Tag Archives: bees

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – August 2015

Iona Bate – Inversanda Farm

This is the guard at our gate – exceptional for being both decorative and practical.

Natal Green Snake (Philothamnus natalensis)

Natal Green Snake (Philothamnus natalensis)

Pat McKrill (after identifying for us) had this to add: ” Your snake – correctly i.d’d – looks very satisfied with itself. Seems to have had an early season start in the food queue! No question, the season has started and – along with the snakes – I’m delighted. Roll on summer.”

Jen Fly – Kildaragh Farm

There seems to be a dearth of wildlife on Kildaragh, and this is all I could come up with. The lizards on our sunny back veranda love a mealworm during the lean winter months.

The Aloe garden at Klidaragh. Aloe ferox at the back and Aloe marlothii in foreground.

The Aloe garden at Klidaragh. Aloe ferox at the back and Aloe marlothii in foreground.

The fynbos garden

The fynbos garden

Common Coral tree (Erythrina lysistemon), coming into flower. It’s not a mist belt tree but was planted , I’m told by June Fannin, who was around many years ago. She owned this property and loved trees and all the old , tall ones were no doubt planted by her. This Coral tree is, at least 30 ft high. The Sunbirds and Black-headed Orioles love it.

Common Coral tree (Erythrina lysistemon)

Common Coral tree (Erythrina lysistemon)

Barry & Rose Downard – Oak Tree Cottage

Saw this lovely little green fella outside my workshop.

Natal Green Snake

Natal Green Snake

Other than that, amongst the usual suspects, we’ve spotted slender mongoose, a samango foraging our old pumpkins and oranges (food must be scarce in the forest), hooded eagles, gymnogene creating much angst with the resident hadedas, rock pigeons enacting some sort of rock pigeon soap opera with nestlings apparently being kicked out… the poor little ones battling to deal with the cold and damp, and at least one succumbing.

Robin and Sharon Barnsley

I have been away but I gather that Nikki will send you a picture of a Serval which we saw outside our lounge window one evening. It was standing its ground against our dogs, who had clearly decided that discretion was better than valour, and casually made its way up into a tree. There have been numerous sightings of serval, far more than usual, on the D17 over the past fortnight.



Tiffany Attwell – Horse Play, Old Kilgobbin Farm

Saw banded mongoose today!! He was rather large. And two reed buck and I think an oribi?

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Inhlosane was burnt this week, as was quite a bit of the Dargle and surrounding areas after the recent rains.

Inhlosane burning close up

Inhlosane burning close up

…but in other areas at least the grass is starting to recover in the firebreaks

Firebreaks are finally yielding some new grass

Firebreaks are finally yielding some new grass

And the insects are out busy pollinating the flowers and fruit trees (I’m sure Trevor Pye will be very happy about this!)

Bees working hard

Bees working hard

And finally I managed to photograph some Yellow Everlastings whilst taking the dogs for their afternoon walk in the veld.

Yellow Everlastings in the veld

Yellow Everlastings in the veld

Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm
With additional images from Dr Amy Shuttleworth (Trail Cam Pics)

As we were away for most of august, have nothing to report, just the pics I took below during july and beginning of august. The water buck are still around and our house sitter said he saw a female grysbok. Not sure if they are found in this area! Another interesting thing is that I looked up my pics of Tanzania and found that the water buck there, do not have the “white toilet” rump. Never knew that they differed.


African hoopoe in the garden

African hoopoe in the garden

Grey Crowned Cranes grazing

Grey Crowned Cranes grazing

Drakensberg prinia

Drakensberg prinia

Gurney's sugarbird

Gurney’s sugarbird

Malachite female sunbird

Malachite female sunbird

Male malachite sunbird - still getting his new plumage

Male malachite sunbird – still getting his new plumage

Male Reedbuck

Male Reedbuck

Southern boubou

Southern boubou

Red throated wryneck female sitting on hollow fence pole (her usual spot) calling for a mate

Red throated wryneck female sitting on hollow fence pole (her usual spot) calling for a mate

Wagtail wading in dam at sunset

Wagtail wading in dam at sunset

Waterbuck on the gallop

Waterbuck on the gallop

Pat set the trail camera up next to the gate in the stone wall – as you will see from the trail photos below, a lot of animals use this gate for entry, eg: genet


Black-bellied korhaan and apparently quite uncommon for the midlands so a very nice sighting

Black-bellied korhaan and apparently quite uncommon for the midlands so a very nice sighting

Waterbuck doe

Waterbuck doe

Reedbuck ram

Reedbuck ram



Oribi Ram

Oribi Ram

Oribi Doe

Oribi Doe





Duiker doe

Duiker doe





Neville van Lelyveld : Farm Report for Iain Sinclair, Benn Meadhon Farm

On Saturday Morning we were delighted to 5 of the original 9 oribi in the oribi paddock. Until now the most we have sighted was 3.

