Dargle Wildlife Sightings – January 2015

Helen Booysen – Crab Apple Cottages

Nests in Kev's vlei - look at the workmanship of the Thick Billed Weaver.

Nests in Kev’s vlei – look at the workmanship of the Thick Billed Weaver.

Brunsvigia have just begun to flower.

Brunsvigia have just begun to flower.

Barend holding a very 'live' Boomslang.

Barend holding a very ‘live’ Boomslang.

A very beautiful moth.

A very beautiful moth.

David Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Crasulla alba

Crasulla alba

Rose and Barry Downard – Oak Tree Cottage

Birds: Black widowfinches (males and females) seen for the first time in our garden. Redbilled Woodhoopoes, Sunbirds – amethyst and double-collared, Paradise Flycatchers, Wagtails, Sparrows, crested Eagle, Kites, Guineafowls, Storks, African Black Duck. A pair of Herons were regular visitors to our property for some time, but unfortunately the skeletal remains of one of the Herons has been found.

Heron-remains

Others: Chameleon (female). Lots of skinks – adults and juveniles. Surprisingly no snakes have been seen although they must be around.

A creepy finding – hundreds of baby spiders just emerging from their nest. Within a few minutes all the spiders had completely disappeared in amongst the foliage.

Spiders,-spiders,-spiders

A huge number of mushrooms came up in our garden in December and have since shrivelled up in the hot weather this month.

mushrooms,-mushrooms,-mushrooms

Our dogs were fascinated by the mushrooms but thankfully they didn’t eat any, and neither did we, as we’re not sure which mushrooms are poisonous.

Cola-mushroom

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

We had some strong storms this past month.

Garden and driveway getting flooded.

Garden and driveway getting flooded.

A few trees were blown over or snapped in half. We also had quite a bit of rain fall which was welcome as it’s been so dry.

Pine tree blown over on the farm.

Pine tree blown over on the farm.

Tree down, Inhlosane behind.

Tree down, Inhlosane behind.

Brave Crab that was on the lawn.

Brave Crab that was on the lawn.

Cabbage Tree and Aloe at Barrett's.

Cabbage Tree and Aloe at Barrett’s.

Natal Green Snake slithering between the pot plants

Natal Green Snake slithering between the pot plants

Dandelions with Inhlosane watching over.

Dandelions with Inhlosane watching over.

Bullfrog that was making a racket outside our dining room one evening. I think he got stage fright, as I took this picture he froze in this position and didn't make another.

Bullfrog that was making a racket outside our dining room one evening. I think he got stage fright, as I took this picture he froze in this position and didn’t make another.

Dragon Fly

Dragon Fly

Resident Swallows

Resident Swallows

Red and black locust

Red and black locust

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

So many wonderful summer flowers in the less disturbed areas. A first for me on Old Kilgobbin is Miroglossa verticillare

miraglossa verticillare

An old favourite, Eulophia clavicornis – but flowering months later than usual.

eulophia clavicornis

Lots of wild Agapanthus campanulatus

agapanthus

Exceptionally cheerful Berkheya setifera attended by beetles

berkheya setifera

Buchnera simplex (used as a love charm in traditional medicine)

buchnera simplex

Senecio – not sure of the species, possibly isatideus.

senecio sp

Aloe boylei near the famous old Dargle oak tree.

Aloe boylei

Think this must be Cephalaria, but I am not certain. There are masses of white heads of Cephalaria pungens bobbing in the grassland with Vernonia natalensis right now.

cephalaria - possibly

Hermannia depressa hides in the tall grass.

hermannia depressa

Ajuga orphrydis

Ajuga orphydis

Ajuga orphydis

Silene burchellii – the Gunpowder plant

Silene

The beautiful indigenous bramble, Rubus ludwigii seems to be particularly visible this year.

rubus ludwigii

Rare Brunsvigia undulata – dark red flowers can be seen from quite a distance in the grassland.

brunsvigia undulata jan

Zaluzianskya natalensis opens at dusk, so I was lucky to be up early enough to enjoy it before it closed again.

zaluzianskya natalensis januaryJPG

Pink splashes across the grassland right now are Watsonia densiflora.

watsonia densiflora jan

Often see this pair of Blue Cranes who pay no attention to the arguments amongst the young bulls!

blue cranes cattle

Gorgeous flash of the Yellow Bishop.

yellow widow bird

Reedbuck doe in a wetland, and many more in the hills.

reedbuck doe

Had two Barn Owls around for a while, screeching at night and flying low at dusk. A real treat. Need to get some owl boxes up soon! Plenty of tiny bats swooping about. A couple of times one came into my house and couldn’t get out.
Love all the Hadedas.

Hadeda

While I was away, Jethro took this photo of this snake in my house. I reckon an Olive House Snake. I’m delighted as it has obviously come to eat all the rats!

Olive House Snake

At the beginning of January, Dias cotonifolia were in full bloom, but they are all faded now.

dais cotonifolia

Rowan Lancaster

Some very large hail stones which came down in a storm last month…

Hail in handHail on lawnHail Damage

Marashene Lewis – Glengyle Farm

We have set up the Dargle Conservancy camera in our part of the forest near
a water stream.

Porcupine 2

It has been up for one week, and these are the best night photographs.

Bushbuck 2

During the day there has been no movement past the camera.

Bushbuck 1

We have rented the camera for 2 months and hope to capture a lot more of our forest dwellers.

