Autumn Wildlife in Dargle

March 2013

Rose and Barry Downard – Oak Tree Cottage

Lots of beautiful butterflies including Citrus Swallowtails, Mocker Swallowtails, Green-banded Swallowtails, Dusky Acraea (pic) and Garden Acraea.

butterfly on holly

Birds: Olive Thrush, Swallows, Southern Boubou, Cape Turtle dove, Bulbul, Drongo, crows, sunbirds etc. Midlands Dwarf Chameleons, frogs, Red-lipped Herald, Natal Green snakes. Heard: Spotted Eagle Owl, Jackals.

green snake

Dieter & Josie Rowe Setz – Wakecroft

Morning mist and lower temperatures on Wakecroft are common from now on.

dieter misty morning

Besides early morning butterflies who could not fly away due to too cold morning temperatures there was not much that I could photograph.

orange butterfly

They warmed up sitting on my finger and did fly away soon after the photo was taken.

btterfly on finger

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

Plants: Dombeya tiliacea, Cyanotis speciosa, Hypericum aethiopicum, Rhadiosella calycina, Helichrysum adenocarpum, Pentanisa prunelloides, Wahlenbergia cuspidata, Pavonia columella, Conostimum natalense, Plectranthus elegantus, Plectranthus dolichopodus, Senecio tomentosa, Argylobium tomentosum, Berkheya bergiana, Desmondium ricinocarpa, Nemesia erinus, Vigna vexillata, Geranium schlechteri, Clematis brachiata (below)

clematis.R

Mammals: quite a few bush buck at different times in different places – including one on the forest path who stood still for quite a while looking at me. Reed buck, Duiker, Scrub hare, Samango monkeys. Found porcupine quills and shell fragments in midden (otter?). Heard Bush pig.

Birds: Found a dead red knobbed coot on the edge of the dam. Was surprised at how big it was up close and in particular the size of its feet – very big in comparison to the bird. The next day there were just a few feathers left. Egyptian goose family down to 2 chicks. Paradise Flycatcher, Forktailed Drongo, Bulbuls, white eye, orange thrush, mousebirds, Thickbilled Weavers, Rameron pigeon, sunbirds (various), striped swallows, Stone Chats, Hadeda, Cape Robin chat, Chorister Robin Wagtail, Cardinal Woodpecker, Masked Weavers – quite a lot of nest building activities which seems a tad confused as the days shorten rapidly. Heard Wood Owl, Fish Eagle.

Weaver building nest in March

Other creatures: A wonderful Golden Orb Web Spider with a very large web, which was really difficult to photograph. A cluster of at least 20 Gaudy Commodore butterflies on cool, damp earth in a small gorge. Lots of skinks and dragonflies, guttural toad, common striped river frog.

Sandra and Pat Merrick – Albury Farm Lidgetton

Not much to be seen this month as we have been away for 2 weeks. Our baby crane is growing well although have not seen blue cranes since our return but have heard them. Our baby blue crane just over 4 weeks old

blue crane and chick

My daughter Michelle and her boyfriend were looking after the house while we were away and last Saturday Michelle’s Yorkshire terrier went down a large hole in the hill above our house. Whenever our dogs try to get into this particular hole, an animal down below makes a growling noise. We were never sure if a jackal, ant bear or porcupine lair. Her dog would not or could not get out of the hole so they starting digging at 3pm last Saturday and then it started to rain (had 55ml overnight). By 8pm both were exhausted and wet and cold. Michelle phoned us and we told them to take a break and to just sit quietly and switch off torches and see what happened. After 10 minutes out crawled an ant bear and behind it, Michelle’s ecstatic Yorkie. Not injured or traumatised in any way, praise the Lord. If only animals could talk then we would know how the dog came to be behind the ant bear, but Michelle said there were lots of interleading tunnels and very deep underground.

