Crystelle Wilson Gramarye: A sight to enjoy at present is the sheets of Watsonia flowers on Mount Edgeware.
The most exciting bird I found this month was a Little Bittern. A member of the heron family it is a generally uncommon bird occurring in wetland sites in bulrushes, reeds or emergent vegetation in shallow water. I saw it at a dam in marshlands in a timber plantation where I also watched an amazing spectacle when a Yellow-billed Kite dove into the dam like a Fish-Eagle and emerged triumphant with something in its claws. When I check my photographs later I saw it looked like a bullfrog, which was confirmed as a prey item by Roberts Birds of Southern Africa.
Another special sighting was a Whiskered Tern sitting on a jetty at my neighbour’s little dam. Migrant birds like the cuckoos and warblers are returning and the bishops and widows are nearly fully changed into their breeding colours for summer.
While out birding early in the morning I had close encounters with reedbuck
The bird list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 topped 100 this month: African Paradise-Flycatcher, Cape Robin-Chat, Village Weaver, Cape White-eye, Cape Sparrow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Dark-capped Bulbul, Speckled Mousebird, Common Waxbill, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Black Saw-wing, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle Dove, Helmeted Guineafowl, Egyptian Goose, Little Grebe, African Dusky Flycatcher, Southern Boubou, African Hoopoe, Blacksmith Lapwing, Reed Cormorant, African Stonechat, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Little Rush-Warbler,African Reed-Warbler, Fork-tailed Drongo, African Sacred Ibis, Cape Wagtail, White-throated Swallow, South African Shelduck, Drakensberg Prinia, Hadeda Ibis, Cape Grassbird, Greater Striped-Swallow, Yellow-billed Duck, Spur-winged Goose, Grey Crowned Crane, Blue Crane, Bokmakierie, African Firefinch, Cape Crow, Cape Canary, Black-headed Oriole, Common Myna, Common Fiscal, African Pipit, Cape Longclaw, Red-necked Spurfowl,
Orange-breasted Waxbill, Common Quail, Brown-throated Martin, Southern Red Bishop, African Marsh-Harrier, White-breasted Cormorant, Red-knobbed Coot, African Darter, Cape Weaver, Common Moorhen, Banded Martin, African Rail, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Red-collared Widowbird,
Red-billed Quelea, Red-chested Flufftail, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Zitting Cisticola, Speckled Pigeon, Klaas’s Cuckoo, Diderick Cuckoo, Cape Glossy Starling, Grey Heron, Yellow-fronted Canary, Yellow Bishop, Forest Canary, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Sombre Greenbul, Long-crested Eagle, Black-headed Heron, Blue Crane, Yellow-throated Warbler, Terrestrial Brownbul, Red-chested Cuckoo, Jackal Buzzard, Long-tailed Widowbird,
Amethyst Sunbird, Olive Thrush, Pied Crow, Cattle Egret, Pied Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, House Sparrow, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, Yellow-throated Petronia, Common Swift, African Black Swift, African Harrier-Hawk, Barratt’s Warbler, Bar-throated Apalis, African Goshawk, Southern Black Tit, Cape Batis, Red-throated Wryneck.
Bruce and Bev Astrup of Highland Glen:
Lone Secretary bird in the grass off Dargle road near R617. Greater striped swallows, Jackal Buzzard, heard Spotted Eagle Owl hooting at night. Reedbuck ram and does on the river bank just below the house. Four blue cranes, across the Elands River on Netherby, pair of Grey Crowned Cranes in the newly disked field on Netherby.
David and Wizz Lawrence at The Willows: Boubou Shrike; Village Weavers building nests in tall Deodar Pine in driveway; several are either falling to the ground or being rejected and dismantled
David Clulow at Melrose dam for 15 minutes in strong breeze: African Shelducks; Yellow-billed Ducks; Spur-winged Geese; Egyptian Geese; Red-knobbed Coots; Reed Cormorant; Blacksmith Lapwing; Red-billed Teal;
Pete and Frances Nel at Four Gates: On 8 October, two Secretarybirds up on the hills; pair of Grey Crowned Cranes which raised a chick last season, still have it in their company and all three appear regularly.
Neil Baxter from Mosgate writes on 11 October: In a little while the Watsonias on Edgeware hill will be magnificent – like a sweeping veld fire – they can be seen from below, from the village of Boston and catch the eye with their blooms.
Derek Hurlstone-Jones of The Rockeries: African Harrier-Hawk (Gymnogene) flying around the garden, checking out the Weavers nests for future reference; African Hoopoe flying around the Boston Country Club, probably with a nest or plans for one.
General Comments from various sources: Poaching with dogs and some poachers using guns to decimate the buck; brazen attitudes if accosted.
Christeen Grant on Sitamani:
The summer rains and weather pattern have arrived. Many misty, wet days and afternoon thunder storms. Several early morning encounters with Duiker and Reedbuck around the house. But this October, for the first time since we have been living at Sitamani, the shy Mountain Reedbuck didn’t pass through as in previous years. A small group of about four usually spend a few days on our rocky hillside in October.
Having been away in the mountains on several multi-day trips it’s been difficult getting out to photograph the flowers. The dry spring has had a marked effect on the numbers and size of the flowers, but have observed amongst others these stalwarts: Alepidea natalensis,
and one of my favourites Sisyranthus tricostomus.
Many moths, gobbled up by a flock of varied birds outside our kitchen door every morning. Small grasshopper hoppers newly hatched scatter in all directions as you walk through the grass. The loud screech of the male Bladder Grasshoppers can be heard most days. Red-collared Widowbirds, Common Waxbills, Dark-capped Bulbuls, Black-headed Orioles, Fork-tailed Drongos, Hadeda Ibises, Grey-headed Canaries, Cape Sparrows, Southern Black Tits, Malachite and Amethyst Sunbirds, Lesser Striped Swallows arrived back here on the 6 October and on the 31 October I finally heard the distinctive summer call, ‘Piet-my-vrou’, the Red-chested Cuckoo was back.