Neil and Gail Baxter – MontroseThe flowers at the upper dam, near the indigenous forest are coming into bloom. Scilla natalensis (or Merwilla), Silene bellidioides. The Watsonia socium are adorning the hillsides – even in the forest.
Ian and Jenny Lawrence – Endeavour
Two Blue Cranes on grasslands near Elands river; pair of Grey Crowned Cranes on field near house
Trevor and Cheryl Scheepers – Lapa Lapa
Egyptian Geese parents have brought two goslings to 75% stage; Paradise Flycatcher male in garden; three African Fish-Eagles at beginning of month; watched five Grey Crowned Cranes coming in to land near The Drift dam.
Barbara and David Clulow – The Willows
Oct 1 – The Greater-striped Swallows are back
Oct 5 – Olive Thrush and African Hoopoe in the garden. A spread of Cyrtanthus breviflorus at The Drift below the damwall, in wetland, on Oct 7. while more common on The Drift, the Cyrtanthus tuckii (green-tipped fire lily). On the low-lying paths at the Elands river the way is a mat of Diclis reptans, through white to pale mauve
Oct 22- after some days of gloomy weather and some rain, the sunshine was greeted by the first Piet-my-Vrou (Red-chested Cuckoo) of the season, whose ringing call promised a real summer. While Barbara was busy at her laptop, she had some eager spectators – a male and female Paradise Flycatcher:Graeme and Claire Hudson Kia Ora
Two Blue Cranes
Ian and Jenny Lawrence – Endeavour
Reported that the pair of Blue Cranes are always in the lower field towards the Elands river, day and night; also that the pair of Grey Crowned Cranes are commonly in the stubble maize field near the house.
Terry and Vivien Cawood – Edgeware
A Porcupine was damaging the veggie-garden so Terry caught it and put it in a cage while he considered how to educate it to stick to the higher levels on “Edgeware” hill. But before he had solved this tricky problem, it had escaped and no doubt decided on its own that the hills were safer
Other experiences during the month: a photo of a Red-throated Wryncck and a Night-adder, which Terry also wanted to persuade to find another place to stayAny offers of ID for the following two spoor on Edgeware this last month: Otter, Mongoose or Porcupine?
Rory and Sue Brighton – Elandsvlei
Oct 17 in late afternoon, Rory was out on his bike, when he disturbed four Ground Hornbills, south of “Montrose”, on the old “Norwood” farm, now a Mondi area, but in grasslands, from where they flew over the hill and out of sight
Caroline McKerrow – Stormy Hill
Seen some duiker, reedbuck, a bushbuck and an otter this month. When it was raining one of my hadedas from the bird tree, went and sat on the electricity box on the pole coming into my place and promptly blew itself up. The other hadeda left the nest after a few days.
Derek Hurlstone-Jones – The Rockeries
On opening the doors of the Boston Country Club, there was an Amethyst Sunbird male trapped indoors, which took the opportunity to join the great out of doors.
George Edlmann – Parkside
A Narina Trogon, which often calls in the forest; Black Cuckoo; Diederick Cuckoo and Amethyst Sunbird. A Caracal was seen by Malcolm Smith, manager of “Coniston” in the driveway close to the house at the end of October.
Pete and Frances Nel – Four Gates
Pete came across a Black-backed Jackal recently, entering the plantation, early in the morning. Two Secretarybirds in the valley to the right of the house. A few Grey Crown Cranes, African Spoonbill at the little dam. Our big dog found a baby Duiker while we were out one day. The poor little thing must have been spooked by poachers, got separated from its mother and ended up in our garden. Although it had no wounds and our dog was very gentle with it, it died later that day.
Rob and Celia Speirs – The Rockeries
A pair of white faced duck on our dam. Aristea ecklonii.
Philip and Christeen Grant – Sitamani
The Striped Swallows returned on Friday 12 October and have been flitting around since then. I heard the first Red-Chested Cuckoo on Monday 29 October. Philip had a lengthly sighting of a Caracal right next to his bakkie on the servitude road to our house. There are many wonderful flowers on Sitamani now. Using iSpot, the query relating to the Helichrysum was answered. It is a Helichrysum caespititum.
Tricoloured tiger moths (Dionychopus amasis) seen under the plane trees at Gramarye. Stephen Woodhall, president of the Lepidopterists’ Society of Africa (http://www.lepsoc.org.za) had this comment: The male is mating the female before she’s expanded her wings! Interesting behaviour.On the birding front there was excitement surrounding the noisy comings and goings of Long-crested Eagles on Elvesida, Gramarye and The Willows in early spring. The interest in the birds was increased by student Twane who is doing a research project on them. She is monitoring 10 nests in the KZN Midlands, including one on Elvesida. When she arrived to do measurements at the nesting site we discovered that it had been taken over by a pair of Yellow-billed Kites who were anxiously watching what we were doing. We were also confused by hearing at least three eagles calling at the same time from different directions and wondered if there was another pair in the area. We speculated that the Elvesida eagles had found another site to build a nest, possibly in the trees on Gramarye, as I’ve been hearing a lot of shrieking from the eagles in the garden during the preceding month. But search as we might, we couldn’t find a sign of another nest. A week later early one morning I saw three eagles flying into the plane trees and then the penny finally dropped: an adult pair was training their offspring to hunt for itself. I saw the juvenile bird with its loose feathers and still a bit of yellow around the gape (mouth) with one adult in attendance and another on a telephone pole on the road. The pair of Yellow-billed Kites, the Long-crested Eagle nest and Junior.
The SABAP2 list for the Elandshoek pentad is: Grey Crowned Crane, Cape Robin-Chat, Hadeda Ibis, Red-necked Spurfowl, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Black Saw-wing, African Hoopoe, Fork-tailed Drongo, Cape Sparrow, Village Weaver, Spur-winged Goose, Egyptian Goose, Cape White-eye, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle Dove, Common Fiscal, Diderick Cuckoo, African Pipit, Southern Boubou, Cape Canary, Pied Crow, White-throated Swallow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Black-headed Oriole, Cape Longclaw, Yellow-billed Duck, Pied Kingfisher, Reed Cormorant, Red-collared Widowbird, Cape Weaver, African Stonechat, Blacksmith Lapwing, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Fan-tailed Widowbird, African Darter, Little Grebe, White-breasted Cormorant, Common Waxbill, Cape Crow, African Reed-Warbler, Bokmakierie, Dark-capped Bulbul, Helmeted Guineafowl, Greater Striped Swallow, Green Wood-hoopoe, Red-billed Quelea, African Firefinch, Yellow-billed Kite, Amethyst Sunbird, Drakensberg Prinia, Cape Wagtail, Cape Glossy Starling, Cattle Egret, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, Olive Thrush, Long-crested Eagle, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Little Rush Warbler, African Sacred Ibis, Cape Grassbird, Southern Red Bishop, Giant Kingfisher, Brown-throated Martin, Red-chested Flufftail, Red-knobbed Coot, Jackal Buzzard, Forest Canary, Cape Parrot, African Dusky Flycatcher, Bar-throated Apalis, Barratt’s Warbler, Sombre Greenbul, Yellow Bishop, Wailing Cisticola, Red-chested Cuckoo, Speckled Pigeon, Yellow-fronted Canary, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Neddicky, Wattled Crane, Blue Crane, Black-headed Heron, Speckled Mousebird, House Sparrow.
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.