Christeen Grant- Sitmani
August has been typically windy and dry, despite a few showers and snow glistening on the Drakensberg in the distance. Amazingly a few spring flowers are appearing. Apodolirion buchananii, sweet scented if you bend down low and sniff;
Aster bakerianus scattered in the grass;
Nemesia caerulae, miniature snapdragons waving wildly in the wind; cheerfully sunshine yellow, clusters of Gazania krebsiana
and bright red Cyrtanthus tuckii glow in burnt fire-breaks;
Anemone fanninii flourish white flags (on the observation list for CREW),
The Leucosidea sericea are covered in yellow blossom
and only noticed for the first time last year the minute Helichrysum caespititium is flowering, the individual flowers only mm’s in diameter.
Common Reedbuck and Black-backed Jackal are heard most nights and the Duiker have nibbled away the leaves from violets near the house.
On the 19 August I saw my first Yellow-billed Kite of the season. Red-collared Widowbirds have started to congregate and courting plumage beginning to show. A Cape Eagle-owl calls particularly loudly on moonlight nights and just before dawn. A lovely sighting of a Drakensberg Prinia flitting in the branches of flower laden Halleria lucida.
Wizz and David Lawrence of The Willows: Black-headed Oriole; numerous Sacred Ibis after block burn; Black-headed Heron; up to forty Helmeted Guineafowl; Village Weavers coming into full breeding plumage; Red-billed Quelea; Cape Robin-Chat; Boubou Shrike often in garden; Olive Thrush, African Hoopoe.
Bruce and Bev Astrup of Highland Glen: Yellow-billed Kites continuously flying about, searching the ground for prey; Pied Crow; Helmetted Guineafowl; Cape Turtle-Dove, Black-headed Heron, surveying aftermath of runaway fire
Juvenile Long-crested Eagle in tree overhanging Elands river
Wonderfully camouflaged Toad
Wendy Arnott of Keswick: Gurney’s Sugarbird; Mocking Chat
David Clulow at The Willows: Grey Crowned Cranes at “Melrose”; Darter on dam with Egyptian Geese behind “Calderwood”; Black-shouldered Kite on R617; African Shelduck at pan on “The Willows”;
Gordon Pascoe of Keswick: Seen on Edgeware near one dam: 2 Adult Grey Crowned Cranes with 3 Juveniles, all able to fly.
Caroline McKerrow of Stormy Hill: Four Grey Crowned Crane on “Forset Dew” on 19 August; Village Weavers nesting on “Stormy Hill”; two jackal Buzzards overhead; Speckled Pigeons nesting in box near house; two Vervet Monkeys; one Duiker; one hamerkop.
Ian and Jenny Lawrence of Endeavour: Two groups of Blue Cranes: one of three birds, the other of a pair; Yellow-billed Kites; one Denham’s Bustard with leg problem – limping; African Shelduck; four Grey Crowned Cranes, two being juveniles. On 26 August saw the first White Stork of the season
Peter and Karen Geldart of Coquidale: Five Southern Ground Hornbills
Crystelle Wilson – Gramayre
It is always exciting when a bird list submitted to the SABAP2 atlas project throws up unexpected out-of-range or rarity sightings. We had one in August when my Boston neighbour David Clulow and I went birding at Nzinga in the vicinity of the Brooklyn and Mt Le Soeur farms, 2930_2940. A “little brown job” which I photographed on a hillside was listed as a regional rarity. The African Rock Pipit is endemic to South Africa and Lesotho and its habitat is mountains and escarpments, open areas with rocky outcrops. Trying to identify the bird from my pictures I was initially thrown by its black feet, which isn’t shown in any of the images in the bird books, but then I twigged it must’ve been walking through burnt grass.
Other pleasing sightings were of Cape and Bearded Vultures
and Blue and Wattled Cranes.
Our list for the Nzinga_Mt Le Soeuer pentad was: Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape Wagtail, Pied Crow, Cape White-eye, Drakensberg Prinia, Cape Turtle Dove, Hadeda Ibis, Helmeted Guineafowl, Cape Glossy Starling, Common Fiscal, White-necked Raven,
Red-eyed Dove, Cape Canary, Cape Weaver, African Firefinch, Cape Robin-Chat, Red-throated Wryneck, Rock Martin, Black Saw-wing, Fork-tailed Drongo, Speckled Mousebird, Cape Vulture, Alpine Swift, Buff-streaked Chat,
Southern Boubou, Red-winged Starling, Cape Longclaw, Bokmakierie, Cape Rock-Thrush, Jackal Buzzard, African Stonechat, African Rock Pipit, Cape Grassbird, Wattled Crane, Blue Crane, Blacksmith Lapwing, African Spoonbill, Denham’s Bustard, Lazy Cisticola, Yellow-fronted Canary, Ground Woodpecker,
Lanner Falcon, Bearded Vulture, Malachite Sunbird, Cape Crow, Speckled Pigeon, Black-headed Oriole, Village Weaver, Amethyst Sunbird, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Olive Thrush.
Back in my own home pentad at Boston I was very pleased to come across a string of Orange-breasted Waxbills again. They are shy birds, apparently on the decline in the Midlands. I sometimes see them in the wetlands at Gramarye, but was concerned about their whereabouts after we burned the area in August. The waxbills have moved up the hill along the stream on The Drift farm and they seem to hang out in the rye grass. Families of cranes are still doing well with the juniors growing up and stretching their wings now.
The list for Elandshoek pentad 2930_3000: Cardinal Woodpecker, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Burchell’s Coucal, Black-headed Oriole, Red-eyed Dove, Hadeda Ibis, Cape White-eye, Fork-tailed Drongo, Cape Crow, Egyptian Goose, Jackal Buzzard, Helmeted Guineafowl, Common Fiscal, Spur-winged Goose, South African Shelduck, Southern Boubou, Rufous-naped Lark, African Pipit, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Burchell’s Coucal, Southern Red Bishop, Cape Turtle Dove, Red-necked Spurfowl, African Stonechat, Reed Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant, African Darter, Yellow-billed Duck, Red-knobbed Coot, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Little Grebe, Cape Longclaw, Village Weaver, Cape Robin-Chat, Olive Thrush, Speckled Mousebird, Cape Wagtail, Blacksmith Lapwing, African Sacred Ibis, African Spoonbill, Drakensberg Prinia, African Firefinch, Giant Kingfisher, Cape Batis, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Grey Crowned Crane, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, Cape Sparrow, Cape Canary, Pin-tailed Whydah, Cape Glossy Starling, Long-crested Eagle, Black-headed Heron, Bokmakierie, Yellow-throated Petronia, Red-billed Quelea, House Sparrow, Pied Starling, White-throated Swallow, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Lanner Falcon, Sombre Greenbul, Bar-throated Apalis, Terrestrial Brownbul, Amethyst Sunbird, Grey Cuckooshrike, African Hoopoe, Long-billed Pipit, Wattled Crane, Secretarybird, Cape Weaver, African Rail, Common Waxbill, Common Moorhen, Cattle Egret, Red-chested Flufftail, Pied Kingfisher, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Red-throated Wryneck.
On the way home after a pre-wedding supper celebration I saw a porcupine crossing the R617 near The Pickle Pot.