Tag Archives: Boston

Boston Wildlife Sightings – Summer 2016

November 2016 Sitamani Sightings – Christeen Grant

November has had the first typically summer rainfall pattern in three years. Hot humid haze days, interspersed with misty cool ones, regular thunderstorm activity and glorious rain. Finally our well has some water in it, the first time since May. Wildflowers particularly have responded and the hillside is covered in a neon orange wash of Watsonia socium.

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Watsonia socium

Some of the spectacular array of flowers are: Adjuga ophrydis; Albuca pachychlamys; Asclepias albens, these amazing flower heads droop downwards, hiding the vivid lime green and pink flowers;

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Adjuga ophrydis

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Albuca pachychlamys

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Asclepias albens

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Asclepias albens

Aspidonepsis flava with Crab spider; Berkheya macrocephala;

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Aspidonepsis flava with a well camouflaged crab spider

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Berkheya macrocephala

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Berkheya macrocephala

Chlorophytum cooperi; Cyanotis speciosa; Cyphia elata; Dierama latifolium; Helichrysum pallidum; Hermannia woodii; Indigofera hilaris, bright pink clumps in the grass;

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Chlorophytum cooperi

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Cyanotis speciosa

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Cyphia elata

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Dierama latifolium

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Helichrysum pallidum

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Hermannia woodii

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Indigofera hilaris

another different Ledebouria sp; delicate Lobelia erinus; hundreds of Merwilla nervosa; Pachycarpus natalensis; Scabiosa columbaria; Searsia discolor;

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Ledebouria sp.

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Lobelia erinus

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Merwilla nervosa

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Merwilla nervosa

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Pachycarpus natalensis

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Scabiosa columbaria

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Searsia discolor

two species of Silene, Silene bellidoides and Silene burchellii;

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Silene bellidoides

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Silene bellidoides

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Silene burchellii

Sisyranthus trichostomus; Trachyandra asperata; Wahlenbergia cuspidata;

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Sisyranthus trichostomus

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Trachyandra asperata

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Wahlenbergia cuspidata

I finally have a name for this beautiful Watsonia via a Facebook group: Flora of southern Africa, Watsonia meriana

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Watsonia meriana

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Watsonia meriana

and Xysmalobium parviflorum.

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Xysmalobium parviflorum

I managed to get a photo of a Spectacled Weaver on a nest in the Plane Tree. The Spectacled Weavers don’t seem to strip off the leaves in the vicinity of their nests as the Village Weavers do; perhaps they seek camouflage rather than being able to see their predators approach. The Striped Swallows have returned over a month later than usual. Red-collared Widows are now in full courting plumage and a large flock roams over the seeding grass. A Long-crested Eagle perches regularly on the Eskom post. The Southern Boubou’s are a delight with their varying call and quiet movements on the lawn and in shrubbery. A Bokmakierie pair are frequently heard and seen in the Leucosidea sericea and Buddleja thicket that has grown up behind the house.

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Spectacled Weaver

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Spectacled Weaver nest

With the rainfall, fungi pop up regularly. A Horse Mushroom and Star Stinkhorn with a millipede are two of them.

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Horse mushroom, Agaricus arvensis

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Star Stinkhorn, Aseroe ruba, with a millipede

Butterflies are starting to be seen more frequently. I watched an African Common White butterfly feeding in Vernonia natalensis.

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African Common White butterfly on Vernonia natalensis

Bagworm larvae, of the Psyshidae Family of moths, on Vernonia hirsuta.

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Bagworm on Vernonia hirsuta

Insects, like these Dotted Fruit Chafer beetles on Albuca pachychlamys, are nibbling many flowers and buds.

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Dotted Fruit Chafer beetles on Albuca pachychlamys

Finally a delight on the lawn one morning, a Common cannibal snail, Natalina cafra!

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Common cannibal snail, Natalina cafra

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Common cannibal snail, Natalina cafra

November 2016 on Stormy Hill – Caroline McKerrow

I’ve seen the pair of Reedbuck a few times this month. I also had some Woodland Dormice in the ceiling until the cats dispatched them. Check the fluffy tail. The other one got eaten.

dormouse

All the birds are busy in their nests. The Hadedas and Weavers have been building nests in the bird tree. The Speckled Pigeons are all over the place and the Red-winged Starlings are making messy nests on top of the lights in the shed. Swallows are also back making muddy nests. The Speckled Mousebirds got cold one lunchtime and formed a ball.

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December 2016 on Gramarye – Crystelle Wilson

On a trip to a Zululand game reserve in November we were lucky enough to see cheetahs. Back at Boston I was just as excited seeing a Serval on an early morning walk down to the river.

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Serval

The breeding season was in full swing and juvenile birds were everywhere to be seen. At the river two Levaillant’s Cisticola fledglings tried to balance on the same stalk

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Levaillant’s Cisticola

And in the garden African Paradise Flycatcher parents were industriously feeding their newly fledged chicks

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African Paradise Flycatcher

On the kitchen verandah there was a near tragedy when part of the nest of the Greater Striped Swallows collapsed on Christmas Day, leaving the three chicks exposed inside. Fortunately they were about to fledge and within a few days were flying strongly with the parents.

