George Edlmann of “Parkside”:
Pelargonium luridum in bloom
Emperor Swallowtail butterfly on Nasturtiums
The Cicada below is described as mottled green and brown; this all green specimen was seen on Parkside:
The spoor at Parkside on the right above was identified by Dr Gerhard Verdoorn as that of a Brown Hyaena
Neil and Gail Baxter of “Mosgate”:
Following after the Scilla natalensis (blue), now the Scilla nervosa(white) are in bloom
Rob and Gail Geldart of “Boston View”:
News received that Rob saw a single Southern Ground Hornbill up on the hillside.
Andrew and Patricia Poole of “Brooklands”:
Pair of Wattled Cranes breeding on farm
Pete and Frances Nel of “Four Gates”:
Juvenile Black-backed Jackal at entrance gate to farm.
Dec 21 – Pete saw the same little jackal this morning round 8am at the same gate. Mother must have abandoned it!
Dec 16 – three Southern Ground Hornbills on hillside, behind the farmhouse
Nigel and Tracy Murray of “Trelyon”:
Identified together with David Norris-Jones – a Greater Honeyguide near the house.
“Sitamani”, Boston – a Wildflower Outing on 15 December
Absolutely stunning flowers, and even more still to bloom. Here are a few:
Read more about this outing at https://midlandsconservanciesforum.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/botanising-in-boston/
Derek Hurlstone-Jones of “The Rockeries”:
Two Night Adders, slithering across lawn together
Ian and Jenny Lawrence of “Endeavour”:
A pair of Wattled Cranes in the lands; pair of Grey Crowned Cranes near farmhouse.
Dec 22 – saw Blue Cranes with chick at the vlei; and again on 24 Dec
Brown-hooded Kingfisher; Blesbuck had two young during late November, and these are surviving, thanks to some Black-backed Jackal control; several Amur Falcons on the wires on Dargle Road
Barbara and David Clulow of “The Willows”:
12 Dec – watched a fully grown male Common Reedbuck wading through the grass at the Elands river. After the rains it is so high and so rank that only his head and horns are visible.
15 Dec – major rain and wind storm for 15 minutes, which destroyed main trunk of Weeping Willow tree, in which African Hoopoes were breeding. Male seen still carrying worms to family, hopefully
Dec 27 – two Grey Crowned Crane chicks hatched at nesting site in the wetlands on The Willows about 20th December and now seen in the pan being fed by parents.
Cape Weaver female
There is a Toad in the affairs of men………
Xysmalobium undulatum flower, found widely at present in the wetlands alongside the Elands river; also along the road past Mpophomeni
Bruce and Bev Astrup of “Highland Glen”:
Two Secretarybirds on the farm road to “Heronvale”
Two Spotted Eagle-Owls about three times each week, as they fly by and/or perch in the riverine Willows at dusk; Black-headed Heron; 9 Yellow-billed Ducks, splashing in pools of water; a bathing Hadedah Ibis; Malachite Kingfisher; Cape Crows as of an evening; Pin-tailed Wydah; Little Rush-Warbler; Long-crested eagle flying about; Cape Turtle-Dove
Dec 26 – Clay Pigeons, thick in the air. Two Secretarybirds on the farm road to “Heronvale”. Two Spotted Eagle-Owls about three times each week, as they fly by and/or perch in the riverine Willows at dusk; Black-headed Heron; 9 Yellow-billed Ducks, splashing in pools of water; a bathing Hadedah Ibis; Malachite Kingfisher; Cape Crows as of an evening; Pin-tailed Wydah; Little Rush-Warbler; Long-crested eagle flying about; Cape Turtle-Dove.
“Edgeware” Outing on 28 December 2012:
Read more about this outing at: https://midlandsconservanciesforum.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/exploring-edgeware/
Trevor and Cheryl Scheepers of “Lapa Lapa”:
African Spoonbill at the dam; Burchell’s Coucal taking note of the rain; found Helmeted Guineafowl egg and placed it under a broody farm hen, which hatched it out.
Philip and Christeen Grant of “Sitamani”:
Philip saw a Serval up close when cycling on Mont Shannon in the early morning. Duiker and Reedbuck have been spotted close to the house and heard whistling at night.
