Tag Archives: black sparrow hawk

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – Winter 2016

Nicola Storkey

I photographed these snow scenes whilst on the way to Ivanhoe Farm.

Snow 1

Snow 2

Snow 3

Kilgobbin Forest

Dargle Primary learners visited Kilgobbin forest recently. Thanks Midlands Meander Education Project and WESSA Eco-Schools for facilitating the lesson of forest diversity.

Dargle Primary learners explore the forest floor.

Dargle Primary pupil makes friends with a grasshopper

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].

Buck leg 1

Buck leg 2

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.

Male reed buck after heavy rain with wet coat

Common Reedbuck (male)

We had regular sightings of the Secretarybird and we were fortunate to have seen two together on one day.

Secretary bird


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.

Gymnogene in my garden

African Harrier-Hawk

Very few raptors – just the Jackal Buzzard and Long-crested Eagle.

Jackal buzzard (I think)

Jackal Buzzard

Beginning of august I was very excited to see the female Black Sparrowhawk sitting on her nest on a few occasions.

Black sparrowhawk female sitting on nest

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

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.

Frozen Hamerkop



We saw three Oribi graze on the hill which has turned green

3 oribi running up the hill



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?

A few of the crowned crane at Fowlers farm Lions river

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.

Female duiker

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.

Cape robin being flirtatious

Cape Robin-chat

We have a pair of Gurney’s Sugarbirds.

Male and female gurney sugar birds

Gurney’s Sugarbirds

Gurney sugar bird at dusk

Gurney’s Sugarbird

On a few of our walks we have seen quite a few young Common Reedbuck.

Another baby reedbuck

Female reedbuck with her youngster

Female reedbuck

One morning three Cape White-eyes appeared on same peach tree.

Yellow white eye

Cape White-eye

An interesting picture of someone burning at sunset

An interesting picture of someone burning at sunset

Male Malachite Sunbird now in full color

Male malachite now in full color eating the flowering frelinias

Malachite Sunbird (male)

New moon

New moon

Not sure of this buzzard as very dark in color – taken in early august so not sure if Steppe Buzzards were around then?

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

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.

Samango Monkey

Frosty mornings make for great photos. It was a real treat to come across this paw print in the ice capped mud one morning.

Muddy icy paw print

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!!

Jenny Goddard

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

Ash 1

Worm in freshly cut wattle tree

Ash 2

Large pile of droppings, I’m guessing from a reedbuck as we have seen them on numerous occasions on the farm

Ash 3

A dead Oribi I found in one of our firebreaks, not sure what killed it

Ash 4

Lifted a rock at the dam and found this chap trying to hide underneath

Ash 5

Inhlosane rising above the ever diminishing Mavela Dam

Ash 6

Little dam near Selsley Farm

Ash 7

Aloes flowering on a neighbours farm

Ash 8

Ash 9

Ash 10

Recovering Olive Thrush sitting in a pot after flying into the window

Ash 11

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.

Ash 12


Ash 13

Late afternoon sun streaming through some pine trees

Ash 14

And finally a wintery scene of grassland and Inhlosane looking down on us

Ash 15

Louise Ghersie – Satori Farm

A herd of Eland passing our house to the top of our farm. Beautiful sight!

Eland on Satori Farm.jpg

Boston Wildlife Sightings February 2012

Trevor and Cheryl Scheepers of Lapa Lapa

Three guinea fowl chicks raised by Silky hen, are growing nicely, till a Black-sparrow Hawk predated one at the door to the calf shed, where they live; now there are two. Barn Owls are once again in the roof of the overhang, above the back door to the house. Two African Spoonbills seen in the field near the house amongst the Cattle Egrets and Sacred Ibis

Grass Carp  are not indigenous, but they do a fine job, keeping dams free of undergrowth, excessive grass, sedge, restiads and reeds. Here is a photo of one which posed  recently, before being returned to join the other 6 or 7 already there:

Peter and Karen Geldart of Cocquidale

Pair of Amethyst Sunbirds have successfully raised their two chicks in the nest on the back veranda. Six Bald Ibis. Six Southern Ground Hornbills seen flying into the gum trees near the turnoff to Impendle village.