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Greater Striped Swallows

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Greater Striped Swallows

The atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 included: Dark-capped Yellow Warbler,

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Dark-capped Yellow Warbler

Klaas’s Cuckoo, Black-headed Heron, Amethyst Sunbird, Common Moorhen, Hamerkop, Three-banded Plover, Wailing Cisticola, Blacksmith Lapwing, Speckled Mousebird,

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Speckled Mousebirds

African Spoonbill, Black-headed Oriole, Bar-throated Apalis, Sombre Greenbul, Lazy Cisticola, Neddicky, Red-chested Cuckoo, Yellow-fronted Canary

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Yellow-fronted Canary

Red-billed Quelea, House Sparrow, Speckled Pigeon, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Barn Swallow,

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Barn Swallow

Yellow-billed Kite, Little Grebe, White-backed Duck,

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White-backed Duck

Cape Wagtail, Black Crake, Cape Weaver, Reed Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant, Red-knobbed Coot, African Sacred Ibis, Spur-winged Goose, Cape Crow, African Pipit, Zitting Cisticola,

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Zitting Cisticola

Fork-tailed Drongo, African Paradise-flycatcher, Cape Sparrow, Burchell’s Coucal, White-throated Swallow, Pied Kingfisher, Cape Glossy Starling,

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Cape Glossy Starling

African Hoopoe, African Dusky Flycatcher, Black Saw-wing, Egyptian Goose, Cape Canary (well camouflaged in the summer grass)

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Cape Canary

Red-chested Flufftail, Grey Crowned Crane,

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Grey Crowned Crane

Cape Longclaw, Common Waxbill, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cattle Egret, Cape Grassbird, Yellow-billed Duck, Bokmakierie, Village Weaver,

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Village Weaver

Southern Fiscal, Brown-throated Martin, Red-necked Spurfowl, Common Quail, Southern Red Bishop,

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Southern Red Bishop

Drakensberg Prinia,

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Drakensberg Prinia

Red-collared Widowbird, Fan-tailed Widowbird,

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Fan-tailed Widowbird

Levaillant’s Cisticola, Little Rush-warbler, African Reed-warbler, African Stonechat, Long-crested Eagle, Hadeda Ibis, Cardinal Woodpecker

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Cardinal Woodpecker

Cape Robin-chat, Olive Thrush, Pin-tailed Whydah

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Pin-tailed Whydah

Red-eyed Dove,

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Red-eyed Dove

Cape Turtle-dove, Southern Boubou, Greater Striped Swallow, Cape White-eye, Diderick Cuckoo

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Diderick Cuckoo

December 2016 Sitamani Sightings – Christeen Grant

Sultry hot days with thunderstorms have produced a vivid green landscape, however there has not been enough rain to raise the water table significantly; although there is water in the well it is a fraction of what is usually there in December.

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Summer solstice

Clouds obscured the full moon rise; however early the next morning it was visible through scudding clouds.

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Summer solstice was a glorious day, ending in a beautiful sunset. Already many grasses are seeded, the red tinge of Themeda triandra softening the green.

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Themeda triandra

There are still many wildflowers in bloom, some that I saw were: Agapanthus campanulatus; Aristea woodii; Berkheya setifera; Clutia monticola fruit;

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Agapanthus campanulatus

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Aristea woodii

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Berkheya setifera

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Clutia monticola

Craterocapsa tarsodes, which I usually associate with the mountains grows here too on rocky clay patches;

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Craterocapsa tarsodes

Dipcadi viride; Epilobium capense seeds; Gladiolus ecklonii; Haemanthus humilis; Lobelia erinus;

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Dipcadi viride

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Epilobium capense

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Gladiolus ecklonii

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Haemanthus humilis

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Lobelia erinus

four orchids, Eulophia hians var. nutans; Eulophia ovalis var. bainesii; Eulophia zeyheriana and Satyrium longicauda;

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Eulophia hians ver. nutans

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Eulophia ovalis var. bainesii

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Eulophia zeyheriana

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Satyrium longicauda

Papaver aculeatum; Pelargonium luridum; Rubus ludwigii; Senecio subrubriflorus; Strigia bilabiata and Zantedeschia albomaculata.

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Papaver aculeatum

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Pelargonium luridum

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Rubus ludwigii

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Senecia subrubriflorus

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Strigia bilabiata

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Zantedeschia albomaculata

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Zantedeschia albomaculata

 

An unusual fungi was growing in stone gravel.

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In the lush foliage I found some delightful insects: two Bee Fly species, a Foam Grasshopper and a lucky sighting of a Giant Forest Cicada!

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Bee Fly

 

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Bee Fly

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Foam Grasshopper

 

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Giant Forest Cicada

Most mornings the birds find the night flying moths before I do, but I did see a few, including the wings of a Wounded Emperor, Neobunaeopsis arabella; then a rather spectacular first for me, a day flying moth, a Superb False Tiger, Heraclia sp. which at first I thought must be a butterfly!

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Superb False Tiger, Heraclia sp.

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Superb False Tiger, Heraclia sp.

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Wings of an Emperor moth, Neobunaeopsis arabella

After a misty night I saw a water-beaded spider web.

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Long-crested Eagles catch thermals between waiting and watching patiently from perches.

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Two discarded eggshells, one from a Spectacled Weaver and the second from a Village Weaver prove that some of the nests were acceptable.

The Striped Swallows have selected a new site to build a nest, I hope this one works out. A pair of Cape Wagtails have recently taken up residence in the garden. Occasionally I hear Spotted Eagle-Owls calling at dusk and dawn.

One morning I discovered a newly excavated Antbear hole, as it was in the middle of the driveway we had to fill it in.

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Sadly I will have to live-trap and relocate the Lesser Savanna Dormice that have taken up residence in the house; a hole in a carpet, wooly slippers and clothing where they have selected bedding material, and they devour any food left out… Drawers are their favoured places to make nests. I love their chirrups as they move through the house and occasional sightings as they scurry across the floor and furniture.

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Boston Wildlife Sightings – October 2016

Christeen Grant of Sitamani

October has been a busy month, not much time at home to explore, so few sightings. There was a final snowfall at the beginning of the month, then the weather settled into a summer pattern, regular thunderstorms, rain and misty days between hot ones.

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One misty day a pair of Common Reedbuck ventured close to the house, unhurriedly grazing as the passed by. I had several close-up encounters on different predawn mornings with individual Reedbuck.

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The moist conditions have produced many flowers, they sparkled at me as I passed by. The few I managed to find time to photograph were Asparagus africanus, Monopsis decipiens and Oxalis smithiana.