It was very pleasing to see that during this weekend we managed to get a count of 27 reedbuck on the rye grass on Saturday night. There has been a steady increase in their numbers since the February disaster which seemed to have removed all the reedbuck from the farm. The new reedbucks currently on the farm are a completely new herd as their habits, characteristic, features, tracks, ages and habitats have all changed radically from the previous lot of reedbuck that were on the farm prior to February of this year.

Grey duiker
The duiker population on the farm has also under gone a 100% change in animals from February until now. There are also a lot less duiker around. On Saturday morning whilst waiting for the poachers to come in on the top of the hill on the non-agricultural side of the farm an adult male duiker came within a metre of us and stood over us looking at us while we were lying in the grass, even when we sat up he did not move off or feel threatened as he stood and watched us for about 3 minutes until he slowly started grazing and moved off slowly total unthreatened by our presence. This was a very special moment for us to experience this close a contact with this duiker. Somehow we never seem to have camera handy to capture these moments. Sadly however this will probably result in a very sad ending for him if he does not learn fear for humans. Sadly only 5 duiker were seen over this last weekend.

Blue Crane
A single blue crane was seen on Saturday.

Grey Crowned Cranes
Three crowned cranes were sighted on Saturday morning in the vlei. This is the first time we have seen these crowned cranes on the farm.

Forest Canaries
During our visit we saw a large flock of Forest Canaries in a tree. What a pretty little bird with such an amazing little song.

Spur-winged Geese
As previously reported the spurwing geese appear to be on the increase. During our visit we counted some 20 spurwing geese on the dam. This was great to see particularly with the presence of the Canadian geese on the dam.

Olive Thrush
There is still a lot of Olive thrushes on the farm, but once again there is a definite reduction in their number over previous visits.

Jackal Buzzards
Several Jackal buzzards can be seen almost anywhere on the farm. The sighting of these raptors seems to have increased. We were even privileged enough to see a juvenile Jackal Buzzard still most of his baby feathers on the fence above the maize paddocks. He then decided that playing with the crows was great fun; however the crow did not seem to agree. He flew around with them for ages either confused that he too was a crow or maybe he just enjoyed the reaction he got from them.

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin

At this time of year there seem to be so many birds about. I suppose they are searching for food and water in the gentler climates of gardens. Lots of nest building, bathing and foraging for food right beside my cottage, which is a delight to observe.

Weaver bathing

Weaver bathing

Walks in recently burned areas are full of little treats too. Just when one begins to wonder if anything could survive, the tiny yellow flowers of Cyrtanthus breviflorus (Yellow Fire Lily) poke cheerfully out of the charcoal grassland. The bulbs lie dormant buried under the ground, surviving the heat of the fires and emerging triumphantly when all is calm.

Cyrtanthus breviflorus

Cyrtanthus breviflorus

Interestingly, Conostomium natalensis (known as the lightning plant) which flowers in shady spots for most of summer and autumn, has just turned a dark chocolate colour, not burnt to the ground.

Conostimium natalense

Conostimium natalense

Rocks, usually hidden by bracken and shrubs are revealed. These ones standing taller than me.

r burn rocks 043

With just a little moisture in the mornings, the tiny bird like Bracken fronds begin to unfurl.



I spotted a serval running across the hillsides one afternoon, have heard the Tree Hyrax calling, there have been Common Duiker and Bushbuck, a couple of Reedbuck and a single Oribi about too. Certainly, all hoping for something green to eat to emerge from the ashes soon.

The grey leaves of Buddleja dysophylla (White Climbing Sagewood) found scrambling along forest margins appear to glow in the early morning light.

