Boston Wildlife Sightings for September

Crystelle Wilson – Gramarye

Lovely sighting of Cape Batis


A surprise sighting in September was a Great Egret from a distance at a small farm dam in Boston. I haven’t encountered this species during the past seven years of atlasing in the area and the data showed only three previous records for the bird.


Another bird which has been somewhat scarce was Bronze Mannikin and it was good to welcome back Dark-capped Warblers from their coastal winter sojourn. On Melrose I counted about 80 Grey Crowned Cranes in a floater flock, which hints at a good breeding season.

IMG_0594_Grey Crowned Crane

At Tillietudlem I had a great view of a Black Crake exercising its balancing skills


and on the way home saw a buck which might have been an Oribi in the plantations on Good Hope.


It was amusing to watch a Cape Sparrow doing “shadow boxing” in a window at home. This occurs when a bird defends its territory by fighting its own reflection. A student, Joel Roerig, is doing research into this phenomenon and would like people to record their observations on his website: Please make a note of the bird, type of reflective surface and if possible the GPS co-ordinates.


The SABAP2 list for Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 was: Wattled Crane, African Hoopoe, Giant Kingfisher, African Black Duck, Alpine Swift, Pied Crow, Cape Glossy Starling, African Fish-Eagle, Forest Canary, Sombre Greenbul, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Great Egret, Three-banded Plover, Buff-streaked Chat, Jackal Buzzard, African Black Swift, Common Waxbill, House Sparrow, Amethyst Sunbird, Cape Canary, Hamerkop, Red-capped Lark, African Pipit, Bronze Mannikin, Cape Weaver, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Brown-throated Martin, Little Grebe, African Darter, Red necked Spurfowl,


Southern Red Bishop, Cape Longclaw, African Dusky Flycatcher, Cape Batis, African Harrier-Hawk, Cape Crow, Black-headed Heron, Bokmakierie, Grey Crowned Crane, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Red-knobbed Coot, Fork-tailed Drongo, Yellow-billed Duck, Black-headed Oriole, Reed Cormorant, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Blacksmith Lapwing, Red-billed Quelea, Cape White-eye, Yellow-billed Kite, Yellow-fronted Canary, Helmeted Guineafowl, Speckled Mousebird, Cape Wagtail, White-throated Swallow, Long-crested Eagle, Drakensberg Prinia,


Levaillant’s Cisticola, African Rail, Black Saw-wing, African Sacred Ibis, African Stonechat, African Spoonbill,


Egyptian Goose, Spur-winged Goose,


Southern Boubou, Olive Thrush, Dark-capped Bulbul, Common Fiscal, Cape Turtle-Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Robin-Chat, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Cape Sparrow, Hadeda Ibis, Pin-tailed Whydah, Village Weaver.

Rory and Sue Brighton – Elandsvlei

Mother Otter amd 4 young gambolling for the delight of guests at the dam; two resident Bushbuck at edge of dam; two resident African Fish-Eagles put on display of flying above dam and calling for half an hour – they ignored the attempts by Cape Crows to dive-bomb them; also Yellow-billed Ducks on dam; Cape Wagtails on lawn at edge of dam

David and Barbara Clulow during visit to Boston – on 5 September, saw Floater Flock of Grey Crowned Cranes at midday and again at 16H08 on pastures on Melrose farm, not far from farmhouse. Impossible to count accurately, but estimated at between 70 and 80 birds. Visit to Melrose dam: African Shelduck; Egyptian Geese; Spur-winged Geese; Darter; Reed Cormorant; African Stonechat; Red-knobbed Coot; Little Grebe.

Other reports – of a pair of Wattled Cranes seen by Wendy Arnott in Boston View region; two Southern Ground Hornbills seen by Wendy Arnott on Keswick; Blue Cranes heard by Crystelle Wilson north of Elvesida and Grey Crowned Cranes spotted in flight.

