Boston Wildlife Sightings – January 2014

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!2014 01 Butterfly 02 Belenois aurota

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.

2014 01 Butterfly 01 Belenois aurota

Three different varieties of Emperor moths, so dramatic amongst the smaller moths, Mopane,

2014 01 Moth 01 Mopane Moth

Speckled Emperor

2014 01 Moth 02 Speckled Emperor

and Common or Cabbage Tree Emperor, settled near the backdoor.

2014 01 Moth 05 Common Emperor

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.

2014 01 Moth 06 Monkey moth sp

Every January I wait with anticipation for the magnificent Brunsvigia undulata plants to flower.

2014 01 Plant Brunsvigia undulata 01

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.

2014 01 Plant Brunsvigia undulata 02

Amongst other flowers seen were: several ground orchids including Eulophia ovalis,

2014 01 Plant Eulophia ovalis

Habanaeria dives,

2014 01 Plant Habernaria dives

Satyrium longicauda and Satyrium cristatum;

2014 01 Plant Satyrium cristatum

Crocosmia masonorum

2014 01 Plant Crocosmia masonorum 01

Crocosmia paniculata,

2014 01 Plant Crocosmia paniculata

Geranium schlechteri,

2014 01 Plant Geranium schlechteri

Heliophila rigiduscula,

2014 01 Plant Heliophila rigidiuscula

Kniphofia buchananii,

2014 01 Plant Kniphofia buchananii

Sopubia cana (one of my favourites),

2014 01 Plant 02

Stachys aethiopica,

2014 01 Plant Stachys aethiopica

Vernonia natalensis,

2014 01 Plant Vernonia natalensis

many Watsonia densiflora

2014 01 Plant Watsonia densiflora 02

and the berries of Searsea discolor.

2014 01 Plant 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.

Boston_2237_Steppe Buzzard_imm

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,

Boston_2203_Jackal-Buzzard_imm_pic 1

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.

5 thoughts on “Boston Wildlife Sightings – January 2014

    1. Barry Fiddes.

      Wonderful pictures of the Birdlife which pensioned off “Townies” like me don’t get to see any more.There used to be large flocks of Crowned cranes at the n’Thabamhlope Research station
      when I was in charge there, as well as nesting Wattled cranes in the Vlei there. The Research Station no longer exists. It, and surrounding areas were returned to the Amahlubi Tribe twenty plus years ago.


  1. cg58

    Thank you Nikki, for your wonderful and professional compilation of our sightings! Also to all the other members of the Boston community for sharing! Then especially, Crystelle Wilson, for your exquisite bird photographs, particularly the Malachite Sunbird, that is an award winner in composition, colour and artistry! Christeen



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