Nigel Anderson – Lane’s End
I have two interesting sightings: a Rainforest Brown butterfly
and a common reedbuck.
Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm
Not too much this month, I was up in the Kruger Park last week (great sightings there!) and before that I had relatives Kynan (14) and Nicky (10) visit the farm for two weeks. Nicky played with his first frog, at 10 years old I was quite stunned he’d never played with one before!
They helped me clean up the side of the road between the Boston turnoff and our farm entrance which is about 500m long. We managed to collect a full feed bag worth of rubbish, mainly comprised of beer bottles, coke cans etc. As you can see they weren’t too impressed with the way that people treat their country. Sadly we already had a coke can that managed to find its way onto the side of the road the next day.
We also had a young Fish Eagle terrorizing the rest of the birds, ducks and geese the one day. It tried to catch a coot off the dam before dropping it, and then proceeded to fly around the area causing all the other birds to take off. One old crow obviously got tired of the ruckus and actually chased it away!
Rose and Barry Downard – Oak Tree Cottage
After much resistance, the crows have been evicted from their nest at the top of one of our plane trees by a pair of Egyptian geese who have taken over the nest.
Also seen: Long-crested Eagle, hoopoes, cape robin, house sparrows, cape sparrows, fiscal shrike, mousebirds, southern boubou, olive thrush, weavers, redeyed doves, cape turtle doves, egrets, cardinal woodpecker, bulbuls, flocks of red-billed quelea, white-eyes, storks, grey herons, black kites. Bees, carpenter bees, butterflies, caterpillars, dwarf chameleon, slender mongoose. Heard: Jackals, Fish Eagles.
Sandra and Pat Merrick – Albury
With July being so warm have had a number of butterflies. So strange for this time of year. Saw an otter in the dam and it bit the nose of our rottie. Our dogs killed a samango monkey yesterday. Our rottie was savaged by one earlier this year. Thank goodness we weren’t here to see this. I guess they are coming into the garden looking for food. Saw a fish eagle sitting on the top of one of our pine trees overlooking the dam. We have been inundated with thousands of grasshoppers eating our azaleas and anything else that is turning green. This is crazy weather. Our oak trees started leafing 10 days ago – a month early. We have had plenty reed buck and oribi eating the green shoots on the fire breaks.
In the past week we have seen a female oribi on our one boundary fence, and a male on the other boundary fence. On the 26th july took a photo of 3 oribi (2 females and one male) and 5 reed buck grazing on the hill – all in one photo!! So blessed to get that photo.
On Saturday had the bizarre experience of watching 5 blue crane landing at the dam. There were 4 adult ones and a youngster. I watched for 2 hrs until it got dark. The 4 large ones kept running up and down the edge of the dam and then would stop and look back at the youngster. There was a lot of “craaking”.
The youngster would slowly follow them and then stop. I thought they were trying to wean him/her and kept expecting them to fly away and leave him behind. Could not understand why there were 4 adults involved in this behaviour. At no time did the youngster run to meet up with them. They would always run back to him and have a “craaking” session. After the sun set and it was getting dark, the 2 adults moved slightly away and the other 2 went and had a “chat” with baby
The next morning the 3 had flown off and only 2 remained. They have been walking around the dam for 4 days now. Not sure if its our original pair or not. Sometimes one of them sits down (photo) and sometimes walks around the island area where she laid last year and lost the egg she laid there, due to water flowing into the dam and washing it away. So I have another pair to watch. Very exciting.
Neville van Lelyveld – Benn Meadhon
Oribi It is very pleasing to report that baby and mother where once again sighted this last weekend. Baby and mother both appear to be doing well. Baby has increased in size relevant to month’s gap since the last count was done.
Bush Buck One male and one female where observed by the bottom carrot field in the natural forest near the Dargle river. Both appeared to be in good health. It is very unusual to see a male and a female together as they are solitary animals and only meet up to mate and then go their separate ways once the act of mating has taken place. One sincerely hopes that this pair where in the process of mating, time will tell as we will continue to monitor these two bush buck in this area to see the outcome of this observation.
