Category Archives: KZN Midlands Wildlife

Kamberg & Hlatikulu Sightings – January 2017

Kamberg January 2017 – By Pam Kleiman

I enjoyed watching numerous White Storks around the district

IMG_7523

White Stork

The first of the Common Moorhen chicks seen on the small dam on Connington farm

IMG_7537

Common Moorhen

A little Dark-capped Yellow Warbler drying off after a bath

IMG_7564

Long-crested Eagle. I have yet to discover where these birds nest.

IMG_7574

Long-crested Eagle

IMG 7585 Great excitement as I drove out from the farm on the 10th. Sitting on the Escom wires were three Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters. This is a bird rarely seen in the KZN Midlands.

IMG_7585

Blue-cheaked Bee-eater

A Spotted Flycatcher I saw purely by chance as it darted out of dense foliage to catch an insect

IMG_7611

Spotted Flycatcher

A rather intense stare from a Cape Weaver

IMG_7745

Cape Weaver

IMG 7962 This month I started seeing Amur Falcons around the area. Amazing to think that these small birds migrate all the way from northern China every year

IMG_7962

Amur Falcon

IMG 7970 A male Southern Red Bishop showing off his beautiful Summer plumage

IMG_7970

Southern Red Bishop (male)

A few butterflies in the garden

IMG_7524IMG_7526

Small patches of the beautiful Hesperantha coccinea seen along the banks of a crystal clear stream.

IMG_7749

Hesperantha coccinea

Hlatikulu Conservancy January 2017 – By Pam Kleiman

On my rounds recording the birds for SABAP2 I so enjoy being able to take photos of what I see in order to share them on this forum. I do hope you enjoy rambling with me!

Bar-throated Apalis, a species I only ever see in one spot along the road from Mooi River to Hlatikulu

IMG_7656

Bar-throated Apalis

An unexpected find in a swampy area covered in tall grasses – Cuckoo Finch

IMG_7689

Cuckoo Finch

A little bird that has coined the nickname “Bumble-bee bird” for obvious reasons. A male Yellow-crowned Bishop

IMG_7693

Yellow-crowned Bishop (male)

I was rather surprised to find a pair of Ostriches along the road to the Crane sanctuary.

IMG_7694

Ostrich (male and female)

Western Osprey another favourite species seen occasionally on our dams in Summer

IMG_7836

Western Osprey

A short parade by a Red-necked Spurfowl on the road in front of my vehicle

IMG_7843

Red-necked Spurfowl

A small group of young Cape Longclaws were fluffed-up against the wind on a high, grassy slope

IMG_7850

Cape Longclaw

I don’t see too many mammals on my travels, but do see the occasional Dassie / Rock hyrax

IMG_7857

Dassie / Rock Hyrax

Brunsvigia natalensis – a solitary plant at the side of the road

IMG_7709

Brunsvigia natalensis

IMG_7707

Brunsvigia natalensis

A summer flowering aloe just past it’s prime

IMG_7706

Aloe

One of the few orchids I have seen this month. I think this is Satyrium longicauda

IMG_7658

Satyrium longicauda

IMG_7663

Satyrium longicauda

Vlei Orchid – ? Satyrium hallackii

IMG_7868

Vlei Orchid – ? Satyrium hallackii

Advertisements

Boston Wildlife Sightings – Summer 2016

November 2016 Sitamani Sightings – Christeen Grant

November has had the first typically summer rainfall pattern in three years. Hot humid haze days, interspersed with misty cool ones, regular thunderstorm activity and glorious rain. Finally our well has some water in it, the first time since May. Wildflowers particularly have responded and the hillside is covered in a neon orange wash of Watsonia socium.

02-cover-watsonia-socium-img_7341

Watsonia socium

Some of the spectacular array of flowers are: Adjuga ophrydis; Albuca pachychlamys; Asclepias albens, these amazing flower heads droop downwards, hiding the vivid lime green and pink flowers;

03-flowers-adjuga-ophrydis-img_7376

Adjuga ophrydis

03-flowers-albuca-pachychlamys-img_3323

Albuca pachychlamys

03-flowers-asclepias-albens-img_3317

Asclepias albens

03-flowers-asclepias-albens-img_7334

Asclepias albens

Aspidonepsis flava with Crab spider; Berkheya macrocephala;

03-flowers-aspidonepsis-flava-with-crab-spider-img_7386

Aspidonepsis flava with a well camouflaged crab spider

03-flowers-berkheya-macrocephala-img_7356

Berkheya macrocephala

03-flowers-berkheya-macrocephala-img_7358

Berkheya macrocephala

Chlorophytum cooperi; Cyanotis speciosa; Cyphia elata; Dierama latifolium; Helichrysum pallidum; Hermannia woodii; Indigofera hilaris, bright pink clumps in the grass;

03-flowers-chlorophytum-cooperi-img_7322

Chlorophytum cooperi

03-flowers-cyanotis-speciosa-img_3314

Cyanotis speciosa

03-flowers-cyphia-elata-img_7383

Cyphia elata

03-flowers-dierama-latifolium-img_7308

Dierama latifolium

03-flowers-helichrysum-pallidum-img_7320

Helichrysum pallidum

03-flowers-hermannia-woodii-img_7317

Hermannia woodii

03-flowers-indigofera-hilaris-img_7329

Indigofera hilaris

another different Ledebouria sp; delicate Lobelia erinus; hundreds of Merwilla nervosa; Pachycarpus natalensis; Scabiosa columbaria; Searsia discolor;

03-flowers-ledebouria-sp-img_3289

Ledebouria sp.

