Tag Archives: amur falcon

Boston Wildlife Sightings – March 2014

Caroline McKerrow Stoney Hill one Bushbuck; one Duiker; two Common Reedbuck; one Vlei Rat; a Snake – presumed Boomslang?  This is a picture of snake inspecting the plumbing on outside of house.



Christeen Grant Sitamani I love this time of year when the heat of summer has abated; the weather settled to stunning days in golden sunshine and the mellowness of Autumn is creeping in. Many insects, including butterflies and moths, have been around. If anyone had been watching me stalk this tiny butterfly, about 25mm, over the lawn, they would have rolled around laughing! It did help though to post the photos on the Facebook group: Southern Africa Butterflies, Bugs, Bees and other small things, where Steve Woodhall gave me a possible ID: a female Common Zebra Blue, of the Leptotes genus; most likely to be Leptotes pirithous.

2014 03 Butterfly 01 Zebra Blue female

Zebra Blue female

Sharing, seeing and learning from a Facebook group is an unexpected pleasure. Excellent photos from all over Southern Africa are posted and friendly expert advice and ID’s offered, really quickly.

2014 03 Butterfly 02 Zebra Blue female Blue

Zebra Blue female Blue

Some of the other insect-life seen were: Grasshoppers;

2014 03 Insect 01



2014 03 Insect 02 Locust Heteracris

Locust Heteracris

a myriad of Beetles including some with amusing common names:

2014 03 Insect 03 Museum beetle

Museum beetle


2014 03 Insect 04 Stink bug

Stink bug


2014 03 Insect 05 Pleasing fungus beetle

Pleasing fungus beetle

and a fantastic diversity of fast moving Flies, one in particular of the Philoliche genus intrigued me!

2014 03 Insect 08 Fly Philoliche sp

Fly Philoliche sp

Three main flowers caught my eye, as they shone in numbers in the grassland: brilliant yellow swathes of Helichrysum cooperi;

2014 03 Plant 01 Helichrysum cooperi

Helichrysum cooperi

tall, graceful, Plectranthus calycinus;

2014 03 Plant 02 Plectranthus calycinus

Plectranthus calycinus

and the stunning, regal, Leonotis leonurus.

2014 03 Plant 03 Leonotis leonurus (1)

Leonotis leonurus

A variety of fungi appeared after rain, Boletus edulis growing under the Pin Oak avenue attracted Bush Pig, who literally ploughed up the earth in their eagerness to eat them!

2014 03 Fungi 01 Boletus edulis (1)

Boletus edulis

One early morning in half light I saw ‘big daddy’ Bush Pig sauntering off into the pine trees on Mount Shannon across from our gate, and on another morning driving out, really lovely sighting of the Caracal. Common Reed buck are round the house at night, resting on the hillside during the day. The Common Duiker love the Sweet Chestnuts that have fallen and can often be seen munching! Most evenings Black-backed Jackal call from the valley. An occasional visitor, the African Harrier-Hawk, swooped into the trees looking for fledglings. Dark-capped Bulbuls, Black-headed Orioles, Fork-tailed Drongos, Hadeda Ibises, Grey-headed Canaries, Cape Sparrows, Cape Robin-Chats, Southern Black Tits, Amethyst Sunbirds, Lesser Striped Swallows, Black and Red-chested Cuckoos calling, Cape White-eyes, Red-winged Starlings, Black-shouldered Kites, Jackal Buzzards, Long-crested Eagles, Rock Kestrels, Steppe Buzzards and Grey Herons, Wailing Cisticolas, Speckled Mousebirds, and Spotted Eagle Owls hooting to each other in the early morning and evenings.


Black-shouldered-Kite by Crystelle Wilson

Rob and Celia Spiers – The Rockeries  2 young Berg Adders and a young Green House Snake run over in the driveway. Cape Parrots in the Pecan Nut trees David and Barbara Clulow during a visit to Boston on 30 March; Spur-winged Geese; Red-eyed Dove; Common Fiscal; Barn Swallows, feeding and perching.  During a visit to Boston for four days from 13 March to 16 March: Grey Crowned Cranes with chicks at “The Willows; “Elandsvlei”; “Melrose” Crystelle Wilson Gramarye There are three Grey Crowned Crane families raising chicks that I came across this month. Apart from the one surviving chick (out of three hatchlings) at The Willows

Grey-Crowned-Crane_5140_The Willows

Grey-Crowned-Crane The Willows

there are two juveniles at Melrose Dam

Boston_4884_Grey-Crowned-Crane_Melrose Dam

Grey-Crowned-Crane_Melrose Dam

and next door at the dam at Boston Tea Party there is a youngster of a few weeks old.

