Christeen Grant – Sitamani
Typical summer storms, with misty days between the sweltering heat. The resulting verdant green foliage studded with a multitude of flowers, butterflies and moths is a feast for the eyes!
A Facebook page was created for the annual Brown-veined White, Belenois aurota, migration. Fascinating to see where major flight paths occurred throughout South Africa. For about a week the migration passed through Sitamani, on two days thousands of these butterflies flew over.
Three different varieties of Emperor moths, so dramatic amongst the smaller moths, Mopane,
and Common or Cabbage Tree Emperor, settled near the backdoor.
An intriguing small brown moth of the Monkey moth sp., rested on the backdoor for two days, amazing that a bird didn’t gobble it up.
Every January I wait with anticipation for the magnificent Brunsvigia undulata plants to flower.
This year was no exception, but fewer plants actually flowered than last year. By the end of January several were already in their ‘tumble-weed’ dried out form.
Amongst other flowers seen were: several ground orchids including Eulophia ovalis,
Satyrium longicauda and Satyrium cristatum;
Sopubia cana (one of my favourites),
many Watsonia densiflora
and the berries of Searsea discolor.
Red-collared Widowbirds, Common Waxbills, Dark-capped Bulbuls, Black-headed Orioles, Fork-tailed Drongos, Hadeda Ibises, Grey-headed Canaries, Cape Sparrows, Southern Black Tits, Amethyst Sunbirds, Lesser Striped Swallows, Red-chested Cuckoos, Cape White-eyes, Glossy and Red-winged Starlings, Black-shouldered Kites, Jackal Buzzards, Long-crested Eagles, Rock Kestrels, Steppe Buzzards and Grey Herons, Wailing Cisticolas, Spotted Eagle Owls hooting to each other in the early morning and evenings, are a some of the birds seen this month.
Several early morning encounters with Duiker and Reedbuck, and Black-backed Jackal calling close to the house at night.
Bruce and Bev Astrup – Highland Glen
Heard Spotted Eagle Owls hooting; Common Fiscal with brownish juvenile; Crested Barbet, on tree alongside the Elands river – at Christmas time, a pair were seen, but the flooding river covered the nest which was in a fallen tree, so any eggs were no doubt lost; Monitor lizard in front of house on banks of Elands river
Crystelle Wilson – Gramarye
It was very good to see Amur Falcons back in the district in January. These birds travel about 15 000 km every year from their breeding grounds in Mongolia, China, to South Africa for our summer here. The buzzards continue to confuse with the great colour variations in the plumage between adult and immature birds of both Jackal and Common (Steppe) Buzzards.
Forest Buzzards add to the mix, but they usually only occur in KZN during the winter months, according to raptor expert David Allan. At Gramarye and The Willows it was great to see the Grey Crowned Cranes with three chicks,
while I was surprised to see a Cape Weaver still working on a nest at the end of the month, quite late in the breeding season.
The list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 was: Grey Crowned Crane, Hadeda Ibis, Cape White-eye, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle Dove, Fork-tailed Drongo, Diderick Cuckoo, Little Rush Warbler,
Egyptian Goose, Cape Sparrow, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, Red-knobbed Coot, Bokmakierie, Common Moorhen, Black Saw-wing, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Red-collared Widowbird, Greater Striped-Swallow, Cape Robin-Chat, Cape Crow, Southern Red Bishop, African Stonechat, Drakensberg Prinia,
Olive Thrush, Cattle Egret,
Yellow-billed Kite, Barn Swallow, Red-necked Spurfowl, Cape Wagtail, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Common Waxbill, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Common Fiscal, African Firefinch, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Dark-capped Bulbul, Amethyst Sunbird, Pin-tailed Whydah, Village Weaver, Black-headed Oriole, African Dusky Flycatcher, Burchell’s Coucal, White Stork, Black-headed Heron, Spur-winged Goose, Pied Kingfisher, Cape Weaver, Little Grebe,
Cape Longclaw, Hamerkop, Yellow-billed Duck, African Pipit, Zitting Cisticola, Helmeted Guineafowl, Spotted Eagle-Owl, African Rail, Cape Glossy Starling, Speckled Mousebird, Pied Starling, Pale-crowned Cisticola, White-throated Swallow, Amur Falcon, Brown-throated Martin, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Jackal Buzzard,
Blacksmith Lapwing, Banded Martin, Speckled Pigeon, Red-winged Starling, Sombre Greenbul, Blue Crane, Terrestrial Brownbul, Cape Grassbird, African Emerald Cuckoo, Malachite Sunbird,
Southern Boubou, Barratt’s Warbler, Bar-throated Apalis, African Hoopoe, Cape Batis, Yellow Bishop, African Sacred Ibis, Olive Woodpecker, Horus Swift, Red-chested Cuckoo, Red-billed Quelea, House Sparrow, African Harrier-Hawk, Steppe (Common) Buzzard, White-breasted Cormorant, Yellow-fronted Canary, African Fish-Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, Reed Cormorant, Buff-streaked Chat, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Barn Owl, African Reed-Warbler, Red-chested Flufftail.