Tag Archives: birds of prey

Kamberg & Hlatikulu Sightings – January 2017

Kamberg January 2017 – By Pam Kleiman

I enjoyed watching numerous White Storks around the district


White Stork

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


Common Moorhen

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


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


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.


Blue-cheaked Bee-eater

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


Spotted Flycatcher

A rather intense stare from a Cape Weaver


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


Amur Falcon

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


Southern Red Bishop (male)

A few butterflies in the garden


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


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


Bar-throated Apalis

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


Cuckoo Finch

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


Yellow-crowned Bishop (male)

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


Ostrich (male and female)

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


Western Osprey

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


Red-necked Spurfowl

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


Cape Longclaw

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


Dassie / Rock Hyrax

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


Brunsvigia natalensis


Brunsvigia natalensis

A summer flowering aloe just past it’s prime



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


Satyrium longicauda


Satyrium longicauda

Vlei Orchid – ? Satyrium hallackii


Vlei Orchid – ? Satyrium hallackii

Kamberg Wildlife Sightings – June 2016

Pamela Ellenberger Kleiman

Being new to the district I hope to be able to contribute sightings occasionally from the Kamberg Conservancy.

A view from the D450 across the hill where 2 farmers regularly put out carcasses for the Vultures. As an atlasser I have seen a group of up to 40+ individuals flying in the area.


During the first 2 weeks of May I was privileged to see a large flock of Southern Bald Ibis in 4 different areas, the main one along the D450


I see this pair of Grey Crowned Cranes regularly along our valley which has a series of farm dams in it.


I love the name Groundscraper Thrush. The only time I have seen them they have been calling from the top of the tallest trees!


Red-throated Wryneck, a permanent visitor to my garden.


During May the Black-headed Oriole was often in the garden. Now in June I no longer hear it.


African Harrier-hawk is often seen in the Oak trees along our valley much to the annoyance of many of the small birds.


Just a picture of a Long-crested Eagle giving the eye to two Hadedas.


On the 23rd May there were still White Storks around despite the fact that we had already had a few mornings of quite heavy frost.


Hottentot Teal that were a new atlas recording for our area.


On the road to Fairview farm I recorded 2 pairs and 2 individual Secretarybirds last week.


Buff-streaked Chat. This is a Species I am delighted to be finding more and more often in our area.


There is an ever present flock of White-faced Whistling Ducks on ponds on one of our dairy farms.


Another new atlas recording – rather a bad shot, unfortunately of a Black Crake on Connington’s small dam.


This Denham’s Bustard was also another new atlas recording which I saw along the main road to Kamberg.


It is such a pleasure to have a pair of Lanner Falcons on Connington. They give me the occasional fly-past.


High up on grass veld last week I was surprised to find 6 Wattled Crane – such beautiful creatures.


A very skittish and unexpected visitor to my garden on Connington this week was a Black Sparrowhawk, only just managed this record shot before it flew off.


Great to be back in the country and be able to see Duiker wandering across the fields in front of my cottage.


June 21st. Full moon breaking through the cloud.


Boston Wildlife Sightings – February 2016

Christeen Grant of “Sitamani”:

02 Cover Mist in the valley IMG_4762

Mist in the valley

Hot summery weather continued in February, and several good periods of rain fell. On the 26 February we had a typical summer thunderstorm, wild winds, lightning and cracking thunder. However the grasses and exotic trees are already turning to autumn colours and soft mist fills the valley below us most mornings, quickly evaporating as the sun rises.

02 Cover Autumn colours IMG_4692

Autumn colours

Flowers are sparse, but here and there are surprise jewels. Berkheya setifera glow golden, though most have seeded. Gladiolus ecklonii have flowered well this year. Very dainty flowers, which I think are Golden Swans, Crocosmia masonorum sparkle!
Another orchid first sighting for me is Habenaria ciliosa, and they were out in profusion on the hillside, I counted ±40 flowering plants. Kniphofia laxiflora, Pentanisia augustifolia, Flower Stachys aethiopica and Watsonia densiflora were a few of the other flowers seen.

