I photographed these snow scenes whilst on the way to Ivanhoe Farm.
Dargle Primary learners visited Kilgobbin forest recently. Thanks Midlands Meander Education Project and WESSA Eco-Schools for facilitating the lesson of forest diversity.
Jen Fly – Kildaragh Farm
Haven’t seen much except for a couple of Crowned Hornbills (unusual) in the garden that hung around for a few days eating the fruit of the Outeniqua Yellowwood, Podocarpus falcatus. On the 2nd August, Derek spotted his first YBK of the season in the D 17 valley. I noticed him a couple of days later. Very early.
David Crookes – Copperleigh Farm
A snare which was found in the natural forest on our farm.
Snow & the mayhem it produces!
Some images that were sent in of the “human wildlife”, mostly from PMB and Durban areas, on their way towards Inhlosane Mountain and Impendle. The dirt road was quite a mess afterwards with all the vehicles that got stuck and had to be pulled out by farmers and landowners by Landrover and tractors!
Vehicles driving past Beverley
Inhlosane had a few pockets of snow which had eventually melted after a couple of days
Wendy de Waal – Honeywood Cottage
My dog, Missy, very proudly brought this treasure home. I think a jackal or dog may have chewed off the ends. Could anyone identify what buck this came from? Oribi or Bushbuck? [Editor’s Comment: The leg is from a Bushbuck].
Pauline Holden – Woodsong Farm
We have been so excited to have seen our resident Bushbuck (well they seem to be because we see them regularly). Two females (one seems to be older and is perhaps the Mother) and one male male. They are in different areas of the farm (which is only 25Ha)
We have also seen a Serval, as well as its scat often. We have seen loads of Otter Scat.
Pat & Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm, Lidgetton
It was icy cold on the 2nd July and we lit a fire early in the day – I later found our Barn Owl sitting on the ledge on the front verandah. He flew off into the forest behind us and I haven’t seen him since. He was living in the chimney for at least 2 years. We closed the entrances on the roof of the verandah where they nested for several years, due to the mess and noise. I hope Nikki’s barn owls are nesting in the barn again this year.
We had snow for a few hours the next day and then it started to rain. We took this photo of a very wet male Common Reedbuck.
Common Reedbuck (male)
We had regular sightings of the Secretarybird and we were fortunate to have seen two together on one day.
On our walks in the evenings we saw a lot of Common Reedbuck on the green burns – counted 13 on a 1hr walk. Saw a half eaten Ibis near the dam – the African Harrier-Hawk had been flying about. Have seen this bird quite often and for the past few weeks he has been coming into the garden.
Very few raptors – just the Jackal Buzzard and Long-crested Eagle.
Beginning of august I was very excited to see the female Black Sparrowhawk sitting on her nest on a few occasions.
Black Sparrowhawk nesting
She raised 2 fledglings in same nest 2 years ago – The Egyptian Geese took it over last year which was very disappointing. On the 13th august we saw for the first time a bundle of white feathers sitting on top of the nest. Wow I was ecstatic to see this one chick.
Black Sparrowhawk chick
With the other 2 chicks 2 years ago we used to only see their heads sticking out the top of this very deep nest. It was only when they were completely feathered with their rufous feathers and sitting on the branches that I was able to take some decent pics. Then on the 27th august, just 2 weeks later, there he/she sat on top of the nest with her rufous colouring. Can’t believe they changed colour so quickly. (Picture next month)
On one very frosty morning there was a Hamerkop standing near the pond. His beak was tucked into his chest feathers. He kept lifting his feet up one at a time as if they were numb. He eventually sat down. Half hour later I asked Pat to go and see if he was sick as did not want the dogs to attack him. Thankfully he flew off and seemed fine.
We saw three Oribi graze on the hill which has turned green
One morning before sunrise saw a very large clumsy bird hopping on the leafless plane tree. Before I could get the camera it jumped down behind the shrubs – it definitely appeared to be a coucal – first time in the garden although have heard its call from the bush behind the house.
I am sure that most folk have seen the huge group of crowned crane in the vlei of the Fowlers farm at Lions river – I did stop one day and drove down the railway line and took some pics – there appeared to be about 50 of these beautiful creatures. Does anyone know if they breed on the same farm?
Flock of Grey Crowned Cranes
The sunbirds have returned now that there are a few shrubs in flower and they all seem to have regained their summer colours. We hung some string and baubles in the same place that the Amethyst Sunbird made her nest on last year. About ten days ago she flew around the verandah and landed on the string and gave it a good looking over. She flies from door to door looking for insects every morning. On the one day she arrived with her partner. He sat on the hanging basket while she showed him the string. No building of nest has taken place but still too early for that, so we shall see if he approved of her choice.
Pat saw a female cori bustard on the green burn early one morning.