Buddleja dysophylla

Buddleja dysophylla

Boston Wildlife Sightings – August

Christeen Grant – Sitamani

We have had a very dry, mild to hot August, unusually for this time of year, almost wind free. That was until the last weekend, on the 29 August it was bitterly cold with snow flurries that didn’t settle, but the Drakensberg had a dusting, glimpsed between moving clouds; then wild wind for two days.

2014 08 29 Snow

Spring flowers have been sparse. There were fewer ragged Anemone fanninii flowers on our hillside and quickly ravaged by the wind, as were Apodiolirion buchananii. Ledebouria obvatifolia have flourished, bright purple spots of colour between the rocks.

Plant Ledebouria obvatifolia

Cyrtanthus tuckii bravely fly red flags.

Plant Cyrtanthus tuckii

Pale pink confetti of Dimorphotheca jucunda daisies shine on dry ground.

Plant Dimorphotheca jucunda

One hive of activity is the winter remains of Rocket in the vegetable garden. Bees, Cape Canaries and Striped Mice feast on the flowers and seeds.

Insect Bee

Mammal Striped Mouse

Bird Cape Canaries

The Leucosidea sericera and Halleria lucida flowers also still attracted many insects, Carpenter bees, Bees, Ants and Ladybirds.

Insect Ladybird on Ouhout

Cape White-eyes, Bulbuls, Cape Robin-Chats and Southern Boubous enjoy the bird bath. A Malachite Sunbird and Red-collared Widowbirds are in the process of growing their summer plumage. Amethyst Sunbirds busily gather cobwebs for new nests. The first Yellow-billed Kite of the season joined the Long-crested Eagles and Jackal Buzzards soaring overhead.

Black-backed Jackal call in the evenings. Common Reedbuck come close to the house to feed. Sadly we found an adult Serval lying dead, with no apparent cause on the driveway early on 21 August as we drove out before dawn. When we returned the next evening all evidence of it had gone.2014 08 Frost

Barry and Kirsten Cromhout – Highland Glen

Single Cape Vulture flying above; African (Ethiopian) Snipe in a ; Denham’s Bustard.

Rory and Sue Brighton – Elandsvlei

Pair of Fish-Eagles on the dam for the last month. What a lovely cry to hear first thing every morning.

Trevor Scheepers – Lapa Lapa

While visiting at “Four Gates” farm, saw a single Southern Ground Hornbill

Bruce and Bev Astrup – Highland Glen

Pair of Common Reedbuck lying outside garden fence and watching activities

David and Wizz Lawrence – The Willows

Single Grey Duiker, seen often outside garden fence in field.

Crystelle Wilson – Gramarye

Yellow-billed Kites are often regarded as the harbingers of spring when they return from overwintering in Africa north of the equator. I saw my first YBK on 26 July near Ashburton, Pietermaritzburg, when Boston was still very much in the grip of fierce frosts. Winter birding was still slow with low numbers, but it is easier to see forest birds with less foliage on the trees. I was pleased with finding a Lemon Dove, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler Boston_9189_Yellow-throated-Woodland-Warbler

and Swee Waxbill at Norwood forest in the Boston pentad, as well as seeing some swifts making a return.


The list for pentad 2940_3000 were: Alpine Swift, Greater Striped Swallow, Rock Martin, Terrestrial Brownbul, Lemon Dove, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Forest Canary,


Bar-throated Apalis, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, African Olive-Pigeon, Olive Woodpecker, Yellow-breasted Apalis,

Boston_9154_Yellow-breasted-Apalis Swee Waxbill, Sombre Greenbul, African Firefinch, Blacksmith Lapwing, Yellow-fronted Canary, Little Swift, African Black Swift, Southern Boubou, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Red-throated Wryneck, African Harrier-Hawk,


Speckled Mousebird, Black-headed Oriole, Pied Crow, Black Sparrowhawk, Jackal Buzzard, Grey Crowned Crane, Common Moorhen, African Sacred Ibis, Little Grebe, Red-knobbed Coot, South African Shelduck, House Sparrow, Dark-capped Bulbul, Common Fiscal, Common Waxbill, African Stonechat,


Fan-tailed Widowbird, Hamerkop, Reed Cormorant, Cape Wagtail, Cape Crow, White-breasted Cormorant, Cape Glossy Starling, Long-crested Eagle, Egyptian Goose, Spur-winged Goose, Yellow-billed Kite, Black-headed Heron,

Boston_9317_Black-headed Heron

Pin-tailed Whydah, Cape Canary, Cape Sparrow, Village Weaver, Cape Robin-Chat, Drakensberg Prinia, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Bokmakierie, Cape Longclaw, Red-necked Spurfowl, Cape Turtle-Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Hadeda Ibis, African Rail, Olive Thrush.