A couple of flowering grasses and one Mushroom also caught my eye.

Birds have been very active, particularly a Black-backed Puffback who has spent hours defending his territory, unfortunately the ‘intruder’ was his own reflection on the window panes. The Cape Robin-Chats love the birdbath on the verandah in the early evening. Most of the Village Weaver nests have fallen from the Pin Oak, though I saw what could be a juvenile inspecting a remaining nest. A pair of Malachite Sunbirds have been flitting over the hillside over the past couple of weeks.

Not as many moths around now, but I did see a Handmaiden Amata sp. which is active during the day settled on a grass seed inflorescence.

07 Insect Moth Handmaiden Amata sp IMG_4750

Handmaiden – Amata sp.

A tiny spider hung suspended in its beautiful web.

07 Spider IMG_4741


Most evenings the Black-backed Jackal yip and call. A pair of Duiker are seen regularly together at the moment, one morning they came within 10m of the kitchen door.

Caroline McKerrow of “Stormy Hill”:

In February Stormy Hill has been targeted by a African Harrier-Hawk (previously known as Gymnogene). This large bird has been hunting our smaller birds etc. which has caused a lot of upheaval as the dogs go crazy barking at it every time it comes around. I’ve also seen a couple of Common (Grey) Duiker and some Common Reedbuck. The Vervet Monkeys have visited a few times which is good. So nice to watch their antics in the trees. A smallish black snake slithered through a hole into my bedroom but I’m happy to say that I can’t find it in there now so I’m assuming he slithered back out again. At least I hope so…

Crystelle Wilson of “Gramarye”:

The district put on stunning displays of fields full of Kniphofia praecox along the Elandsriver.

An unusual sighting this month was Ant-eating Chat along the road to Ncwadi. I have seen this bird in the valley below, but not on the ridge before. There was a small group of about six birds.


Ant-eating Chat

There were still a number of juvenile birds honing their balancing skills. Levaillant’s Cisticola is the one with a rufous crown, while Zitting Cisticola has a streaked crown and darker facial markings.

Youngsters that haven’t developed red bills yet were Malachite Kingfisher


Juvenile Malachite Kingfisher

And Black-headed Oriole, which also had juvenile streaking on the chest


Black-headed Oriole

Early autumn, and the Barn Swallows are beginning to congregate prior to their migration north


Barn Swallows

The atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000: Olive Thrush, African Fish-eagle, Blue Crane,


Blue Crane

Giant Kingfisher, Barn Owl, Cape Robin-Chat, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, House Sparrow, Cape Sparrow, Black Saw-wing, Purple Heron,Spotted Eagle-owl, Spectacled Weaver, Willow Warbler, Pied Kingfisher, White-rumped Swift, Brown-throated Martin, Black Crake, Red-necked Spurfowl, African Wattled Lapwing, Jackal Buzzard, Lanner Falcon, Sombre Greenbul, Wailing Cisticola, Southern Boubou, Red-knobbed Coot, Hamerkop, Common Waxbill, Cattle Egret, Amur Falcon, White Stork, Village Weaver, Cape Glossy Starling, Greater Honeyguide, Cape White-eye, Common Fiscal, White-throated Swallow, Blacksmith Lapwing, Common Moorhen, African Quailfinch, Cape Wagtail, Red-chested Flufftail, African Rail, Steppe Buzzard,

