Christeen Grant – Sitamani
We have had truly stunning weather during May, an Indian Summer. Brilliant blue skies and amazing dawn and sunsets.
Bees have been congregating wherever there has been water, puddles and even taps, as it’s been so dry. I have seen several Gaudy Commodores in the winter form, blue and black with scarlet markings. Carpenter Bees are attracted to the Polygala myrtifolia flowers in the shrubbery
and there was a lovely russet Stinkbug on our kitchen door one morning.
The grasses have turned into a glowing mix of autumn hues, a dried Crassula alba flower blended well into the palette.
Aloe maculata plants are covered in buds.
Here and there are a few brave flowers, Nemesia caerulea,
and Senecio polyanthemoides which attracted a wide range of small beetles, and neatly camouflaged, a hungry green Praying Mantis!
Early one morning just before sunrise a male Common Reedbuck sauntered down our driveway, and on a few occasions Duiker browse under the trees in the orchard.
There was a fresh Porcupine scraping near the house. Black-backed Jackal call most evenings.
A persistent Rock Kestrel decided our hillside was his territory and repeatedly dive-bombed two Pied Crows until they flew off. Hadeda Ibis complacently forage around the garden.
The Speckled Pigeons have hatched a brood very late in the season in the garage. The bared branches of the Sweet Chestnut tree near the house exposed a Dark-capped Bulbul nest. In summer they had been flitting in and out of the dense foliage.
A Black-backed Puffback has been displaying his white ‘puff’ in the wisteria on the verandah. In the late afternoons, a chittering flock of Cape White-eyes love exploring the Natal Bottlebrush, Greyia sutherlandii, which already has buds on it.
The Cape Glossy Starlings have visited the garden several times this month. In the grass down near our gate I’ve seen an African Hoopoe, and sunning themselves on rocks, African Stonechats.
At the moment a Drakensberg Prinia has decided that he must stake his territory and fend off his ‘reflected-image’ in the sitting room window, giving beautiful close-up sightings.
Lizards can be seen soaking up the sun, in leaf litter. Including Variable Skinks
and between wooden slats, a small Agama.
Caroline McKerrow – Stormy Hill
A Caracal in the forest while on a horse ride.
Barbara and David Clulow – The Willows
On 18 May saw the floater Flock of Grey Crowned Cranes walking in a long stately, slow queue on Melrose farm at 5:20 pm over a rise and down into a dip, where they could no longer be seen
Barbara took this photo of a Gymnogene along the Dargle Road
While driving along Dargle road, a Lanner Falcon poised for take-off from a perch on a pole
And a juvenile Gymnogene (African Harrier-Hawk) being dive-bombed by some irritated defenders
myriads of monkeys munching mielies
Crystelle Wilson – Gramarye
It is possible to find new sightings even after so many years of birding in the district. This month I added Red-backed Mannikin to my lists for the first time after spotting them in the forest on Norwood. Unfortunately they didn’t allow my camera lens to get too close to them as they flitted about in the foliage.
The annual Cape Parrot count was disappointing with only one confirmed sighting at Boston View, although others were heard at Impendle and on the Ridge at Inhlosane.
But it was good to hear and see an African Goshawk on its dawn patrol at the Ridge
and finding a Long-crested Eagle on a nest on the banks of the Elands River at Boston.
I spotted another buzzard with confusing plumage, very dark to be a Steppe Buzzard, and out of season, but not resembling juvenile Jackal Buzzards. Even the experts declined to call it, advising me to look the other way when I see it again!
Other welcome sights were Denham’s Bustard,
Black-winged Lapwings and the more common Blacksmith Lapwing comparing its black-and-white outfit with that of its bovine friend.
The atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 was: Cape Glossy Starling, Red-throated Wryneck, Green Wood-hoopoe, Cape White-eye, Cape Sparrow, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle Dove, Dark-capped Bulbul, Village Weaver, African Dusky Flycatcher, Speckled Mousebird, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, Cape Robin-Chat, Fork-tailed Drongo, Common Fiscal, South African Shelduck, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Red-collared Widowbird, Hadeda Ibis, Egyptian Goose, Common Waxbill, African Sacred Ibis, Cape Crow,
African Rail, Bokmakierie, Grey Crowned Crane, Spur-winged Goose, Denham’s Bustard, Long-crested Eagle, Southern Red Bishop, Red-necked Spurfowl, Black-headed Heron, Greater Striped-Swallow, Spotted Eagle-Owl, African Pipit, Little Grebe, African Darter, Blacksmith Lapwing, Cape Longclaw, Red-knobbed Coot, Cape Weaver, Yellow-billed Duck, Common Moorhen, Cape Wagtail, Cape Canary, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Amethyst Sunbird, Pin-tailed Whydah, African Hoopoe, Pied Kingfisher, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, African Stonechat, Southern Boubou, Pied Crow, Lanner Falcon,
Red-billed Quelea, House Sparrow, Brown-throated Martin, Jackal Buzzard, Pied Starling, Reed Cormorant, African Black Duck, Cape Parrot, African Harrier-Hawk, Black-shouldered Kite, Olive Woodpecker, Cape Batis, Sombre Greenbul, Southern Black Tit, Black-headed Oriole, Red-winged Starling, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Black-backed Puffback, Thick-billed Weaver, Yellow-fronted Canary, Helmeted Guineafowl, Bar-throated Apalis, Wattled Crane.
Bruce and Bev Astrup of Highland Glen watched a Lanner Falcon circling above
Cape Parrot Count: Crystelle Wilson, Barbara and David Clulow
On 17th and 18th May we counted Cape Parrots at Flemmington, at Boston View House with the huge Yellowwoods well stocked with kernels, and on the ridge below southern Inhlosane – walking up in minus 3 degrees Celsius at 6 am to overlook the magnificent indigenous forests. We heard Cape Parrots in the distance, saw one flying overhead and perching several times, but nothing like a few years ago.