In the Elandshoek pentad I saw a Secretarybird between Kia Ora and Boston View and hope that they will breed this year in the area that Rob Geldart had pointed out to me.


The list for Elandshoek pentad 2935_300: African Harrier-Hawk, Red-throated Wryneck, Red-billed Quelea, Giant Kingfisher, Black-headed Oriole, Dark-capped Bulbul, Southern Black Tit,


Southern Red Bishop, Red-knobbed Coot, Black Sparrowhawk, African Pipit, Red-capped Lark, Fan-tailed Widowbird, White-breasted Cormorant, Hamerkop, Yellow-billed Kite, Cape Glossy Starling, Pied Starling, Speckled Pigeon, Amethyst Sunbird, Wattled Crane, Sombre Greenbul, Cape White-eye, Cape Batis, Common Waxbill, African Stonechat, Bokmakierie, Malachite Kingfisher, Little Grebe, Three-banded Plover,


Spur-winged Goose, Yellow-billed Duck, Reed Cormorant, Jackal Buzzard, Brown-throated Martin, Cape Wagtail, Common Fiscal, Cape Crow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Cape Canary, Levaillant’s Cisticola, African Rail, Cape Longclaw, Speckled Mousebird, Egyptian Goose, South African Shelduck, Olive Thrush, Blacksmith Lapwing, Grey Crowned Crane, Village Weaver, Cape Robin-Chat, African Dusky Flycatcher, Cape Sparrow, Hadeda Ibis, Drakensberg Prinia, Fork-tailed Drongo, Cape Turtle-Dove, Red-eyed Dove, African Sacred Ibis, Red-necked Spurfowl, Helmeted Guineafowl, Southern Boubou.

David Clulow, while visiting Boston on 11 August:
Between 10 am and 11 am overlooking Melrose dam


African Fish-Eagle circling overhead; Egyptian Geese; Huge flock of flying yellow-billed Ducks; Spurwing Geese; lots of African Shelduck on water; Little Grebe; Reed Cormorant; Common Moorhen; White-breasted Cormorant; Blacksmith Lapwing; Sacred Ibis; African Stonechat; Common Fiscal; African Darter.

DSCF2643African Darter

On leaving the dam: Brown-throated Martin; Yellow-billed Kite; many Pied Crows; Cape Crows; Jackal Buzzard; Cape Turtle-Dove; Hadedah Ibis; and in garden at “The Willows”: many Village Weavers; Cape Sparrow; House Sparrow; Cape Weaver; Red-billed Quelea; in silage pit -Helmetted Guineafowl.

Driving by “Kampoko”:

Three Grey Crowned Cranes feeding near R617

DSCF2677Three Grey Crowned Cranes

Question for Bostonians and well-wishers of Impendle Nature Reserve:

What will the plans for Smithfield dam, downstream the uMkomaas river from the R617, in the old Deepdale valley; and the Impendle dam upstream from the R617 have as an impact on these two places?      

Boston Wildlife Sightings – July 2014

2014 07 19 Soft winter dawn

Photo of a wintery Boston morning by Christeen Grant

Trevor and Cheryl Scheepers – Lapa Lapa
Two Glossy Starlings frozen to death after minus 9 in early morning; plenty of young Helmetted Guineafowl noticed; a Grey Long-tailed Mongoose hiding in a hole on Lapa Lapa.

Christeen Grant – Sitamani
July has been mixture of warm berg winds, a light dusting of snow followed by a hard frost that burnt off all the Greyia sutherlandii buds before they had really opened, misty days and some very chilly nights.

2014 07 06 Mist

Light snow fell here on 7 July, very damp and cold, the temperature didn’t go above 2C for three days.

2014 07 07 Snowing

A Speckled Pigeon fluffed herself over the eggs she was brooding in the garage, glaring at me with a very beady eye. Her brood of two have hatched since and excited cheeps erupt whenever the parents are near.