Southern Red Bishop, Cape Weaver, Cape Grassbird, Yellow-billed Kite, Amethyst Sunbird, Speckled Pigeon, Bokmakierie, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Common Quail, Drakensberg Prinia, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Cape Longclaw, South African Shelduck, Spur-winged Goose, Zitting Cisticola, Diderick Cuckoo, Great Egret, Little Grebe, African Firefinch, Red-throated Wryneck, African Hoopoe, Dark-capped Bulbul, Black-headed Heron, Greater Striped Swallow, Barn Swallow, White-breasted Cormorant, Long-crested Eagle, Levaillant’s Cisticola, African Darter, Reed Cormorant, Black-headed Oriole, Secretarybird, Egyptian Goose, African Stonechat, Grey Crowned Crane, Red-collared Widowbird, Speckled Mousebird, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle-dove, Cape Crow, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Little Rush-warbler, Yellow-billed Duck, African Sacred Ibis, Fork-tailed Drongo, African Dusky Flycatcher, Pin-tailed Whydah, African Harrier-Hawk.

Boston Wildlife Sightings – May 2015

Crystelle Wilson – Gramarye

AT the beginning of the month it was great to host Dieter Oschadleus, the director of SAFRING, the South African Bird Ringing Unit. He put up mist nets in the wetland on Gramarye with the hope of catching weavers and widowbirds which are his special field of research.

Dieter with an African Stonechat

Dieter with an African Stonechat

In summer the place is alive with Fan-tailed and Red-collared Widows and Southern Red Bishops at their nests, but by now they were flocking and spending their time together feeding and flying to roosting sites at dawn and dusk. Frustratingly the majority of birds managed to evade the nets, but Dieter was still satisfied with his haul of 14 birds. These were: 1 African Stonechat, 1 Lesser Swamp Warbler, 1 African Reed Warbler, 2 Levaillant’s Cisticola, 3 Village Weaver, 4 Red-billed Quelea, 1 Southern Red Bishop and 1 Fan-tailed Widow.

Fan-tailed Widowbird

Fan-tailed Widowbird

Red-billed Quelea

Red-billed Quelea

Levaillant’s Cisticola

Levaillant’s Cisticola

When a bird has flown into the net, he removes it and place it in a cloth bag until it can be processed. Detailed measurements are taken and the bird is weighed on a tiny scale the size of a cellphone before being released.


The birds weighed between 7 and 36 grams. A surprising discovery was finding a tick on the African Reed Warbler. Dieter removed it and placed it in surgical spirits to hand over to someone else who is doing research on ticks.

African Reed Warbler

African Reed Warbler

There were two unusual records this month. One was finding a Black Harrier working the grassland adjoining the Dargle road near Fairview, flying low, backwards and forwards in typical harrier fashion and clearly showing the diagnostic white rump.

Black Harrier

Black Harrier

Then I was surprised to hear Spectacled Weavers calling in my garden. I saw them for the first time in the district earlier this year building a nest at the Pickle Pot, and now they’ve paid me a visit as well.

Spectacled Weavers

Spectacled Weavers

It was good seeing a Lanner Falcon doing its job as a pest control officer,

Lanner Falcon with prey

Lanner Falcon with prey

while juvenile raptor plumages once again demonstrated its potential to confuse: at first glance it looked like a Cape Vulture flying overhead, but any lingering doubt was removed when the distinctive call of African Fish-Eagle sounded clearly.

Juvenile African Fish-Eagle

Juvenile African Fish-Eagle

Denham’s Bustard was seen on Four Gates during a very enjoyable walk to the cascades on the Elands River.

Denham's Bustard

Denham’s Bustard

On the rocks we saw prolific otter scat as well as a pair of recently hatched agama lizards.

