Christeen Grant – Sitamani
Sunsets have been spectacular if the storm clouds have moved off in time.
One midday there was a stunning view of towering thunderstorms over the Southern Drakensberg. That’s the sort of cloud that has been dumping rain here, most afternoons / evenings. Moisture haze builds up quickly in the mornings.
The predominant flower colour has been yellow, thousands of Berkeya setifera glow in the grass around the house.
Brilliant blue patches of Agapanthus campanulatus shine on the rocky hillsides and one of our special flowers, Brunsvigia undulata started flowering a bit earlier this January.
It is a Threatened (Rare) species and was CREW’s (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers) flower of the month.
Two species of Gladiolus, Gladiolus ecklonii in two colour variations,
and Gladiolus sericeovillosus, graced the grasslands.
A myriad of ground orchids: Eulophia hians ( = clavicornis) nutans,
Eulophia hians ( = clavicornis) nutans
and one I had not seen here before, Orthochilus (formally Eulophia) welwitschii though I had to do some sleuth work as it had been severely munched by a bright green cricket (visible amongst the flowers).
Orthochilus (Eulophia) welwitschii
This is what it could have looked like as depicted in Elsa Pooley’s ‘Mountain Flowers’ field guide.
Moreaea brevisyla, Tephrosia purpurea, Zaluzianskya microsiphon and Zornia capensis were a few of the other flowers seen during the month.
A Black-headed Oriole often sings a liquid call from the tops of trees.
On an evening stroll I heard and spotted several Levaillant’s Cisticolas foraging in the Bracken,
and early in the morning the shy Bokmakierie has joined the moth smorgasbord.
Two of the moths, I think both Slug moths evaded hungry beaks.
A Stick Insect found it’s way onto a kitchen towel
and a dainty Lacewing settled in a dark corner for the day.
Last night as twilight faded a lovely rich chocolate brown adult male Bushbuck wandered through the garden, then on down the slope in front of the house towards the orchard, browsing as he went.
David Clulow: Two wildflower outings this month in Boston
The first a camera sortie by Barbara Clulow, Crystelle Wilson and David Clulow clambering around on “Edgeware” hillside – Gordon Pascoe’s portion – where the flowers had changed from a matter of a few weeks before; all quite different to most years at this time.
The carpets of Eriosemas are still wondering whether they should flower. But we did see two Eulophia which pleased us
and only one of the Pachycarpus/Xysmalobium type, when normaly there would be many.
The second outing was at “Stormy Hill”, home of Caroline McKerrow, whose riding school made way for a visit to the hillside,
together with CREW representatives to search for the uncommon Brunsvigia undulata – with its wavy leaves.
Happily there were 7 plants seen and photographed together with a wealth of other plants……………..
Paddy and Sue Carr – Netherby
Paddy and Sue reported a charming tale of an Egyptian chick rescue – having seen the brood on the road near their house, to find shortly after, one chick being taunted by the house cat in Paddy’s study, was alarming. Removing it, Paddy set off to find the parents – and there they were with the other chicks, taking swimming lessons. Calling the chicks away at the sight of the approaching Paddy, the parents made angrily in his direction. He placed the chick on the water and, hearing the parent’s frantic calls, the youngster was soon reunited with the family.
Crystelle Wilson – Gramarye
At the height of summer there is a great variety of grasses maturing in the veld.
I have no idea what their names are, but do enjoy the diversity of the plants.
By now most birds have completed their breeding and there are many juvenile birds flopping around, demanding to be fed and learning how to cope in the big wide world.
Nightjar chicks by Peter Geldart
A new sighting this month was a pair of Banded Martins with their chick, I don’t often find them in the district.
A Spectacled Weaver at the Pickle Pot was new for me, and I saw a Dusky Indigobird for the first time in a long time.
Members of the BirdLife Port Natal bird club from Durban visited on 25 January, looking at wetland birds on Gramarye,
where a highlight was finding a Barn Owl at the river, and then going to the forest on Boston View where a Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher took the honours.
It was an enjoyable outing and was suitably rounded of by two African Fish-Eagles (an adult and juvenile) circling above Gramarye before the last visitors left.
This is the SABAB2 atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000:
Terrestrial Brownbul, Pale-crowned Cisticola, Banded Martin, Lanner Falcon, Neddicky, Willow Warbler, Cape Glossy Starling, Black Sparrowhawk, Red-throated Wryneck,
South African Shelduck, African Firefinch, White Stork, Common Quail, Green Wood-Hoopoe,
Amur Falcon, Southern Black Tit, Red-billed Quelea, Long-tailed Widowbird, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Barratt’s Warbler, Red-winged Starling, Yellow Bishop, Forest Canary,
Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Cape Batis, Bar-throated Apalis, Wailing Cisticola, Sombre Greenbul, African Emerald Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo, Red-chested Cuckoo, African Olive-Pigeon, Speckled Pigeon, Blacksmith Lapwing, Thick-billed Weaver, Pied Starling, Common Moorhen, Helmeted Guineafowl, Red-capped Lark, Yellow-fronted Canary, African Hoopoe,
African Sacred Ibis, Barn Swallow, African Black Duck, Cape Grassbird, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Bokmakierie, Long-crested Eagle, Cape Canary, Grey Crowned Crane, Black Saw-wing, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Black-headed Oriole, Greater Striped Swallow, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, House Sparrow, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Cape White-eye, Pin-tailed Whydah, Brimstone Canary, Fork-tailed Drongo, Olive Thrush, Amethyst Sunbird, Village Weaver,
African Dusky Flycatcher, Southern Boubou, Cape Crow, Giant Kingfisher, Zitting Cisticola, Cape Wagtail, Yellow-billed Kite, Jackal Buzzard, Spur-winged Goose, African Pipit, African Darter, Pied Kingfisher, Red-knobbed Coot, Little Grebe, African Rail, White-throated Swallow,
Brown-throated Martin, Cape Longclaw, White-breasted Cormorant, Reed Cormorant, Yellow-billed Duck, Egyptian Goose, Cape Sparrow, Cattle Egret, Cape Robin-Chat, Red-chested Flufftail, Cape Weaver, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Speckled Mousebird, Red-collared Widowbird, Fan-tailed Widowbird, African Stonechat, Diderick Cuckoo, Little Rush-Warbler, Southern Red Bishop, Dark-capped Bulbul, Drakensberg Prinia, Alpine Swift, Horus Swift, African Black Swift, Red-necked Spurfowl, Common Fiscal, Hadeda Ibis, Cape Turtle-Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Burchell’s Coucal.