David and Wizz Lawrence – The Willows – huge flocks of Village Weavers at the feeder.

Christeen Grant – Sitamani

September continued to be very dry. After several promising clouds, misty days and dry thunderstorms eventually in the last few days of September we eventually had about 17mm of rain.

04 Morning mist

Fires glowing on the horizon, SAPPI and Mondi fire-fighting units on visible standby, created a taut atmosphere.

05 Promise of rain (1)

Spring flowers continued to be sparse and stunted. Moraeas are starting to produce buds and greening started almost as soon as the rain fell. Agapanthus africanus is flowering more profusely than usual damper years, the conditions must suit it better. The small patch of Helicrysum caespititium have flowered, though the mat forming plants are reduced in circumference.

Plant Helicrysum caespititium

Moths are starting to appear.

Insect Moth

I love the colour of the Red-lined Emerald Heterorachis devocata.

Insect Moth Red-lined Emerald Heterorachis devocata

A bright green flashing glow in a dark corner, turned out to be a female Glow worm. Family: Lampyridae, Genus: Luciola They have no wings or eltrya. Please excuse the grainy photo, I didn’t want to use a flash, as that would have wiped out the neon green ‘glow’!

Insect Female Glow worm

Cape White-eyes, Bulbuls, Cape Robin-Chats, Cape Sparrows, Cape Canaries, Fork-tailed Drongos,

Boston_0542_Fork-tailed Drongo

Sunbirds: Southern Collared, Amythest and a Malachite, which was still growing summer plummage and Southern Boubous were very vocal and visible around the house.  Red-collared Widowbirds are still in the process of growing their summer plumage. Long-crested Eagles, Jackal Buzzards and Black-shouldered Kites soar overhead. The Striped Swallows are back, first seen on the 29 September, swooping low with their familiar treep-treep calls. The special this month was a sighting of the Black-backed Puffback displaying its snowy white ‘puff’. He wasn’t really interested in a photo shoot, moving constantly through the branches.

Bird Black-backed Puffback 03

Pom-pom Puffback



rap style

courtship dance…

July 2005

Bird Black-backed Puffback 02

Black-backed Jackal call in the evenings. Common Reedbuck come close to the house to feed, a lovely sighting of a mature male sauntering along the fence. Duikers have completely pruned all the leaves off violets in the flower bed next to the house. The little Climbing Mouse that had taken up residence during the colder months seems to have migrated outdoors again, no sign of it inside for the past few weeks.

02 September grasses

Future development in the Boston area of the Smithfield dam. This dam is proposed for  the uMkomaas river in 15 years time – since the scoping has been done, and the impact on Boston is significant, it is a hot topic. The situation in the Deepdale valley is well known to older Bostonians and its position on the fringes of the Impendle Nature Reserve, above the old rail bridge, provides real threats, but also opportunities to encompass the dam edges in the ambit of the Reserve, so providing protection from human interference. In general, the creation of dams to provide water for human population spread is flawed, as the water inflows are uncertain, silting is enormous and the damage to the environment likely. Desalinization of sea water to provide cities with potable water is the likely future, but at present the availability of electricity for these plants is a stumbling block. When potable water becomes urgent enough a way will be found. By then the usefulness of the many KZN dams will no doubt be over, but the rivers and estuaries will have been irreparably damaged. And then there is the Impendle dam in 25 years time, which is proposed on the same river.

Pennington’s Protea: this rare Butterfly, the Capys penningtoni, is found only on Bulwer Mountain or high ridges, such as Lundy’s Hill near the uMkomaas Valley in grassland, and that only between mid-September and early November; Larval food – the buds of Protea caffra. Photo with acknowledgement, from Steve Woodhall’s comprehensive “Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa”, showing upperside and underside. Do you know of any Protea caffra trees in your area? Not to be confused with the Protea Scarlet or Russet Protea – rather similar.

penningtons protea




3 thoughts on “Boston Wildlife Sightings for September

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