Otter scats

Otter scats

The SABAP2 atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000: Greater Honeyguide, Denham’s Bustard, Olive Thrush, Black-backed Puffback, Cape Batis, Yellow Bishop, Red-winged Starling, African Spoonbill, African Fish-Eagle, Red-throated Wryneck, Red-billed Quelea, Fan-tailed Widowbird, White-breasted Cormorant, Cape Grassbird, Spectacled Weaver, Southern Red Bishop, Spotted Eagle-Owl, African Hoopoe, Black Harrier, Drakensberg Prinia, White-throated Swallow, Brown-throated Martin, Common Moorhen, Pied Kingfisher, Reed Cormorant,

Agama Lizards

Agama Lizards

Yellow-billed Duck, Three-banded Plover, Jackal Buzzard, African Olive-pigeon, Sombre Greenbul, Speckled Mousebird, Cape Glossy Starling, Southern Boubou, Village Weaver, Cape Sparrow, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, House Sparrow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Speckled Pigeon, Red-necked Spurfowl, African Pipit, Levaillant’s Cisticola, African Darter, Black-headed Heron, Little Grebe, Red-knobbed Coot, Blacksmith Lapwing, Red-capped Lark, Hamerkop, Cape Turtle-dove, Red-eyed Dove, Common Fiscal, Egyptian Goose, Fork-tailed Drongo, Spur-winged Goose, Grey Crowned Crane, Black Sparrowhawk, Cape Crow, African Stonechat, Dark-capped Bulbul, Helmeted Guineafowl, African Sacred Ibis, Bokmakierie, South African Shelduck, African Rail, Green Wood-hoopoe, Common Waxbill, Long-crested Eagle, Cape Wagtail, Cape Robin-chat, Hadeda Ibis, Cape Canary, Amethyst Sunbird, Black-headed Oriole, Greater Striped Swallow.


Cascades on the Eland’s River

The Grey Crowned Cranes raising their one surviving juvenile has been an education. At 16h55, as I set out for the walk, I heard them calling from the dam and went haring around the corner to the paddock. They were walking next to the dam, feeding. Junior found a stick amusing and picked it up, dropped it and picked it up again. Then the parents began dancing, and tried to include him too. He’s not quite as adept yet, but did his best. At 17h13 they all three took off and flew across the river and landed in the green field below the pivot on Netherby. At 17h23 they returned and the parents settled in the tree on the dam, but junior flew around the tree a few times and then disappeared. I couldn’t see where it went.

Barry Cromhout of “Highland Glen”

African Fish-Eagle near “Elandsvlei”; Black Ducks on dam at “Highland Glen” with four chicks; Grey Crowned Crane on dead tree on “The Willows”.

David and Barbara Clulow, visiting from 29 May to 31st

30 Grey Crowned Cranes on a pasture at Melrose; four Denham’s Bustards, walking in stubble maize lands on Netherby; Black-headed Herons on The Drift dam; Blacksmith Lapwing on The Drift; masses of Cape Crows; garden birds galore; Duiker on The Drift; Reedbuck on The Willows; Stonechats, Hadeda Ibis and Fiscals; Sacred Ibis; Egyptian and Spur-winged Geese; Red-knobbed Coot.

Forest Buzzard

Forest Buzzard

Frances Nel on “Four Gates”

Four Southern Ground-Hornbills on two occasions.

Sitamani Sightings – Christeen Grant

May this year has been a long extension of autumn, an “Indian Summer”; clear, cool days with cloudless blue skies. We’ve had virtually no rain at all and as it’s been dry also not had the usual frost by mid-May. Underneath the yellow gold grass seed heads the leaves are still green.

02 Cover IMG_3203

I have been away most of May so haven’t explored far from the house to see which plants are flowering. Every winter I look forward to the showy snowy-white candyfloss flowers of the Buddleja auriculata.

Buddleja auriculata

Buddleja auriculata

Buddleja auriculata

Buddleja auriculata

The bright yellow Senecio polyanthemoides shine on the edge of the lawn

Senecio polyanthemoides

Senecio polyanthemoides

Senecio polyanthemoides

Senecio polyanthemoides

and star like Euryops laxa pop up between fallen leaves.

Euryops laxa

Euryops laxa

An insect buzz in the Halleria lucida trees signals the opening of the bright red flowers growing straight off woody branches without stalks.

Halleria lucida

Halleria lucida

Aloe maculata buds are starting to open up.