Boston_4905__Grey-Crowned-Crane_Boston T-Party dam

Grey-Crowned-Crane_Boston T-Party dam

On the way to Howick one day I was very pleased to see a Martial Eagle near the Base Camp (Four Trees) site. This month we also said goodbye to migrants such as Barn Swallows, Amur Falcons,


Amur-Falcon female

White Storks and Steppe Buzzards.


Steppe-Buzzard imm

Fork-tailed Drongo, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape Sparrow, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, Cape White-eye, Cape Turtle Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Common Fiscal, African Stonechat, Black Saw-wing, Southern Red Bishop, Drakensberg Prinia, Cape Crow, Zitting Cisticola, House Sparrow, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Hadeda Ibis, Cape Wagtail, Cape Longclaw, White-throated Swallow, Barn Swallow, White Stork, Black-headed Heron, Cape Grassbird, Red-knobbed Coot, Common Moorhen, Yellow-billed Duck,



Little Grebe, Egyptian Goose, Blacksmith Lapwing,



Sombre Greenbul,



Bokmakierie, Cape Weaver, Malachite Sunbird, Speckled Mousebird, Pale-crowned Cisticola, Steppe Buzzard, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Common Waxbill, Red-collared Widowbird, Amethyst Sunbird, Greater Striped-Swallow, Cape Robin-Chat, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Little Rush-Warbler, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Barn Owl, Giant Kingfisher, Pin-tailed Whydah, African Reed-Warbler, Grey Crowned Crane, Red-necked Spurfowl, Reed Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Dideric Cuckoo, African Rail, Pied Starling, Pied Crow, Brown-throated Martin, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Yellow-fronted Canary, Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Batis, Amur Falcon, Long-crested Eagle, Hamerkop, Spur-winged Goose, Pied Kingfisher, African Hoopoe, Long-tailed Widowbird, South African Shelduck, African Dusky Flycatcher, African Sacred Ibis, Southern Boubou, Thick-billed Weaver, Yellow-billed Kite, Cape Glossy Starling,



African Olive-Pigeon,

Boston_5292_African Olive Pigeon

African Olive Pigeon

Jackal Buzzard, Yellow Bishop, Forest Canary, Southern Double-collared Sunbird,



Speckled Pigeon, Terrestrial Brownbul. Flight of 32 Grey Crowned Cranes on 21 March.

2014 March Grey Crowned Crane (2)

Grey Crowned Cranes in flight

Boston Wildlife Sightings – December 2012

George Edlmann of “Parkside”:

Pelargonium luridum in bloom

pelargonium luridum

Emperor Swallowtail butterfly on Nasturtiums

emporer swallowtail

The Cicada below is described as mottled green and brown; this all green specimen was seen on Parkside:


The spoor at Parkside on the right above was identified by Dr Gerhard Verdoorn as that of a Brown Hyaena

hyena print

Neil and Gail Baxter of “Mosgate”:

Following after the Scilla natalensis (blue), now the Scilla nervosa(white) are in bloom

Rob and Gail Geldart of “Boston View”:

News received that Rob saw a single Southern Ground Hornbill up on the hillside.

Andrew and Patricia Poole of “Brooklands”:

Pair of Wattled Cranes breeding on farm

Pete and Frances Nel of “Four Gates”:

Juvenile Black-backed Jackal at entrance gate to farm.

Dec 21 – Pete saw the same little jackal this morning round 8am at the same gate.  Mother must have abandoned it!

Dec 16 – three Southern Ground Hornbills on hillside, behind the farmhouse

Nigel and Tracy Murray of  “Trelyon”:

Identified together with David Norris-Jones – a Greater Honeyguide near the house.

