Boston Wildlife Sightings for August

6 August  – snow in Boston (and far and wide). It takes a lot of determination to survive in nature. On the Edgeware hill under snow in early August, there lived Bushbuck, Reedbuck, Duiker, Serval, birds galore, indigenous trees, wildflowers, butterfly pupas, Agama, Porcupine, Snakes galore – if they are tough enough they survive. Then on 14 August a fire swept the hill, removing all old grasses, food and shelter for some. But come the end of August, the green grasses were showing through. These two Blue Cranes, and a Spur-winged Goose, foraging for feed on the edge of the Netherby snow-line on 8 August:Derek Hurlstone-Jones of “The Rockeries”:

Five Grey Crowned Cranes on The Rockeries, across the R617 on northern side in pastures, walking down to the dam in course of the day. The family is thought to include the three juveniles which they raised. This group is seen quite often. Green Wood-Hoopoe in the garden at The Rockeries.

Rob and Celia Speirs of “The Rockeries”:

Fiery-necked Nightjar heard on the hill behind the house in early hours of 2 August

Neil and Gail Baxter of “Mosgate”:

5 August – Yellow-billed Kite at dam about 17h00. An early arrival for summer – poor bird, did not expect snow on 7 August.

12 August – Secretarybird (Sagitarius serpentarius – because they eat snakes).

Denis Field of “Shamba Yetu”:

African Hoopoe

Barbara and David Clulow of “The Willows”:

4 August – watched from garden through binocs, seeing three Long-tailed Mongoose sporting alongside a dry stream on “Netherby”

10 August – Long-crested Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite; group of more than 6 Denham’s Bustards walking about in rye on Netherby.

11 August – a Scrub Hare, racing our car along the Dargle road, near Highland Glen

19 August – As I watched from our bedroom window, a melee of birds appeared in the sky: there were two Sacred Ibis, an African Spoonbill, and a Blacksmith Lapwing; and they appeared to be chasing a Black-headed Heron, all diving and swerving in the air. They all landed safely at the pan, amidst some bird noise, and were promptly joined on the ground by hordes, really hordes, of Helmeted Guineafowl, which had been there all morning, two Egyptian Geese and several other Blacksmith Lapwings. The Helmeted Guineafowl all swarmed one side. A posse of Hadedah Ibis appeared from the other side and walked amongst them. Gradually they all left, leaving the African Spoonbill in isolated splendour, head turned away from the wind.

Lone Vervet Monkey seen daily in bare Basket Willow trees alongside the Elands River…..bad news for nests with eggs in them. Beware to Long-crested Eagle, Grey Crowned Cranes and others which are known to nest in these areas.

A pair of Cape Sparrows are building a nest in a bush at the house, while a pair of Hadedahs have hatched a chick high in an Oak tree nearby.

24 August – Pair of Blue Cranes still spending daylight on Netherby and flying north to Elandshoek for the night.

17 August at 14h30 – an icy cold wind was blowing when a Raptor landed on the dead tree outside our window, allowing for a series of photos before leaving; the first opinions revolved around an African Osprey because of the black on its head; but the authoritative view came from the Curator of Birds, Durban Natural Science Museum, David Allan, who kindly assisted. He wrote: “It’s a juvenile African Fish Eagle. It’s at the age when they most resemble Ospreys, but note the much heavier, stockier build, stouter beak and dark (not yellow) eye.”

26 August – a Jackal Buzzard perched on the dead tree outside the window. The colouring on its back was most attractive.

Some evenings, a Scrub Hare bursts out of the grass on The Willows and happily escapes into Gramarye grasses before our dogs get themselves into chase mode. Pair of Blue Cranes have been seen on Netherby throughout August and still appearing on the 29th. Pair of Grey Crowned Cranes – always a pleasure when they visit The Willows. By end of August, two nests ready for use: Cape Sparrow and Hadedah Ibis.

Trevor and Cheryl Scheepers of “Lapa Lapa”:

Brood of Egyptian Geese’s goslings now reduced to two; while walking in the veld, saw a long-legged speckled bird in a water course, possibly a Ruff. A raptor attacked & killed a Helmeted Guineafowl, which was too large to carry, so dinner was taken on the spot.

Barry and Kirsten Cromhout of “Highland Glen”:

A goshawk killed a dove for food; two African Spoonbills at the small dam near the Elands River

Crystelle Wilson of “Gramarye”:

WHEN it is cold, competition at the feeding stations become fierce. And sometimes flying can be gravity defying for birds.