Aloe maculata

Aloe maculata

Aloe maculata

Aloe maculata

Birds are relishing the two birdbaths. One is on our verandah and late one afternoon I spotted a Cape Batis flitting up into the branches overhead. A courting couple of Black-backed Puffbacks were in display mode. The Afrikaans name Sneeubal aptly describes the pompom white ball of feathers on the male’s back. Three Buff-streaked Chats sat sunning on hillside rocks, a bit far off for a good photo.

Buff-streaked Chat

Buff-streaked Chat

The Speckled Pigeons are rearing yet another brood, two downy heads peep over the nest in the garage. The parents take well-deserved rests on the roof.

Speckled Pigeon

Speckled Pigeon

In the orchard bared branches reveal an arboreal Ants nest and Lichens.

Ants nest

Ants nest



Many Bees and Hoverflies zoom into the few flowering plants. Not many moths about at the moment.



A beautiful male Reedbuck is often seen grazing near the house in the early mornings and evenings. Two duiker, three Reedbuck and a Black-backed Jackal were on the driveway one evening when I returned home.

Boston Wildlife Sightings – March 2015

Crystelle Wilson: Gramarye

ONE morning a reedbuck spent several minutes running backwards and forwards on a hillside with what can only be described as pure joy of life.

CW 1

A joyful Common Reedbuck

On the birding front, an exciting lifer for me was a Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk. The way to tell this bird apart from juvenile Black Sparrowhawks, which can also show rufous colouration on the chest, is that they have yellow eyes and not red like the Black Sparrowhawk.

CW 2

Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk in flight

CW 3

Notice the diagnostic yellow eyes of the Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk which sets it apart from it’s close relative the Black Sparrowhawk which has red eyes.

At the end of the breeding season there are many juvenile birds around. The plumage of these birds, especially raptors, can be very different from those of the adults. The trick is to look at the shape of the bird, rather than the colour of its feathers. One such individual flying overhead had me very puzzled, and it was only by looking at my photographs that I could identify it as an African Harrier-Hawk, messily dressed like the gawky teenager it was.

CW 4

African Harrier-Hawk in flight.

The juveniles of common birds such Common Fiscal can also be confusing.

Juvenile Common Fiscal

Juvenile Common Fiscal

Another exciting sighting was a pair of Wattled Cranes opposite the Mount Park Guestfarm near the Everglades Hotel. Tanya Smith of EWT’s crane project tells me that that was a traditional breeding site for the birds and she was very pleased to hear that they have been spotted again in the area.

CW 7

Tanya Smith of the Endangered Wildlife Trust searching for a crane chick

Tanya managed to successfully ring the surviving Grey Crowned Crane chick that was hatched at The Willows/Gramarye this season.

Surviving Grey Crowned Crane

Grey Crowned Crane chick trying to keep a low profile to avoid potential danger.

The SABAB2 atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000: Red-winged Starling, African Olive-Pigeon, Speckled Pigeon, African Harrier-Hawk, Amur Falcon, Jackal Buzzard, Steppe Buzzard, Malachite Sunbird, Malachite Kingfisher, Red-collared Widowbird, Sombre Greenbul, Banded Martin, (with its tell-tale white eyebrows and long wings)

CW 8

A gorgeous Banded Martin shows off its white eyebrow

Blacksmith Lapwing, Cape Grassbird, South African Shelduck, Yellow-billed Duck, Neddicky, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Brown-throated Martin, Common Waxbill, Black-headed Heron, Long-crested Eagle,

CW 9

The Long-crested Eagle is a KZN Midlands favourite!

