle-Owl along the new Netherby riverside ‘wanderweg’ (from Boston Garage to Elvesida); pair of Grey Crowned Cranes on Moth’s cottage side of dam; on the dam itself, Spur-winged Geese; Red-knobbed Coot; Yellow-billed Ducks with streams of ducklings; Reed Cormorant

Crystelle Wilson of “Gramarye”:

In case you have wondered what a pentad is, it is a square on the map, roughly 8×9 kilometres square, or 5 degrees square. Nine pentads fit into a quarter quadrant square on a 1:50000 map. The Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 is my “home” pentad which I atlas most frequently for the SA Bird Atlas Project 2 based at the University of Cape Town.

The list in the Elandshoek pentad for April is: Speckled Mousebird, Village Weaver, Amethyst Sunbird, Cape Turtle Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Dark-capped Bulbul, Fork-tailed Drongo, Common Waxbill, Cattle Egret, Reed Cormorant, African Sacred Ibis, African Darter, Hadeda Ibis, Jackal Buzzard, Grey Crowned Crane, Spur-winged Goose, Egyptian Goose, White-breasted Cormorant, Cape Longclaw, Red-knobbed Coot, Little Grebe, Black-headed Heron, Cape Wagtail, African Stonechat, Common Fiscal, Cape Robin-Chat, Southern Red Bishop, Red-necked Spurfowl, Drakensberg Prinia, Cape Grassbird, Red-chested Flufftail, African Rail, Giant Kingfisher, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Red-billed Quelea, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Southern Boubou, Cape Crow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Black Saw-wing, Cape White-eye, Black Sparrowhawk, Helmeted Guineafowl, Pied Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Duck, White-faced Duck, Red-collared Widowbird, Pied Crow, Greater Striped-Swallow, Cape Glossy Starling, African Firefinch, Cape Parrot, Barn Swallow, Denham’s Bustard, Common Moorhen, Cape Sparrow, Speckled Pigeon, Pied Starling, Long-crested Eagle, Steppe (Common) Buzzard, Three-banded Plover, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, House Sparrow, Brown-throated Martin, Southern Black Tit, Blacksmith Lapwing, Bar-throated Apalis, Sombre Greenbul, Terrestrial Brownbul, African Harrier-Hawk, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, African Dusky Flycatcher, Cape Canary, Wattled Crane, Buff-streaked Chat, Brimstone Canary, Yellow Bishop, Long-tailed Widowbird.

A surprise-scene at one of Mondi’s Goodhope dams on 14 April – a Grey Crowned Crane on a nest and mate protectively standing nearby. Other bird in the water is a Red-knobbed Coot.

Three days later, the nest was empty, save for a Red-knobbed Coot, which was lording it over the area. Presumably the chicks had hatched and were in the reeds nearby.

April 28 – six Denham’s Bustards on Netherby at 17h15

April 29 – Water Mongoose ran across path into long grasses in wetlands near the Elands river; four Denham’s Bustards.

April 30 – two Secretary Birds & one Denham’s Bustard in the potato fields on “Watershed. Three White Storks on “The Drift”, stayed behind in the migration to the north; one with an injured wing and limping.

Derek Hurlstone-Jones at “The Rockeries”:

On Dargle road near “Watershed”, a pair of Guineafowl with 12 chicks; a Black-backed Jackal; Bats in the house..

Wayne and Jacqui Muller on “Fairview”:

White Storks on “Fairview”- others have departed for northern hemisphere. Found the wing of a bird, killed on “The Drift” dam wall; sent to Durban Museum for follow-up ….. first identification as being that of a Black-shouldered Kite; Seen the pair of Grey Crowned Cranes and three juveniles at the dam

Barbara and David Clulow at “The Willows”:

April 3 – pair of Wattled Crane in the pan for over an hour, preening, chasing waterbirds, mainly Spur-winged Geese, with much waving of their wings:

April 5 – at 6 pm a Water Mongoose dashed out of the grass at the side of the Dargle road near a stream; saw us and our two dogs and dashed back again

April 7 – African Spoonbill trawling in the water of the pan; Spur-wing in background

and quite happy to share the pan also with Grey Crowned Cranes:

April 7 – Grey Crowned Crane chicks, poised to learn to fly, are nerve-wracking. The chick/juvenile on “The Willows” was ready to do so, then disappeared. A day later walking through the tall maize in “The Drift” a juvenile dashed out of the rows of maize, and took to a barely-controlled flight, towards “Highlands Glen”. Next evening at “The Drift” dam the pair of Cranes there had three juveniles with them, all flying, under their wings, so to say. One can only surmise.

April 8 – two Scrub Hares darted across the Dargle road outside “Highland Glen” at 6.30 in the  evening

April 9 – Wattled Cranes paid a third visit, this time in company of a pair of Greys:

The Grey Crowned Cranes appear quite overwhelmed; one really gets an idea of the size of the Wattled Cranes in comparison.

April 18 – a single Denham’s Bustard amongst Spur-winged Geese and Black-headed heron in stubble maize on “The Drift’

April 20 – regular visits make close-up photos more feasible of the Wattled Cranes, this time in stubble maize amongst a herd of cattle on The Drift:

The pair of adult Grey Crowned Cranes are seen on “The Drift”, usually in the stubble maize, with the three juveniles, nearly every day.

Bev and Bruce Astrup of “Highland Glen”:

Pied Starlings; Broods of Helmeted Guineafowl with umpteen chicks running all over, in the road, in the tall grass.

Nigel and Tracy Murray of “Trelyon”:

Pair of Spotted Thick-knees (Dikkops); solitary Denham’s Bustard; flight of 35 Grey Crowned Cranes from “Greenfields” to the north; Barn Owls; Black-winged Lapwings

Peter and Karin Geldart of “Cocquidale”:

Six Southern Ground Hornbills in haylands on “Cocquidale”

Graeme and Claire Hudson of “Kia Ora”:

A Greater Striped Swallow mud nest came tumbling down on the verandah. A solution was to place the featherless chicks in a wicker basket and hang that in about the same place. The parents accepted the new nest and fed the babies, which fattened, thrived and grew feathers, and were last seen taking to their wings.

Philip and Christeen Grant of “Sitamani”:

The magnificent stands of Leonotis leonurus and an abundance of Gladiolus sericevillosus on the roadsides in Boston. Other than that we’ve had several sightings of Duiker and Common Reedbuck, heard Black-backed Jackal in the evenings and early mornings and many of our usual birds about. The Red-winged Starlings seem to be gathering again into winter flocks of up to 40 at the moment. Leonotis leonorus, blooming widely in Boston, beloved of Sunbirds.

This summary was 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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