Dargle Wildlife Sightings – July 2015

Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm

We have been spoilt this month by the visitation of a pair of wattled crane every few days. The one is ringed – Left leg: large white and Right leg: small red over small blue. Quite distinctive in the photo. The other one is not ringed but has a limp. This sighting will be reported to the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Crane Programme.

A pair of wattled crane have been arriving at the dam every few days during the month. One has a white ring on his right leg and a red ring (upper) and blue on the other leg

A ringed Wattled Crane

The wattled cranes enjoyed wading at sunset amongst the egyptian and spurwing geese

The wattled cranes enjoyed wading at sunset amongst the egyptian and spurwing geese

The black sparrow hawks nest has been taken over by egyptian geese. I have seen them flying through the trees but not sure if they are going to build another nest in the gum trees like last year. Every night at sunset about 50 ibis (ha de das) stop at the dam to drink and then fly over the house in various numbers.

Lesser double collared male sunbird - the only time I have seen him in the garden

Lesser double collared male sunbird – the only time I have seen him in the garden

Found 2 dead Reedbuck at the dam. Not sure how they died as only bones left and little flesh.
Bees swarming a few weeks ago down the chimney which chased the owls away as have not seen or heard them since. For days lots of dead bees around the house.

This young male reed buck arrived on the farm a few weeks ago. The older resident male has been chasing him around the hills

This young male reed buck arrived on the farm a few weeks ago. The older resident male has been chasing him around the hills

9 Waterbuck still on farm and neighbouring farms. The day after the snow, they were lying up against the stone wall out of the wind, trying to keep warm.

Waterbuck

Waterbuck

One morning 9 wattled crane flew south over the house.

9 Wattled Cranes flew by

9 Wattled Cranes flew by

An african hoopoe been visiting our garden which is unusual.

African Hoopoe

African Hoopoe

One morning a frantic female duiker was running around the hills smelling the ground and following a scent – not sure if the jackal scent or perhaps the scent of her lost baby which had been taken by the jackal. This went on for 30 minutes and she kept returning to one particular spot in front of our farm gate. The next day 2 duikers were chasing each other around the farm – going at such speed could not see what sex.

Bokmakierie (Bushshrike)

Bokmakierie (Bushshrike)

A great sighting this month was a female sentinel rock thrush which is a first for us.

Female sentinel rock thrush (on barbed wire fence)

Female sentinel rock thrush (on barbed wire fence)

Cape Longclaws visit our garden every few days.

Cape Longclaw

Cape Longclaw

Saw black shouldered kite, crowned grey crane, blue crane only once.

A Black-shouldered Kite

A Black-shouldered Kite

There has been a lot of activity on our road and neighbours road with the aardvark digging huge holes. On the hill behind our house, there were distinct claw marks on the rocks where he tried to pull them out, trying to get to the termites beneath. We therefore asked Dr Amy Wilson (Shuttleworth) to bring up her trail cameras – we put 3 up on neighbour’s farm (Paul Smit) and after a week brought them back to our place and placed them up at the stone wall where there is a rickety old gate where the animals climb through. Unfortunately, we had no luck with pics for the elusive aardvark but plenty of other interesting sightings.

Male buff streaked chat getting a real soaking on a warm day

Male buff streaked chat getting a real soaking on a warm day

A very wet female buff streaked chat after a 5 minute bath

A very wet female buff streaked chat after a 5 minute bath

Rupert Powell Bukamanzi Cottage

With everyone hunkered down for the winter and not all that much on there is a lot more time for Wuthering Heights moments such as these, out on the hills:

WS01

Sometimes the gloom can be more beautiful than the more obvious golden afternoons, I think. The same goes for lesser Dargle wildlife, such as the sociable spiders who have been busy in the grassland (Oh, hello Daphne! is that you?!)

WS02

This great big hairy number got very sociable indeed, and fell out of a curtain in the cottage. I scooped her up and had a good hour photographing her on the verandah – she didn’t mind it a bit and stuck around for ages, showing off.

WS03

Aside from arachnids I have also seen plenty of bushbuck and hares and the return of the weaver birds. I’ve been hearing woodpeckers recently and best of all, at about five-thirty every morning, two Crowned Cranes and their juvenile have been flying noisily over the roof of the cottage to visit the Stipstitches dam, and hold out their damp wings in the rising sun.

Before the frost hit us I also found this single flower, the only bloom for miles:

WS04

After the freak rainstorm of the 25th of July this is how glorious and clear everything looked the morning after the night before. Every blade of grass and every leaf shone as if someone had been at them with a cloth and feather-duster.

WS05

There is a lovely sleepiness to the landscape at the moment – if Inhlosane had eyes then at this time of the year only one of them would be open.

WS06

Helen and Barend Booysen – Crab Apple Cottages

Helen was the recipient of the Dargle Conservancy Trail Camera for a month, after she won one of the photography categories at the AGM. These are some of the pics captured…

Caracal

Caracal

Porcupine

Porcupine

Genet

Genet

Bushpig

Bushpig

Bushpig family

Bushpig family

Bushbuck ram

Bushbuck ram

David and Alvera Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Red-lipped Herald snake

Red-lipped Herald snake

Sunset 2 Sunset 1

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Sunset 2

Yellow Wildflowers

Yellow Wildflowers

Yellow flowers coming up through the firebreaks

Yellow flowers coming up through the firebreaks

Sunset over Mavela Dam

Sunset over Mavela Dam

Sunset over Mavela Dam

Sunset over Mavela Dam

Red hot poker

Red hot poker

Red Aloes flowering in the hills

Red Aloes flowering in the hills

Orange Aloes flowering in the hills

Orange Aloes flowering in the hills

Inhlosane on the day it snowed in the Drakensberg

Inhlosane on the day it snowed in the Drakensberg

Ice on a puddle

Ice on a puddle

Frost on hay

Frost on hay

Frost in the sheep camp

Frost in the sheep camp

Nikki Brighton – Cottage at Old Kilgobbin Farm

Our baby owls have been learning to fly! Lots of crashing about the barn and hissing. This chap was not too thrilled when I climbed up a ladder to take his picture. I, of course, was delighted.

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Samango monkey troops spend late afternoons basking and playing in the sunshine on the forest edges. They pick and nibble at a plant in the grass – obviously just what they need at this time of year. They are also eating Vepris lanceolata berries. I enjoy watching them tumble about and listening to the sounds they make – squeaks and clicks, chattering and booming.

r samango family r samango vepris winter july 2015 099 r samango winter july 2015 072

I’m collecting a collection of winter colours and textures on my walks.

r winte walk colours 027 r winte walk bracken 054 r winte walk rhus 04 0 r winter textures dried leonotis r winter textures 034

r winter walk helichrysum

I have seen Oribi, Reedbuck and quite a few Duiker on my rambles. Lots of raptors, herons, red necked spurfowl and shimmering hadedas. Egyptian geese flying in formation and swimming on the dam.

r winte walk colours 091

An interesting stick insect on my verandah.

r stick insect winterJPG

The first of the grasshoppers to hatch (does this seem a tad early?)

r winte walk grasshoppers 044

The low light at this time of year makes everything seem extra magical,

r low light of winter july 2015

Crunchy leaves carpet the forest and fungi make good use of fallen branches.

fungi winter july 2015 132

Early one morning I spotted three men and seven dogs obviously out hunting. That was a little disconcerting. I reported to SACAN 083 799 1916 as soon as I got home.

r hunting with dogs

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