Boston Wildlife Sightings – January 2013

Barbara and David Clulow of “The Willows”

Jan 1 – Three Grey Crowned Crane chicks, living on The Willows, feeding, and going walkabout – You won’t believe how the two chick survivors have grown by 31 January

crowned crane chicks

Jan 6 – Barbara placed a query on Plant Chat as to the information available on a wasp which she had noticed and photographed, frequenting the Xyzmalobium undulatum plants found in numbers blooming on “Gramarye”. She was delighted to receive a very interesting answer from Adam Shuttleworth, whose area of study this has been, as follows: “The wasp you have photographed is a spider-hunting wasp in the genus Hemipepsis (most probably H. capensis judging from the size). These wasps (there are 4 species, depending on the locality) are the principal pollinators of Xysmalobium undulatum and a host of other grassland asclepiads as well as some Eucomis and orchid species, all of which are specialized for pollination by these wasps. Xysmalobium undulatum, however, is interesting in that it is pollinated by two different types of insect – one being the wasps that you observed and the other being a small brown chafer beetle Atrichelaphinis tigrina which you may also have noticed on the flowers. The wasps pick up pollinia on their mouthparts and the hairs around their mouthparts while the beetles carry pollinia on the hairs on their legs. Being specialized to two different types of pollinators like this is somewhat unusual, although there are several other known examples. Although the beetles are often very abundant and carry lots of pollinia, they do not move as often between plants and are not as efficient at depositing the pollinia when compared to the wasps, and the wasps appear to be the more effective pollinator. It is also interesting to note that although X. undulatum is often visited by a bunch of different kinds of insects, these seldom remove pollinia and almost never pollinate the flowers – they are just nectar thieves getting a free meal at the expense of the plants!”

xysmalobium undulatum and wasp

Jan 25 – between 60 and 80 Amur Falcons on telephone wires at Elandshoek, near turnoff to farmhouses

Annual Outing to Happy Valley (Palmer Four) on 6 January 2013. Thirteen persons made up the Wildflower group, who ranged over the hills and into the valley, seeking whatever flowers were available; and there were fewer blooms than usual, due to the rain and heat, which confused the plants. The group included  Ann Skelton, Kate and Graham Grieve from the South Coast CREW.  A few examples of flowers seen and photographed amongst many others, Protea dracomontana

protea blooms

Aloe boylei

aloe boylei


delospermaCycnium racemosum

cycnium racemosum

see more pics at

George Edlmann of “Parkside”

Jan 9 – shortly after 6 this morning walking to the cattle to check on them, I had to pinch myself to believe what my eyes were beholding……a Leopard.  Walking across, in grass up to its belly, was this graceful cat  about 100 metres away, going from my right to my left. It did not see me. This sinuous, graceful cat with its elegant long tail, moving slowly and unconcernedly. It walked all of 50 metres before disappearing into the bush. This happened very close to the road to Everglades, not far from the gate that goes to the Parkside waterfall.

Tyron and Carol Segal of “Gaylands”

Spotted a trio of Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) – Ncwadi Road, opposite Jerry Duffield’s former farmhouse (near the abandoned quarry) as I was driving home in the early evening of Thursday 31 January. They appeared to be feeding / browsing; African Fish-Eagle heard.

Derek Hurlstone-Jones at “The Rockeries”

Single Oribi on Edgware hill in latter part of January;

driving along the Dargle road, a Spotted Eagle-Owl in the road

Outing on Edgeware and The Rockeries on 10 January 2012

A Yellow Bishop nest was seen and the parents of the two recently hatched chicks were observed. Yellow Bishop female stayed nearby

Yellow Bishop female stayed nearby

The wildflowers on both The Rockeries and Edgeware provided photos of Disas, Satyrium longicauda in masses, various Eulophia, Schizoglossums, various Asclepias and ad finitum.  Schizoglossum hamatum:

Schizoglossum hamatum

and a Rothmannia capensis tree was in flower at the summit:



Ian and Jenny Lawrence at “Endeavour”

One very hot day, heard a Black-collared Barbet calling in the nearby trees; group of Blesbuck in fields; many Barn Swallows about farmhouse

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

Early in Jamuary a pair of Blue Cranes with two young chicks on Watershed; on 24 Jan another pair of Blue Cranes with two young chicks.on Boston View.

