Dieter Setz – Wakeford Farm
I had a visit of the brown hooded kingfisher just outside my studio window.
On some of my walks in the morning on Wakecroft, when I remember to bring my camera, I have spotted a few insects and birds – hungry beetle on a thistle
Lovely Beetle. Don’t know what kind of beetle.
Here we have the Xmas music, the cicada beetle if I am correct.
A pair of my resident swallows or similar creatures.
A lovely green moth
Simon Hayes – Hambledon
I saw a caracal whilst jogging on the track that goes past Solitude (Petrusstroom).
Malvina and Evert van Breemem – Old Furth Estate
Here on Old Furth Estate, we have been blessed by many baby chameleons this Summer, they are a delight! We also found this lovely adult recently, and it was very relaxed about being collected for its date with the camera.
We also had an amazing experience with a carnivorous snail who ate a garden snail right under our noses! I would be delighted to see more of these chaps in our garden!
We have been hard at work clearing invasive Wattle down near the Furth River and Evert took this photo of a pineapple Eucomis to show me for identification purposes.
The river is becoming a wonderful picnic spot and there are some stretches which are great for swimming and tubing. We have also seen several water mongoose on a regular basis, on and near the farm.
Otherwise, January has been as abundant as the preceding months with Cranes, Flufftails, Cuckoos, Sunbirds, Storks and raptors, plus a few snakes thrown in. The Knysna Louries are very vocal in the indigenous forest next to the house, and every so often we catch a flash of colour as they move around. I was ecstatic when I identified the enormous raptor circling overhead as a Black Eagle, who then went to ground on the upper grass slopes of Nhlosane, wonder what he found? For anyone who is on Facebook, please go and have a look at our new Facebook page – Old Furth Estate. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Old-Furth-Estate/507001752673713
Craig Cameron – Dargle Farm Stall
Three new residents at the Dargle Farm Stall
Gill Addison – Antheap
All of a sudden lots to see here. An immature Crowned Eagle spent a couple of days at Antheap and killed one of my old free range layers and killed and ate Trouble a big black Zulu Rooster. The Gymnogene has been terrorising the weavers and has chased off the Hadeda’s who were nesting in the pine tree next to my house. I’ve just about had it with ‘top of the food chain’ creatures!
The Black Crows have raised two youngsters and the family live in the garden. I saw two Jackal pups at dusk, lots of adults but these are the first pups. One evening before one of the big storms I watched a big Serval wandering around the flood plane! A baby duiker was attached by a dog or mongoose and died later at Free Me. Only two adult chameleons and two babies, the weather seems to have affected the Chameleons badly this year. Also very few Reedbuck sightings, I hear the occasional whistle at night but no buck. Today I saw a pair of Diederick Cuckoos.
Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm
Another interesting month. At 6am one morning 2 weeks ago we heard the dogs barking madly at the pond near the house. My daughter and I raced up there and my terrier came down the road with blood on her back and legs. Our rottweiler was still careering around the pond. I expected the worst. Surprisingly it was a mother otter protecting her baby hiding in the reeds. Fortunately my rottie does not like water and was just barking madly. I dragged him off and locked him away and went back to the pond and saw daddy otter running down the hill to meet his distressed family. My terrier had bites on her hind quarters and on her feet and legs so a fight must have ensued with the mommy otter being the victor thank goodness. First time we have seen them here in the garden.
Our blue crane laid 2 eggs on an island in our dam – this is her 3rd lot of eggs!
Such perseverance is amazing. She started sitting about the 6th January and the babies were born on the 31st January. We are watching closely but they get very disturbed if we get too close.
Mom and dad swim back to land off and on during the day to eat leaving the youngsters behind. There is a channel about 5 metres wide between the island and the edge of the dam. I just pray that the jackal, who are across the dam in a burrow don’t decide to swim across to the island and eat the chicks. One of our ngunis was calving last week and sitting close by were 2 jackal. Pat chased them away.
A civet ran across the road near the farm at 6pm one evening. Same place that I saw it a few months ago. A samango monkey jumped over our electric gate one morning and came towards the house. I think it saw our dogs and ran and jumped over the stone wall.
A dab chick has laid 6 eggs in her floating nest covered with grass on our dam. Not sure if they have hatched yet.
Another dab chick with 3 babies. 4 resident white stork. Seen very few this year. Biggest group on the farm were 14. 6 whiskered terns. 3 Plovers land on our lawn every few days. We found 2 baby swallows dead next to our bedroom window. The adults had broken down their nest. This might have been due to the very hot days we had at the beginning of Jan. We found a juvenile red chested cuckoo sitting on our front verandah. It did not seem to be hurt so no idea how it arrived there as have no large trees nearby. Pat released it further down the road.
Our most thrilling siting was seeing a female water buck in our wattle plantation on the 26th January. Have not seen her since. Has anyone lost a water buck? Must be an escapee from somewhere. I was fortunate enough to have my camera with me as had been photographing the crane sitting on her eggs. We have never seen water buck in this area.
Clive Shippey – Northington
A gymnogene diving through a flock of weavers. Hard to tell if it was a game or not.
Helen and Barend Booysen – Kilgobbin Cottage
Aren’t the wildflowers magnificent this season! Orchid – Disa woodii on the D707
in the forest – Streptocarpus
and sundews – Drosera aliciea on the rocks
Woolly necked storks have taken a liking to the verandah of our Crowned Eagle Cottage.
Mike and Anne Weeden – River Run
We have had an interesting few weeks watching 3 baby swallows in a nest under the eaves develop to the stage where they must now be close to fending for themselves. The parents have had a full time job keeping them fed.
Also was walking along one of the paths on the farm last week and had a large caracal strolling ahead of me for about 300 metres before it turned off into the grass. Yesterday I spotted a pair of adult bush buck in our wetland – hopefully a breeding pair.
John Matterson – visitor at Zuvuya
Although very unusual for the area, I am sure I spotted two female and two male Pied Wheatears in early January. (Jenny Fly, who has been birding in the area for many years, is unconvinced. She comments: “Look at the buff streaked chat and distribution. I can’t dispute that the bird is a pied wheatear as I haven’t seen it, but it is very rare in SA”)
Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm
I have enjoyed watching a family of Egyptian Geese grow. The parents hiss furiously when my dog and I are bold enough to swim in the same BIG dam as they are in! They seem to move between two dams – do they just waddle along the road for a couple of hundred metres for a change of scenery? They would be very exposed to predators so it must be a dangerous exercise. Other interesting birds have been herons and crowned eagles. The Wood Owls have started calling again at night.
Grasslands are at the peak now, so flowers are a bit hard to spot, besides the Kniphofia laxiflora which glow like tall candles in the veld (above). I did come across this Eucomis (below) by chance which was exciting. Anyone interested in reading about the plants I saw on a recent excursion to Sani Pass – have a look at the story here: http://plantabundance.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/sauntering-up-sani/