Graeme and Claire Hudson of Kia Ora

A pair of Grey Crowned Cranes were nesting on the edge of the dam at “Kia Ora”; a Black-backed Jackal caught and ate one, and the other fled

Glyn and Barbara Bullock of Harmony

Feb 28th – twenty-two Grey Crowned Crane on “Harmony” in the morning

Barbara and David Clulow of  The Willows

Feb 14 – the Crane adults objected to the presence of a group of iNguni cattle. The owner grazes them on a field on The Willows. Usually they don’t get near one another, but the Cranes have been extending their range into the field where the iNgunis graze. So, I heard this anxious calling by the adults. The Cranes defended their position for two minutes, then they retreated behind the fence, where they usually hang out. Minutes after I was pleased to see the Cranes resumed feeding and their chick followed them quite normally.

Out of respect for the adult Cranes, devotedly raising their one chick, which is seen daily now, here are two photos of  the adults in the course  of their day; roosting and enjoying a favourite tit-bit, something they seem to enjoy on the aging Zantedeschia plants (Arums).

So, it was with some amazement that on 19th February for the first time, the growth of the chicks was such that, for the first time, it became apparent that there are TWO chicks. And by 25th Feb they were growing fast.

Twice at month-end, a Yellow-billed Kite interfered with chick feeding and the Cranes hid them from view; but the real drama was on 29th Feb at 5.30 pm when a Black Sparrow-Hawk settled on a post overlooking where the Crane family over-night in the wetlands. A vigorous attempt was made to drive the Sparrow-Hawk off, dive-bombing it by one Crane; when it took to the air, and circled about the Crane family, one Crane adult took to the air again and a mid-air mock battle took place, manoeuvring and wheeling to frighten off the intruder.

Spotted Eagle-Owls calling nightly

Pete and Frances Nel of Four Gates

The Grey Crowned Cranes are nesting at the dam and hopefully will raise some chicks again. Poachers on Sunday 26th in the morning on the hill to the left of the house chased a reedbuck with about 30 dogs……the reedbuck got away. Feb 28th – a lone Secretarybird at foot of Elandskop; Feb 29th – three Southern Ground Hornbills in valley near house

Gordon Pascoe of Keswick

Feb 14 – after disking on “Mosgate”, the White Storks somehow knew that there was an abundance of food.

Crystelle Wilson of Gramarye

wildfowers in the wetlands near the Elands river on Gramarye – Riocreuxia torulosa (Candle Vine); and also – Hebenstretia oatsii, Schizostylis coccinea, Abutilon grantii, Rumex sagottatus

“PLEASE come and rescue this bird on my lawn. It looks the size of a baby guineafowl.” This was the message my KZN Midlands neighbour received late the afternoon of 7 February from yet another neighbour, Kirsten Cromhout, who fortunately had the foresight to lock up her five dogs. We were astounded to find a baby Grey Crowned Crane confidently running around the lawn. How it managed to get separated from its parents and find its way through thickly matted vegetation far from a nesting site remains a mystery. No parents were in sight, so the chick was given a home for the night and, on advice, kept in a box in a warm, quiet place.

Tanya Smith, senior field officer of the Drakensberg Crane Conservation Project, arrived next morning to collect the baby bird, which she estimated to be barely 36 hours old. The bird was chirping vigorously. She was equally taken aback at finding such a youngster. She planned for it to be taken to the Hlatikulu Crane Sanctuary, where it can be reared with other cranes, and this is indeed what happened. She hopes to ring it and eventually release it into the wild, possibly back in Boston.

