Christeen Grant – Sitamani
The highlight this month was the CREW fieldtrip here on the 15 February. See photos of the morning spent on our hillsides looking for wildflowers at: https://midlandsconservanciesforum.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/crew-fieldtrip-to-sitamani/
A multitude of moths have been seen in the early morning beneath the light outside the backdoor. The following, except one, were all taken on the 4 February! If anyone knows of a good Moth field guide book I would be grateful to hear about it. The Field Guide to Insects of South Africa has a very limited selection of moths. Also seen were two types of Antlion, one I’ve never seen before and think is a Long-horned Antlion.
The Mottled Veld Antlion we see occasionally at this time of year. Red-collared Widowbirds, Dark-capped Bulbuls, Black-headed Orioles, Fork-tailed Drongos, Hadeda Ibises, Grey-headed Canaries, Cape Sparrows, Cape Robin-Chats, Southern Black Tits, Amethyst Sunbirds, Lesser Striped Swallows, Black and Red-chested Cuckoos calling, Cape White-eyes, Red-winged Starlings, Black-shouldered Kites, Jackal Buzzards, Long-crested Eagles, Rock Kestrels, Steppe Buzzards and Grey Herons, Wailing Cisticolas, Speckled Mousebirds, the call of a Fish Eagle from the dam on Mount Shannon (Mondi) and Spotted Eagle Owls hooting to each other in the early morning and evenings. A Serval sauntered along the servitude road one early morning as I drove out in half light. Several early morning encounters with Duiker and Reedbuck, and Black-backed Jackal calling close to the house at night.
David and Wizz Lawrence – The Willows
We have been watching out for the resident pair of Grey Crowned Cranes, who have hatched three chicks in January, one of which disappeared after the heavy rains; but the other two are growing rapidly. At the end of the month only one chick could be seen in the long grass.
Group of Grey Crowned Cranes in Boston: Flock of 43 Cranes seen regularly on Trelyon, Tembeni, and Four Gates farms. On the latter farm, a report from Pete and Francis Nel of Blue Cranes, a pair of Grey Crowned Cranes and the 3 Southern Ground Hornbills that have been seen there from time to time – now returned for a visit. Barbara Clulow on CREW fieldtrip to Sitamani Amongst many other wildflower photos was this greenish nymph of the Eyed Flower variety of mantid on a Berkheya bloom. Crystelle Wilson- Gramarye It was good to see about 60-70 Amur Falcons hunting grasshoppers from the wires along the Dargle Road, but it was sad to find a White Stork killed by overhead wires along a farm road. Both these birds are migrants that travel thousands of kilometres every year to visit us in summer before returning to China or Europe for the northern summer where they breed. The sunbirds in their glorious breeding colours continued to delight as they feed on abundant veld flowers. I was also pleased to find a Groundscraper Thrush near Barrett’s Guesthouse in the Dargle, a bird I haven’t seen in the district for a long time. The atlas bird list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 was: Greater Striped-Swallow, Grey Crowned Crane, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle Dove, Diderik Cuckoo, Cape Robin-Chat, Hadeda Ibis, African Sacred Ibis, Blacksmith Lapwing, Little Grebe, Red-knobbed Coot, Cape Sparrow, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, Amethyst Sunbird, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, African Dusky Flycatcher, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Little Rush Warbler, Pin-tailed Whydah, Common Waxbill, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Black Saw-wing, Common Moorhen, Southern Red Bishop, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Cormorant, Black-headed Heron, Cattle Egret, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, African Stonechat, Long-crested Eagle, South African Shelduck, Drakensberg Prinia, Village Weaver, Barn Swallow, Horus Swift, Brown-throated Martin, Spur-winged Goose, Cape White-eye, Common Fiscal, Yellow-fronted Canary, African Reed-Warbler, South African Shelduck, Egyptian Goose, African Darter, African Rail, Bokmakierie, Yellow-billed Duck, Red-necked Spurfowl, Cape Crow, Cape Wagtail, Speckled Pigeon, Cape Longclaw, Pied Kingfisher, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Southern Boubou, Fork-tailed Drongo, Dark-capped Bulbul, Steppe Buzzard, Sombre Greenbul, Red-winged Starling, Amur Falcon, Red-chested Flufftail, Pied Starling, House Sparrow, Wailing Cisticola, Long-tailed Widowbird, Speckled Mousebird, Thick-billed Weaver, Malachite Sunbird, Hamerkop, Black-headed Oriole, Yellow Bishop, African Emerald Cuckoo, Barratt’s Warbler, Bar-throated Apalis, African Hoopoe, Terrestrial Brownbul, Cape Batis, African Olive Pigeon, Olive Woodpecker, Greater Honeyguide, Yellow-billed Kite, African Quailfinch, Giant Kingfisher. David Clulow on The Willows A Monitor Lizard has been seen on a neighbour’s property but has been shot by another nearby smallholder. Why? Same reason as he shoots Genet cats and so satisfies some primeval urge to kill. Thought that would have gone out with Homo erectus having defeated the Neanderthals in Europe, but clearly it was not a total victory.