03-flowers-lobelia-erinus-img_7315

Lobelia erinus

03-flowers-merwilla-nervosa-img_7397

Merwilla nervosa

03-flowers-merwilla-nervosa-img_7398

Merwilla nervosa

03-flowers-pachycarpus-natalensis-img_7339

Pachycarpus natalensis

03-flowers-scabiosa-columbaria-img_3320

Scabiosa columbaria

03-flowers-searsia-discolor-img_7351

Searsia discolor

two species of Silene, Silene bellidoides and Silene burchellii;

03-flowers-silene-bellidoides-img_3277

Silene bellidoides

03-flowers-silene-bellidoides-img_7326

Silene bellidoides

03-flowers-silene-burchellii-img_7370

Silene burchellii

Sisyranthus trichostomus; Trachyandra asperata; Wahlenbergia cuspidata;

03-flowers-sisyranthus-trichostomus-img_7323

Sisyranthus trichostomus

03-flowers-trachyandra-asperata-img_7378

Trachyandra asperata

03-flowers-wahlenbergia-cuspidata-img_7368

Wahlenbergia cuspidata

I finally have a name for this beautiful Watsonia via a Facebook group: Flora of southern Africa, Watsonia meriana

03-flowers-watsonia-meriana-img_7345

Watsonia meriana

03-flowers-watsonia-meriana-img_7349

Watsonia meriana

and Xysmalobium parviflorum.

03-flowers-xysmalobium-parviflorum-img_7328

Xysmalobium parviflorum

I managed to get a photo of a Spectacled Weaver on a nest in the Plane Tree. The Spectacled Weavers don’t seem to strip off the leaves in the vicinity of their nests as the Village Weavers do; perhaps they seek camouflage rather than being able to see their predators approach. The Striped Swallows have returned over a month later than usual. Red-collared Widows are now in full courting plumage and a large flock roams over the seeding grass. A Long-crested Eagle perches regularly on the Eskom post. The Southern Boubou’s are a delight with their varying call and quiet movements on the lawn and in shrubbery. A Bokmakierie pair are frequently heard and seen in the Leucosidea sericea and Buddleja thicket that has grown up behind the house.

04-birds-spectacled-weaver-img_7363

Spectacled Weaver

04-birds-spectacled-weaver-nests-img_7312

Spectacled Weaver nest

With the rainfall, fungi pop up regularly. A Horse Mushroom and Star Stinkhorn with a millipede are two of them.

05-fungi-horse-mushroom-agaricus-arvensis-img_7387

Horse mushroom, Agaricus arvensis

05-fungi-star-stinkhorn-aseroe-ruba-with-millipede-img_3308

Star Stinkhorn, Aseroe ruba, with a millipede

Butterflies are starting to be seen more frequently. I watched an African Common White butterfly feeding in Vernonia natalensis.

06-invertebrates-african-common-white-butterfly-on-vernonia-natalensis-img_7394

African Common White butterfly on Vernonia natalensis

Bagworm larvae, of the Psyshidae Family of moths, on Vernonia hirsuta.

06-invertebrates-bagworm-larvae-of-psyshidae-family-of-moths-on-vernonia-hirsuta-img_7369

Bagworm on Vernonia hirsuta

Insects, like these Dotted Fruit Chafer beetles on Albuca pachychlamys, are nibbling many flowers and buds.

06-invertebrates-common-dotted-fruit-chafer-beetles-on-albuca-pachychlamys-img_7382

Dotted Fruit Chafer beetles on Albuca pachychlamys

Finally a delight on the lawn one morning, a Common cannibal snail, Natalina cafra!

07-snail-common-cannibal-snail-natalina-cafra-img_3329

Common cannibal snail, Natalina cafra

07-snail-snail-common-cannibal-snail-natalina-cafra-img_3334

Common cannibal snail, Natalina cafra

November 2016 on Stormy Hill – Caroline McKerrow

I’ve seen the pair of Reedbuck a few times this month. I also had some Woodland Dormice in the ceiling until the cats dispatched them. Check the fluffy tail. The other one got eaten.

dormouse

All the birds are busy in their nests. The Hadedas and Weavers have been building nests in the bird tree. The Speckled Pigeons are all over the place and the Red-winged Starlings are making messy nests on top of the lights in the shed. Swallows are also back making muddy nests. The Speckled Mousebirds got cold one lunchtime and formed a ball.

mousebirds

December 2016 on Gramarye – Crystelle Wilson

On a trip to a Zululand game reserve in November we were lucky enough to see cheetahs. Back at Boston I was just as excited seeing a Serval on an early morning walk down to the river.

image1

Serval

The breeding season was in full swing and juvenile birds were everywhere to be seen. At the river two Levaillant’s Cisticola fledglings tried to balance on the same stalk

image2

Levaillant’s Cisticola

And in the garden African Paradise Flycatcher parents were industriously feeding their newly fledged chicks

image3

African Paradise Flycatcher

On the kitchen verandah there was a near tragedy when part of the nest of the Greater Striped Swallows collapsed on Christmas Day, leaving the three chicks exposed inside. Fortunately they were about to fledge and within a few days were flying strongly with the parents.