Puff adders on D 18, A pair of Oribi, Duiker,

reedbuck rocks

Reed buck so well camouflaged amongst the rocks

Crested crane, shell duck, egyptian and spurwing gees, dabchick, yellowbill duck, grey heron,

heron rocks

Steppe buzzard, black crested eagle, White Stork which have now gone

european stork

Lovely white and black butterfly – could be a brown veined white

22052012(002)

April 2013

Kevin and Linda Barnsley – Constantia

I know this subject has been discussed before here, and probably many a time at the local pub, but I can’t help but add it once again. This week yielded for the third time in months the supposed sighting of a leopard in the district. Rob, who is the new(ish) manager on Carlisle (previously Mark Perry’s farm), now owned by Dave Schniederman, has reported the sighting of a leopard lying on the edge of a road track through the forest leading up to one of the protea lands. Although it was quick to escape his view he is adamant it was not a serval. It was definitely bigger and he says its markings and tail and size left no doubt in his mind. I have had a similar report from Elias Zuma, a long time resident on Iain Sinclairs farm who drives for us. His sighting was on Behn Mheadon (to those who are unfamiliar with Gaelic, pronounced “Ben Ven”) Iain’s farm towards what I know as Bridgewood. There is of course no doubt in my mind that these sightings are quite possible, understanding the reclusive nature of leopard. Around about 1997, a leopard was shot on a farm in Otto’s Bluff near the Umngeni rivers entrance to Albert Falls dam. Of course in this case speculation was that it must have enjoyed the territory including what was then Game Valley and Umngeni Valley nature reserve, and probably ventured a bit further onto neighboring farms. Another more recent case (not sighting) took place in the Northern Berg on the property of The Cavern Berg Resort. In this case a Rietbuck carcass was found on a trail encircling a dam, within 100 meters of the hotel gardens. The carcass bore clear evidence of being killed by a leopard and the guest who found it returned with other folk 10 minutes later, only to find it had been dragged through a thicket and across a stream covered in dense vegetation. before finding the carcass again I believe the party became a little nervous of the potential outcome of their further investigation and called it of for fear of their safety. On to this I must add that both Rob and I have had sightings of a pair of caracul/Rooikat on Carlisle lying in the shade near the drive leading to the homestead. Serval are also fairly common sight at night near and around the wetland on Carlisle and Sanctuary. Also seen quite often on the road to Highlands farm (Doug Ross). Cape Fox and Jackal on Highlands too.

Malvina van Breemen Comments: Regarding the possibility of leopard in the Dargle, we were told a few months ago of a very clear leopard sighting – walking through a field on the Boston/Everglades road and seen by George Edelmann. Our near neighbours on the Fextal have reported hearing leopard in the forest opposite their house. Quite some time ago there were also reports of mauled carcasses of reedbuck on Hazelmere. So the possibility of a leopard is very real! you can read the original report of the leopard sighting on the Boston road here: https://midlandsconservanciesforum.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/boston-wildlife-sightings-january-2013/

Dieter & Josie Rowe Setz – Wakecroft

Besides a few insects, like this female rhino beetle and spectacular autumn colours there was very little I could photograph.

P1060913

This rather large fluffy caterpillar walked into my studio one day asking to be photographed.

P1070009

Lovely autumn colours developed during April.

P1060834

Brandon Powell – Culamanzi

Natal Francolin, Weavers, Mousebirds Bushbuck (?it was bigger than a duiker but not huge) Vervet Monkeys (fewer than January) 1x homeless bee swarm My Swallows (lesser striped) left around the 6th of April. Forgot to send in that we saw two aardvark crossing the road at the bridge on the Dargle road, next door to the Sinclairs, in July 2012! Late at night.

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

Plants: Senecio tamoides a riot of yellow creeping through trees on the edges of the forest. Helichrysum adenocarpum (pic), Leonotis leonaurus, Jamesbrittenia kraussiana, Stachys aethiopica, Grasses are beautiful bronze, gold and starting to fade.

Helichrysum  adenocarpum

Birds: 7 Cape Parrots (only seen once and 4 on another occasion), Chorister Robin, Cape Robin Chat, Cape Batis, Olive Thrush, Francolin, lots of sunbirds, Egyptian Geese, Sombre Bulbul, Black eyed Bulbul, Cardinal Woodpecker, Jackal Buzzard, Stone Chat. Heard: Fish Eagle, Crowned Eagle

Mammals: Bushbuck, Reedbuck, Samango Monkeys, Heard Tree Dassie, Jackal

Other creatures: Green banded Swallowtail butterfly and lots of others. Tiny black grasshoppers just hatched. Mushrooms in bush clumps (pic). Small bats in the early evening. Very squeaky frogs still about. Golden Orb web spider. Skinks on sunny rocks.

fairy mushrooms. r

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

A few images taken over the last month or two seen on or near Copperleigh Farm, I’ve named the files but if they’re incorrect please let me know!

