Boston Wildlife Sightings – June 2015

Christeen Grant of “Sitamani”: This June we’ve experienced swings in temperature, from hot berg wind days

Before the cold front.

Before the cold front.

to icy frosts and damp overcast or misty days, with four snow falls visible on the Drakensberg.

Snow on the Drakensberg

Snow on the Drakensberg

The days after the cold fronts have gone through sparkle with clarity and golden colour.

After a cold front.

After a cold front.

Added to the atmospherics is the constant smoke from firebreak burning.

Sunrise

Sunrise

This has resulted in some stunning dawn and sunset colour. Very few flowers, even for June, as it’s been dry and frost burns back tender buds.

Sunset

Sunset

There have been some interesting birds around. A lone White Stork foraged in dry grass, missed the flight to northern summer. An African Harrier-Hawk swooped low amongst the trees, bombed by Drongos as they chased it off. In the indigenous shrubbery tapping could be heard, a Cardinal Woodpecker. Not far off two Black-crowned Tchagras flitted through the branches, I have only seen them here once before, over ten years ago.

The lone White Stork

The lone White Stork

Amethyst and Greater Double-collared Sunbirds are still here. A Long-crested Eagle sits sentry on Eskom poles. At night the familiar sound of Spotted Eagle-Owls calling. My favourite small birds, Cape White-eyes, love the small birdbath on the verandah, bathing several times a day.

Cape White-eyes bathing

Cape White-eyes bathing

A stunning Duster moth, Pingasa abyssiniaria rested on the windowpane. One of their larvae foods is Cabbage Trees.

Duster Moth - Pingasa abyssiniaria

Duster Moth – Pingasa abyssiniaria

A tiny spider caught a ladybird and spent most of the morning binding it to place in its web.

Spider and Ladybird

Spider and Ladybird

Near the garage shallow trenches have been ploughed up by Bushpig. I didn’t see them this time, but have in the past.

Bushpig rootings

Bushpig rootings

Other excavators have been very busy pushing up mounds of earth creating wonderful replenishing top soil for the lawn. Mammal Mole & Mole-rat excavations When we dug our well many years ago, a Cape Mole-rat Georychus capensis, fell in and drowned.

Cape Mole-rat

Cape Mole-rat

This interested biologists as the main populations are found in the Western Cape, with very small remnant populations near Giant’s Castle, in small areas of Lesotho and Mpumalanga. Dr. Peter Taylor brought Professor Nigel Bennett here hoping to observe live animals. 

Distribution of Cape Mole-rat

Distribution of Cape Mole-rat

They didn’t succeed, but did find an unexpected small Mole-rat usually found in Lesotho, Crytomys mahalia.

Male Cryptomys mahali

Male Cryptomys mahalia

We also have Common or African Mole-rats Cryptomys hottentotus here.

Common or African Mole-rat

Common or African Mole-rat

Apart from the Mole-rats, Tigger our cat once caught a Hottentot Golden Mole Amblysomus hottentotus.

Hottentot Golden Mole

Hottentot Golden Mole

So there is a subterranean hive of activity. Please excuse some of the photos, they were taken with a small camera!