image4

Greater Striped Swallows

image5

Greater Striped Swallows

The atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 included: Dark-capped Yellow Warbler,

image6

Dark-capped Yellow Warbler

Klaas’s Cuckoo, Black-headed Heron, Amethyst Sunbird, Common Moorhen, Hamerkop, Three-banded Plover, Wailing Cisticola, Blacksmith Lapwing, Speckled Mousebird,

image7

Speckled Mousebirds

African Spoonbill, Black-headed Oriole, Bar-throated Apalis, Sombre Greenbul, Lazy Cisticola, Neddicky, Red-chested Cuckoo, Yellow-fronted Canary

image8

Yellow-fronted Canary

Red-billed Quelea, House Sparrow, Speckled Pigeon, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Barn Swallow,

image9

Barn Swallow

Yellow-billed Kite, Little Grebe, White-backed Duck,

image10

White-backed Duck

Cape Wagtail, Black Crake, Cape Weaver, Reed Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant, Red-knobbed Coot, African Sacred Ibis, Spur-winged Goose, Cape Crow, African Pipit, Zitting Cisticola,

image11

Zitting Cisticola

Fork-tailed Drongo, African Paradise-flycatcher, Cape Sparrow, Burchell’s Coucal, White-throated Swallow, Pied Kingfisher, Cape Glossy Starling,

image12

Cape Glossy Starling

African Hoopoe, African Dusky Flycatcher, Black Saw-wing, Egyptian Goose, Cape Canary (well camouflaged in the summer grass)

image13

Cape Canary

Red-chested Flufftail, Grey Crowned Crane,

image14

Grey Crowned Crane

Cape Longclaw, Common Waxbill, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cattle Egret, Cape Grassbird, Yellow-billed Duck, Bokmakierie, Village Weaver,

image15

Village Weaver

Southern Fiscal, Brown-throated Martin, Red-necked Spurfowl, Common Quail, Southern Red Bishop,

image16

Southern Red Bishop

Drakensberg Prinia,

image17

Drakensberg Prinia

Red-collared Widowbird, Fan-tailed Widowbird,

image18

Fan-tailed Widowbird

Levaillant’s Cisticola, Little Rush-warbler, African Reed-warbler, African Stonechat, Long-crested Eagle, Hadeda Ibis, Cardinal Woodpecker

image19

Cardinal Woodpecker

Cape Robin-chat, Olive Thrush, Pin-tailed Whydah

image20

Pin-tailed Whydah

Red-eyed Dove,

image21

Red-eyed Dove

Cape Turtle-dove, Southern Boubou, Greater Striped Swallow, Cape White-eye, Diderick Cuckoo

image22

Diderick Cuckoo

December 2016 Sitamani Sightings – Christeen Grant

Sultry hot days with thunderstorms have produced a vivid green landscape, however there has not been enough rain to raise the water table significantly; although there is water in the well it is a fraction of what is usually there in December.

02-cover-summer-solstice-img_3812

Summer solstice

Clouds obscured the full moon rise; however early the next morning it was visible through scudding clouds.

02-cover-full-moon-img_7401

Summer solstice was a glorious day, ending in a beautiful sunset. Already many grasses are seeded, the red tinge of Themeda triandra softening the green.

02-cover-seeding-grasses-incl-themeda-triandra-img_7540

Themeda triandra

There are still many wildflowers in bloom, some that I saw were: Agapanthus campanulatus; Aristea woodii; Berkheya setifera; Clutia monticola fruit;

03-flowers-agapanthus-campanulatus-img_7563

Agapanthus campanulatus

03-flowers-aristea-woodii-img_3802

Aristea woodii

03-flowers-berkheya-setifera-img_3806

Berkheya setifera

03-flowers-clutia-monticola-fruit-img_7565

Clutia monticola

Craterocapsa tarsodes, which I usually associate with the mountains grows here too on rocky clay patches;

03-flowers-craterocapsa-tarsodes-img_4004

Craterocapsa tarsodes

Dipcadi viride; Epilobium capense seeds; Gladiolus ecklonii; Haemanthus humilis; Lobelia erinus;

03-flowers-dipcadi-viride-img_7562

Dipcadi viride

03-flowers-epilobium-capense-seeds-img_7521

Epilobium capense

03-flowers-gladiolus-ecklonii-img_7546

Gladiolus ecklonii

03-flowers-haemanthus-humilis-img_3369

Haemanthus humilis

03-flowers-lobelia-erinus-img_7538

Lobelia erinus

four orchids, Eulophia hians var. nutans; Eulophia ovalis var. bainesii; Eulophia zeyheriana and Satyrium longicauda;

03-flowers-orchid-eulophia-hians-var-nutans-img_7527

Eulophia hians ver. nutans

03-flowers-orchid-eulophia-ovalis-var-bainesii-img_7536

Eulophia ovalis var. bainesii

03-flowers-orchid-eulophia-zeyheriana-img_7524

Eulophia zeyheriana

03-flowers-orchid-satyrium-longicauda-img_7534

Satyrium longicauda

Papaver aculeatum; Pelargonium luridum; Rubus ludwigii; Senecio subrubriflorus; Strigia bilabiata and Zantedeschia albomaculata.

03-flowers-papaver-aculeatum-img_3509

Papaver aculeatum

03-flowers-pelargonium-luridum-img_7566

Pelargonium luridum

03-flowers-rubus-ludwigii-img_7539

Rubus ludwigii

03-flowers-senecio-subrubriflorus-img_7549

Senecia subrubriflorus

03-flowers-strigia-bilabiata-img_7551

Strigia bilabiata

03-flowers-zantedeschia-albomaculata-img_3501

Zantedeschia albomaculata

03-flowers-zantedeschia-albomaculata-img_3502

Zantedeschia albomaculata

 

An unusual fungi was growing in stone gravel.