“Sitamani”, Boston – a Wildflower Outing on 15 December

Absolutely stunning flowers, and even more still to bloom. Here are a few:

Alepidea natalensis,

alipedia natalensisAsclepias albens,

asclepias albens

Eulophia foliosa,

eulophia foliosa

Indigofera macropoda,

indigofera macropoda

Haemanthus humilis

heamanthus humilis

Argyrolobium tuberosum,

argylobium tuberosum

Merwilla nervosa

merwilla nervosa

Read more about this outing at https://midlandsconservanciesforum.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/botanising-in-boston/

Derek Hurlstone-Jones of “The Rockeries”:

Two Night Adders, slithering across lawn together

Ian and Jenny Lawrence of “Endeavour”:

A pair of Wattled Cranes in the lands; pair of Grey Crowned Cranes near farmhouse.

Dec 22 – saw Blue Cranes with chick at the vlei; and again on 24 Dec

Brown-hooded Kingfisher; Blesbuck had two young during late November, and these are surviving, thanks to some Black-backed Jackal control; several Amur Falcons on the wires on Dargle Road

Barbara and David Clulow of “The Willows”:

12 Dec – watched a fully grown male Common Reedbuck wading through the grass at the Elands river. After the rains it is so high and so rank that only his head and horns are visible.

15 Dec – major rain and wind storm for 15 minutes, which destroyed main trunk of Weeping Willow tree, in which African Hoopoes were breeding. Male seen still carrying worms to family, hopefully

Dec 27 – two Grey Crowned Crane chicks hatched at nesting site in the wetlands on The Willows about 20th December and now seen in the pan being fed by parents.

Cape Weaver female

cape weaver female

There is a Toad in the affairs of men………


Xysmalobium undulatum flower, found widely at present in the wetlands alongside the Elands river; also along the road past Mpophomeni


Bruce and Bev Astrup of “Highland Glen”:

Two Secretarybirds on the farm road to “Heronvale”

Two Spotted Eagle-Owls about three times each week, as they fly by and/or perch in the riverine Willows at dusk; Black-headed Heron; 9 Yellow-billed Ducks, splashing in pools of water; a bathing Hadedah Ibis; Malachite Kingfisher; Cape Crows as of an evening; Pin-tailed Wydah; Little Rush-Warbler; Long-crested eagle flying about; Cape Turtle-Dove

Dec 26 – Clay Pigeons, thick in the air.  Two Secretarybirds on the farm road to “Heronvale”. Two Spotted Eagle-Owls about three times each week, as they fly by and/or perch in the riverine Willows at dusk; Black-headed Heron; 9 Yellow-billed Ducks, splashing in pools of water; a bathing Hadedah Ibis; Malachite Kingfisher; Cape Crows as of an evening; Pin-tailed Wydah; Little Rush-Warbler; Long-crested eagle flying about; Cape Turtle-Dove.

“Edgeware” Outing on 28 December 2012:

Moraea inclinata,

mrea inclinata

Asclepias cultriformis,

asclepias cultriformis

Eulophia tenella,

eulophia tenella

Pachycarpus natalensis

pachycarpus natelensis

Read more about this outing at: https://midlandsconservanciesforum.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/exploring-edgeware/

Trevor and Cheryl Scheepers of “Lapa Lapa”:

African Spoonbill at the dam; Burchell’s Coucal taking note of the rain; found Helmeted Guineafowl egg and placed it under a broody farm hen, which hatched it out.

Philip and Christeen Grant of “Sitamani”:

Philip saw a Serval up close when cycling on Mont Shannon in the early morning. Duiker and Reedbuck have been spotted close to the house and heard whistling at night.

Grey Herons have definitely decided that our patch is a good place to forage and they are often seen stalking in the grass. Black-shouldered Kites are often seen hovering and soaring, wonderful to have them around again, very rare sightings here for many years. Steppe and Jackal Buzzards, plus Long-crested Eagles are regulars, but a glimpse of an African Harrier Hawk swooping into trees was a treat. Malachite Sunbirds graced us for a few days on their journey westward to the mountains. Amethyst and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds are enjoying the flowers.

Many Collared Earth-star fungi after each rainy spell, plus a myriad of other mushrooms and toadstools. The froggy chorus is very vocal in the evenings and many beetles buzzing around.

