February may have been a short month, but there was no shortage of fascinating wildlife sightings in Dargle!
Helen and Barend Booysen – Kilgobbin Cottage.
We found this bush buck doe carcass in our forest.
We sent the pictures to Amanda Jones from African Small Cat Research and this was her response: “I will look at the pics closer and see if I can measure teeth marks width to work out what the predator is. Would be useful to have a photo with a small plastic ruler in the pic to help with proportions. A good idea to look for spoor around the carcass then we can tell if cat or dog species. Apparently dogs rip up a carcass whereas cats are rather ‘neat’ eaters, like this one.”
Comment from conservationist and hunter, Neville van Leyleveld: “The bush buck doe kill is most likely a caracal kill based on the fact that a caracal is about the only predator in the area that is able kill an animal of this size. Based on the chest cavity feeding I would say that the jackals have already been feeding on it. The hiding of the carcass in the bush as this one has been is also typical caracal behaviour. This bush buck doe clearly was not killed at this site but was rather dragged there by the predator, again a typical characteristic of a caracal as they will sometimes come back the next night to feed again on the same carcass.”
Fully recovered Cabbage Tree (it was damaged by fire last winter)
Crabs aplenty in our garden stream – Petrusstroom. (all returned safely!)
These pictures were captured by the Dargle Conservancy Trail Camera which we set up in our forest. Dassies (The rock hyrax or Cape hyrax is one of the four living species of the order Hyracoidea, and the only living species in the genus Procavia).
Sykes’ monkey, also known as the white-throated monkey or Samango
Malvina and Evert van Breemen- Old Furth Estate
Many thanks for the hard work you put in on the wildlife sightings, we thoroughly enjoy everyone’s input!
During February we have regularly seen varying numbers in our Upper Dargle muster of storks – from one or two to about 50 at a time! Also regular sightings of a Brown Snake Eagle at our dams and also a young Buzzard. The Olive Woodpeckers are very busy in the trees around the house and a Red-Throated Wryneck calls constantly from near the shed. We have also had several brief sightings of the glorious Knysna Loeries (whatever they are called now) in the indigenous bush along the stream next to the house. The Gurney’s Sugarbirds and Emerald Sunbirds have also been visiting, along with our usual Sunbird population – Amethyst, Lesser and Greater Doublecollared etc.
A large Deodar was struck by lightning on our driveway and has been split all the way down to its base. We found a young but fully fledged Shrike hopping around near the poor tree, which was duly rescued and managed to flutter and climb its way up into a neighbouring evergreen Oak to await its parents. We had an entertaining display from a harassed pair of Wagtails who were trying to keep up with the voracious appetite of a Jacobin Cuckoo youngster who was simply too lazy to fend for itself – it was fully fledged and flying around, but kept returning to its surrogate parents and demanding to be fed.
The tadpoles, frogs and toads have been abundant and have brought their usual following of Herons, including what I think must have been a Goliath; it was huge! The warm weather also brought us a fair selection of snakes around the house, ranging from Natal Green to Puffadders and Brown House Snakes. The Dwarf chameleons have also produced a good crop of tiny, feisty babies, who have been rescued from the fences (before they become Shrike food) and placed in the gardens.
Our dogs have been following the travels of some Golden Moles with great interest and their resulting excavations have now pitted the back terrace with ankle-turning holes and have discouraged the moles from the lawns and driven them into the vegetable patch. PS – I know they are Golden Moles because the dogs excavated one and it was lucky to have me nearby as a rescuer. It was already on its way to the sanctuary of the vegetable patch………. I also startled a cute little striped fieldmouse who was hiding out in the rhubarb and our benighted cats have delivered a few shrews to various doorsteps. Sadly nobody will eat the locusts.
The jackal and baboons have been very prevalent and rather bold this month in our area.
Rose and Barry Downard – Oak Tree Cottage
Natal Midlands Dwarf Chameleons, adult and juvenile (Bradypodion thamnobates)
Two jackals, male and female, were seen by our gate at 6am one morning. Birds: The Paradise Flycatchers tried bravely but in vain to defend their nest from the Southern Boubou. Olive Thrush, Fiscal Shrike, Amethyst Sunbirds, Double and Lesser-collared Sunbirds, sparrows, Herons. Lots of butterflies, including Citrus Swallowtail, Green-banded Swallowtail, Gaudy Commodore, Common Diadem, Thorn-tree Blue, Acreas etc.