Bird Speckled Pigeon

Buddleja salviifolia scent fills the air, all the bushes are covered with blossom.

Plant Buddleja salviifolia

Bees fly busily around the inflorescences and I discovered a tiny greyish-green weevil with a black proboscis!

Plant Buddleja salviifolia with bee and weevil

Halleria lucida are also flowering profusely, an army of ants march up the stems to the flowers.

Plant Halleria Lucida

Leucosidea sericea have just started flowering, still with yellow winter leaves below.

Plant Leucosidea sericea flower

Plant Leucosidea sericea yellow leaves

Seedheads of Agapanthus campanulatus sub. sp. patens

Plant Agapanthus campanulatus subsp patens seedhead

and a Dierama sp. blend with the mellow winter landscape.

Plant Dierama seedheads

In amongst dry branches a ‘flowering’ lichen displayed vivid orange spore.


Birds continue to be very vocal and enthusiastic around the garden, Cape White-eyes, Cape Robin-Chats, Southern Boubous, Black-backed Puffbacks, Cardinal Woodpeckers tapping dead wood in the Buddlejas, Long-crested Eagles, Jackal Buzzards and our perennial Cape Sparrow family, that now have a double story nest in the protective thorny lemon tree, to accommodate their growing numbers. Nearby is a large round Ant nest.

Insect Ant nest

One early morning I watched a Black-backed Jackal pick it’s way over the burnt grass through the rocks.

2014 07 08 Winter landscape

A very dear little Climbing Mouse has taken up residence in the kitchen. The first sign it was around was a ‘litter’ of fine ostrich feather strands, from the feather duster, on the washing machine. Good nesting material. Then one morning there it was peeping at me as it balanced on the electric cord. Some mornings it sits in the spice rack as I make coffee. One day it was being very obvious, persistently making it’s self ‘be seen’, making tiny squeaks. Philip called from the other end of the house, “Come quickly, there’s a mouse in the bath. It can’t get out!”. We made a ladder of a towel, the Climbing Mouse hopped on and out of the bath, then we shepherded it out of the window. The mouse in the kitchen was still there when I returned, then disappeared after a beady stare.

Caroline McKerrow – Stormy Hill
Three Mountain Reedbuck, one male and two female, while out horse riding on Mount Shannon.

Bruce and Bev Astrup – Highland Glen
Black-headed Heron in wetland near Elands river. Black-backed Jackal, closest to the house they have ever been

Barbara and David Clulow, visiting Boston:
Cape Crow, Sacred Ibis, Egyptian Geese, Spur-wing Geese, Red-knobbed Coot, African Shelduck.

Pete and Frances Nel – Four Gates
Two Southern Ground Hornbill, A pair of Blue Cranes

Des and Noreen Muller – Fairview
Numbers of Bald ibis in the old mealie felds on Netherby

Crystelle Wilson- Gramarye

In early July David and Barbara Clulow and I visited Tillietudlem Game and Trout Lodge to do a winter birding list for the SABAP2 atlas project. The pentad joins my home pentad at Boston on the western side. As expected in winter, birding was slow, but we were pleased to see a Secretarybird which staff member Wesley Dragt told us about. He said he hadn’t seen any nests, but that same evening he phoned to tell me he had found a nest with two birds in attendance, which is very good news.


We also enjoyed watching a pair of African Fish-Eagles flying against a hillside near the dam.We managed a list of 45 in about four hours of birding. At Boston I got 71 for my home pentad over a couple of days, one of which included freezing cold weather with snow dusting the hilltops while I photographed a Malachite Kingfisher


and a Reed Cormorant at the Elandshoek dam.


Tillietudlem Pentad 2935_2955: African Stonechat, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Speckled Mousebird, Amethyst Sunbird, Cape Crow, Dark-capped Bulbul, Village Weaver, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle-Dove, Common Fiscal, Cape Wagtail, Speckled Pigeon, Drakensberg Prinia, Buff-streaked Chat, Jackal Buzzard, South African Shelduck, Bokmakierie, African Pipit, Cape Longclaw, Little Grebe, African Fish-Eagle,


Southern Boubou, Egyptian Goose, Black-headed Oriole, Cape Batis, Cape White-eye, Secretarybird, Fork-tailed Drongo, Red-throated Wryneck, African Firefinch,


Cape Canary, Rock Martin, Cape Rock-Thrush, Yellow-fronted Canary, Common Waxbill, Spur-winged Goose, Grey Crowned Crane, Brown-throated Martin, Hadeda Ibis, Yellow-billed Duck, Cape Robin-Chat, Pied Starling, Yellow Bishop, Southern Red Bishop, Fan-tailed Widowbird.

