Crystelle Wilson – Gramarye
Bird sighting of the month was Black Harrier, the first time I’ve ever seen one of these in the district. The bird is endemic to Southern Africa and has the most restricted range of the 13 harrier species worldwide. It hunts over dry and damp grasslands, fynbos and karoo and its breeding stronghold is in the south western parts of the country. Another new listing for the Elandshoek pentad was Southern Pochard, only the second time I’ve seen the duck in the area, as was the pair of European Rollers which I saw for the second time after several years in the same spot near the Good Hope dams.
Black-crowned Tchagra and Golden-breasted Bunting were also new additions to that pentad. The list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000: Diederik Cuckoo, Pin-tailed Whydah, Cape Sparrow, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape White-eye, Amethyst Sunbird, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Greater Striped-Swallow, Cape Turtle Dove, Red-eyed Dove, African Firefinch, Hadeda Ibis, Southern Boubou, Cape Robin-Chat, African Harrier-Hawk, Black Saw-wing, African Hoopoe, Yellow-billed Kite, Spur-winged Goose,
Cape Canary, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Fan-tailed Widowbird, African Stonechat, Little Rush-Warbler, Fork-tailed Drongo, Drakensberg Prinia, Egyptian Goose, Yellow-billed Duck, Cattle Egret, Helmeted Guineafowl, Common Waxbill, African Reed-Warbler, Red-collared Widowbird,
Cape Weaver, Village Weaver, African Rail, Cape Longclaw, Bokmakierie, Red-billed Quelea, African Darter, Red-knobbed Coot, Little Grebe, White-breasted Cormorant, African Pipit, Malachite Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Grey Crowned Crane, White-faced Duck, Black-headed Heron, Blue Crane, White-throated Swallow, Barn Swallow, Pied Starling, Black Sparrowhawk, House Sparrow, Amur Falcon, Steppe Buzzard, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Jackal Buzzard, Sombre Greenbul, Blacksmith Lapwing, Banded Martin, Wailing Cisticola, Hamerkop, Red-chested Cuckoo, Yellow Bishop, Long-tailed Widowbird, Bar-throated Apalis, Black-backed Puffback, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, African Emerald Cuckoo, Forest Canary, Alpine Swift, Burchell’s Coucal, Olive Thrush, Black-headed Oriole, Long-crested Eagle, Red-throated Wryneck, Common Moorhen, Red-chested Flufftail.
Trevor and Cheryl Scheepers of Lapa Lapa: Four Buff-spotted Flufftail chicks in the garden
Bruce and Bev Astrup of Highland Glen: Watched Crested Barbet shinning up tree in garden; Burchell’s Coucal; Red-shouldered Widowbird; Red-chested Cuckoo (Piet-my-Vrou), calling. Saw the pair of Spotted Eagle-Owls in the evening in Basket Willows alongside the Elands river, and further sightings of the Crested Barbet – appear to be nesting in the Weeping Willow along with Fork-tailed Drongos, Darkcapped Bulbuls, Village Weavers, Long-crested Eagle; Elands river over its banks last night, 22nd Dec, and a couple of Village Weavers nests are upmarket with running water.
Christeen Grant – Sitamamani
December has continued to be wet, many afternoon thunderstorms, fortunately only small hail a few times. Many fungi have sprung up including Earth Stars
CREW fieldtrip on Edgeware on 13 December, searching for Schizoglossum bidens and ‘new’ Moraea, last seen on 28 December 2012. The very late rains had arrived too late to bring out the hoped-for plants, so the few CREW and helpers, who were available to make the climb up the hillside were disappointed and when eventually the rains did show that they meant business, it was helter-skelter to a waiting car driven by a kindly rescuer, Celia Speirs, who came to assist Suvarna Parbhoo, Christina Potgieter, Barbara Clulow and others, who were somewhat wet through. A few flowers were recorded, which compared to the usual masses at this time of the year, was a slight compensation. The lists up until then were of 155 species on Edgeware and this outing added another 7 new species – photos by Barbara Clulow – including Asclepias cucullata
The hard cover book of the 100 most highly threatened South African plant species, “Plants in Peril”, has been published. Boston CREW is represented therein with Barbara Clulow, Christeen Grant and David Clulow at Impendle Nature Reserve, where the rare plant, Asclepias concinna, was found earlier. This impressive book is available from Suvarna Parbhoo at 082 354 5649. An extract: Asclepias concinna
Gomphocarpus photographed by Crystelle Wilson of Gramarye on the edge of the Norwood forests. The one seen before in the area is a physocarpus and is described in Elsa Pooley’s “Wildflowers of KZN” as being white flowers, which is the case; so this is an interesting variation – Darwin would have been intrigued.