A dramatic Dargle sky over Inhlosane
Dieter Setz – Wakecroft
A heart shaped mushroom found two days before valentine’s day
Lizard sunning itself on a rock
Oleander Hawk Moth Caterpillar
Lesser Collared sunbird
These tiny white flowers (less than 4mm) are easy to miss
Sandra and Pat Merrick – Albury Farm
We awoke at 2am on 1st feb with a raucous screeching outside our bedroom window. We looked out and saw a barn owl on his back with another one on top of him and pecking at him and there was lots of screeching. My first thought was that the baby owl had fallen off the roof and told Pat to go and pick it up. As he got there the one that had been on his back flew off very low and settled on the lawn. The other one flew off. Pat brought him inside and we checked him out for any injuries. He seemed to be okay so we put him in a box for the night and let him out in the morning. He flew around the house twice and then flew off.
We were now thinking that they were perhaps mating (do owls mate like this?) or he was being attacked by the female as out of his territory. She is feeding 2 very noisy babies at the moment. This is 4 years in a row now that she has raised 2 babies.
I have been following the blue crane baby and he is now 2 and half months old. They have moved off onto the neighbouring farm. He is not flying yet.
Saw a female oribi one morning. She was very intent on grazing and not skittish like they usually are. Pat saw oribi ram at end of our road.
Another morning saw 12 sacred ibis and 3 spoonbill flying together very high over the dam. The spoonbill dropped into dam and the ibis carried on their merry way.
Heard the fish eagle on several occasions. 3 crowned crane at dam on a few occasions.
Pat saw 6 rock kestrel circling above the house. Saw an african marsh harrier.
There are dozens of chats in the garden every day now and a lot of them are juveniles – buffstreaked and common stonechats.
Pat saw 8 wood hoopoes landing in the gum trees. A tegwaan arrived in the pouring rain (we had 81mm in 45 mins one afternoon) and paddled through the downpour.
One evening went onto verandah while it was drizzling and there was a black snake wrapped around a gutteral toad (I think). His mouth was covering the toads head and he was not letting go. We have seen 4 of these black snakes this summer. The african people call them vusamanzi. We are not sure what they are called. Pat pushed snake and toad in box (he never let go) and put them down bottom of garden.
We also have dozens of sunbirds at the moment. Also a lot of juveniles. African black, malachites and lesser double collared
female African black sunbird? (Ed: Possibly a juvenile Male Amethyst Sunbird)
African Black Sunbird
A common river frog has been in my garden for a few weeks. Our african red hare is still living in our formal garden during the day. Always in exactly the same place. There is no poo and no indication that he eats any flowers in this garden. He is very large now. About 3 months old since we first saw him. He must push himself under our gate to get out to eat at night.
Went for a walk down to the dam this afternoon and the dam was full of water fowl. They were intrigued with the dogs and came close to the bank to have a closer look.
This was amazing to me as they usually fly away when they see me with the dogs.
There were dozens of egytian and spurwing geese, yellowbilled duck, a pair of african shell duck, 6 spoonbill, a grey heron, plovers and a giant african egret and dab chicks.
Orange throated longclaws.
White throated swallows still around.
3 african hoopoes. 4 natal francolin that run around the vegetable garden but they are very shy. We have had a male reedbuck living in the long grass in front of our house for the past few weeks during the day. Lots of butterflies. We think our aardvark has left us as haven’t seen any indication of holes dug by him in months.
Bumble bee on Dissotis canescens
Crassula vaginata with fruit chafer beetle
Kniphofia gracilis and Dissotis canescens
Gilly and Wyndham Robartes – Wana Farm
We had a dassie hiding on our veranda a couple of days ago. Never seen one here in the 15 years we’ve been here. Wonder where it came from?
Dargle Trail Camera – Manor Farm
We placed one of the trail cameras on the McKenzie farm to see what we could find. The first spot yielded nothing, the second area was near a little stream which provided a few good sightings – Aardvark crossing stream around midnight
Black backed Jackal
Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm
Red and black locust
Nikki Brighton Old Kilgobbin Farm
Masses of butterflies about, but I don’t have the patience necessary to capture them on camera. Jackals, Wood owls calling at night. Hares, bushbuck, duiker and reedbuck seen moving about. Plenty still in flower in the grassland. Kniphofia laxiflora has been particularly splendid this year, and the Wahlenbergia just don’t seem to stop flowering.
Crassula alba. Despite its species name alba, which means white, the flowers of this plant are most often bright red or striking yellow in South Africa.
Tephrosia sp – probably macropoda
Sophubia cana which is parasitic on grasses
Sebaea natalensis (a traditional love charm)
Surprisingly, still some wild garlic in flower– Tulbaghia natalensis. Tulbaghia is a member of the onion family and has been traditionally cultivated to keep snakes away from home. In some areas it is also used as a culinary herb.
Samango monkeys, Knysna loeries and bees are feasting on the figs in my garden. An absolute joy to watch.