Purple Heron, African Reed-Warbler, Little Rush-Warbler, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, African Snipe, Zitting Cisticola, Black-headed Oriole, Red-throated Wryneck, African Paradise-Flycatcher, White-throated Swallow, African Rail, Black Sparrowhawk, Pied Kingfisher, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Cape Longclaw, Pin-tailed Whydah, Black Saw-wing, Cape Wagtail, Three-banded Plover,

CW 10

A Three-banded Plover on the waters edge

Speckled Mousebird, Barn Owl, Greater Striped Swallow, Amethyst Sunbird, Olive Thrush, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, House Sparrow, Cape Sparrow, African Dusky Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Drongo, Cape White-eye, Yellow-fronted Canary, Spur-winged Goose, Drakensberg Prinia, African Stonechat, Egyptian Goose, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Black Crake, Common Moorhen, Little Grebe, Red-knobbed Coot, Cape Crow, Bokmakierie, African Darter, White-breasted Cormorant, Reed Cormorant, African Sacred Ibis, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Diderick Cuckoo, Village Weaver, Southern Red Bishop, Common Fiscal, Cape Robin-Chat, Southern Boubou, Cape Turtle-Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Hadeda Ibis, Grey Crowned Crane, Barn Swallow, Lanner Falcon.

CW 11

Lanner Falcon

Derek Hurlstone-Jones: The Rockeries

The iconic African Fish-Eagle was seen overhead while driving along R617 at the Elands river.

Bruce and Bev Astrup: Highland Glen
A pair of Greater Striped Swallow nested under the eaves where they successfully raised their young.

Glyn Bullock: Harmony
Floater flock of approximately 40 Grey Crowned Cranes were seen regularly on “Harmony”. Highest number noted being 51.

David Clulow visiting on 11 March:
Long-tailed Widowbird at “Seven Streams” T-junction; White Stork on 29 March; Mousebirds at Elands river.

Piet Nel and his son, Willem: Twin Rowan:
Besides seeing the parents of the surviving chick from the pan on The Willows, while they were feeding on “Gramarye”, we saw three Grey Crowned Cranes near the upper fence line on The Willows, with five chicks running and hiding in the tall grass.

Grey Crowned Crane chick on “The Willows”:
An unsuccessful attempt to ring the surviving chick being reared on The Willows on 11 March – because the chick, after being clearly spotted, did its belly crawl into the long grass, after which it lay ‘doggo’ and could not be found; but on 16 March, Tanya Smith of the African Crane Conservation Trust was successful, and the chick was suitably caught, ringed and then set free again.

Caroline McKerrow: Stormy Hill
March was a quiet month, but the highlight was a sighting of two Bushbuck.

David and Wizz Lawrence: The Willows
Three Grey Crowned Cranes flying overhead.

An unusual incident occurred when soot from the fireplace was being irritatingly released. The reason became apparent, when a Barn Owl flew out from the hearth, and into the kitchen, where Wizz caught it and set it free whereupon it flew immediately towards “Gramarye”. The Owl appeared thin, hungry and thirsty – apparently having been in the chimney for some while before it eventually managed to get past the draft release lever.

Rob Geldart: Boston View and Watershed
The usual pair of Wattled Cranes from the pan on “Myrtle Grove” together with their chick, now well grown. African Fish-Eagles are seen fairly often.

Christeen Grant: Sitamani
March is the month when a touch of autumn creeps in, the grass is starting to turn gold, a crispness in the air, but still storm clouds on the horizon. March is also the month of Moths and Mushrooms and there have been many!

01 Cover IMG_2922

A delightful Striped Stream Frog Strongylopus fasciatus sprang across the grass this morning outside the kitchen door, then obligingly waited for me to fetch my camera for a photo shoot! The house is about 150m from the nearest stream, so perhaps it is looking for a winter hibernation spot.

Amphibian Striped Stream Frog Strongylopus fasciatus IMG_2990

Striped Stream Frog – Strongylopus fasciatus

The Speckled Pigeons were most indignant when the planks that supported their nest were moved after their fledgling had flown. Happily they approve of the new arrangement and have already almost reared their youngest juvenile.