04-fungi-img_3500

In the lush foliage I found some delightful insects: two Bee Fly species, a Foam Grasshopper and a lucky sighting of a Giant Forest Cicada!

05-invertebrates-bee-fly-img_7543

Bee Fly

 

05-invertebrates-bee-fly-img_7557

Bee Fly

05-invertebrates-foam-grasshopper-img_3803

Foam Grasshopper

 

05-invertebrates-giant-forest-cicada-img_7567

Giant Forest Cicada

Most mornings the birds find the night flying moths before I do, but I did see a few, including the wings of a Wounded Emperor, Neobunaeopsis arabella; then a rather spectacular first for me, a day flying moth, a Superb False Tiger, Heraclia sp. which at first I thought must be a butterfly!

05-invertebrates-moth-img_398905-invertebrates-moth-img_3994

05-invertebrates-moth-superb-false-tiger-heraclia-sp-img_7511

Superb False Tiger, Heraclia sp.

05-invertebrates-moth-superb-false-tiger-heraclia-sp-img_7515

Superb False Tiger, Heraclia sp.

05-invertebrates-moth-wounded-emperor-neobunaeopsis-arabella-img_4011

Wings of an Emperor moth, Neobunaeopsis arabella

After a misty night I saw a water-beaded spider web.

05-invertebrates-spider-web-img_7545

Long-crested Eagles catch thermals between waiting and watching patiently from perches.

06-birds-long-crested-eagle-in-flight-img_7520

Two discarded eggshells, one from a Spectacled Weaver and the second from a Village Weaver prove that some of the nests were acceptable.

The Striped Swallows have selected a new site to build a nest, I hope this one works out. A pair of Cape Wagtails have recently taken up residence in the garden. Occasionally I hear Spotted Eagle-Owls calling at dusk and dawn.

One morning I discovered a newly excavated Antbear hole, as it was in the middle of the driveway we had to fill it in.

07-mammals-antbear-excavation-img_3366

Sadly I will have to live-trap and relocate the Lesser Savanna Dormice that have taken up residence in the house; a hole in a carpet, wooly slippers and clothing where they have selected bedding material, and they devour any food left out… Drawers are their favoured places to make nests. I love their chirrups as they move through the house and occasional sightings as they scurry across the floor and furniture.

07-mammals-lesser-savanna-dormouse-nest-img_4017

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – November 2016

Pat & Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm, Lidgetton

We were away for half of November but on our return we were thrilled to find we had had a lot of rain and our dam was full at last and everywhere so green. Quite a change from the Cape.

One morning to our astonishment, a young male reedbuck wandered through the garden quite happily. Thank goodness the dogs were elsewhere.

male-reedbuck-wandering-through-our-garden

We have woken up for the past few weeks to Reedbuck eating the long grass in our garden.

male-and-female-reedbuck-in-garden

A porcupine got into the garden one night and dug up a heap of cannas – there was a fight with the dogs and as usual the dogs came off second best being stabbed with quills.

porcupine-got-into-my-cannas-one-night

The gymnogene has been terrorising the birds in the garden who have made nests in the trees. Caught a lovely picture of him perched on my bottle brush tree.

gymnogene-perched-on-my-bottle-brush-tree

A pair of wattle crane arrived at the dam and stayed for a week.

pair-of-wattled-crane-tag-on-wattled-crane-white-on-one-leg-and-green-and-blue-on-the-other

The one has tags on its legs which I had sent to the KZN Crane Foundation for identification.

wattled-crane-with-tags

Response from Tanya Smith, African Crane Conservation Program: “It is so great to get this resighting, this bird is definitely of breeding age and is perhaps looking for wetland area to set up a new territory. The combination of rings (Green/Blue on the left leg and large white on the right leg) is of a bird we caught and colour ringed at the end of August 2011 on a farm just outside Nottingham Road (on the Fort Nottingham Road), from a farm called Shawlands. Therefore this bird is about 5.5 years old.”

The pair of blue crane come and go and do not seem to have made a nest yet. We also have a number of oribi running around – the past 2 days we have seen a pair of males.

There were 5 Grey Crowned Cranes that arrived at the dam one morning.

4-crowned-crane-at-the-dam

We also have African Spoonbill,

3-spoonbill-in-a-row

dozens of Yellow-billed Duck, White-faced Duck,

white-faced-whistling-duck

Little Grebe (where do these waterbirds come from as the dam was empty for months??), Red-billed Teal, Spur-winged Geese and a pair of Egyptian Geese with 5 young who are now about a month old.

We have been inundated with Puff Adders once again – one next to our soak pit eating a frog and the dogs killed an enormous one in our driveway – our rottie proceeded to eat it – we are always concerned that the dogs will pierce the poison sac while eating these snakes – on the same day Pat saw some children from Kazimula school walking down the D18 carrying a dead puffie.

The Steppe Buzzard, and Jackal Buzzard often sit on our dead tree next to the pond waiting for a juicy meal now that our ponds are full.