Dragon Flyres.

We also had an interesting incident involving a Natal Green Snake and a Miniature Doberman… our 4 dogs had obviously cornered the snake and were hassling it. Mother heard the commotion and shouted at them, the 3 big dogs ran round the back of the house, but the little one came running very quickly towards the house and through the open door into the dining room – with the snake attached to her ear! Needless to say there was a lot of screaming and shouting and people jumping up and down but eventually we got the snake off and got rid of it. The pooch is still fine, just had a slight bloody ear afterwards! Sadly I didn’t have a camera at the time!

Green Snake res.

gorgeous sunset

Sunset.res. jpg

Sue and Andre Hofman, Hazelmere

Saw a water mongoose and her baby on our driveway. Two crows penning a Gymnogene in a tree in our garden and chasing it away. The Serval are using our driveway as a convenient highway and have been spotted a few times.

Rose and Barry Downard – Oak Tree Cottage

Buff-spotted Flufftails seen a couple of times this month in the early evenings. Otherwise birdlife much the same as for March. Still plenty of butterflies, as well as frogs, skinks and large Palystes spiders.

Sandra and Pat Merrick – Albury Farm Lidgetton

We have seen serval on several occasions, always in the same area. Early morning and evening. Duiker and reed buck every day as they live on the property. 2 oribi on the 7th April. A pair of wattled crane arrive at our dam late every evening at our dam. They bath, splash and groom every morning and then fly away about 7am.

Birds etc 2013 004

See 3 or 4 hoopoes almost daily near the wattle plantation where they nest. Giant grey mongeese every couple of days near the stream. We see a couple of bush buck rams in the morning and evenings on neighbouring farm in their pasture land where the boundary is the natural bush. See natal francolin every couple of days with 5 babies almost fully grown. Quail. I have been watching our baby blue crane growing daily. He is almost fully grown. His tail feathers are still short and he is not yet flying. I cannot believe how big he has grown in 3 months. I am so thrilled that these parents kept trying and succeeded on the 3rd try. It really is encouraging to see young chicks growing to maturity as there are so many jackals running about now. Our blue crane with youngster on the far right with short tail. He is 3mths old today (30th April).

Birds etc 2013 066

There have been a pair of crowned crane with baby who are around at the dam and surrounding hills and pastures. He’s a bit older than our young blue crane as he can fly.

Birds etc 2013 037

One afternoon while walking, our dogs chased a jackal into the dam. It screeched and screamed as it battled to stay afloat. Our dogs do not swim (hate water) and stood barking at waters edge. We felt sorry for it and dragged our dogs off. The jackal got out of the water and ran off slowly, completely drenched.We have heard the ground wood pecker on several occasions but never seen it. Our highlight of the month was a few days ago. Came home about 9pm and at the start of our trip up the D18 we encountered a Bushbuck doe and her baby on the road. Further on, a small spotted genet. Further on near our turnoff an amazing view of the serval. We stopped the car and he sat in the short grass and looked at our headlights through slitty eyes for about half a minute. He then walked slowly into the long grass. What a beautiful creature. As we drove up our driveway, I said to Pat that it would be so wonderful to finish off the evening if we could see the ant bear that had his/her lair near our house, and that had caused such a problem last month with our daughter Michelle and her lost yorkshire terrier. Suddenly we saw eyes quite close to the ground. My first thought, a duiker or rabbit but lo and behold there was our ant bear NO it wasn’t, it was actually an aardvark. We had been wrong all along. He waddled slowly along the road for about 30 metres before disappearing into long grass. He is the cutest animal. Watching his bottom waddling along the road was so special and such an unusual tail. I will remember this always. Very special. What a fantastic evening. Next time I will have to take my camera along.

Sunset from our verandah mid April

Birds etc 2013 018

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2 thoughts on “Autumn Wildlife in Dargle

  1. Sarah Ellis

    Well done, I absolutely love reading the MCF newsletters I receive and am so grateful to all the people who contribute so generously. What a delight to see that there is such vibrant wildlife in your area – leopard, aardvark, ant bears, cranes etc etc – wow!! Years ago – probably about 13 years ago I think – I definitely saw a leopard cross the road in front of me at dusk, as I was going home towards Fort Nottingham. There have been quite a few sightings of leopard in the area over the last few years.
    Sarah

    Like

    Reply

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