Reedbuck A total of 20 sighting where made with a similar result as last month. All the youngsters seemed to fine and health. It is pleasing that they don’ seem to mind us observing them from a fairly close range and in some cases only metres away. They are obviously feeling safe. Most of the females are accompanied by a youngster of various ages. Breed ing is therefore going well. It is interesting to note that the reedbuck are now coming out as early as 16h00 in the afternoon and the odd animal can be seen during the day. This is probably due to the colder weather currently been experienced as well as that they feel safe enough to come out during these times. What is really interesting that they are coming out very shortly after the farm activity ceases.
Grey duiker Once again several grey duikers were sighted during the weekend. One thing that was very different on this weekend was that a male together with a pregnant female was sighted just off the road behind the old quarry at about 08h00 on Sunday morning. Another doe was also sighted by your cross roads forest at about 09h00. This is the first time that we have observed duiker that time of the morning. Although duiker are usually diurnal animals the ones on the farm have resorted to been nocturnal. It is well documented that this happen when they feel threatened. I assume that the ones on the farm have resorted to nocturnal feeding due to the normal farm activities. However with the diurnal sighting made his last weekend it appears as though this is changing once again. The other possibility is that Sunday morning was abnormally cold and it might just be a case of the duiker were moving back to their sleeping areas a lot later as a result of the cold weather. Antelope have been known to do this. These various theories will have to be proven out over the next few visits.
Bush pigs No bush pigs were observed this weekend. This seemed unusual as all conditions seemed ideal for them, but from my experience with these creatures is that they appear to have a mind of their own and just once you think you understand them they do something strange like not coming out on a perfect night like on this occasion. Well that is bush pigs. I love them for their intellectual brain. Doing anything with them is always a battle of wills and a case of trying to out whit them. Truly an intelligent animal.
Porcupine No Porcupine were observed, however there is a lot of evidence in the forms of scat, tracks and quills to suggest that there is porcupine activity were seen. A fair amount of new porcupine diggings were also observed.
Jackals No jackals were sighted, however based on the sheer numbers of jackals calling on the farm on Saturday night at varying times all through the night. There appears to be an increase in jackal activity on the farm. This will make sense based on the increase of calving by the antelope happening at the moment. It could also be attributed to the burning that has taken place as they are now able to see their prey such as vlei rat’s a lot easier. There also appears to be lot of cattle calving at the moment on the farm, this too will increase the jackal activity on the farm.
Blue Crane Several blue cranes were observed by the by the bottom boundary near Handbury where we spent most of Saturday.
Spurwing Geese A flock of five Spurwing geese where sighted flying overhead towards Howard Long’s by the boundary near Handbury at around 09h00 on Saturday morning. These are the only ones sighted this visit as this where we concentrated our observations this month.
Egyptian Geese A flock of eight Egyptian geese were sighted flying over head towards Howard Long’s by the boundary near Hanbury on Saturday morning around 10h00.
Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm
Lots of interesting paw and claw prints in the mud on the edges of dam and pools. Definitely water mongoose and jackal, but some biggish “cat” ones too – about the size of the palm of my hand – Caracal I expect.
Sombre bulbul, brown headed kingfisher, Fish Eagle, weavers, collared sunbird, 50 Cape Parrots, double collared sunbird, amethyst sunbird, bulbuls, chorister robin, thrush, cape robin chat, stone chat, fiscal shrike, white eyes, mouse birds, bush black cap, crows, thick billed weavers, purple heron, yellow billed ducks, Jackal Buzzard, Egyptian geese, Cardinal woodpecker, southern boubou.
Duiker, reedbuck, bushbuck, heard bush pig, scrub hare, Samangos.
Halleria, Buddleja dysophylla, Buddleja salvifolia, Jamesbritennia kraussiana, Apodolirion buchananii (pic), Cyrtanthus breviflorus, Ursinia tenuiloba
Cranes at Dargle School
As part of the Dargle Conservancy 10 Anniversary celebrations, we sponsored a lesson on Cranes – (our logo) at Corrie Lynn School. Only three of the learners had seen cranes in the wild. After learning about the three types of cranes found in South Africa: their habitats and eating habits, how they mate for life and love to dance, they made two crowned cranes puppets. Using recycled cardboard tubing, old posters, bags and local gathered dry grass, two beautiful cranes were created and everybody went outside to try and make their cranes dance with some grace.
Read about the fun Corrie Lynn School children had during the holidays photographing the uMngeni River (also a Dargle Conservancy sponsored activity): http://darglelocalliving.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/budding-dargle-photographers/