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Asparagus africanus

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Monopsis decipiens

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Oxalis smithiana

A tiny Lacewing sp. perched on the kitchen towel.

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Lacewing

There have been several lovely moths including these two, an Emerald sp. and one unidentified.

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Moth – Emerald sp.

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Unidentified moth (suggestions welcome)

Tiny Dunce Caps, Conocybe tenera; popped up in the lawn after rain as did a False Earth-star.

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Tiny Dunce Caps – Conocybe tenera

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False Earth-star

The Village Weavers have been very busy in the Pin Oak and in an adjacent Plane Tree Spectacled Weavers have built a few nests. The Piet-my-Vrou, Red-chested Cuckoo finally started calling on the 19 October. I also saw an African Harrier-Hawk flying by.

Caroline McKerrow of Stormy Hill

I’ve seen the pair of Reedbuck a few times this month. I also had some Woodland Dormice in the ceiling until the cats dispatched them. Check the fluffy tail. The other one got eaten.

dormouse

All the birds are busy in their nests. The Hadedas and Weavers have been building nests in the bird tree. The Speckled Pigeons are all over the place and the Red-winged Starlings are making messy nests on top of the lights in the shed. Swallows are also back making muddy nests. The Mousebirds got cold one lunchtime and formed a ball.

mousebirds

Crystelle Wilson of Gramarye

The onset at last of the rainy season is so welcome, that one doesn’t mind days of grey, mizzling weather – which is no good for taking great photographs. It also doesn’t put a damper on the excitement of seeing a pair of Wattled Cranes looming large right next to the road.

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Wattled Cranes

And it is always pleasing to see Grey Crowned Cranes, there were a group of six on The Drift one morning, flying off north

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Grey Crowned Cranes

The atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 included: Red-capped Lark, African Dusky Flycatcher, Klaas’s Cuckoo, Black Crake, Blue Crane, Great Egret, African Darter, Greater Striped Swallow, Jackal Buzzard, Cape Grassbird, African Reed-warbler

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African Reed-Warbler

Red-necked Spurfowl, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler

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Dark-capped Yellow Warbler

Burchell’s Coucal, Bokmakierie, Cape Sparrow, Red-eyed Dove, Speckled Mousebird, African Paradise-flycatcher, Black Saw-wing, , African Hoopoe, Pin-tailed Whydah, Olive Thrush, Spur-winged Goose

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Spur-winged Goose

Lanner Falcon, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Red-billed Quelea, House Sparrow, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Cattle Egret (closely roosting overnight near the dam)

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Cattle Egret

Reed Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant (also at the dam on a tree in the island where it was perching room only)

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White-breasted Cormorant

Cape Longclaw, Southern Red Bishop, Cape Crow, Cape Robin-chat, Fork-tailed Drongo, African Pipit,

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African Pipit

Red-collared Widowbird, Village Weaver, White-throated Swallow, Cape Weaver

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Cape Weaver

Brown-throated Martin, Southern Fiscal, African Sacred Ibis, Bar-throated Apalis, Little Grebe, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Cape Wagtail, African Spoonbill (taking a break from feeding)

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African Spoonbill

Common Waxbill, Cape Turtle-dove, Pied Starling, Grey Crowned Crane, Red-chested Cuckoo, Helmeted Guineafowl, Amethyst Sunbird, Dark-capped Bulbul, Southern Double-collared, Sunbird, African Stonechat, Cape Canary, Cape White-eye, African Fish-eagle

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African Fish-Eagle

Drakensberg Prinia, Southern Boubou, Forest Canary, Hadeda Ibis, Egyptian Goose (the gosling turning into gangling teenagers)

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Egyptian Geese

Red-knobbed Coots were feeding three newly-hatched chicks

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Red-knobbed Coot

Blacksmith Lapwing, Yellow-billed Kite, Black-headed Heron, Yellow-billed Duck

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Yellow-billed Duck

Boston Wildlife Sightings – September 2016

Caroline McKerrow of Stormy Hill

We have had quite a lot of activity over September. Some good, some bad.

We saw a large mongoose with dark colouration run across the road on our way out one day. Possibly either a Large Grey Mongoose or a Water (Marsh) Mongoose?

The Common (Grey) Duiker is a regular visitor and then we had a wonderful sighting with the small Bushbuck herd. We saw the ram, a doe and fawn and another male (could this be last years baby?) all together.

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Bushbuck ram

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Young Bushbuck

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Bushbuck fawn

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Bushbuck doe and fawn

We were so chuffed, then about two weeks later we had a tragedy. The dogs kept barking towards nextdoors indigenous forest so we went to look. After pushing through the American Brambles, we came across what we think was the baby Bushbuck caught in a snare. We couldn’t be sure as it had got quite badly decomposed so was not too easy to identify. We think that the dogs were picking up the scent by that time as it did smell a bit. Such a shame. We have seen two of the bushbuck again but not the baby.

The Hadeda Ibis and Village Weaver birds are busy nesting in the bird tree. The Speckled Pigeons seem to be nesting everywhere and the Red-winged Starlings are in the shed. I’ve seen the resident African Paradise Flycatcher too.

We were building some better steps over the balcony wall for Pisch man who is Stormy Hill’s elderly cat when we came across the Red-lipped Herald snake in a concrete block at the base of the old steps. So now we know where he lives! We’ve named him Harry and he seems quite content living in the cat steps. Maybe he’s waiting for them to drop a mouse or two.

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Harry the Red-lipped Herald Snake

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Harry the Red-lipped Herald Snake

Christeen Grant of Sitamani

September Spring has been wonderful, mostly warm days, a few thunderstorms and a surprise snowfall on the eighteenth,

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followed by a magical sunrise a few days later.