Watsonia

Watsonia

Pelargonium luridum

Pelargonium luridum

Kniphofia

Kniphofia

Invasive verbena

Invasive verbena

Cephalaria pungens

Cephalaria pungens

Crassula alba

Crassula alba

Eulophia clavicornis

Eulophia clavicornis

Helichrysum

Helichrysum

Helichysum

Helichysum

Brunsvegia possibly undulata

Brunsvegia possibly undulata

Berkheya setifera

Berkheya setifera

Asclepias macropus

Asclepias macropus

Aloe cooperi

Aloe cooperi

Agapanthus

Agapanthus

Pap and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm Lidgetton

What a surprise to find on our return from holiday a 2 week old (not sure, just going by last years photos) baby blue crane.

3 week old blue crane

They had nested on a neighbouring farm as our dam had had very little water but they always faithfully return to us each year. I am not sure why, but am truly blessed by their continued presence on our farm.7 weeks old blue crane

We have had a number of birds nesting and hatching this month. Firstly the sparrows hatched out in the eaves under the roof next to our formal garden. Then the wagtails hatched out a 2nd set of babies (3) in the same jasmine creeper. The cape robin, whose picture I put in last months newsletter with nest material in her beak had made her nest in our large pot in the formal garden. She hatched out 3 babies.

2 week old cape robins

We watched them on a daily basis. At 16 days old one disappeared and the other 2 had moved out of nest and sat in the shade of the shrub in pot. The next day they disappeared. The mother was totally traumatised and her distress calls were awful to hear. She searched in the flower beds and shrubs in the formal garden with myself on hands and knees checking as well, but to no avail. No sign of them at all and haven’t seen them since.

Cape robin about to feed her 3 youngsters

The wagtails disappeared same day and they are busily hopping around the garden. Our swallows hatched out 2 youngsters who kept flying into the house and veranda doors for 2 days. Then one morning I heard the mom twittering loudly next to our bedroom window. She was hopping around the youngster, trying to encourage the baby to fly. She eventually just sat and watched it and after a few minutes it flew off. On the 3rd day we found the one baby dead outside the bedroom window. He was soaking wet from the heavy dew during the cold night. The other swallow had broken its wing and I took it to Free Me. It died a few days later.The parents are back in the nest, so probably laying once more. The sparrows have taken over the other swallows nest under the eaves.

Baby Swallow with broken wing

On the 7 January Pat saw a Serval at 7am at the end of our driveway and also a Duiker with her youngster. The Black-headed Heron has been in the garden on and off and have taken photos of him capturing a lizard and locust.

Black-headed heron with lizard Black-headed heron on takeoff

The female Amethyst Sunbird hatched out one baby beginning January. I only took photo on the 15th when he sat looking out of nest. He disappeared on the 19th January.

Female amethyst sunbird sitting on egg

Female amethyst sunbird sitting on egg

our amethyst sunbird hatchling

our amethyst sunbird hatchling

Male black sunbird

Male Amethyst Sunbird

 

We have seen a lot of jackal hunting during the day. Our dogs attacked one and he tore my dogs ear. I saw one chasing a female reedbuck early one evening along the dam wall. He gave up after awhile and turned his attention to the Blue Crane who come to the dam each evening. They craaked loudly and he ran off thank goodness.

Blue crane about 6 weeks old

Pat saw a pair of Coucals and a Knysna Lourie near the natural bush opposite our farm next to Lythwood lodge. On another day we saw 2 male Reedbuck chasing 6 females across the dam and hills. This went on for some hours, so presumably some of them were on heat. We had a male Reedbuck sleeping and grazing in our garden for a week. I got quite close to him for a photo and noticed he had a lot of bumps on his face. On checking the photo, it looks like it could be warts or ticks. Would anyone know?

Male reedbuck

We have been woken by the Natal Spurfowl at 5.30am on a number of mornings in our garden, but the minute I open the curtain to take a photo, they run into the shrubbery. Pat saw a Sparrowhawk attack a swallow midair and as it flew off clutching the bird, the other swallows frantically chased it.

Redbilled teal

Red-billed Teal

 

Until a few days ago, our dam was very low with few water fowl, but since the wonderful rains over the past few days (77mls) our dam has risen considerably and the Shelduck are back. They have been seen down at the lions river about a kilometre from us, so that’s wonderful news as they have nested here for the past 3 or 4 years.

spoonbills

African Spoonbills

 

We are just so grateful for the rain as our stream had dried up and there were problems with our borehole.

Orange throated longclaw

Cape Longclaw

 

Thanks Dr Jason Londt for the identification: “The beast goes by the name Precis octavia  – commonly called the Gaudy Commodore. This is the red summer form of the butterfly – which has a darker blue winter form. One usually sees them sunning themselves with wings outstretched on a rock or on the ground. They are pretty common and widely distributed in the eastern parts of SA – certainly common over the entire province of KZN”

Gaudy Commodore with summer red

Gaudy Commodore with summer red

 

 

Other sightings include:

Toadstool

Toadstool

Thunbergia natalansis

Thunbergia natalansis

Satyrium longicauda

Satyrium longicauda

Male malachite sunbird

Male malachite sunbird

Female malachite sunbird

Female malachite sunbird

 

 

Indigofera spicata

Indigofera spicata

 

Gem-studded puff-ball

Gem-studded puff-ball

 

Brunsvigia natalansis

Brunsvigia natalansis

 

Aloe boylei

Aloe boylei

 

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Dargle Wildlife Sightings – January 2015

  1. Meriel mitchell

    fabulous riot of colours and some very unusual flowers. So rewarding to see fully functioning ecosystems “in your neck of the woods”. I.e., in your back garden/s!

    Like

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Dargle Wildlife Sightings – February 2015 | Midlands Conservancies Forum

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s