Bird Speckled Pigeon juvenile IMG_2977

Speckled Pigeon juvenile

Three flowers caught my eye, a first identification of Berkheya echinacea, also seen Helichrysum cooperi and the delicately elegant Hesperantha baurii.

Flower Berkheya echinacea IMG_2971

Berkheya echinacea

Helichrysum cooperi

Helichrysum cooperi

Hesperantha baurii

Hesperantha baurii

Some interesting insects in and around the house, the Mottled Veld Antlion flew in one evening,

Mottled Veld Antlion

Mottled Veld Antlion

I know where their larvae pits are in dry sandy soil.

Mottled Veld Antlion larvae pits

Mottled Veld Antlion larvae pits

The excerpt from Q&A Insects and Spiders of southern Africa (pub Struik 1993 S. Matthews, illustr. C. Grant) describes the larvae feeding habits.

Insect Antlion Struik

The excerpt from Q&A Insects and Spiders of southern Africa (pub Struik 1993 S. Matthews, illustr. C. Grant)

Cockroaches of the Hostilia sp.

Insect Cockroach Hostilia sp IMG_2987

Cockroach: Hostilia sp.

Insect Cockroach Hostilia sp P1030295

Cockroach: Hostilia sp

and this lovely Preying Mantis were also seen.

Common Mantid sp.

Common Mantid sp.

Many varied size, colour and shaped moths have settled for daytime rest. Some I haven’t been able to identify, if anyone can help I would be most grateful! Clouds of small dark moths flutter beneath the trees during the day, I think they are the daytime Handmaiden Amata sp..

Handmaiden Amata sp.

Handmaiden Amata sp.

Others include Plated Footman Sozusa scutellata, Pretoria Red Lines Cyana pretoriea and six more moths.

Plated Footman - Sozusa scutellata

Plated Footman – Sozusa scutellata

Pretoria Red Lines - Cyana pretoriea

Pretoria Red Lines – Cyana pretoriea

Insect Moth IMG_2986

Unidentified moth (1)

Insect Moth IMG_2985

Unidentified moth (2)

Insect Moth IMG_2983

Unidentified moth (3)

Insect Moth IMG_2969

Unidentified moth (4)

Insect Moth IMG_2968

Unidentified moth (5)

Insect Moth IMG_2961

Unidentified moth (6)

After each showery day multitudes of fungi appear, (I haven’t managed to identify all of them); Bolete or Cep, Blusher Amanita rubescens, Earth-star, Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria, Cinnabar Bracket Pycnoporus sanguineus and two more.

Bolete or Cep

Bolete or Cep

Fungi Blusher Amanita rubescens IMG_2941

Blusher – Amanita rubescens



Fly Agaric - Amanita muscaria

Fly Agaric – Amanita muscaria

Tropical Cinnabar Bracket - Pycnoporus sanguineus

Tropical Cinnabar Bracket – Pycnoporus sanguineus

Fungi IMG_2956

Unidentified Fungi (1)

Fungi IMG_2952

Unidentified Fungi (2)

Cape Serotine bats Pipistrellus capensis flit at dusk and dawn. Common Reedbuck come to the greener grass near the house to graze at night. Duiker pick their way through the long grass and almost every evening the Black-backed Jackal call.

Owls, Out of the Woods

The Raptor Rescue Rehabilitation Centre receives injured birds regularly. They have been hit by cars, poisoned and electrocuted. Sometimes the raptors are shot by irate farmers protecting small livestock like chickens and geese. After receiving tender loving care, many are able to be released back into the wild. However, this is not just a case of letting them go anywhere, usually they need a soft release, with someone to take care of their needs for a while, while they find their wings.


RRRC is looking for potential release sites for birds. Do you live on a farm or small holding that would be suitable to support birds of prey, either owls, or diurnal raptors?

Katie Robinson at Lemonwood in Dargle has rehabilitated and released a number of owls, a few from FreeMe and the rest rescued by locals. She says I absolutely loved rehabilitating the owls and have done about 12 now over the years and although I don’t see them very often any more, I know they are around and I hear them at night in the forest. 