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Many flowers have sprung up through the greening grass, though the water table is still very low. Amongst those seen, Acalypha sp.; Argyrolobium marginatum; Asclepias stellifera; Aster bakerianus; Chrysanthemoides monilifera; Clutia cordata; Convolvulus natalensis; Dierama cooperi; Eriosema salignum;

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Acalypha sp.

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Argyrolobium marginatum

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Asclepias stellifera

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Aster bakerianus

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Chrysanthemoides monilifera

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Clutia cordata

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Convolvulus natalensis

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Dierama cooperi

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Eriosema salignum

Eulophia hians var. hians with an exciting sighting of an ant like insect, probably the pollinator with pollinaria stuck to it’s back;

Eulophia hians var. inaequalis;

Gerbera ambigua;

Gymnosporia uniflora, Dwarf Spikethorn, a first for me;

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Gymnosporia uniflora

Hebenstretia duraHelichrysum aureum;

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Hebenstretia dura

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Helichrysum aureum

Helichrysum caespititium and I found a new population;

Hypoxis argentea and costata;

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Hypoxis argentea

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Hypoxis costata

Kohautia amatymbica; two different Ledebouria sp.;

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Kohautia amatymbica

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Ledebouria sp.

Pentanisia prunelloides; Raphionacme hirsuta;

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Pentanisia prunelloides

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Raphionacme hirsuta

Senecio macrocephalus and oxyriifolius leaves;

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Senecio macrocephalus

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Senecio oxyriifolius

Stachys aethiopica; Thesium pallidum; Tritonia lineata; Tulbaghia leucantha; Vernonia hirsuta and another smaller sp.; plus Vihna vexillata.

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Stachys aethiopica

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Tritonia lineata

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Vernonia hirsuta

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Vernonia sp (small)

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Vihna vexillata

A few other observations were, Carpenter Bees;

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Carpenter bee

a Drone Fly, Bee-mimic;

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Drone Fly

a Marbled Emperor moth;

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Marbled Emperor Moth

a Wasp nest neatly placed in a rock crevice

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Wasp nest

and finally I nearly stepped on a rather large Puff Adder sunning himself near his hole… He slid inside it as I tried to take a quick photo, not in good focus!

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Puff Adder

Crystelle Wilson of Gramarye

Welcome spring rain generated fresh growth on the hillsides and while out birding, I was pleased to see a snake lily (Scadoxus puniceus)

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Scadoxis puniceus

and giant anemones (Anemone fanninii)

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Anemone fanninii

Spring is also the time of year when many birds respond to the urge to reproduce. For some time I have been keeping an eye on a large nest in trees along the Elands River on the Dargle Road. It might have originally belonged to Long-crested Eagles, but has also been used by Egyptian Geese and this season by a Jackal Buzzard. The first picture show the raptor on the nest on 2 September

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Jackal Buzzard

The second picture was taken on 24 September and there appears to be a fledgling in the nest. The adult was sitting on a tree nearby.

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Jackal Buzzard fledgling

Jackal Buzzards seem to be doing very well in the district, with a number of immature birds in a variety of plumages showing up all over. The picture of one of them in flight shows the bird is in the process of moulting, and donning yet another variation in colouration.

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Jackal Buzzard in flight

Another highlight was seeing four Blue Cranes flying over the Geldarts’ newly proclaimed Boschberg Nature Reserve, with another two on the ground below them

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Blue Cranes

The atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 included: Southern Double-collared Sunbird, African Pipit, Pied Starling, Common Waxbill

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Common Waxbill

Wailing Cisticola, Lanner Falcon, Egyptian Goose (already boasting a clutch of goslings)

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Egyptian Goose with goslings

Little Grebe, Reed Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant, Grey Heron

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Grey Heron

Malachite Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Kite, Brown-throated Martin, Lesser Swamp-warbler, Three-banded Plover, Red-knobbed Coot, Spur-winged Goose, South African Shelduck

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South African Shelduck

White-throated Swallow, Black-headed Heron, Common Fiscal, African Sacred Ibis, Greater Striped Swallow, African Fish-Eagle, Jackal Buzzard, African Firefinch, Cape Grassbird, Dark-capped Bulbul, Brimstone Canary

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Brimstone Canary

African Stonechat, Cape Wagtail, African Black Duck, Yellow-billed Duck, Cape Longclaw, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Long-crested Eagle, Bokmakierie, Cape Glossy Starling, Red-throated Wryneck, Bar-throated Apalis, African Hoopoe, Levaillant’s Cisticola

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Levaillant’s Cisticola

Common Moorhen, Drakensberg Prinia, Cape White-eye, Southern Boubou, Fork-tailed Drongo, Olive Thrush, Speckled Mousebird, Hamerkop

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Hamerkop

Helmeted Guineafowl, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, African Dusky Flycatcher, Hadeda Ibis, Amethyst Sunbird, Cape Robin-chat

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Cape Robin-chat

Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle-dove, House Sparrow, Village Weaver, Cape Canary, Cape Crow

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Cape Crow

Cape Sparrow, (and a welcome back to migrants) Black Saw-wing and African Paradise-flycatcher

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African Paradise-flycatcher

Boston Wildlife Sightings – August 2016

Caroline McKerrow of Stormy Hill

We saw quite a bit at Stormy Hill this August. The Bushbuck pair were visiting, as well as the Reedbuck. The resident Duiker is wandering around.

duiker

Resident Duiker wandering around

A vlei rat was helping itself to some horse food leavings at the stables.

vleirat

Vlei rat

The Village Weavers and the Hadedas are building nests in the bird tree.

weaver

Village Weaver working hard on his nest to impress the female.