The SABAP2 list for Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000: Speckled Pigeon, Malachite Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, White-breasted Cormorant, African Firefinch, Reed Cormorant, Common Moorhen, Pied Crow, Yellow-fronted Canary, Cape Canary, Buff-streaked Chat, Green Wood-Hoopoe, African Harrier-Hawk,


Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, African Hoopoe, Spur-winged Goose, Black Sparrowhawk, Pin-tailed Whydah, Black-winged Lapwing, African Sacred Ibis, Spotted Eagle-Owl, Cape Glossy Starling, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Common Waxbill, Long-crested  Eagle, African Dusky Flycatcher, Brown-throated Martin, Jackal Buzzard,


Bar-throated Apalis, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Drakensberg Prinia, Speckled Mousebird, African Olive-Pigeon, Hamerkop, Cape Weaver, Red-winged Starling, Dark-capped Bulbul, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Three-banded  Plover, Blacksmith Lapwing, Village Weaver, House Sparrow, Amethyst  Sunbird,   Cape Sparrow,  Cape  Robin-Chat, Olive Thrush, Cape White-eye,  Bokmakierie,  Red-necked Spurfowl,  African Rail, Red-knobbed Coot,  Little Grebe, Cape Longclaw,


Red-capped Lark, African Pipit,  Cape  Wagtail,    Helmeted Guineafowl, South African Shelduck, African Stonechat, Southern Red Bishop, Red-billed Quelea, Cape Crow, Southern Boubou, Fork-tailed Drongo, Black-headed Oriole, Egyptian Goose, Grey Crowned Crane, Common Fiscal, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle-Dove, Hadeda.



Boston Wildlife Sightings – June 2014

Christeen Grant – Sitamani

June has been a month of wonderful surprises!

In the early hours of the 15 June, gusty wind blew in the darkness outside my window. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a whitish shape flash past and thumping noises on the verandah, but thought it was just wind blown objects. Then a definite bump on the windowpane and two bright eyes beneath large ears revealed a Serval kitten, who seemed intent on trying to get in. When I got up for a closer look it looked back at me then ran off into the darkness. Two weeks later at 6.30am on 27 June, before sunrise, what I think was the same kitten, was dozing beneath the bay tree outside the kitchen door. This time it stayed long enough for me to photograph it!

Mammal Serval kitten

The day before a family of three Mountain Reedbuck, a male, female and a youngster; grazed near the garages in the afternoon. My apologies for the poor images, but I only had my cell phone on me.

Mammal Mt Reedbuck 02

On the 6 June we awoke to a winter wonderland.

2014 06 06 Snowy morning

June has been a delight of bird sightings. A winter wash of White-eyes,

Bird Cape White-eyes

Dark-capped Bulbuls,

Bird Dark-capped Bulbuls

Cape Canaries and Drongos enjoying the bird bath.

Bird Cape Canary

The Speckled Pigeons love preening in the sunshine on top of the roof

Bird Speckled Pigeon

and Cape Turtle Doves forage on the lawn.

Bird Cape Turtle-Dove

One morning I watched an African Harrier-hawk swoop from tree to tree. The Fish Eagles iconic call floats up from the valley on most days.

Careful inspection of flowers and fallen leaves revealed a Bee about to enter an aloe flower

Insect Bee in Soap Aloe

and a Gaudy Commodore (winter form).Insect Gaudy Commodore winter form

Bared branches reveal colourful lichen.


A few flowers caught my eye, Aloe maculata, Common Soap Aloe;

Plant Aloe Maculata Soap Aloe yellow form

Buddleja dysophylla with dainty white drifts of blossom

Plant Buddleja dysophylla

and Euryops laxa’s yellow star-like flowers in the dry grass.

Plant Euryops laxus

Searsia dentata leaves glow in russet colours.

