Welcome to the October Dargle Wildlife Sightings! With the spring we finally saw some much needed rain falling on the dry parched earth, the grass and other plants are definitely improving all the time. Dams are still very low as we haven’t had much running water yet, so those of us who are farmers are still waiting patiently for some more big storms to arrive.
This month we have an interesting collection of images that have been sent in. Bushbuck have been spotted in the hills, snakes having a snack on the run and some odd looking plants that were found out in the veld – so please enjoy and remember to always carry your cellphone with you, why? Well then you always have a camera nearby to capture that interesting something to share with the rest of us! Happy reading.
Garry & Camilla Barlow
Our Mountain Reed Buck came down from the high hills and gave birth to a new fawn, I have attached a picture of her with it…
Also some flowers that are now in bloom:
Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm
Everyday when I do my rounds in the area and check up on our livestock, I’ll usually come across some interesting finds. You can usually spot one or two Porcupine quills lying around, but on this occasion I found a whole pile of them.
A couple of locusts on the paving
I was moving some old tiles under one of the trees when I spotted this very fine looking black spider sitting between two of them.
Mavela Dam is still very low, hoping the two little streams start to pick up a little bit so that they can start running properly into the dam again.
I then had a couple of weeks where I found lots of dead wildlife lying around, starting with this African Harrier-hawk (previously known as a Gymnogene)
Dead male Reedbuck
We seem to have a bit of an infestation of these rats on the farm. I really wish the owls, jackal and other other raptors would do their job and start catching some! Not sure what happened to this one though, was just lying out in the open on top of the hill.
A dead Skink
…and a soon to be dead frog! This Natal Green Snake decided it needed a good meal, although I think it really did bite off a little more than it could chew! This frog was about 4 times as big as the snakes head!
We were all taking pictures of it in the garden before it decided to move off deeper into the bushes to have it’s snack in peace.
I heard some commotion coming from next door so went to investigate to see what was upsetting the dog. Clearly Trinny did not appreciate the large toad swimming in her water bowl!
And finally, I was walking through the veld one day and happened upon this very strange looking plant which I have never seen before…according to Nikki Brighton it is a Star Stinkhorn mushroom!
We also spotted 4 blue crane on the far side of Mavela Dam one day, as well as one Oribi on the farm.
Pat & Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm, Lidgetton
We have had good light rains this month although the dam is only quarter full due to little runoff. There have been many sunbirds around due to the many flowering bottlebrush trees in the garden. On a cold drizzly day when the bottlebrushes were dripping wet, I captured dozens of Cape White-eyes,
and sunbirds feeding off the flowers.
The male and female Amethyst Sunbirds have been visiting the verandah – she keeps sitting on the rope chain that she built on last year but nothing has developed as yet.
One morning the male malachite sunbird sat on the wrought iron balustrade and was then joined by a female Amethyst Sunbird – he checked her out but showed no interest – it was then I noticed that there was a spot of yellow on his side.
His breeding colours – I got very excited as have only seen these yellow pectoral tufts once before about 7 years ago in this garden. I was very determined to get a picture of this remarkable colouring which only appears for a few seconds. I took a few photos here and there but not great. Then on another miz day I spied him on the bottle brush tree (which is right outside my bedroom window) and thought I would take a few pics once again. Suddenly the female malachite sunbird appeared above him and quick as a wink he puffed out his chest, his beautiful yellow pectoral tufts appeared.
He turned his head up to look at her. It was so quick, I only got 2 pics, but amazing, virtually unseen pics I think according to the internet pictures. Out of the hundreds of pictures that I perused, I only saw one malachite sunbird with a spot of yellow on his side. I hope you enjoy this special picture – I am blown away by it.
I still see the fledgling Black Sparrowhawk in the gum trees –I am sure he is still being fed by his mother.
There are a number of oribi on the farm – the one that stands out is ”one horn” – he appears with either another male or a female or sometimes on his own. I wonder how he lost that horn?
There have been 2 male Reedbuck careering around the hills chasing each other, all in the name of a fair damsel who appeared to be on heat. I have a lovely pic of the action and the female shying off before the males. The victor eventually went off up the hill with his maiden.
Pat took a lovely picture of our Blue Crane one morning in the garden – they have never been this close to the house – unfortunately the second one was over the rise. With the dam filling up they have appeared quite often but as we have cattle grazing in this camp, I feel sure they will nest elsewhere where it will be quieter and more peaceful and safe.
The Cape Wagtails have produced one fledgling in the jasmine creeper once more.
They have been feeding it – it usually hides in the miniature roses and mom and dad run in there with a wriggly worm – a few days ago mom and fledgling arrived on the balustrade – mom had a worm and was about to feed the youngster when a forked tail drongo attacked her, she dropped the worm and the drongo picked up his prize and flew off.
We have a steppe buzzard who flies around but I just cannot get a good picture of him – also a few jackal buzzard and crested black eagles. A lonely black stork and 13 crested crane flew over the farm one day. Pat saw the steppe buzzard and the crested eagle eating prey on the side of the D18 road.
I saw a Forest Canary
and a Cape Canary eating merrily from my miniature white chrysanthemums.
I thought they did this because there are sometimes “nunus” on these daisies, but not this time – not sure why they actually eat these flowers.
Dozens of white eyes fly through the garden each day and they have now found the rock pool – captured a picture of a very wet bedraggled Cape White-eye after a bath.
Have never seen these birds bathing before – its usually the robins, thrushes, sparrows and bulbuls.
A few days ago after an afternoon storm, I was driving along the D18, where thousands of flying ants were emerging from their holes. There were dozens of monkeys and pigeons scooping them up. The children at Jabula school were running around capturing them with butterfly nets.
The Red-collared Widowbirds have been eating the grass on the lawn for the past month
and I have seen a couple of Yellow Bishops amongst them for the first time.
Our pair of White-throated Swallows are back and have built a mud nest on top of the glass lamp shade on the front verandah. They make an awful mess with mud everywhere and sometimes it falls off and they start over. They sleep on top of the lampshade each night and 2 Rock Pigeons keep them company sitting on the ledge.
Pair of Spur-winged Geese viewing their surrounds
Reedbuck hidden in bush behind Oribi
Sunset – storm building
I pray the rain continues in the next month.
Helen Booysen – Crab Apple Cottages
A magnificent puffball in the Kilgobbin Forest
There was a large mouthful taken out of this one…
Large field mushroom
The tumbling stream on the top of Carlisle in the grasslands
Harebells or Dierama up in the Carlisle Grasslands
We also spotted a pair of Wattled Cranes up in the grasslands, with very healthy glossy plumage. An Oribi junior with her mum and our old companion, the adult Reedbuck Ram. We also saw the big dark Bushbuck Ram on our forest margin up adjoining Carl`s haylands.