Christeen Grant of “Sitamani”:
July and finally winter’s icy teeth start to bite. Many smoky days when fire-breaks have been burnt.
Two snowfalls on the ‘Berg, the last one on the 25 July covered the mountains in a white cap down onto the little berg and dusted Mahaqwa Mountain.
Although we had no snow here we have had two welcome falls of rain over 12mm. Immediately after the last rain fungi started appearing, what I think might be Sulfur Tufts and False Earth Stars.
This month has seen two full moons on the 2 and 30 July, both breathtakingly beautiful.
The dampness has also kick-started new leaf growth in the fire-breaks. Moraea graminicola, Senecio isatideus and tiny Helichrysum globerantum leaves have sprung up.
Reluctant buds are starting to open on winter flowering shrubs, Glossy Berg Bottlebrush, Greyia sutherlandii, Buddleja salvifolia and Ouhout, Leucosidea sericea.
When out trying to get a photo of the delicate Ouhout flowers I became aware of hundreds of buzzing Drone Flies. Everywhere I looked I found them on plants and then realized I’d ‘captured’ a tiny spider as well!
A persistent Fork-tailed Drongo reminded me that they are in the garden all year round, as are the pair of Hadeda Ibis.
A delight was a sighting early one evening of a female Common Reedbuck with a very young fawn. Each winter when I see these young animals I am amazed that they are born in such a harsh season. Common Reedbuck spoor and droppings mark their passage around the property. Also seen were a pair of Grey Duiker.
When I pass a particular sunny spot I usually hear a rustle on wood. While standing still and quiet, a shy Agama peeked out from behind the slats.
The Striped Skinks are far more brazen, sunning wherever they find a good spot.
Rob Geldart of “Boston View”:
It was special to see a Wattled Crane pair at Glandrishok (Myrtle Grove). They were not preparing to breed, as there were no nesting signs yet.
Bruce and Bev Astrup of “Highland Glen”:
A great sighing of 27 Grey Crowned Cranes flew overhead from “Harmony” farm towards “Netherby” farm. We also enjoyed a visit from the delightful House Sparrows.
Barbara and David Clulow:
Visiting on 22 July:
We enjoyed watching 3 Grey Crowned Cranes coming in to land on “Elvesida” at the dam, feeding on grasslands and then roosting in the Willowtree for the night.
We also saw Cape Crows; House Sparrows; Sacred Ibis; Egyptian Geese; Village Weavers; Common Fiscal; Red-eyed Dove; cape Turtle Dove. Calling of Common Reedbuck, that unique wistful whistle; calling of the Black-backed Jackal, that chilling urgent threatening sound.
Visting end July 2015:
Juvenile Long-crested eagle on Garmarye, now stopped calling for food and hunting and feeding itself as parents have left.
Black-headed Heron on “The Willows”, finding it difficult to balance on the fir in the breeze.
Common Reedbuck in the distance in the rye pastures on “Netherby” farm.
Crystelle Wilson of “Gramarye”:
An unusual sighting for the district was an African Jacana seen at Melrose Dam at the beginning of July. White-faced Ducks and Red-billed Teals were among the other visitors not usually present at the same dam. I was away for much of the month and managed only a few atlas cards with mostly the hardy residents.
These included: Fan-tailed Widowbird, Olive Thrush, Jackal Buzzard, African Darter, Common Moorhen, African Fish-eagle, African Sacred Ibis, Blue Crane, African Rail, Red-knobbed Coot, Little Grebe, Giant Kingfisher, Blacksmith Lapwing, African Pipit, Red-capped Lark,
Bokmakierie, Common Fiscal, Black-headed Oriole, Southern Red Bishop, Common Waxbill, South African Shelduck, Brown-throated Martin, Helmeted Guineafowl, Drakensberg Prinia, Black-headed Heron,
Cape Wagtail, African Stonechat, Spur-winged Goose, Egyptian Goose, Red-necked Spurfowl, Speckled Mousebird, Red-throated Wryneck, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Dark-capped Bulbul, Fork-tailed Drongo, Long-crested Eagle, Cape Turtle-dove, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Crow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Cape Robin-chat, Village Weaver,
Cape Sparrow, Hadeda, Cape Canary and Grey Crowned Crane. The chick ringed at Gramarye earlier this year is now flying strongly with its parents and I love watching the three of them coming to roost at the dam at Elvesida in the late afternoon.
Junior is in the middle of this picture taken on the same night as the first of the two full moons in July.
And it was also the night when Jupiter and Venus had a close encounter.