Plant Searsia dentata

Crystelle Wilson – Gramarye

Birding in winter is hard work and it is not easy to get more than 60 species on an atlas card. Some birds migrate to Europe or Africa north of the equator, following summer, while others do altitudinal migration to the coast. Like I did for most of the month, hence only a short list for this month! Most of the widowbird, weaver and bishop males have lost their breeding colours and it is more difficult to distinguish between species. The Pintailed Whydah male is also far less aggressive at the feeding table. The Black-winged Lapwings were also still present in the district.


The list for Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000: African Hoopoe, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle Dove, Hadeda Ibis, Cape Crow, Cape Sparrow,


Village Weaver, Black-headed Oriole, Common Fiscal, Helmeted Guineafowl, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, African Pipit, Egyptian Goose, South African Shelduck, Spur-winged Goose, African Stonechat, Speckled Mousebird, Drakensberg Prinia, Dark-capped Bulbul, Fork-tailed Drongo, Cape Robin-Chat, Cape White-eye, Grey Crowned Crane, Giant Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Duck, Green Wood-hoopoe, Long-crested Eagle,


African Firefinch, Red-necked Spurfowl, Red-throated Wryneck, Cape Longclaw, Black Sparrowhawk, African Rail, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Common Waxbill, Fan-tailed Widowbird, African Sacred Ibis, Black-headed Heron, Pin-tailed Whydah,


Southern Boubou, Bokmakierie, Red-knobbed Coot, Common Moorhen, Southern Red Bishop, Red-billed Quelea, Cape Glossy Starling, Little Grebe, Brown-throated Martin, Jackal Buzzard, Sombre Greenbul, Red-winged Starling, Speckled Pigeon, House Sparrow, Pied Starling, Black-winged Lapwing, Reed Cormorant, African Dusky Flycatcher, Red-capped Lark, African Darter, Cape Wagtail.



Boston Wildlife Sightings – May 2014

Christeen Grant – Sitamani
We have had truly stunning weather during May, an Indian Summer. Brilliant blue skies and amazing dawn and sunsets.

Plant Autumn veld

Bees have been congregating wherever there has been water, puddles and even taps, as it’s been so dry. I have seen several Gaudy Commodores in the winter form, blue and black with scarlet markings. Carpenter Bees are attracted to the Polygala myrtifolia flowers in the shrubbery

Insect Carpenter Bee

and there was a lovely russet Stinkbug on our kitchen door one morning.

Insect Stinkbug

The grasses have turned into a glowing mix of autumn hues, a dried Crassula alba flower blended well into the palette.

Plant Crassula alba

Aloe maculata plants are covered in buds.

Plant Aloe maculata buds

Here and there are a few brave flowers, Nemesia caerulea,

Plant Nemesia caerulea 02

Sutera floribunda

Plant Sutera floribunda

and Senecio polyanthemoides which attracted a wide range of small beetles, and neatly camouflaged, a hungry green Praying Mantis!

Plant Senecio polyanthemoides with Praying Mantis

Early one morning just before sunrise a male Common Reedbuck sauntered down our driveway, and on a few occasions Duiker browse under the trees in the orchard.

Mammal Common Reedbuck male

There was a fresh Porcupine scraping near the house. Black-backed Jackal call most evenings.

Mammal Porcupine scraping

A persistent Rock Kestrel decided our hillside was his territory and repeatedly dive-bombed two Pied Crows until they flew off. Hadeda Ibis complacently forage around the garden.

Bird Hadeda Ibis

The Speckled Pigeons have hatched a brood very late in the season in the garage. The bared branches of the Sweet Chestnut tree near the house exposed a Dark-capped Bulbul nest. In summer they had been flitting in and out of the dense foliage.

Bird Dark-capped Bulbul nest

A Black-backed Puffback has been displaying his white ‘puff’ in the wisteria on the verandah.  In the late afternoons, a chittering flock of Cape White-eyes love exploring the Natal Bottlebrush, Greyia sutherlandii, which already has buds on it.

Bird Cape White-eyes

The Cape Glossy Starlings have visited the garden several times this month. In the grass down near our gate I’ve seen an African Hoopoe, and sunning themselves on rocks, African Stonechats.

Bird African Stonechat Female

At the moment a Drakensberg Prinia has decided that he must stake his territory and fend off his ‘reflected-image’ in the sitting room window, giving beautiful close-up sightings.

