Boston Wildlife Sightings – May

Pete and Frances Nel of “Four Gates”:

May 4 – The 3 Southern Ground Hornbills sauntered through the sheep paddock in front of the house; I locked the dogs in the house and ran outside… but I nearly stepped on them in the long grass ….. looking for them in the wrong direction. They took off toward the gum trees near the dam, where the  Grey Crowned Cranes usually nest, and were walking around there. According to an employee, there are SIX of them around in that same vicinity on most days!! Three Blue Cranes seen by Christopher in the field near the house.

Barry and Kirsten Cromhout of “Boston Garage”:

On Sat 5th saw adult Serval and 3 babies crossing R617 at Boston-Bulwer Beat information signboard on the way to Howick (at timber crossing just below “Noncheza” )

Barry and Lilian Murphy of “Vista”: At the eastern small fishing dam on Mount Shannon, seven Southern Ground Hornbills seen by family on weekend of 28th April

Trevor and Cheryl Scheepers of “Lapa Lapa”:
The Barn Owl chicks are now four weeks old, all five of them, balls of fluff; some bigger than others. There are five of them but they won’t all pose at the same time… Quite comfortable in the rafters of an old shed..

Andrew, Patricia and Clint Poole on “Brooklyn” farm:

Being closer to the Drakensberg, saw 15 Eland near the farmhouse; Nightjar on the truck; lots of Porcupine; White-tailed Mongoose; many Bald Ibis in the vicinity of the Umkomaas river; two Oribi on the heights of the farm.

Bruce and Bev Astrup of “Highland Glen”: a pair of Bokmakieries

Rob and Gail Geldart of “Boston View”:

The two Wattled Crane are around again after what seems to have been a “vacation”. There are two pairs of Secretary birds. One pair nests down below the cottages and forages in the home/cottage area. The other pair nest on a lone, thorny tree on the foot of the Nhlozane. There seem to be only two Cape Parrot visiting the Boston View home Yellow Wood trees. Fish Eagles regular visitors to our dams, calling their “African” call. Baboons and Jackal everywhere.

Dereck Hurlstone-Jones of The Rockeries”:

Porcupine; Black-backed Jackal; Common Reedbuck; Grey Duiker, eating in the driveway.

Barbara and David Clulow of “The Willows”:
Early May – Using the house as a hide and some camera zooming we spotted: a Blacksmith Lapwing, Yellow-fronted Canary, Speckled Mousebirds enjoying the morning sun, Long-crested Eagle

May 5 – a mature African Fish-Eagle rode the air waves above “The Drift., over “Gramarye” and across “Netherby”- beautiful white tail feathers as rudder. May 12 – the fifty Bald Ibis in the area, chose to circle around me on my tractor in the fields at 11.05 am until settling in the nearby stubble maize for a meal of Stalk-borer.
May 13 – visit to “Four Gates” at 6:12 am was rewarded by the three Southern Ground Hornbills in the gum trees next to the house. After watching them drink at a nearby cattle trough, they walked around the farmhouse.

Black-backed Jackal at 6 am on “Four Gates”

May 20 – the weather may be dull, chill and wet, but that does not dampen the trills and squawks of the pair of Bokmakieries outside the window or the Cardinal Woodpecker on the gate post.

Cape Parrot Count in Boston – evening of 5th & dawn of 6th May

Two Cape Parrots were seen both evening and morning at Boston View; one was seen and numbers were heard at Impendle Nature Reserve in morning; none at all were seen or heard on hillside below the ridge, above Flemington, but returning home in the dark: a Bushbuck, a Water Mongoose, a very young Duiker, a Scrub Hare. Plenty of mist was also seen at dawn.

Chrystelle Wilson of “Graymarye”

The great excitement this month was seeing a flock of about 50 Southern Bald Ibis on Netherby and elsewhere in the district. I’ve never seen more than 20 birds together at any one time. The ibis, Geronticus calvus, is endemic to Southern Africa and restricted to Lesotho, north-east South Africa and west Swaziland. The core range lies in the north-eastern Free State, Mpumalanga and the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg. It was widespread in the Eastern Cape until the early 20th century, and possibly bred historically in the Western and Northern Cape, but there is no evidence for range contraction elsewhere. In South Africa, there are over 1,500 breeding pairs at over 100 colonies. In Swaziland, there are three main breeding colonies, supporting at least 10 pairs each, and a total population of c.110 birds. In Lesotho, the population, with several known breeding colonies, is probably in the low thousands. South African populations may have increased between the late 1960s and the early 1980s, but the Lesotho population may be declining. It has been suggested that 8,000-10,000 birds (including 2,000 breeding pairs) exist. Overall, the species’ population is suspected to have decreased at a moderate rate because of habitat loss and degradation. Rapid population declines are projected to occur in the future if current rates of habitat loss continue.

Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000:

African Fish-Eagle, Greater Striped-Swallow, Hadeda Ibis, Amethyst Sunbird, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle Dove, Village Weaver, Dark-capped Bulbul, Spur-winged Goose, Drakensberg Prinia, Long-crested Eagle, Common Waxbill, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Grey Crowned Crane, Yellow-billed Duck, African Rail, Red-chested Flufftail, Cape Robin-Chat, Helmeted Guineafowl, Common Fiscal, African Stonechat, Blacksmith Lapwing, Egyptian Goose, Pied Kingfisher, Reed Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Black-headed Heron, Fork-tailed Drongo, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, Cape Crow, Giant Kingfisher, Bokmakierie, Cape Wagtail, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Cape Grassbird, Red-necked Spurfowl, Cape Canary, African Sacred Ibis, Speckled Mousebird, Black-headed Oriole, Pin-tailed Whydah, Cape Sparrow, Southern Red Bishop, African Black Duck, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Pied Crow, Common Moorhen, Little Grebe, Cape White-eye, Cape Parrot, Red-winged Starling, Knysna Turaco, African Olive-Pigeon, African Dusky Flycatcher, Olive Woodpecker, Olive Thrush, African Wood-Owl, Spotted Eagle-Owl, Grey Heron, Southern Bald Ibis, Southern Black Tit, Burchell’s Coucal, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Black-shouldered Kite, Red-billed Quelea, African Quailfinch, Cape Longclaw, African Pipit, Denham’s Bustard.

Philip and Christeen Grant of “Sitamani”:
With winter reaching into our part of the world plants and animals are tucking in for a brief hibernation. There have been most of our usual birds about. The gathering flocks of Red-winged Starlings have disbanded to smaller flocks joined by a few Cape Glossy Starlings. Night birds, Spotted Eagle Owls, Fiery-Necked Nightjars and Fluff-Tails can be heard calling. We’ve seen Duiker and heard and seen Common Reedbuck in the mornings and evenings. Molerat activity has been evident up near the house as they move up from the valley for the winter. Not many flowers, but a few brave Lobelia Erinus and the winter flowering Halleria lucida have started blossoming. Buddleja salvifolia buds are swelling and I think due to the warmer days Greyia sutherlandia buds are also appearing. Skinks are sunning themselves at every available opportunity. Frogs have gone silent. Carpenter bees and large colourful grasshoppers are busy. We had a delightful little Jumping Spider in the house. Only about 5mm in size, in the photo you can clearly see the weave on the table cloth!

Outing to “Edgeware” on May 21:
Isabel Johnson. Gareth Boothway and David Clulow did a recce in winter: Some flowers out: Aloe arborescens, Kalanchoe, Sutera floribunda. Also a few Puffadders.

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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