 My favourite was a barely alive fledgling, a Spotted Eagle Owl, whom we named Challenge. She was brought to me by a couple of the boys in the village.  As luck would have it, I had two homeopathic vets staying in the cottages who told me to feed it a concoction of remedies, one of which was Rescue (I can’t remember the other two).  I got up every two hours to check on it and administer the drops for the next couple of nights. She made a remarkable recovery and was the first owl I had to teach how to hunt for itself.  I had some live rat traps which were incredibly effective (designed and built by Ken Willan) and I would release the rats into the middle of the lawn and the race was on.  I lost a lot of rats (which I am sure were not fooled by the rat traps twice) but eventually the owl caught on and became a brilliant hunter.  She stayed around the garden for months suddenly appearing out of the trees and landing either on my head or shoulder.  Their flight really is silent, I never knew it was there until I felt her talons trying to get a grip on my skull!!  But she was a tremendous help with the rat problems I had on the farm, so a fright a few times a week was worth the pain! The guests in the cottages loved it.  The owls would come and sit on their balcony. I remember one guest who got the fright of her life as she was at the kitchen sink in front of the window at night and suddenly an owl landed on the sill and started bobbing its head around staring at her with those wonderful, piercing orange eyes.  She told me he stayed there for ages just staring at her and bobbing up and down in their customary way.”


What a privilege to be chosen as a suitable custodian and being able to engage closely with a bird of prey. This is a very rewarding experience if you have the enthusiasm, time and money to assist our precious raptors and contribute to conservation. You need to be willing to put up a 3m squared release enclosure at your own cost. It needs to have weld-mesh wire or shade cloth sides tied to a metal frame. One side has to have a covered area to protect the bird from the elements, and one side has to have a door in it. Once it has been set up it can be used repeatedly for several releases of various raptors. If owls are to be released, you would need to buy an owl box which will need to be placed in the protected corner of the enclosure. RRRC then bring the raptor/s and place them into your care.


Four Spotted Eagle Owls were released into the Winterskloof Conservancy area under the custodianship of the Fosters.  Linda Foster: “Thanks for giving us this awesome opportunity to release these lovely raptors.” A while after the successful release, she was delighted to report. “I heard a Spottie calling in the valley last night. Only one calling – couldn’t hear any replies. None of them have been back for food so far though.”

Daily duties for the new guardians will include feeding the birds daily and monitoring their progress for two to three weeks as they settle into their new environment. RRRC will supply the food – several packets of frozen day old chicks which can be taken out, defrosted and used when necessary. Tammy Caine, of RRRC “We will recommend the amount of food to be given depending on the raptor, and which time of day is best to feed.”


After sufficient time, the door to the enclosure will be opened allowing the raptors to come and go as they please. The guardians will have to continue placing food out until the raptors are hunting and self-sufficient again.

A Crowned Eagle was released in Albert Falls last year – the release process was a perfect success (although later the bird had a sad ending). Theo and Margie Cave reported “Guin (the Crowned Eagle) was released at 17:30 on Friday. She had a successful first meeting with the resident male about an hour later. Both roosted in a large gum tree for the night. Both eagles were in the tree above the hack enclosure on Saturday. Guin came down and fed in the cage.”

16.03.2014 085This is a really worthwhile project to be involved in and obviously a joyful one too. Raptors are often misunderstood and persecuted. “Owls in particular are killed on sight by those superstitious enough to view them as bringers of death. We also get orphan chicks, particularly owls coming into the rehab. It is always a challenge to find suitable homes for these babies as they need longer care, more vigilance and a lot more help in adjusting to life as free, wild birds.” says Tammy Caine. Do contact her as soon as you can to offer your services as a raptor rescuer.  kznraptorrescue@gmail.com 076 724 6846