We went on a ride and saw a huge bird at the dam which we think was a lammergeier (it’s the only bird that fits the sighting in our bird book.) I’ve also included some photos of our resident Jackal Buzzards.

jackalbuzzard1

Jackal Buzzard

jackalbuzzard2

Jackal Buzzard

Crystelle Wilson of Gramarye

There is concern about the status of Secretarybirds in South Africa, which has been uplisted from Near-threatened to Vulnerable. This is due to factors such as habitat loss and collisions with fences and power lines. BirdLife South Africa has a special research project on these birds which can be followed at https://www.facebook.com/secretarybirdconservation. It is always a highlight to spot them in the field, and especially in an agricultural setting where they appear to adapt to their surroundings.

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Secretarybird

Equally pleasing was catching sight of a Wattled Crane, a long distance away from the camera.

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Wattled Crane

The atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 included: Cape Glossy Starling, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Natal Spurfowl, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Red-necked Spurfowl, Spur-winged Goose, African Firefinch, Cape Wagtail,

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Cape Wagtail

Black-headed Oriole, Southern Boubou, African Wattled Lapwing, African Spoonbill, Grey Crowned Crane, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Cape Sparrow, Cape Longclaw,

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Cape Longclaw

Olive Thrush, Red-billed Teal, African Darter, Reed Cormorant, Common Moorhen, Southern Red Bishop, Red-capped Lark, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape Robin-Chat, Three-banded Plover,

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Three-banded Plover

Cape Crow, Cape Turtle-Dove, Jackal Buzzard, House Sparrow, Red-billed Quelea, African Stonechat, Pied Starling, Cape Weaver, Drakensberg Prinia, Brown-throated Martin, Long-crested Eagle,

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Long-crested Eagle

White-breasted Cormorant, Egyptian Goose, South African Shelduck (the male has a grey head and females black and white)

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South African Shelduck

African Sacred Ibis, Red-knobbed Coot, Little Grebe, Yellow-billed Duck,

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Yellow-billed Duck

Buff-streaked Chat,

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Buff-streaked Chat (male)

Bokmakierie, Hadeda Ibis, Black-headed Heron, Wattled Crane, Village Weaver, Red-eyed Dove, Common Fiscal, Cape White-eye, Fork-tailed Drongo, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Speckled Mousebird,

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Speckled Mousbirds

Sombre Greenbul, Amethyst Sunbird, Hamerkop, Secretarybird, Malachite Kingfisher

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Malachite Kingfisher

Christeen Grant of Sitamani

Scattered bones and new life in August. Is anyone else missing the gusty winds usually prevalent during August?

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We experienced mainly mild temperatures, apart from a couple of cold fronts that brought in some wonderful rain, between there were clear blue skies, spectacular sunrises and new green grass started covering the hillsides.

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After the rain new life in popped up almost overnight. Dried out Moss, Selaginella dregei, greened up;

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Selaginella dregei

Bracken Pteridium aquilinum and Tree Fern Cyathea dregei fronds started unfurling.

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Pteridium aquilinum

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Cyathea dregei

Colourful spots appeared in the new grass, Apodolirion buchananii one of my favourite first spring flowers,

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Apodolirion buchananii

Dimorphotheca jucunda, Graderia scabra, Green-tipped Fire Lily, Cyrtanthus tuckii vibrantly red, Ledebouria ovatifolia, Nemesia caerulea and Ursinia tenuiloba.

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Dimorphotheca jacunda

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Dimorphotheca jacunda

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Graderia scabra

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Cyrtanthus tuckii

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Ledebouria ovatifolia

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Nemesia caerulea

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Ursinia tenuiloba

A few dried out seed heads of Themeda triandra interspersed in unburnt areas.

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Themeda triandra

Masses of Buddleja salviifolia flowers scent the air,

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Buddleja salviifolia

new leaves of the Cabbage Trees, Cussonia paniculata wave like a feather dusters on long trunks

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Cussonia paniculata

and the delicate yellow Ouhout, Leucosidea sericea flowers are attracting hover flies, bees and birds.

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Leucosidea sericea

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Leucosidea sericea

I found a few huge Field Mushrooms, Agaricus campestris after the rain.

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Agaricus campestris

Revealed in burnt off areas were two sets of scattered bones. I think the skull is of a Porcupine and the other set was a small antelope, probably a Duiker. As there seemed to be little disturbance of the bones I think they died of natural causes.

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Porcupine skull

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Remains possibly of a Duiker

The Common Reedbuck are still keeping close to the house and one evening a female and male casually picked their way grazing as they moved.

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Common Reedbuck (female)

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Common Reedbuck (male)

An exciting find was a pile of what I’m sure was relatively fresh Eland droppings.

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Eland droppings

The Village Weavers are back at the Pin Oak in the garden and one male was very busy starting to build a nest. Black-headed Orioles, Black-backed Puffbacks, Cape Robin-chats, Fork-tailed Drongos, Cape White-eyes, Speckled Pigeons and Southern Boubous are some of the birds I’ve seen round the house and at the birdbaths. The Fish Eagle I hear regularly calling from the valley.

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Male Village Weaver building a nest

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Male Village Weaver building a nest

On my way home one day I spotted a tiny, ±2mm Crab spider, Family Thomisidae on the road. Unusual for me as I’d never seen a black one before, the ones I normally see are yellow, green or pink.

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Crab Spider

On Mt. Shannon, Mondi Plantation, Philip came across a very weak Long-crested Eagle on the ground, it had a ring on one leg. On investigation he discovered that it had been ringed by Lindy Jane Thompson, as an adult bird, on the 25th March 2015, on the Boston-Dargle Road. When he returned it had gone, leaving no trace.

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Long-crested Eagle

On another day we saw a pair of South African Shelducks, Yellow-billed Ducks and a Reed Cormorant on the dam as we walked past.

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Three Yellow-billed ducks in the foreground, two South African Shelduck in the middle (male and female), and a Reed Cormorant in the background.

Boston Wildlife Sightings – May 2016

Christeen Grant of Sitamani

May has been a Furry-beasties, Ferns and Fungi month. A light overnight snowfall dusted the mountains on the 1st May.