Wildflowers are still prolific; on the 15 December Boston CREW spent a few hours wandering over our hillside enjoying them. Some of the flowers seen were: Albuca setosa, Indigofera hilaris, Asclepias albens, Pachycarpus natalensis, Satureja compacta, Zornia capensis, Lotononis pulchra, Hermannia woodii, Hypericum lalandii, Hypoxis rigidula, Indigofera sp, Peucedanum caffrum seed, Corycium nigrescens, Scenecio sp, Hypericum aethiopicum, Hibiscus aethiopicus, Eulophia foliosa, Pelargomium luridum, Craterocapsa tarsodes, Psammotropha mucronata, Papaver aculeatum, Argyrolobium tuberosum, Lessertia perennans, Thesium pallidum, Moraea brevistyla, Aristea woodii, Pearsonia sessilifolia, Ajuga ophrydis, Oxalis depressa, Ornithogalum graminifolium, Striga bilabiata, Crassula obovata.

Craterocapsa tarsodes


Aristea woodii

aristea woodii 2

Hypoxis  rigidula

hypoxizs rudulata

Oxalis depressa

oxalis depressa

Pearsonia sessifolia


Psammatropha mucronata


Basil and Terry Cuthbert of “Jaluka Estate”

Pair of Secretary birds in veld on Alfius Ndlovu’s farm, “Woodlands”, for a second time

Rob and Celia Speirs of “The Rockeries”:

Dec 20 – heard a Burchells’ Coucal at dawn in the Elands river area

Dec 24 – a Bibron’s Blind Snake, trampled by cattle on a path; a previous one was rescued from the cat; they are described in the literature as being a stout species with 30 scales around the body, more than 300 dorsals and an angular snout

Crystelle Wilson of “Gramarye”:

Best this month was seeing some Amur Falcons returning to the district after the distressing reports of these birds being killed by their thousands on a daily basis in India during their migration from Mongolia to South Africa.

amur falcons

While walking along the river at Gramarye we saw an Egyptian Goose defending its brood when a Yellow-billed Kite swooped down to grab a gosling. The goose flew at the kite, causing it to drop the baby which lay stunned for a few seconds before getting up and trotting after the adult with its siblings.

juvenile YB kite

The SABAP2 bird list for the Elandshoek pentad: Cape Turtle Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Hadeda Ibis, Speckled Mousebird, Cape Wagtail, African Hoopoe, Village Weaver, Cape Robin-Chat, Black Saw-wing, Amethyst Sunbird, Cape White-eye, Cape Canary, Greater Striped-Swallow, Spur-winged Goose, Fork-tailed Drongo, Grey Crowned Crane, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Red-chested Flufftail, Red-necked Spurfowl, African Rail, Little Rush-Warbler, Drakensberg Prinia, African Stonechat, Cape Grassbird, Dideric Cuckoo, Dark-capped Bulbul, Pin-tailed Whydah, Cape Sparrow, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Southern Boubou, Fan-tailed Widowbird, African Spoonbill, Bokmakierie, Egyptian Goose, Common Fiscal, African Pipit, Blacksmith Lapwing, White-breasted Cormorant, Giant Kingfisher, Red-knobbed Coot, Yellow-billed Duck, White-throated Swallow, Brown-throated Martin, Red-collared Widowbird, Southern Red Bishop, Jackal Buzzard, Yellow-billed Kite, African Sacred Ibis, Common Moorhen, Helmeted Guineafowl, African Fish-Eagle, Cape Crow, Barn Swallow, African Reed-Warbler, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Cattle Egret, Red-throated Wryneck, Blue Crane, Wattled Crane, Yellow Bishop, White Stork, Burchell’s Coucal, Zitting Cisticola, Common Myna, Black-shouldered Kite, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Black-headed Heron, Wailing Cisticola, Common Quail, Red-chested Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Black-headed Oriole, Sombre Greenbul, Black-backed Puffback, Buff-spotted Flufftail African Emerald Cuckoo, Barratt’s Warbler, Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Longclaw, Terrestrial Brownbul, Speckled Pigeon, Cape Parrot, Cape Batis.

malachite kingfisher (2)