Bird Drakensberg Prinia a

Lizards can be seen soaking up the sun, in leaf litter. Including Variable Skinks

Reptile Variable Skink

and between wooden slats, a small Agama.

Reptile Agama

Caroline McKerrow – Stormy Hill

A Caracal in the forest while on a horse ride.

Barbara and David Clulow – The Willows

On 18 May saw the floater Flock of Grey Crowned Cranes walking in a long stately, slow queue on Melrose farm at 5:20 pm over a rise and down into a dip, where they could no longer be seen

Barbara took this photo of a Gymnogene along the Dargle Road


While driving along Dargle road, a Lanner Falcon poised for take-off from a perch on a pole

DSCF1670 (3)Lanner Falcon

And a juvenile Gymnogene (African Harrier-Hawk) being dive-bombed by some irritated defenders

gymnogene being divebombed

myriads of monkeys munching mielies

DSCF1657Monkeys with mealies

Crystelle Wilson – Gramarye

It is possible to find new sightings even after so many years of birding in the district. This month I added Red-backed Mannikin to my lists for the first time after spotting them in the forest on Norwood. Unfortunately they didn’t allow my camera lens to get too close to them as they flitted about in the foliage.


The annual Cape Parrot count was disappointing with only one confirmed sighting at Boston View, although others were heard at Impendle and on the Ridge at Inhlosane.


But it was good to hear and see an African Goshawk on its dawn patrol at the Ridge


and finding a Long-crested Eagle on a nest on the banks of the Elands River at Boston.


I spotted another buzzard with confusing plumage, very dark to be a Steppe Buzzard, and out of season, but not resembling juvenile Jackal Buzzards. Even the experts declined to call it, advising me to look the other way when I see it again!

Boston_MG_0108_mystery Buzzard

Other welcome sights were Denham’s Bustard,


Black-winged Lapwings and the more common Blacksmith Lapwing comparing its black-and-white outfit with that of its bovine friend.


The atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 was: Cape Glossy Starling, Red-throated Wryneck, Green Wood-hoopoe, Cape White-eye, Cape Sparrow, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle Dove, Dark-capped Bulbul, Village Weaver, African Dusky Flycatcher, Speckled Mousebird, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, Cape Robin-Chat, Fork-tailed Drongo, Common Fiscal, South African Shelduck, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Red-collared Widowbird, Hadeda Ibis, Egyptian Goose, Common Waxbill, African Sacred Ibis, Cape Crow,


African Rail, Bokmakierie, Grey Crowned Crane, Spur-winged Goose, Denham’s Bustard, Long-crested Eagle, Southern Red Bishop, Red-necked Spurfowl, Black-headed Heron, Greater Striped-Swallow, Spotted Eagle-Owl, African Pipit, Little Grebe, African Darter, Blacksmith Lapwing, Cape Longclaw, Red-knobbed Coot, Cape Weaver, Yellow-billed Duck, Common Moorhen, Cape Wagtail, Cape Canary, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Amethyst Sunbird, Pin-tailed Whydah, African Hoopoe, Pied Kingfisher, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, African Stonechat, Southern Boubou, Pied Crow, Lanner Falcon,


Red-billed Quelea, House Sparrow, Brown-throated Martin, Jackal Buzzard, Pied Starling, Reed Cormorant, African Black Duck, Cape Parrot, African Harrier-Hawk, Black-shouldered Kite, Olive Woodpecker, Cape Batis, Sombre Greenbul, Southern Black Tit, Black-headed Oriole, Red-winged Starling, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Black-backed Puffback, Thick-billed Weaver, Yellow-fronted Canary, Helmeted Guineafowl, Bar-throated Apalis, Wattled Crane.Boston_7179_Wattled-Crane

Bruce and Bev Astrup of Highland Glen watched a Lanner Falcon circling above

Cape Parrot Count: Crystelle Wilson, Barbara and David Clulow

On 17th and 18th May we counted Cape Parrots at Flemmington, at Boston View House with the huge Yellowwoods well stocked with kernels, and on the ridge below southern Inhlosane – walking up in minus 3 degrees Celsius at 6 am to overlook the magnificent indigenous forests. We heard Cape Parrots in the distance, saw one flying overhead and perching several times, but nothing like a few years ago.

lone cape parrot