02 Cover Snow IMG_5368

Winter chill, fairly frequent frosts, not much rain but a few damp days and in between smoky sunsets from tracer-line burning.

02 Cover Smoky sunsets IMG_5408

Cool winter skies with beautiful prefrontal cirrus cloud effects. The grass and ground are very dry for this time of year, and the water table is very low.

02 Cover Prefrontal cirrus cloud IMG_5431

At last I have managed to take a photo of the very dear Lesser Savanna Dormouse, one of two in residence… albeit with a cell phone and not a good one, I just hoped I’d captured it in the dark… It had found an unopened packet of peanuts and raisins, tore a hole in the packet and was delightedly eating, making contented chirpy noises at about two in the morning… I know they will have to be relocated, just haven’t the heart to turf them out into winter. All foodstuff has to be carefully put away otherwise it is nibbled.

03 Animals Lesser Savanna Dormouse IMG_2212

The Lesser Savanna Dormouse, Grahiurus kelleni, is only 14cm in length, 6cm of that being the tail. They are definitely nocturnal in habit, extremely agile climbers, scampering up and down furniture and curtains. They eat insects, plant material, seeds and in a house love fruit, bread, cake and almost anything they can find. They are frequently found in association with man-made structures. According to literature local species are supposed to hibernate, or become less active in winter. No one told these two!

The Duiker family, Bushpig and Vervet Monkeys all enjoy the fallen Pin Oak acorns along the driveway.

03 Animals Duiker IMG_5398

Birds flock to the birdbath on the verandah and the one in the garden, often needing a refill by early afternoon. I spotted a juvenile Black-headed Oriole, with dark flecks on his yellow breast. Cape Crows; Dark-capped Bulbuls; Cape Robin-chats; Cape White-eyes; Black-backed Puffbacks; Speckled Pigeons; Amethyst Sunbirds; African Stonechats and the call of a Fish Eagle from the valley. A small nest was exposed when the leaves turned and fell from the Japanese Maple tree.

03 Bird nest IMG_5447

Very interesting Fungi were spotted after a sprinkle of rain and misty conditions. I observed the unfurling of two different fungi; Blusher, Amanita rubescens and The Miller, Clitopilus prunulus; also seen were a False Earth-star and an unidentified, 20mm high mushroom.

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Blusher – Amanita rubescens

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Blusher – Amanita rubescens

04 Fungi The Miller Clitopilus prunulus IMG_2216

The Miller – Clitopilus prunulus

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The Miller – Clitopilus prunulus

04 Fungi False Earth-star  IMG_5377

False Earth-Star

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Unidentified fungi

The Fern Allies species Lycoodium clavatum had many strobili, cone-like structures that bear the spores. Two ferns seen, though browning off quickly in the dry weather, were; Cheilanthes involuta var. obscura and Mohria nudiuscula.

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Lycoodium clavatum

05 Fern Cheilanthes involuta var obscura IMG_5430

Cheilanthes involuta var. obscura

05 Fern Mohria nudiuscula IMG_5426

Mohria nudiuscula

Almost all the flowers are over, all that remains are the dried bracts like those of the Berkheya setifera; or seeds of Plectranthus calycina;

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Berkheya setifera

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Plectranthus calycina

there are however a few hardy ones still flowering, Senecio madagascariensis and Stachys aethiopica.

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Senecio madagascariensis

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Stachys aethiopica

A few of the insects seen were: the tiny Common Blue butterfly; Giant Carpenter Bees; a tiny Grasshopper; Green Vegetable Bug, Nezara viridula; an unidentified Moth; very busy Paper wasps, Polistes fastidiotus; and a very small Twig wilter sp.

07 Insects Common Blue butterfly IMG_545807 Insects Giant Carpenter Bee Xylocopa flavorufa IMG_545507 Insects Grasshopper IMG_545607 Insects Green Vegetable Bug Nezara viridula IMG_540507 Insects Moth IMG_545007 Insects Paper wasps Polistes fastidiotus IMG_537307 Insects Twig wilter sp P1070316

Crystelle Wilson of Gramarye

Once again my time in Boston was limited this month. While out birding, it was special to come across a bushbuck doe delicately walking on the side of the road.

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The drought continues to bite, which means that any time spent at the edge of dwindling dams are guaranteed to provide sightings of birds. The Red-knobbed Coot chicks are growing up

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And the African Spoonbill was on its post as usual

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The atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000: White-breasted Cormorant, Red-collared Widowbird, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Southern Red Bishop, Secretarybird, African Fish-eagle, Grey Crowned Crane, Reed Cormorant, Cape Glossy Starling, Speckled Mousebird, Common Moorhen,

image4

Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Cape Sparrow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Long-crested Eagle, Olive Thrush, Black-headed Oriole, Cape Turtle-dove, Red-eyed Dove, House Sparrow, Helmeted Guineafowl, Village Weaver, Cape Wagtail, Cape White-eye, African Firefinch, African Stonechat, Common Fiscal, Greater Honeyguide, Red-knobbed Coot, White-necked Raven, Bokmakierie, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Malachite Kingfisher,

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South African Shelduck, Blacksmith Lapwing, Brown-throated Martin, African Spoonbill, Egyptian Goose, African Sacred Ibis,

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Little Grebe, Jackal Buzzard (juvenile),

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Black-headed Heron, Cape Robin-chat, Cape Canary, Fork-tailed Drongo, Southern Boubou,

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Common Waxbill, Hadeda Ibis, Pied Crow, Red-necked Spurfowl, Yellow-billed Duck,

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Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape Crow, Southern Double-collared Sunbird.

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Boston Wildlife Sightings – January 2016

Christeen Grant of “Sitamani”:

Summery weather, hot, humid mornings with frequent afternoon thunderstorms and much needed rain for the depleted water table. Beautiful atmospheric, moody sky-scapes and misty mornings.