Frances and Pete Nel of “Four Gates”:Jan 12 – Two Southern Ground Hornbill on the hill behind the house

Trevor and Cheryl Scheepers of “Lapa Lapa”

Cape Canaries; Black-headed Orioles; African Spoonbill; pale white Reedbuck on R617 near Far Ende

Rob and Celia Speirs of “The Rockeries”

Reported the “Oi oi” call made by this Grasshopper, photographed by George Edlmann and included in Dec 2012 Sightings; and identified by Dr Adam Shuttleworth, who reported as follows: the cicada featured in the news letter is in fact a Pamphagid or Bladder Grasshopper – these are related to grasshoppers and crickets in the order Orthoptera and are responsible for the loud “poyoy” sound that one hears on moonlit summers nights in the midlands. Not often seen though.”


During Grasslands Assessment on “Watershed” and “Boston View” on 25 January

southern iNhlosane

inhlosane south

Pachycarpus grandifolius

pachycarpus buds

Hairy caterpillar


Terry Cuthbert and Caroline McKerrow were out horseriding on Mount Shannon on Friday 25th January when at 10:30 am they saw evidence of Blue Swallows and, shortly after, a Diederik Cuckoo.

While on her own, Caroline saw: a Black-backed Jackal (twice); the Grey Crowned Cranes on Virginia dam walking with their two chicks and a very large (over a metre long) Leguan (Monitor Lizard), which was basking in the sun, then dashed off into the reeds near a stream when approached. When out riding with Lize, researcher from Stellenbosch, saw a Forest Buzzard and a Long-crested Eagle.

Pete and Frances Nel of “Four Gates”

The Grey Crowned Cranes are very busy rearing their young……grass too tall so not sure how many babes.  They have also nested on the island this time. Both parents going off to get food very often.  The lone Black-backed Jackal is still around near the top gate. Pete noticed an even smaller one about two weeks ago in the same vicinity, but only once.

Crystelle Wilson of “Gramarye”

Catacroptera cloanthe cloante on Xysmalobium undulatum.

pirate butterfly on milwort

In mid-summer there are juvenile birds all over, some still being cared for by their parents while others are beginning to strike out on their own.

The SABAP2 birdlist for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 is: Cape Turtle Dove, African Hoopoe, Cape Canary, Yellow-fronted Canary, Greater Striped-Swallow, Cape Batis, Pin-tailed Whydah, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Grey Crowned Crane, Barn Swallow, Black Saw-wing, Zitting Cisticola, Cattle Egret,

cattle egrets breeding colours

Red-collared Widowbird, African Stonechat, White-breasted Cormorant, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Red-eyed Dove, Red-knobbed Coot, Yellow-billed Duck, Southern Red Bishop, Cape Crow, Cape Weaver, Little Grebe, Red-necked Spurfowl, Levaillant’s Cisticola,

leviallant's cisticolas

Cape Grassbird, African Sacred Ibis, Fork-tailed Drongo, Hadeda Ibis, Dideric Cuckoo, Jackal Buzzard, African Pipit, Egyptian Goose, Common Fiscal, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape Sparrow, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, Cape White-eye, Cape Robin-Chat Helmeted Guineafowl, Little Rush-Warbler, Amethyst Sunbird, Cape Wagtail, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Bokmakierie, Cape Longclaw, Southern Boubou, Black-headed Oriole, Common Quail, Pied Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Common Waxbill, African Firefinch, African Rail, Red-chested Flufftail, Brown-throated Martin, Spur-winged Goose, Drakensberg Prinia, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, African Reed-Warbler, Blue Crane, Pied Crow, Olive Thrush, Common Moorhen, Black-headed Heron, Black-shouldered Kite, House Sparrow, Pied Starling, Common Myna, White-throated Swallow,

white throated swallow

Wing-snapping Cisticola, Amur Falcon, Steppe Buzzard, Blacksmith Lapwing, Thick-billed Weaver, Hamerkop, Red-chested Cuckoo, Sombre Greenbul, Yellow Bishop, Red-billed Quelea, Bar-throated Apalis, Knysna Turaco, African Black Duck.

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.


One thought on “Boston Wildlife Sightings – January 2013

  1. Pingback: Autumn Wildlife in Dargle | Midlands Conservancies Forum

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