The Long-crested Eagle is often seen perched on one of the poles along the D18.

black-crested-eagle-always-around

Two White Storks arrived on the farm a week ago. We have a number of Sunbirds flitting around the garden now that the summer flowers are in bloom.  Saw this female Amethyst Sunbird feeding off Wygelia flowers.

female-amythest-sunbird-feeding-off-wygelia-flowers

The White-throated Swallows that made their nest on our verandah lampshade have hatched out 4 chicks who are now about ten days old. We have to clean up a heap of poop each morning. The other swallows nest outside the bedroom window fell down during a severe wind.

i-think-there-are-4-white-throated-swallow-chicks-in-their-mud-nest-on-verandah

In the past few days a pair of Greater Striped Swallows have arrived and make a huge chirping noise before perching on the hanging basket where they groom themselves. This is about 4pm each day. They are very tame and do not mind my running around and taking photos of them thru the glass doors. We have not had them here before.

lesser-striped-swallow-perching-on-balustrade

The Cape White-eyes have been stealing the coir from my hanging baskets.

a-pair-of-cape-white-eyes-pulling-coir-from-hanging-basket-to-make-their-nest

The Red-chested Cuckoo (piet-my-vrou) sometimes sings for hours. Hope it finds a mate soon.

Drakensberg Prinia

drakensberg-prinia

Anthericum, possibly angulicaule (Thanks Nikki Brighton)

anthericum-possibly-angulicaule-thanks-nikki-brighton

Gladiolus longicollis

gladiolus-longicollis

Senecio bupleuroides (yellow starwort)

senecio-bupleuroides-yellow-starwort

Alvera Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

A Rinkhals which has been roaming around the garden for a while.

a-large-rinkals-which-has-been-roaming-around-the-garden-for-a-while

Jen Fly – Kildaragh Farm

Our small dam at it lowest this year. Only 2 puddles left for the fish. Quite a few died but some fortunately survived.

our-small-dam-at-it-lowest-this-year-only-2-puddles-left-for-the-fish-quite-a-few-died-but-some-fortunately-survived

Since the rains we have had recently, things have improved.

since-the-rains-we-have-had-recently-things-have-improved

The Christmas herald! We have a little patch of Christmas Bells on Kildaragh. They are fast disappearing though. As children we would pick bunches for the Christmas table. Now we look in excitement when we see just one.

the-christmas-herald-we-have-a-little-patch-of-christmas-bells-on-kildaragh-they-are-fast-disappearing-though-as-children-we-would-pick-bunches-for-the-christmas-table

Clausena anisata, Perdepis or Horsewood. A neat, small tree for the bird garden. Some Swallowtail butterflies breed on this tree.

clausena-anisata-a-neat-small-tree-for-the-bird-garden-some-swallowtail-butterflies-breed-on-this-tree

A close up of the leaves, which have a very unpleasant smell, when they are crushed. The prolific fruit is visible.

clausena-anisata-or-horeswood-a-close-up-of-the-leaves-which-have-a-very-unpleasant-smell-when-they-are-crushed-the-prolific-fruit-is-visible

The Pom – Pom tree (Dais cotinifolia). This is an especially large specimen on our property. It was probably planted years ago by June Fannin who planted many trees here but never lived on the property. These trees grow well in the Midlands as is seen along the Main Road in Howick. Always a wonderful show.

the-pom-pom-tree-dais-cotinifolia-this-is-an-especially-large-specimen-on-our-property

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin

Such a treat to have the grassland streams flowing again.

r-waterfall

I adore the cool early mornings and frequently wander about at dawn. Seldom have my camera or phone with me, but fortunately did on this day.

r-dawn-bird

Every year I say the same thing, but as this interests me every year, it is worth repeating: Isn’t it fascinating how a patch of grassland that you can be very familiar with suddenly produces an abundance of flowers that you have not noticed much before? Clearly, rainfall and temperature patterns have an enormous influence (never mind grazing and burning) on which plants flower best when. This spring I have particularly noticed Arum lilies thriving, lots of Striga bilabiata, dainty white Kniphofia and more recently lots of Christmas bells – Sandersonia aurantiaca.

r-sandersonia-aurantiaca

The Cape Chestnut (Calodendron capense) hasn’t been as spectacular as usual – the leaves appeared at the same time as the pink flowers. Someone told me that Scilla nervosa has been amazing this year, but I have not noticed that where I walk. Anyway – a few floral treasures to share:

Plenty of pale blue Thunbergia natalensis in shady areas

r-thunbergia-natalensis

Asclepias gibba – in Lesotho all parts of this plant are eaten. Flowers like sweets, bulbs straight out of the ground and the leaves cooked with other greens.

r-asclepias-gibba

Asclepias albens – always a spectacular find

r-asclepias-alba

Pachycarpus natalensis – love the two kinds of ant and the beetle lurking in the flower!

r-pachycarpus-natalensis

Aster bakerianus

r-aster-bakerianus

Kniphofia – most likely breviflora

r-kniphofia-poss-breviflora

Vernonia hirsuta with attendant fly

r-vernonia-hirsuta

Hypericum lalandii – the tiny indigenous Hypericum, not the invasive shrub.

r-hypericum-lalandii

Alepidea natalensis

r-alepidea-natalensis

Ajuga ophrydis – Bugle plant

r-ajuga-ophrydis

Cyperus spharocephalus

r-cyperus-sphaerocephalus

Dierama luteoalbidium

r-dierama-luteoalbidum

Morea possible inclinata

r-morea-poss-inclinata

Pentanisia prunelloides

r-pentanisia-prunelloides

Sisyanthus trichostomus – the Hairy Grass-Flower. I think I may have found Sisyanthus fanniniae too, but the photo is dreadful, so I can’t be sure.

r-sisyranthus-trichostomus

I have never come across this pale Gladiolus before. Not sure what the species is but possibly serica as the stems are really hairy.