The bird was fed wheat-free Pro-Nutro (chocolate-flavoured!) for breakfast, though Tanya’s recommendation was that tinned cat food would have been better. During the first few days the parents feed their babies a high protein insect rich diet before adding seeds to the mix. In fact the Crane survived. At Hlatikulu it currently feeds on ‘Pheasant starter’, which is a starter mix for baby birds, plus meal worms.

At Hlatikulu it is known as ‘Bossy’ Boston for its demanding ways. Not many chicks will survive a night after such stress.  This one did. Finding the stray chick helped somewhat to relieve our tension about what was happening at several crane nests in the district. From being able to see birds on the nest and others standing sentry nearby, some have gone quiet in the past week. One worries about predators and other dangers. Not necessarily that they have been lost, as the parents can move around actively after a few days, leaving the original nest site. But it is marvelous how Nature times the hatching of chicks to coincide with the ripening and browning of grasses, so it is difficult to distinguish what are the heads of cranes or dead flowers, allowing them to blend in perfectly.

This Water mongoose was on the edge of a maize field on The Drift on 7th February

The SABAP2 bird atlas list for pentad 2935_3000 Elandshoek: Hadeda Ibis, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Robin-Chat, Fork-tailed Drongo, Cape White-eye, Little Rush-Warbler, Cape Turtle Dove, Common Moorhen, Egyptian Goose, Spur-winged Goose, Cattle Egret, Cape Wagtail, Cape Crow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Black Saw-wing, Cape Canary, Helmeted Guineafowl, Amethyst Sunbird, Drakensberg Prinia, Reed Cormorant, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Red-collared Widowbird, Southern Red Bishop, Yellow-billed Duck, African Stonechat, Yellow-fronted Canary, Bokmakierie, Greater Striped Swallow, Grey Crowned Crane, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Common Waxbill, Speckled Mousebird, Red-billed Quelea, African Rail, Red-chested Flufftail, Barn Swallow, Village Weaver, Common Fiscal, Cape Weaver, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Diderik Cuckoo, Black-headed Heron, Zitting Cisticola, Steppe Buzzard, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, Yellow-billed Kite, Blue Crane, Pied Starling, House Sparrow, Blacksmith Lapwing, Amur Falcon, Jackal Buzzard, Wailing Cisticola, Red-knobbed Coot, Little Grebe, African Sacred Ibis, Dark-capped Bulbul, African Reed-Warbler, Thick-billed Weaver, Malachite Kingfisher, Malachite Sunbird, Sombre Greenbul, Forest Canary, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Yellow Bishop, Cape Longclaw, Long-tailed Widowbird, African Pipit, White-breasted Cormorant, Cape Sparrow, Cape Glossy Starling, Spotted Eagle-Owl, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Olive Thrush, Black-headed Oriole, Pied Kingfisher, South African Shelduck, White-faced Duck, Red-necked Spurfowl, Common Quail, African Quailfinch, Long-crested Eagle, Common Swift, Horus Swift, Neddicky, Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Grassbird, Speckled Pigeon, Pale-crowned Cisticola, African Hoopoe, Terrestrial Brownbul, Olive Woodpecker, African Olive-Pigeon, Barratt’s Warbler, Cape Batis, Southern Boubou, Swee Waxbill, Olive Bush-Shrike, African Harrier-Hawk, White-throated Swallow, Hamerkop, White-starred Robin.

Barry and Lilian Murphy of Vista

A very large Caracal, living on the ridge behind the house, and gradually demolishing the Crested Guineafowl chicks

Philip and Christeen Grant of Sitamani

Philip saw two Water Mongoose. The Kniphofias have been stunning, as have the Watsonia confusas.

Nigel and Tracy Murray of Trelyon

Several sightings of Grass owls; numerous occasions heard Barn Owls; often heard the Spotted Eagle-Owls; seen Spotted Thick-Knees; also Black-winged Lapwing. See Grey Crowned Cranes regularly

This summary was compiled by David Clulow, a member of the Lions Club of Pietermaritzburg (Host), and has been approved by that Club as an official conservation project of the Club.