02 Cover IMG_1598

A variety of flowering plants seem to enjoy this weather. Aloe boylei have been very showy and I have counted an additional four Brunsvigia undulata flowering this season.

Aloe boylei

Aloe boylei

Brunsvigia undulata

Brunsvigia undulata

Other flowering plants include: Crassula alba, Cumis hirsutus, Gladiolus sericeovillosus, Indigofera hilaris, Kniphofia buchananii, Lotononis foliosa bright yellow aging to orange hues, Moraea brevistyla, Pearsonia sessilifolia, Schizoglossum bidens, Sebaea natalensis and hundreds of Watsonia confusa festoon the hillsides.

Crassula alba

Crassula alba

Cumis hirsutus

Cumis hirsutus

Gladiolus sericeovillosus

Gladiolus sericeovillosus

Indigofera hilaris

Indigofera hilaris

Kniphofia buchananii

Kniphofia buchananii

Lotononis foliosa

Lotononis foliosa

Lotononis foliosa

Lotononis foliosa

Moraea brevistyla

Moraea brevistyla

Pearsonia sessilifolia

Pearsonia sessilifolia

Schizoglossum bidens

Schizoglossum bidens

Sebaea natalensis

Sebaea natalensis

Watsonia confusa

Watsonia confusa

The orchids have also finally started flowering. One seen for the first time here: Pterygodium magnum! It is not as tall, densely packed inflorescence or the individual flowers as large, but I’m pretty certain of the ID.

Pterygodium magnum

Pterygodium magnum

Others flowering were Eulophia hians nutans, Eulophia ovalis, Eulophia tenella, Satyrium cristatum and Satyrium longicauda.

Eulophia hians nutans

Eulophia hians nutans

Eulophia ovalis

Eulophia ovalis

Eulophia tenella

Eulophia tenella

Satyrium cristatum

Satyrium cristatum

Satyrium longicauda

Satyrium longicauda

Several interesting fungi appeared after each heavy rainfall, Boletus edulis, Clitopilus prunulus, Psathyrella candolleana that blackened with age, helping with identification and the bright red Star Stinkhorn, Aseroe rubra.

Boletus edulis

Boletus edulis

Clitopilus prunulus

Clitopilus prunulus

Psathyrella candolleana

Psathyrella candolleana

Star Stinkhorn Aseroe rubra

Star Stinkhorn Aseroe rubra

A common cannibal snail, Natalina cafra, enjoyed the damp grass one morning.

Common Cannibal Snail - Natalina cafra

Common Cannibal Snail – Natalina cafra

Moths are still plentiful of special interest was seeing a Wounded Emperor laying eggs one evening with wings flapping, it was still nearby the next morning. Also seen a Common Emperor moth, a Longhorn moth (Family Adelidae) and a few others, which I haven’t been able to identify.

Wounded Emperor Moth

Wounded Emperor Moth

Common Emperor Moth

Common Emperor Moth

Longhorn Moth

Longhorn Moth

Unidentified moth

Unidentified moth

Unidentified moth

Unidentified moth

There are many Pill millipedes around. A Bee fly possibly of the Philoliche genus fed off a Watsonia, its long proboscis probing the flowers.

Pill Millipede

Pill Millipede

Bee fly possibly of Philoliche genus

Bee fly possibly of Philoliche genus

A very busy False button spider, Family Theridiidae, Genus Theridion, was moving a large egg sac up over the kitchen blind. They are commonly found near sinks, basins and baths in houses, but do not have a toxic bite. Glistening spider webs draped over grass sparkle at dawn.

False button spider

False button spider

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An immature African Stonechat perched on a Watsonia, (a curious lizard on a rock in the background), and a Speckled Pigeon posed for me on the birdbath.

African Stonechat

African Stonechat

Speckled Pigeon

Speckled Pigeon

Caroline McKerrow of “Stormy Hill Horse Trails”:

CREW also came to Stormy Hill in January to look at all the lovely flowers.

CREW checking the wildflowers at the top of the hill

CREW checking the wildflowers at the top of the hill

On a ride to the dam I saw an African Fish-Eagle sitting on a rock while being dive bombed by the two resident Jackal Buzzards. They were really determined to get him out of their territory.
Then one Saturday, I decided on a night out at the club where Cathy and Dave’s wonderful chicken curry went down a treat. As some added excitement a Barn Owl swooped through the hall, did a lap round the bar (yes, we had to duck) and flew into the kitchen where Dave managed to catch it and it was taken outside for a ceremonial release after being inspected by the resident Boston bird expert Christelle. Don’t get that in town!

Brunsvigia undulata

Brunsvigia undulata

Also seen a few duiker when out on rides and unusually eight crowned cranes flying over. I normally have a pair that live round here but not eight.

To top it all, two foals were born in January.

Foal Dusty investigating his mother having a roll

Foal Dusty investigating his mother having a roll

Crystelle Wilson of “Gramarye”:

Members of Durban’s BirdLife Port Natal came for an outing to Gramarye on 24 January. Walking towards the river, the Yellow-crowned Bishop which I saw for the first time in that area earlier in the month, confirmed its presence. What really got everyone’s attention though was a Red-collared Widow with a yellow, instead of a red collar under its throat. This could either be due to washed out colours or it can be ascribed to “Xanthochroism when there is excessive yellow pigment in feathers or the yellow replaces another colour, typically red”. Read more about Avian Oddities here: http://www.birdinfo.co.za/rarebirds/25_avian_colour_oddities.htm

Red-collared Widowbird with an unusual yellow collar

Red-collared Widowbird with an unusual yellow collar

Warblers, bishops and widowbirds were on good form and gave good displays, including a juvenile Levaillant’s Cisticola.

Levaillant's Cisticola

Levaillant’s Cisticola

A Spotted Eagle-Owl was seen in the willow trees.

Spotted Eagle-Owl

Spotted Eagle-Owl

We then went to the Geldarts’ Boschberg Cottages for forest birding and once again had good sightings, including Cape Batis and Bar-throated Apalis.