r-gladiolus-poss-sericeovillosus

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Continuing on from last month’s dead things, here is a tiny baby Skink which I found next to the dog’s water bowl

a-tiny-dead-baby-skink

I first thought that this might be the larder of a Fiscal Shrike, but I’m sure something larger like a raptor must have eaten something and left the gizzards on this pole

somethings-leftover-lunch

A juvenile Fiscal Shrike which was stuck in the water tank

juvenile-fiscal-shrike-stuck-in-water-tank

A pretty tame Black-backed Jackal that had been lying in the long grass in one of our sheep day camps, sometimes terrible creatures for us farmers but still beautiful to look at. This one was only about 20m away, taken with my cellphone. I managed to herd it around into the purple flowers for a more visually appealing shot!

black-backed-jackal

Some cracks in the mud of Mavela Dam, hopefully it’ll be full again by the end of summer! Still waiting for a big rain.

cracks-in-the-mud-of-the-dam

“Working for Water” did a very good job cutting and helping to clear some invasive alien wattle trees on our farm. Hopefully I’ll be able to take a photograph of this corner one day and it will be bugweed and wattle free!

dargle-impendle-road-with-wattles-that-have-been-cut-by-working-for-water-1dargle-impendle-road-with-wattles-that-have-been-cut-by-working-for-water-2

Couple of beetles fighting over a mate

beetles-mating-in-the-grass

2 large Rhino Beetles

large-rhino-beetles

A large fern next to a small pond in the veld

large-fern-next-to-one-of-the-water-pools

The Rinkhals have been doing the rounds on Copperleigh recently.

large-rinkhals-crossed-the-road-into-our-sheep-camp

I’m not sure if this is a fly or a bee as I’ve never seen one before, but the colour was very striking on the brown fur of this cow

strange-bug-not-sure-if-fly-or-bee-on-one-of-our-cows

Reedbuck Doe

reedbuck-doe-on-the-new-green-veld-grass

Reedbuck Ram

reedbuck-ram-standing-next-to-little-dam

A spider in its dewey web on the ground

I took the dogs for a walk through the veld one Sunday, and took the following images, this is a panoramic view of Inhlosane in the distance

panoramic-view-of-inhlosane-overlooking-the-grassland

Very happy to have running streams

stream-running-through-the-veld

Red hot pokers

red-hot-pokers-next-to-stream

Pink Wildflowers

pink-wildflower

Arum Lily

veld-arum-lily

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – October 2016

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…

mountain-reedbuck-and-fawn

Also some flowers that are now in bloom:

aster-bakerianus

Aster bakerianus

indigofera-family-not-sure-of-species

Indigofera sp.

cycnium-racemosum

Cycnium racemosum

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-handfull-of-porcupine-quills

A couple of locusts on the paving

a-pair-of-locusts

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.

black-spider

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.

mavela-dam-very-low

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-gymnogene

Dead male Reedbuck

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.

dead-rat

A dead Skink

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!

natal-green-snake-with-frog-in-its-mouth-1

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.

natal-green-snake-with-frog-in-its-mouth-2

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!

trinny-chasing-a-frog-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!

strange-red-plant-in-veld

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,

cape-white-eye

Dark-capped Bulbuls,

dark-capped-bulbul

Gurney’s Sugarbirds

gurney-sugar-bird

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.

male-and-female-amythest-sunbirds

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.

male-malachite-and-femaile-amythest-sunbirds-on-verandah

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.

male-malachite-with-yellow-pectoral-tufts

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?

one-horn-oribi-and-female-grazing

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.

reedbuck-chase

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.

blue-crane-in-our-garden

The Cape Wagtails have produced one fledgling in the jasmine creeper once more.

fledgeling-cape-wagtail

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

forest-canary

and a Cape Canary eating merrily from my miniature white chrysanthemums.

cape-canary

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.

wet-bedraggled-white-eye-after-swim

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

red-collared-whydah-male

and I have seen a couple of Yellow Bishops amongst them for the first time.

yellow-rumped-widow-bird-male

Yellow Bishop

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.

white-throated-swallows-mud-nest

Fire lily

fire-lily

Pair of Spur-winged Geese viewing their surrounds

pair-of-spurwing-viewing-their-surrounds

Reedbuck hidden in bush behind Oribi

reedbuck-hidden-in-bush-behind-oribi

Sunset – storm building

sunset-storm-building

I pray the rain continues in the next month.

Helen Booysen – Crab Apple Cottages

A magnificent puffball in the Kilgobbin Forest

a-magnificent-puffball-in-kilgobbin-forest

There was a large mouthful taken out of this one…

there-was-a-large-mouthful-taken-out-of-this-one

Large field mushroom

large-field-mushroom

The tumbling stream on the top of Carlisle in the grasslands

the-tumbling-stream-on-the-top-of-carlisle-in-the-grasslands

Harebells or Dierama up in the Carlisle 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.

Boston Wildlife Sightings – October 2016

Christeen Grant of Sitamani

October has been a busy month, not much time at home to explore, so few sightings. There was a final snowfall at the beginning of the month, then the weather settled into a summer pattern, regular thunderstorms, rain and misty days between hot ones.

02-cover-img_6978

One misty day a pair of Common Reedbuck ventured close to the house, unhurriedly grazing as the passed by. I had several close-up encounters on different predawn mornings with individual Reedbuck.

