Photo of a wintery Boston morning by Christeen Grant
Trevor and Cheryl Scheepers – Lapa Lapa
Two Glossy Starlings frozen to death after minus 9 in early morning; plenty of young Helmetted Guineafowl noticed; a Grey Long-tailed Mongoose hiding in a hole on Lapa Lapa.
Christeen Grant – Sitamani
July has been mixture of warm berg winds, a light dusting of snow followed by a hard frost that burnt off all the Greyia sutherlandii buds before they had really opened, misty days and some very chilly nights.
Light snow fell here on 7 July, very damp and cold, the temperature didn’t go above 2C for three days.
A Speckled Pigeon fluffed herself over the eggs she was brooding in the garage, glaring at me with a very beady eye. Her brood of two have hatched since and excited cheeps erupt whenever the parents are near.
Buddleja salviifolia scent fills the air, all the bushes are covered with blossom.
Bees fly busily around the inflorescences and I discovered a tiny greyish-green weevil with a black proboscis!
Halleria lucida are also flowering profusely, an army of ants march up the stems to the flowers.
Leucosidea sericea have just started flowering, still with yellow winter leaves below.
Seedheads of Agapanthus campanulatus sub. sp. patens
and a Dierama sp. blend with the mellow winter landscape.
In amongst dry branches a ‘flowering’ lichen displayed vivid orange spore.
Birds continue to be very vocal and enthusiastic around the garden, Cape White-eyes, Cape Robin-Chats, Southern Boubous, Black-backed Puffbacks, Cardinal Woodpeckers tapping dead wood in the Buddlejas, Long-crested Eagles, Jackal Buzzards and our perennial Cape Sparrow family, that now have a double story nest in the protective thorny lemon tree, to accommodate their growing numbers. Nearby is a large round Ant nest.
One early morning I watched a Black-backed Jackal pick it’s way over the burnt grass through the rocks.
A very dear little Climbing Mouse has taken up residence in the kitchen. The first sign it was around was a ‘litter’ of fine ostrich feather strands, from the feather duster, on the washing machine. Good nesting material. Then one morning there it was peeping at me as it balanced on the electric cord. Some mornings it sits in the spice rack as I make coffee. One day it was being very obvious, persistently making it’s self ‘be seen’, making tiny squeaks. Philip called from the other end of the house, “Come quickly, there’s a mouse in the bath. It can’t get out!”. We made a ladder of a towel, the Climbing Mouse hopped on and out of the bath, then we shepherded it out of the window. The mouse in the kitchen was still there when I returned, then disappeared after a beady stare.
Caroline McKerrow – Stormy Hill
Three Mountain Reedbuck, one male and two female, while out horse riding on Mount Shannon.
Bruce and Bev Astrup – Highland Glen
Black-headed Heron in wetland near Elands river. Black-backed Jackal, closest to the house they have ever been
Barbara and David Clulow, visiting Boston:
Cape Crow, Sacred Ibis, Egyptian Geese, Spur-wing Geese, Red-knobbed Coot, African Shelduck.
Pete and Frances Nel – Four Gates
Two Southern Ground Hornbill, A pair of Blue Cranes
Des and Noreen Muller – Fairview
Numbers of Bald ibis in the old mealie felds on Netherby
Crystelle Wilson- Gramarye
In early July David and Barbara Clulow and I visited Tillietudlem Game and Trout Lodge to do a winter birding list for the SABAP2 atlas project. The pentad joins my home pentad at Boston on the western side. As expected in winter, birding was slow, but we were pleased to see a Secretarybird which staff member Wesley Dragt told us about. He said he hadn’t seen any nests, but that same evening he phoned to tell me he had found a nest with two birds in attendance, which is very good news.
We also enjoyed watching a pair of African Fish-Eagles flying against a hillside near the dam.We managed a list of 45 in about four hours of birding. At Boston I got 71 for my home pentad over a couple of days, one of which included freezing cold weather with snow dusting the hilltops while I photographed a Malachite Kingfisher
and a Reed Cormorant at the Elandshoek dam.
Tillietudlem Pentad 2935_2955: African Stonechat, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Speckled Mousebird, Amethyst Sunbird, Cape Crow, Dark-capped Bulbul, Village Weaver, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle-Dove, Common Fiscal, Cape Wagtail, Speckled Pigeon, Drakensberg Prinia, Buff-streaked Chat, Jackal Buzzard, South African Shelduck, Bokmakierie, African Pipit, Cape Longclaw, Little Grebe, African Fish-Eagle,
Southern Boubou, Egyptian Goose, Black-headed Oriole, Cape Batis, Cape White-eye, Secretarybird, Fork-tailed Drongo, Red-throated Wryneck, African Firefinch,
Cape Canary, Rock Martin, Cape Rock-Thrush, Yellow-fronted Canary, Common Waxbill, Spur-winged Goose, Grey Crowned Crane, Brown-throated Martin, Hadeda Ibis, Yellow-billed Duck, Cape Robin-Chat, Pied Starling, Yellow Bishop, Southern Red Bishop, Fan-tailed Widowbird.
The SABAP2 list for Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000: Speckled Pigeon, Malachite Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, White-breasted Cormorant, African Firefinch, Reed Cormorant, Common Moorhen, Pied Crow, Yellow-fronted Canary, Cape Canary, Buff-streaked Chat, Green Wood-Hoopoe, African Harrier-Hawk,
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, African Hoopoe, Spur-winged Goose, Black Sparrowhawk, Pin-tailed Whydah, Black-winged Lapwing, African Sacred Ibis, Spotted Eagle-Owl, Cape Glossy Starling, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Common Waxbill, Long-crested Eagle, African Dusky Flycatcher, Brown-throated Martin, Jackal Buzzard,
Bar-throated Apalis, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Drakensberg Prinia, Speckled Mousebird, African Olive-Pigeon, Hamerkop, Cape Weaver, Red-winged Starling, Dark-capped Bulbul, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Three-banded Plover, Blacksmith Lapwing, Village Weaver, House Sparrow, Amethyst Sunbird, Cape Sparrow, Cape Robin-Chat, Olive Thrush, Cape White-eye, Bokmakierie, Red-necked Spurfowl, African Rail, Red-knobbed Coot, Little Grebe, Cape Longclaw,
Red-capped Lark, African Pipit, Cape Wagtail, Helmeted Guineafowl, South African Shelduck, African Stonechat, Southern Red Bishop, Red-billed Quelea, Cape Crow, Southern Boubou, Fork-tailed Drongo, Black-headed Oriole, Egyptian Goose, Grey Crowned Crane, Common Fiscal, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle-Dove, Hadeda.