Boston Wildlife Sightings – November 2015

Rob Geldart of ‘Boston View’:

Rob took these pictures of Cape Longclaw chicks hatching.

Cape Longclaw chicks

Cape Longclaw chicks

He often sees Wattled and Blue Cranes in his potato fields. On one occasion Rob and one of his sons, Michael, counted nine Blue Cranes.

Rob Speirs of ‘The Rockeries’:

Robert reports hearing a Burchell’s Coucal calling in his garden for the first time ever.

Crystelle Wilson  of ‘Gramarye’:

For the first time I can remember I heard a Greater Honeyguide, Crested Barbet and Black Cuckoo calling in my garden. It is likely that the drought is influencing the behaviour and movements of birds and it should be interesting to keep an eye out for unusual sightings.

Black-headed Heron at the Elandshoek dam

Black-headed Heron at the Elandshoek dam

Dam levels dropping dramatically have in some cases resulted in making it easier to see birds normally sheltering in reeds or emergent vegetation. They now have to cross bigger expanses of mud moving between the water’s edge and the plants. A rare sight was at 09h45 one morning finding an African Snipe resting on the mud at the dam on Elandshoek.

African Snipe

African Snipe

A picture taken at the dam on The Drift shows the difference in sizes between a Black Crake and Common Moorhen, as well as the distinguishing colour combinations to help with identification. The crake has red legs with a yellow bill and is smaller, while the moorhen has yellow legs and a mostly red bill.

Black Crake and Common Moorhen

Black Crake and Common Moorhen

The tree on the little island in the middle of this dam continues to be well used by a variety of birds

CW 5

But one morning there was only one bird on the tree: a juvenile African Fish-Eagle!

Juvenile African Fish-Eagle

Juvenile African Fish-Eagle

Another juvenile raptor that made use of the fast-food potential offered by the Cape Weaver nests on this tree was an African Harrier-Hawk

African Harrier-Hawk (Gymnogene)

African Harrier-Hawk (Gymnogene)

Rising insects over the dam provided meals for Brown-throated Martins

Brown-throated Martin

Brown-throated Martin

And for the first of the Barn Swallows I saw this season.

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

A Three-banded Plover gave an obliging view of the patterning on its back as it flew across the water.

Three-banded Plover

Three-banded Plover

The Great Egret put in another few appearances

Great Egret

Great Egret

The Egyptian Goose family is growing up fast, with the goslings reaching teenager status by the end of the month.

Egyptian Geese

Egyptian Geese

Atlas sightings for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 included: Long-crested Eagle, Purple Heron, White-necked Raven, Forest Canary

Forest Canary

Forest Canary

Red-chested Cuckoo, Sombre Greenbul, Amethyst Sunbird, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, White-rumped Swift, Barratt’s Warbler, Wailing Cisticola, Yellow Bishop,

Yellow Bishop

Yellow Bishop

African Snipe, South African Shelduck, Grey Heron, Steppe Buzzard, Cape Glossy Starling, Pied Starling, Crested Barbet, African Wattled Lapwing, Black-winged Lapwing, Black Crake, Red-chested Flufftail, Yellow-fronted Canary, Cape Canary, African Hoopoe,

African Hoopoe

African Hoopoe

Spectacled Weaver, Great Egret, White-throated Swallow, Spotted Eagle-owl, African Fish-eagle, Three-banded Plover, Cape Crow, Speckled Pigeon, African Darter, Giant Kingfisher, Red-billed Quelea, African Pipit, Zitting Cisticola, Jackal Buzzard, Blue Crane, Barn Swallow, African Harrier-Hawk, Cape Longclaw, Common Moorhen, Little Grebe, Red-knobbed Coot, Brown-throated Martin, Cape Weaver, Blacksmith Lapwing, Bokmakierie,

Bokmakierie

Bokmakierie

Helmeted Guineafowl, White-breasted Cormorant, Little Rush-warbler, Yellow-billed Duck, Cape Grassbird, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Spur-winged Goose, Egyptian Goose, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Southern Red Bishop, Black-headed Heron, Red-necked Spurfowl, Black-headed Oriole, Common Fiscal, Red-collared Widowbird,

Red-collared Widowbird

Red-collared Widowbird

African Rail, African Spoonbill, Grey Crowned Crane, Reed Cormorant, Cattle Egret, African Sacred Ibis, Pied Crow, Hadeda, African Stonechat, Drakensberg Prinia, Cape Wagtail, Diderick Cuckoo, Common Waxbill, Common Quail, Fork-tailed Drongo, Cape White-eye, Village Weaver, Olive Thrush, Cape Batis, Cape Turtle-dove, Red-eyed Dove, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape Sparrow, African Paradise-flycatcher, Southern Boubou,

Southern Boubou

Southern Boubou

Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, House Sparrow, Cape Robin-chat, Speckled Mousebird, Pin-tailed Whydah, Black Saw-wing, Greater Striped Swallow, Green Wood-hoopoe, Greater Honeyguide, Brimstone Canary.

Brimstone Canary

Brimstone Canary

Christeen Grant of ‘Sitamani’:

On the 3 November a fall of snow covered the Drakensberg. Although we didn’t have much rain, the first proper rain fell in the last week of November.

Snow on the Drakensberg mountains

Snow on the Drakensberg mountains

There have been some spectacular cloud effects in the mornings and evenings. Despite the dry conditions many different flower species bloomed, albeit in smaller numbers and size. Orchids have not yet appeared.

Spectacular cloud effects

Spectacular cloud effects

Some of the flower species seen were: Ajuga ophrydis, Aristea woodii, Berkheya macrocephala, Haemanthus humilis subsp hirsutus, Merwilla nervosa, Moraea inclinata, Papaver aculeatum, Silene bellidioides and burchellii, Striga bilabiata, Watsonia socium and Xysmalobium involucratum.

Ajuga ophrydis

Ajuga ophrydis

Xysmalobium involucratum

Xysmalobium involucratum

Watsonia socium

Watsonia socium

Striga bilabiata

Striga bilabiata

Silene burchellii

Silene burchellii

Silene bellidioides

Silene bellidioides

Papaver aculeatum

Papaver aculeatum

Moraea inclinata

Moraea inclinata

Merwilla nervosa

Merwilla nervosa

Haemanthus humilis subsp hirsutus

Haemanthus humilis subsp hirsutus

Berkheya macrocephala

Berkheya macrocephala

Aristea woodii

Aristea woodii

There have been some interesting moths about, Slug moth Family Limacodidae, Tri-coloured Tiger and Tussock or Gypsy moth Family Lymantriidae.

Slug moth, Family Limacodidae

Slug moth, Family Limacodidae

Tri-coloured Tiger

Tri-coloured Tiger

Tussock or Gypsy moth, Family Lymantriidae

Tussock or Gypsy moth, Family Lymantriidae

A lovely Praying Mantis sunned himself on the step. Striking red Millipedes forage busily and a spider ‘home’, funnel and web sparkled after light rain. The distinctive sound of the Bladder grasshoppers echoes at night, ‘gonion, gonion’, but I haven’t seen one yet.

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis

The Village Weavers, (identified by Stuart McLean), are still busy building nests on the Pin oak tree. Either the females are rejecting them or they are blown down by strong winds and lie scattered over the lawn amongst the ‘pruned’ leaves.

Millipede

Millipede

Black-backed Jackals yip and howl in the evenings. On several mornings I’ve seen the Common Duikers and once a male Bushbuck in the evening on my way home.

Spider home

Spider home

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