03-mammals-common-reedbuck-img_6980

03-mammals-common-reedbuck-img_6988

03-mammals-common-reedbuck-img_7005

03-mammals-common-reedbuck-img_7009

The moist conditions have produced many flowers, they sparkled at me as I passed by. The few I managed to find time to photograph were Asparagus africanus, Monopsis decipiens and Oxalis smithiana.

04-flowers-asparagus-africanus-img_2680

Asparagus africanus

04-flowers-monopsis-decipiens-img_6969

Monopsis decipiens

04-flowers-oxalis-smithiana-img_2683

Oxalis smithiana

A tiny Lacewing sp. perched on the kitchen towel.

05-insects-lacewing-sp-p1070941

Lacewing

There have been several lovely moths including these two, an Emerald sp. and one unidentified.

05-insects-moth-emerald-sp-img_2698

Moth – Emerald sp.

05-insects-moth-p1070943

Unidentified moth (suggestions welcome)

Tiny Dunce Caps, Conocybe tenera; popped up in the lawn after rain as did a False Earth-star.

06-fungi-dunce-cap-conocybe-tenera-img_2695

Tiny Dunce Caps – Conocybe tenera

06-fungi-false-earth-starimg_2631

False Earth-star

The Village Weavers have been very busy in the Pin Oak and in an adjacent Plane Tree Spectacled Weavers have built a few nests. The Piet-my-Vrou, Red-chested Cuckoo finally started calling on the 19 October. I also saw an African Harrier-Hawk flying by.

Caroline McKerrow of Stormy Hill

I’ve seen the pair of Reedbuck a few times this month. I also had some Woodland Dormice in the ceiling until the cats dispatched them. Check the fluffy tail. The other one got eaten.

dormouse

All the birds are busy in their nests. The Hadedas and Weavers have been building nests in the bird tree. The Speckled Pigeons are all over the place and the Red-winged Starlings are making messy nests on top of the lights in the shed. Swallows are also back making muddy nests. The Mousebirds got cold one lunchtime and formed a ball.

mousebirds

Crystelle Wilson of Gramarye

The onset at last of the rainy season is so welcome, that one doesn’t mind days of grey, mizzling weather – which is no good for taking great photographs. It also doesn’t put a damper on the excitement of seeing a pair of Wattled Cranes looming large right next to the road.

image1

Wattled Cranes

And it is always pleasing to see Grey Crowned Cranes, there were a group of six on The Drift one morning, flying off north

image2

Grey Crowned Cranes

The atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 included: Red-capped Lark, African Dusky Flycatcher, Klaas’s Cuckoo, Black Crake, Blue Crane, Great Egret, African Darter, Greater Striped Swallow, Jackal Buzzard, Cape Grassbird, African Reed-warbler

image3

African Reed-Warbler

Red-necked Spurfowl, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler

image4

Dark-capped Yellow Warbler

Burchell’s Coucal, Bokmakierie, Cape Sparrow, Red-eyed Dove, Speckled Mousebird, African Paradise-flycatcher, Black Saw-wing, , African Hoopoe, Pin-tailed Whydah, Olive Thrush, Spur-winged Goose

image5

Spur-winged Goose

Lanner Falcon, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Red-billed Quelea, House Sparrow, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Cattle Egret (closely roosting overnight near the dam)

image6

Cattle Egret

Reed Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant (also at the dam on a tree in the island where it was perching room only)

image7

White-breasted Cormorant

Cape Longclaw, Southern Red Bishop, Cape Crow, Cape Robin-chat, Fork-tailed Drongo, African Pipit,

image8

African Pipit

Red-collared Widowbird, Village Weaver, White-throated Swallow, Cape Weaver

image9

Cape Weaver

Brown-throated Martin, Southern Fiscal, African Sacred Ibis, Bar-throated Apalis, Little Grebe, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Cape Wagtail, African Spoonbill (taking a break from feeding)

image10

African Spoonbill

Common Waxbill, Cape Turtle-dove, Pied Starling, Grey Crowned Crane, Red-chested Cuckoo, Helmeted Guineafowl, Amethyst Sunbird, Dark-capped Bulbul, Southern Double-collared, Sunbird, African Stonechat, Cape Canary, Cape White-eye, African Fish-eagle

image11

African Fish-Eagle

Drakensberg Prinia, Southern Boubou, Forest Canary, Hadeda Ibis, Egyptian Goose (the gosling turning into gangling teenagers)

image12

Egyptian Geese

Red-knobbed Coots were feeding three newly-hatched chicks

image13

Red-knobbed Coot

Blacksmith Lapwing, Yellow-billed Kite, Black-headed Heron, Yellow-billed Duck

image14

Yellow-billed Duck

Kamberg Wildlife Sightings – October 2016

Submissions by Pamela Kleiman of Connington Farm

KAMBERG

Although most days were still pretty chilly, it was good to get out and see how the veld had greened up, to see the Spring flowers starting and to see some of the migrant birds returning

A view looking down the D450 valley

img_4467

I enjoyed seeing the first of the Spring flowers. In low lying wet areas there were sheets of Tulbachia natalensis

img_4081

Tulbachia natalensis

img_4397

Tulbachia natalensis

Dierama sp.

img_4158

A small farm dam covered in pink water lilies

img_4472img_4469

I was focusing on a flight of different swallows one day when I noticed one that was flying very slowly. I zoomed in on it only to discover it was a Bearded Vulture flying very high over my cottage on Connington farm!