Hottentot Golden Mole by C. Grant

Hottentot Golden Mole by C. Grant

(Photo and map images also from ‘Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa’ C&T Stuart pub Struik, ‘The Mammal Guide of Southern Africa’ B Cillie’ pub Briza and ‘Sani Pass Mammals’ poster illustrated C Grant pub WESSA Sani Wildlife.) Rob and Celia Speirs of “The Rockeries”: On Montshonga dam, we saw an African Jacana and a Squacco Heron. We also saw Little Grebe; Three-banded Plover; Sacred Ibis; Cape Wagtail; Pied Crows; Reed Cormorant; Blacksmith Lapwing; Black-winged Lapwing; Pied Kingfisher; Pygmy Kingfisher; and eight Cape Parrots which were harried by a Pied Crow and departed. The usual Yellow-billed Ducks and Egyptian Geese were around. Peter and Karen Geldart of “Cocquidale”: Regular visitors were six Southern Ground-Hornbills. David and Wizz Lawrence of “The Willows”: Nightly call of the Spotted Eagle-Owl; splendid male Reedbuck in wetlands. Bruce and Bev Astrup of “Highland Glen”: Oodles of Egyptian Geese in the tall surrounding trees and also Spur-winged Geese; plus Spotted Eagle-Owl heard calling. Barbara and David Clulow, visiting on 25th June: Family group of three Grey Crowned Cranes over “Netherby”, circled and settled to feed in old maize lands. Rob and Gail Geldart on “Boston View” and “Watershed”: Small herd of Eland; a Waterbuck, Common Reedbuck; a notable increase in the numbers of Mountain Reedbuck; two Oribi; Blesbuck, which never stay put, Grey Duiker and Bushbuck. Caroline McKerrow of “Stormy Hill”: I’ve seen a small herd of five Mountain Reedbuck. Also a Common Reedbuck and, while out horse-riding, I’ve been pleased to see an Otter swimming in a dam. The Porcupine seem to be quite active as I’ve come across quite a few quills in various locations out and about. There has been the resident Grey Duiker in the home paddocks and I’ve seen her a couple of times. The troop of Vervet Monkeys has visited a few times – they seem especially to lounge in the trees and watch me if I’m doing some training with one of the young horses. I also had a sad case of finding a dead Little Sparrowhawk. I think it may have flown into a window as it had broken it’s neck. I have lots of other Sparrows, nesting around my house, so that may be the reason. I’ve some African Hoopoe birds, eating on the grass at the moment too. Crystelle Wilson of “Gramarye”: In mid-winter it is only the hardy residents still hanging around and getting a bird list of 60 – 70 is hard work. A welcome sight was Black-winged Lapwings, making use of their preferred short grassland habitat.

Black-winged Lapwing

Black-winged Lapwing

It is easier to spot the gaudy Malachite Kingfisher against the pale, frost-bleached landscape of browns and yellows,

Malachite Kingfisher

Malachite Kingfisher

but you have to look twice to make sure the brown shape huddled on a rock is a Hamerkop and not a Hadeda.

Hamerkop

Hamerkop

In winter when you spot a raptor on a pole you can be fairly certain it will be a Jackal Buzzard

Jackal Buzzard

Jackal Buzzard

And the wires are also sometimes used by Rock Kestrels.

Rock Kestrel

Rock Kestrel

The list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 included: Sombre Greenbul, Brown-throated Martin, Black-headed Heron, Green Wood-hoopoe, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Black Sparrowhawk, Natal Spurfowl, Cape Longclaw, Red-billed Quelea, Cape Robin-chat, Red-necked Spurfowl, Spotted Eagle-owl, Cape Glossy Starling, Cape Weaver, Southern Red Bishop (in winter plumage),

Southern Red Bishop

Southern Red Bishop

Red-throated Wryneck, Drakensberg Prinia, Amethyst Sunbird, Pied Starling,

Pied Starling

Pied Starling

Levaillant’s Cisticola, Three-banded Plover, Reed Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant, Helmeted Guineafowl, Black-shouldered Kite, Cape Sparrow, Village Weaver, Southern Boubou, Cape White-eye, South African Shelduck, Common Moorhen, Red-knobbed Coot, Bokmakierie, Pied Kingfisher,

Pied Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher

Blacksmith Lapwing, Little Grebe, African Pipit, Red-capped Lark, Spectacled Weaver, Black-headed Oriole, African Rail, African Stonechat, Cape Grassbird, Cape Turtle-dove, Red-eyed Dove, African Sacred Ibis, Common Waxbill, African Spoonbill, Common Fiscal, Spur-winged Goose, Egyptian Goose, Cape Wagtail, Grey Crowned Crane, Hadeda Ibis, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape Crow, Fork-tailed Drongo, Long-crested Eagle, Speckled Pigeon. Also providing a splash of colour is Yellow-fronted Canary,

Yellow-fronted Canary

Yellow-fronted Canary

While it was nice to find a little posse of Bronze Mannikins near the Boston garage.

Bronze Mannikin

Bronze Mannikin

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3 thoughts on “Boston Wildlife Sightings – June 2015

  1. David

    These photos are artworks. All credit to them. We are so fortunate to see their splendid captures on camera. It raises the bar and one hopes they get the same delight, or even more, from their work as we do in seeing it

    Like

    Reply
  2. Meriel mitchell

    Beautiful photos all capturing the winter sparkle of the Midlands. I especially loved the Bronze Mannikin who looked a real emblem of winter’s crisp fresh air but was probably gibbering from the cold.

    Like

    Reply

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