Red-billed Queleas and Village Weaver;

and a Yellow Bishop launching itself in the air

The SABAP2 atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad is: Cape Crow, Yellow-billed Kite, Long-crested Eagle, Village Weaver, Cape Sparrow, Spur-winged Goose, Egyptian Goose, Common Fiscal, Cape Turtle Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Grey Crowned Crane, African Stonechat, Hadeda Ibis, Cape Wagtail, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Helmeted Guineafowl, Dark-capped Bulbul, Fork-tailed Drongo, Cape White-eye, Giant Kingfisher, Speckled Mousebird, Southern Boubou, Olive Thrush, Cape Robin-Chat, Red-billed Quelea, Drakensberg Prinia, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Black-headed Oriole, Cape Glossy Starling, African Firefinch, African Sacred Ibis, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Blacksmith Lapwing, Black-headed Heron, Jackal Buzzard, Yellow-billed Duck, Little Grebe, Brown-throated Martin, Yellow-fronted Canary, Cape Longclaw, Yellow Bishop, Pied Crow, Long-tailed Widowbird, Red-throated Wryneck, African Spoonbill, Red-necked Spurfowl, Black-shouldered Kite, South African Shelduck, Southern Red Bishop, African Black Duck, Common Waxbill, Cape Grassbird, Bokmakierie, African Darter, Cape Weaver, Common Moorhen, White-breasted Cormorant, Black Sparrowhawk, Amethyst Sunbird, Reed Cormorant.

And in the garden at Gramarye, a frog.

Pete and Frances Nel of “Four Gates”:

Saw the African Spoonbill on Wednesday 29th at the little dam at 3.45 pm; And still there when I came back from Boston at 5 pm.

Rob and Gail Geldart of “Boston View” and “Watershed”:

I haven’t been around the tops much so haven’t seen the Wattled Crane of late. I’m excited to say though that I had 5 Cape Vulture visiting a cow carcass! Other interesting visitors are 2 Eland bulls, grazing my pastures at night and retreating to the mountain by day.

Post script on 1 Sept – I’m pleased to report I have seen the Wattled Crane at the Myrtle Grove (Glandrishok) swamp. One seems to be on the nest and the other foraging a little way off.

Caroline McKerrow of “Stormy Hill”:

The Eskom lines going up the hill snapped in the snow. I found a beautiful Mountain Reedbuck ram dead by the side of the fence separating me from “Forest Dew” (on the “Forest Dew” side but up against the fence.) I had a good look at it and there wasn’t a mark on it, no snares, no cuts, nothing and then I realised what must have happened. I assume that when the power lines snapped and the lines fell into the snow that the Mountain Reedbuck must have got electrocuted. I was very lucky as all the horses and the two cows were over by the stables and I’ve been keeping all the dogs inside because of the cold. It could have wiped them all out.

Then when I was feeding the horses 4 buck came into the paddock at the top of the terraces and then made their way over to the trees. There were three adults and a small one who was having to jump through the snow to keep up. They looked about the size of Duiker but weren’t. I checked in my book and they were Oribi. I watched them for a long time from the back of the house through the binoculars. Very chuffed. I’ve also seen Duiker, Reedbuck and a Bushbuck this month.

Philip and Christeen Grant of “Sitamani”:

August was the month of extremes, hot sunny days, mist and snow. We had about 30 cms of snow over two days, Tuesday 7 and Wednesday 8, and it resulted in us being snow bound without electricity for five days. Birds and animals were hungry and seeking shelter. A young Reedbuck spent one night sheltering in the tractor garage and was very reluctant to move off the next morning, instead nibbled on grass near the building, that had been exposed as the snow started to melt.

The resident Cape Robin-Chat was busy foraging from first light. Speckled Pigeon parents were hard pressed to keep their brood on top of the water tanks, fed.

Then once the snow had melted and the days warmed, Spring really started to settle in. Yellow-Billed Kites were seen overhead, grass started greening on the burnt slopes and the trees in the garden sent out tiny green leaves. Mousebirds have been feasting on the swollen Wisteria buds over the verandah. Ouhout, Leucosidea sericea burst forth with the best flower display in years, joining the last of the Buddleja salvifolia and the Halleria lucida that continues to bloom. Fresh white Apodolirion buchananii flowers have appeared ‘star-like’ in the burnt areas and Moraea leaves promise flowers in the coming weeks.

Graham and Claire, Emma and Megan Hudson of “Kia Ora”:

Five Blue Cranes in the grassland on Sunday 1 September; also two Grey Crowned Cranes at dam.

Tommy Cooper at “Elvesida”:

Two Common Reedbuck, leaping across the Dargle road; one Scrub Hare; Hadedahs; Long-crested Eagles, building a nest in the gum trees on “Elvesida”; two Grey Crowned Cranes; Puffadder on ridge between Grant’s and Murphy’s in the road

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