img_4054

Bearded Vulture

Some of the other special birds I managed to photograph were :-

The first pair of Pin-tailed Whydahs I had seen for the season

img_4108

Pin-tailed Whydah (male and female)

A Secretarybird very close to home

img_4130

Secretarybird

On a very cold and damp morning there were 4 young Southern Bald Ibis sitting in a tree

img_4174

Southern Bald Ibis (young)

 

img_4168

Southern Bald Ibis (young)

This African Harrier-hawk landed right next to the road as I drove past

img_4409

African Harrier-hawk (Gymnogene)

Two Red-necked Spurfowl came out of a swampy area – a first for me in KZN

img_4484

Red-necked Spurfowl

HLATIKULU

Not an awful lot to report for this area, but it was good to see the Banded Martin had returned and to see a couple of African Bald Ibis close to the side of the road in the Hlatikulu reserve.

img_4184

Banded Martin

Southern Bald Ibis – I was interested to see the comparison of the adults and the young birds (shown in the Kamberg report above)

img_4265

Southern Bald Ibis (adult)

 

 

Field mushrooms

img_4192

Ajuga ophrydis

img_4215

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – September 2016

Helen Booysen – Crab Apple Cottages

Windy day…My Mobile did its best… Wildflowers and an unknown bug pictured on our walk over the hills:

bug

Leonotus in the hills

leonotus-in-the-hills-1

wildflowers-1

wildflowers-2

wildflowers-3

Granny’s Bonnet orchids

granny-s-bonnet-orchids

Carnivorous Snail on D707

carnivorous-snail-on-d707

Pat & Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm, Lidgetton

Welcome to the Snake farm. I have been expecting it – the hot days this month. On Monday my maid went out to sit outside next to the rockery – 12.30 – that’s when they emerge from the rockery – a metre long cobra. I told her not to sit there anymore. Then on Thursday Pat was doing a block burn in front of the house. The one labourer was putting out the fire with the fire hose when a puff adder shot between his legs and slithered down the hill at speed. Who said puffies move slowly. I’m afraid the other huge puff adder got burnt in the fire. I am now wondering how many more snakes are around the garden.

Our Black Sparrowhawk chick revealed his rufous feathers on the 27th august. A few days later I saw him sitting on a branch high up in one of the gum trees (6th sept). After that I saw him only on a few occasions when I whistled – then he would fly out from one of the trees and whistle back. I have not seen them since beginning of September but Pat sees them occasionally.

fledgeling-black-sparrowhawk-2-weeks-after-being-a-ball-of-white-feathers

There have been lots of Reedbuck around. One day there were 4 adult females and 4 youngsters together,

female-reedbuck-with-youngsteryoung-reedbuck-male

and for the first time we have had 2 sets of oribi on the farm – 3 males and 3 females – the one male only has one horn. (I did fill in and send off the Oribi survey form) We see them almost daily.

3-oribi-hiding-behind-bushes-on-a-very-windy-day

At the beginning of September a buzzard arrived and sat on the dead tree for about an hour – it has been identified as a juvenile Jackal Buzzard. Thanks to the Birdlife KZN Midlands Club for their assistance in this identification.

i-think-this-is-a-juvenile-honey-buzzard-going-by-the-honey-buzzard-pics-i-sent-in-earlier-this-year

The Burchell’s Coucal keeps evading my camera – flew past the house with large worm in its beak and went straight into the shrubbery once more where I think it may be nesting.
One very windy night there was a scratching on our bedroom door while I was reading. This glass door leads onto the verandah. I was a bit nervous about opening the curtain but was surprised to find that it was a Speckled Mousebird who had probably been blown out of the trees. Pat placed it in a box and released him next morning.

juvenile-speckled-mousebird

Our 2 Blue Cranes are back on the farm and wade in the puddle of a dam each evening. On the 14th sept 20 crowned crane flew over the farm flying west. A porcupine was trying to get into the garden by digging a huge hole at the farm gate – the dogs would stand and bark at it but he took no notice – he did get in the one night and dug up a lot of my dietes bulbs. Pat attached more wire to the bottom of the gate which seems to have worked. Still hear the howling of the jackal at night – my dogs love to howl along with them – gets very rowdy at times.

The swallows arrived ten days ago and once again are trying to make a nest on the glass light bowl at front verandah. I have left the light on which seems to have deterred them, but not sure where they have gone now. The sparrows are busy making nests under the eaves at all corners of the house and the wagtails are once more nesting in the jasmine creeper. The rock pigeons are nesting in the one chimney. We occasionally hear the Barn Owl when he clonks onto the roof of the study where we watch TV or sometimes on the bedroom roof late at night where he busily eats his prey. We are not sure if he/she is still in the study chimney. We think she may be living in the forest behind the house.
We are thankful for the rain this past month. Just pray we get a good season this year.

Male Amethyst sunbird

amythest-male-sunbird

Female White-bellied Sunbird

female-malachite-sunbird-i-think

 

Long-crested Eagle

black-crested-eagle

Male Southern masked weaver building a nest

male-southern-masked-weaver-building-a-nest

Red-billed Quelea (non-breeding males)

red-billed-non-breeding-males

Scadoxus puniceus

scadoxus-puniceus

Evert van Breemen – Old Furth

I have a vague memory of you asking for snow pictures some months back.
Herewith my belated reply.

snow-on-the-berg

Detail of picture:

The closest part of the Berg is some 70 kms away and I estimate we are seeing
about 100 km of snow along the range which varies from 2.5 to 3.3 km in height. The picture is taken from a mast which is at 1.6 km altitude