Grey Herons have definitely decided that our patch is a good place to forage and they are often seen stalking in the grass. Black-shouldered Kites are often seen hovering and soaring, wonderful to have them around again, very rare sightings here for many years. Steppe and Jackal Buzzards, plus Long-crested Eagles are regulars, but a glimpse of an African Harrier Hawk swooping into trees was a treat. Malachite Sunbirds graced us for a few days on their journey westward to the mountains. Amethyst and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds are enjoying the flowers.
Many Collared Earth-star fungi after each rainy spell, plus a myriad of other mushrooms and toadstools. The froggy chorus is very vocal in the evenings and many beetles buzzing around.
Wildflowers are still prolific; on the 15 December Boston CREW spent a few hours wandering over our hillside enjoying them. Some of the flowers seen were: Albuca setosa, Indigofera hilaris, Asclepias albens, Pachycarpus natalensis, Satureja compacta, Zornia capensis, Lotononis pulchra, Hermannia woodii, Hypericum lalandii, Hypoxis rigidula, Indigofera sp, Peucedanum caffrum seed, Corycium nigrescens, Scenecio sp, Hypericum aethiopicum, Hibiscus aethiopicus, Eulophia foliosa, Pelargomium luridum, Craterocapsa tarsodes, Psammotropha mucronata, Papaver aculeatum, Argyrolobium tuberosum, Lessertia perennans, Thesium pallidum, Moraea brevistyla, Aristea woodii, Pearsonia sessilifolia, Ajuga ophrydis, Oxalis depressa, Ornithogalum graminifolium, Striga bilabiata, Crassula obovata.
Basil and Terry Cuthbert of “Jaluka Estate”
Pair of Secretary birds in veld on Alfius Ndlovu’s farm, “Woodlands”, for a second time
Rob and Celia Speirs of “The Rockeries”:
Dec 20 – heard a Burchells’ Coucal at dawn in the Elands river area
Dec 24 – a Bibron’s Blind Snake, trampled by cattle on a path; a previous one was rescued from the cat; they are described in the literature as being a stout species with 30 scales around the body, more than 300 dorsals and an angular snout
Crystelle Wilson of “Gramarye”:
Best this month was seeing some Amur Falcons returning to the district after the distressing reports of these birds being killed by their thousands on a daily basis in India during their migration from Mongolia to South Africa.
While walking along the river at Gramarye we saw an Egyptian Goose defending its brood when a Yellow-billed Kite swooped down to grab a gosling. The goose flew at the kite, causing it to drop the baby which lay stunned for a few seconds before getting up and trotting after the adult with its siblings.
The SABAP2 bird list for the Elandshoek pentad: Cape Turtle Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Hadeda Ibis, Speckled Mousebird, Cape Wagtail, African Hoopoe, Village Weaver, Cape Robin-Chat, Black Saw-wing, Amethyst Sunbird, Cape White-eye, Cape Canary, Greater Striped-Swallow, Spur-winged Goose, Fork-tailed Drongo, Grey Crowned Crane, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Red-chested Flufftail, Red-necked Spurfowl, African Rail, Little Rush-Warbler, Drakensberg Prinia, African Stonechat, Cape Grassbird, Dideric Cuckoo, Dark-capped Bulbul, Pin-tailed Whydah, Cape Sparrow, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Southern Boubou, Fan-tailed Widowbird, African Spoonbill, Bokmakierie, Egyptian Goose, Common Fiscal, African Pipit, Blacksmith Lapwing, White-breasted Cormorant, Giant Kingfisher, Red-knobbed Coot, Yellow-billed Duck, White-throated Swallow, Brown-throated Martin, Red-collared Widowbird, Southern Red Bishop, Jackal Buzzard, Yellow-billed Kite, African Sacred Ibis, Common Moorhen, Helmeted Guineafowl, African Fish-Eagle, Cape Crow, Barn Swallow, African Reed-Warbler, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Cattle Egret, Red-throated Wryneck, Blue Crane, Wattled Crane, Yellow Bishop, White Stork, Burchell’s Coucal, Zitting Cisticola, Common Myna, Black-shouldered Kite, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Black-headed Heron, Wailing Cisticola, Common Quail, Red-chested Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Black-headed Oriole, Sombre Greenbul, Black-backed Puffback, Buff-spotted Flufftail African Emerald Cuckoo, Barratt’s Warbler, Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Longclaw, Terrestrial Brownbul, Speckled Pigeon, Cape Parrot, Cape Batis.