Crystelle Wilson – Gramarye
I couldn’t believe my eyes one Saturday while I was having lunch on the stoep to see a family of Buff-spotted Flufftails feeding on the lawn. These secretive birds are normally active at dawn or dusk and during breeding season their long drawn-out calls continuing right through the night can drive some people crazy. But there they were in broad daylight.
It was interesting to see they kept to the shadows falling across the grass. The adult was walking backwards and forwards, picking up things to eat. Sometimes it made a dash for something, when the chicks would come dashing forward as well from underneath the shrubs. Together they pulled at the prey, and then the chicks followed the parent for a while, before retreating under the shrubs again.
Other interesting finds included Yellow-breasted Apalis in the forest at Mt Edgeware. This is as far inland of their range as one would find them.
African Marsh-Harrier and Southern Bald Ibis were also welcome sightings.
The list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 was: Greater Striped-Swallow, Cape White-eye,
Hadeda Ibis, Black-headed Heron, Amethyst Sunbird, Black Saw-wing, African Dusky Flycatcher, Egyptian Goose, Cape Turtle Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Crow, African Rail, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Cape Longclaw, Common Waxbill, Spur-winged Goose, South African Shelduck, African Stonechat, Cape Grassbird, Cape Robin-Chat, Grey Crowned Crane, African Sacred Ibis, Fork-tailed Drongo, Cape Wagtail, Giant Kingfisher, Greater Honeyguide, Yellow-fronted Canary, Bokmakierie, Red-necked Spurfowl, Cape Weaver, Yellow-billed Duck, African Darter, Red-knobbed Coot,
Little Grebe, Village Weaver,
Common Fiscal, Cape Sparrow, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, Dark-capped Bulbul, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Pin-tailed Whydah, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Southern Red Bishop, House Sparrow, Red-billed Quelea, Jackal Buzzard, Pied Starling, Drakensberg Prinia, Common Moorhen, Red-winged Starling, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler,
Speckled Mousebird, Barn Swallow, Olive Woodpecker, Red-throated Wryneck, Secretarybird, Yellow Bishop, Sombre Greenbul, Black-backed Puffback, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Cape Glossy Starling, African Hoopoe, Southern Boubou, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Red-collared Widowbird, Helmeted Guineafowl, Long-crested Eagle, Black-headed Oriole, Cape Canary, Wattled Crane, Malachite Sunbird, Reed Cormorant, Cape Batis.
Rob and Celia Speirs – The Rockeries
Emily, the bathroom spider was inclined to obstruct shaving by walking daily onto the shaving mirror, enlarging his/her self in the curved glass. Emily was a regular feature till 9 April – suddenly gone missing – and a search around revealed the ugly truth – her/his remnants lay on the floor where she/ he had been despatched (and snacked on) by a voracious Wasp.
David and Barbara Clulow, visiting on 10 April
Pied Crows, pair of Red-necked Spurfowl with young family; the pair of Grey Crowned Cranes with two large juveniles feeding near Melrose dam; and another pair with one large juvenile near Elandsvlei dam; Long-crested Eagle; large flock of Spur-winged Geese at pan on The Willows; Red-knobbed Coots, Yellow-billed Ducks and a Darter on Melrose dam; flocks of Egyptian Geese and Sacred Ibis in numbers on Melrose farm; heard Southern Boubou in The Willows garden
Christeen Grant – Sitamani
April has been a busy, I have been away more than I have been at home, so haven’t seen as much this month. A few spectacular Grasshoppers, including Foam Grasshoppers, have been around. They are now in their final adult stage.
I recently learnt that the small brightly coloured black and orange grasshoppers we see at the beginning of summer, are actually the hopper stage of the Foam Grasshoppers,(included is a photo of one taken in Jan this year).
I loved the heavy ‘armour’ on the green species.
There are still many moths about, the ones I’ve seen have all been ‘carpet’ designs in shades of brown. One interesting one was not about to stay still and flew off before I could get a good photo, Pustule Plume moth, Family Pterophoridae, Genus Agdistis. At rest it looks much like a large mosquito.
Another was the Stolid Lines moth, Grammodes stolida with a wingspan of about 34mm.
The last one I photographed, I was not able to identify.
A Wild Cucumber, Cucumis hirsutus, found a sheltered sunny, spot in front of the house and was busily clambering over a shrub.
The Plumbago bush near the house has been covered in flower and lying in wait was a beautiful pink Crab Spider, it caught and then devoured a fly. Bees were busy around the flowers as well.
In the evenings the mournful call of the Black-backed Jackals rises from the valley below. Common Reedbuck come near to the house at night to graze on Kikuyu grass and as the sun rises later, I often surprise Duiker in garden when I get up. Most of the usual birds were around, but the LesserStriped Swallows have departed. We did see Cape Glossy Starlings on Mondi’s Mount Shannon, as well as Dorsal dropwing Dragonflies, Trithemis dorsalis
and a delightful, minute Leaf Beetle.
Philip had the best sighting this month on our servitude road through Mt Shannon, a Serval with two young kittens! One was having difficulty climbing a steep bank, so we had really good view from the bakkie. All three eventually safely disappeared into the pine trees