On the few sunny days we enjoyed in the last week of December, many Dargleites took pictures of the Mngeni river. These are really beautiful and are a recommended read at http://darglelocalliving.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/the-river-runs-through-dargle/ Mike Weedon took this one to tempt you
Rose and Barry Downard – Oak Tree Cottage
On 7th Dec we noticed the birds in our garden were acting strangely. The mousebirds seemed very agitated and were flying around close to our house, and the black sunbirds, olive thrushes, sparrows and several other birds also seemed agitated and were all making a lot of noise. Shortly afterwards the hailstorm struck. It was the worst we’d seen and resulted in a thick layer of hail on the ground, a broken window, and our garden, fruit trees and vegetables seriously shredded. Thankfully all the birds seemed to have survived, but I imagine several nests must have been damaged by the hail.
After the storm we also discovered a baby chameleon, it’s amazing that he survived as the fuschia he was in was badly hit by the hail. No sign of any other baby chameleons nearby although being so tiny it is hard to find them.
Also seen: Long-crested Eagle, Kite, Southern Boubou, Fiscal Shrikes, Cuckoos – Redchested, Klaas’s, African Black, and Diedericks. Lots of noisy Hadeda activity. Grey Herons, Storks, Egrets. Heard Burchell’s Coucal. A Red-lipped Herald was lying right next to my hand as I was busy working in the garden – thankfully he kept very still and I left him in peace.
Insects: Dragonflies, Damselflies, caterpillars and lots of butterflies, including the Brown-veined White, African Common White and Large Vagrant.
Kathy Herrington and Wayne Lowrens– Aloe Ridge
Wayne and I saw 3 ground hornbill’s on the top farm early on Sat 8th – maybe they got blown off course after the massive storm the evening before!
After a party earlier in the month, a bunch of young Dargleites headed up iNhlosane to watch the sunrise. This produced some glorious pictures of our valley. See them all here: http://darglelocalliving.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/sunrise-from-inhlosane/
Sandra and Pat Merrick – Albury Farm
This month we were intrigued with the birthings of 2 sets of 4 each yellow eyed canaries. They both made nests in our standard roses. One only 2 metres from the garage so there was lots of coming and going by ourselves, family members and dogs. I did not think that she would successfully feed these babies being so close to the house but she did so successfully and after 16 days all 4 flew off fully grown.
The other mother was further down the road and all 4 of them flew away 2 weeks ago. I was amazed that these little babies survived first the cold days, then the heat (we put blue gum branches over the top of rose bush to try and cool them down) and then the torrential storms over the past 2 weeks. She sat on them the only the first week and I saw her one afternoon flapping her wings over them to try and keep them cool. When they were hot they would stretch their necks up and open their beaks. After that she slept close by and fed them but they were alone in the nest.
A few days before they flew off, a jackal buzzard must have heard their chirpings and sat for 2 days on our swing hammock waiting for a meal but it was so close to the house and the entry to the nest virtually impossible. We were thrilled to see the 4 babies fly off one evening at 5pm on the 29th December.
Saw 4 white storks today (31st) have seen very few this year. 2 and 3 here and there. Plumcoloured starling, grey lourie, diederichs cuckoo at my daughters house at Barnsley’s house, on Xmas day. Heard fish eagle. Seen 4 blue crane at dam on several occasions and the usual pair come onto farm every few days. Spoonbill, dab chick, spurwing. 2 Crested crane yesterday. Our barn owls are still here, 2 prs swallows have hatched young above our bedroom windows. Sparrows have hatched. 2 prs malachite sunbirds. Olive thrush. Lots of chats hopping around the stone walls and orange throated longclaws. Black crested eagle and yellow billed kites and steppe buzzard.
Reed buck every day on hill, duiker and jackal screeching every night. For a number of days the male reed buck spent hours chasing each other across the hills. A few male samango monkeys.
Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin
Plants flowering: Pavetta cooperii, Eucomis, Impatiens hochstetteri, Sutera, Wahlenbergia, Gunnera, Cyanotis, pink Watsonia, Tulbaghia, Merwilla nervosa (below), Nemesia, Albuca setosa, Plectranthus, Oxalis, Hypoxis parvula, Eriosema salignum, Pelargonium luridum, Ajuga ophrydis, Indigofera, Senecio, Helichrysum, Argylobium tuberosum, Papaver aculeatum, Hypericum aethiopicum, Ornithogalum (poss graminifolum?), Monopsis decipiens, Aristea woodii, Lotononis pulchra, Hypxis sp, Sophubia cana, Agapanthus caulescens, Streptocarpus, Veronia, Heliophila rigiiuscula, Hemezygia teucrifolia, Pavonia columella, Dias cotonifolia, Thunbergia natalensis
Trees seeding: Vepris lanceolata, Canthium mundianum, Rhus, Clausena anisata.
Birds: forest weavers, Egyptian geese, spurwinged goose, 3 Herons, hadedas, fork tailed drongos, rock pigeon, bronze mannekins, stone chats, jackal buzzard, black African sunbirds, francolins, crowned eagle, cape robing chat, orange thrush, masked weavers, widows, mousebirds, swifts, Cardinal woodpecker, Knysna Loeries, Southern Boubou.
Heard: red chested cuckoo, Burchell’s coucal, black African cuckoo, Klaus cuckoo, Diedericks cuckoo, fish eagle
Mammals: duiker, samango, bushbuck. Reedbuck, hares.
Dieter Setz – Wakeford
Have to share an “only in the Dargle” story with you from New Year’s Eve. At the Party at about 11 a woman has an Asthma attack and falls over. The music gets turned off and a very concerned partner announces “Is there a Doctor or a Vet in the house”. We need urgent help – the Dargle is very wild.
Helen and Barend Booysen – Kilgobbin Cottage
We have ssen some lovely flower in the forest, including this tree orchid Mysssss
and a Dargle original – Disperis fanniniae
Also int he grassland – a ground orchid – Disa crassicornis
and bright splashes of blue Agapanthus africanus
This is my covering comment as I send your wonderful sightings to friends overseas: “Thought I would share this Sightings Report for Dec 2012, which has come in from The Dargle, a neighbouring valley. I was so impressed with all sorts of aspects: content mainly; but quality of photos especially.” For myself I cannot select any particular feature – they are all superb