On 26th august, 8 blue crane arrived at our puddle in the dam. They were there for a few hours – 3 blue crane have spent the last few days in the puddle – I am not sure if he is a “hanger on” or the youngster from last year who has not left the fold. We shall see what happens but the puddle is drying up fast, so if no rain soon, I am sure they will look elsewhere to nest this year once again.
A pair of duiker seen close to the house –looks like the wild life are pairing up. We have seen quite a few duiker in August.
The Wagtails, Sparrows, and Olive Thrush all seem to be nesting in the formal garden and of course the Rock Pigeons never stop breeding.
One morning I saw a pair of Cape Robin-chats hopping around in front of the kitchen window. He then hopped onto a branch of the peach tree and starting trying to attract her attention by flicking his tail up and down very quickly – he has a beautifully coloured tail – she did not seem interested as carried on looking for worms.
We have a pair of Gurney’s Sugarbirds.
On a few of our walks we have seen quite a few young Common Reedbuck.
One morning three Cape White-eyes appeared on same peach tree.
An interesting picture of someone burning at sunset
Male Malachite Sunbird now in full color
Malachite Sunbird (male)
Not sure of this buzzard as very dark in color – taken in early august so not sure if Steppe Buzzards were around then?
Picture of the dargle hills and neighbours horses at sunset
Marashene Lewis – GlenGyle
This evening at about 6pm, driving on the D707, I was blessed with a wonderful sight. Just past the corner next to the Fly’s staff houses, a large Bushbuck ram stood in the middle of the road facing me. I stopped and waited for him to move. He went into the Fannin paddock, followed by his lady who had been standing near the opposite fence. Beautiful.
Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm
This Winter because of the drought, Samango monkeys have been very hungry, which has made them very bold. They have eaten all the fruit on my lemon tree – even eating up those that they bite and drop (usually for the benefit of bush pig and buck).
I have noticed they come back the next day and then pick up the dropped fruit and eat it all. Lots of babies have just been born, so I assume they know the drought will be over soon. Certainly hope so.
Frosty mornings make for great photos. It was a real treat to come across this paw print in the ice capped mud one morning.
Balmy winter afternoons are heavy with the fragrance of Buddleja along forest edges.
Helen Booysen – Crab Apple Cottages
Hello World , A glorious season ! Bales of hay, snow, and even some mud as I whiz over the hills in my carriages with Ntombikayise as my back-stepper . .
No humans seen ! Black fire-breaks turning green . . water flowing after some rains, with little frogs chirruping and croaking on the edges !
A sleeping Spotted Eagle Owl on the forest margin at The Old Kilgobbin Dam. . . a pair of Egyptian Geese and a Tegwaan are regulars there .
A beautifully marked Mountain Reedbuck Doe is resident just below the Dam . . she has become used to us trotting by.
Samango Monkeys counted up in the Grasslands . . 32 individuals , with four infants newly arrived .
Up on the top of Carlisle we regularly count 4 Oribi , 5 Reedbuck does and a handsome Reedbuck Ram . He tries to duck behind the old stems of Tweedie bush as we approach and remains unmoved through all of my driving .
Ntombi and I have spotted Jackal Buzzards on the Bales regularly and one on a medium -size kill . . Barend and I have spotted The Red Collared Widow Birds up and busy flirting with half-grown tails during our walks over the top in the grasslands .
Chris and I saw a Long Crested Eagle and plenty of Stone Chats along the walls .
All four Robins have been spotted up near the Oatley Hide . . and our garden with it`s fresh compost has Robins , Thrushes and Bou Bou Shrikes
scratching for and collecting yummy bugs ,
The roughly 50 kms a week that I get to roam the hills are “ Soul-Food “ Thank you for sharing your farms with our horses , Ntombi , Barend and I . . No humans seen . . Magical!!
We found this dead otter at one of our dams this morning. No sign of injury. So sad…do you have a theory about what could have happened to him?? Not sure who else to ask!
Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm
Early morning mist over the valley
Worm in freshly cut wattle tree
Large pile of droppings, I’m guessing from a reedbuck as we have seen them on numerous occasions on the farm
A dead Oribi I found in one of our firebreaks, not sure what killed it
Lifted a rock at the dam and found this chap trying to hide underneath
Inhlosane rising above the ever diminishing Mavela Dam
Little dam near Selsley Farm
Aloes flowering on a neighbours farm
Recovering Olive Thrush sitting in a pot after flying into the window
A Black Sparrowhawk which was upsetting our lambs as it was flapping around on the ground in their night camp, obviously injured we took it to FreeMe in Howick for them to look after.
Late afternoon sun streaming through some pine trees
And finally a wintery scene of grassland and Inhlosane looking down on us
Louise Ghersie – Satori Farm
A herd of Eland passing our house to the top of our farm. Beautiful sight!