Cape Batis

Cape Batis

Bar-throated Apalis

Bar-throated Apalis

The favourite was Bush Blackcap.

Bush Blackcap

Bush Blackcap

Earlier in the month during the heat waves “het die kraaie gegaap” – the crows not only yawned, they also dangled their wings to keep cool.

Pied Crow

Pied Crow

When it did rain, birds made the most of fresh water flowing into dams and in some cases it was standing room only (African Sacred Ibis, Grey Heron and African Spoonbill)

African Sacred Ibis, Grey Heron and African Spoonbill

African Sacred Ibis, Grey Heron and African Spoonbill

Migrants from the northern hemisphere were doing their bit to keep insects under control. There didn’t appear to be that many Amur Falcons present this year

Amur Falcon

Amur Falcon

and White Stork numbers also seems to be lower. The white streaks on the legs of this stork indicate its way of using faeces to control temperature.

White Stork

White Stork

With all the migrants present, the atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 was well over 110 birds: Forest Canary,

Forest Canary

Forest Canary

Speckled Pigeon, Common Waxbill, Swee Waxbill, Red-winged Starling, African Black Duck, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Pied Starling, Pied Kingfisher,

Pied Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher

Helmeted Guineafowl, African Snipe, Steppe Buzzard, White-throated Swallow, Barn Swallow, Greater Striped Swallow, African Rail, White-breasted Cormorant, Amethyst Sunbird, Yellow Bishop, Red-necked Spurfowl, Pin-tailed Whydah, African Firefinch, Red-throated Wryneck,

Red-throated Wryneck

Red-throated Wryneck

Greater Honeyguide, Brimstone Canary, African Dusky Flycatcher, Cape Longclaw, Black Crake, Common Moorhen, Cape Weaver, Three-banded Plover, Little Grebe, Blacksmith Lapwing, Brown-throated Martin, South African Shelduck (the female with a white head and the male grey)

South African Shelduck

South African Shelduck

Red-capped Lark, African Pipit, Black-shouldered Kite, Olive Thrush, Black Saw-wing, African Sacred Ibis, Fork-tailed Drongo, Burchell’s Coucal, Hadeda Ibis, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, House Sparrow, Cape Sparrow, White Stork, Red-chested Cuckoo, Olive Woodpecker,

Olive Woodpecker

Olive Woodpecker

Dark-backed Weaver, Chorister Robin-chat, Yellow-throated Woodland-warbler, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Yellow-billed Duck, Black Cuckoo, Hamerkop,

Hamerkop

Hamerkop

Buff-spotted Flufftail, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Green-backed Camaroptera, Alpine Swift, Bush Blackcap, Southern Boubou, Knysna Turaco, White-starred Robin, Olive Bush-shrike, Terrestrial Brownbul, Cardinal Woodpecker, Cape White-eye, Cape Glossy Starling,

Cape Glossy Starling

Cape Glossy Starling

Bar-throated Apalis, Sombre Greenbul, Cape Batis, Purple-crested Turaco, Barratt’s Warbler, African Hoopoe, African Black Swift, Neddicky, Wailing Cisticola, Jackal Buzzard, Yellow-billed Kite, Cape Canary, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Pale-crowned Cisticola, Reed Cormorant, Malachite Kingfisher, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler,

Dark-capped Yellow Warbler

Dark-capped Yellow Warbler

Little Rush-warbler, Cattle Egret, Red-chested Flufftail, Cape Robin-chat, Southern Red Bishop, Zitting Cisticola (with a streaked crown),

Zitting Cisticola

Zitting Cisticola

African Paradise-flycatcher, Cape Crow, Cape Grassbird, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Cape Turtle-dove, Red-eyed Dove, Egyptian Goose and Spur-winged Goose (both trailing new families)

Egyptian Goose family

Egyptian Goose family

Spur-winged Goose family

Spur-winged Goose family

Village Weaver, Spectacled Weaver, Dark-capped Bulbul, African Reed-warbler, African Wattled Lapwing, Red-collared Widowbird, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Drakensberg Prinia, Common Fiscal, Red-billed Quelea, Grey Crowned Crane, Cape Wagtail, Black-headed Oriole

Black-headed Oriole

Black-headed Oriole

Speckled Mousebird

Speckled Mousebird

Speckled Mousebird

And a young Diderick Cuckoo,

Diderick Cuckoo

Diderick Cuckoo

The Grey Crowned Cranes once again produced three chicks. This photograph was taken on 22 January,

Grey Crowned Cranes

Grey Crowned Cranes

but two days later when the Durban bird club visited there was only one chick left, the others probably predated.

Grey Crowned Cranes

Grey Crowned Cranes

Let’s hope this one is a survivor like its sibling who safely fledged last year.

Boston Wildlife Sightings – December 2015

Caroline McKerrow of “Stormy Hill”:

In November, I saw two large grey mongooses or it could be one that I saw one twice as it was in the same area on both days. A jackal ran across my path when I was out riding. Two bushbuck were grazing when taking a trail ride. A couple of mountain reedbuck, and then at home I saw a Common Reedbuck and Duiker

Crystelle Wilson of “Gramarye”:

Breeding season is in full swing. A necklace of Southern Red Bishops paints a picture of colonial harmony,

Southern Red Bishop

Southern Red Bishop

but there are a lot of territorial disputes between males

Male Southern Red Bishop

Male Southern Red Bishop

All these activities are keenly observed by Diderick Cuckoos for the slightest opportunity to slip into a nest and deposit an egg

Dideric Cuckoo

Dideric Cuckoo

Another parasitic species, a Dusky Indigobird, put in a surprise appearance on my kitchen stoep on Christmas morning. I haven’t seen them around for some time and this one was probably checking out the presence of African Firefinches.

Dusky Indigobird

Dusky Indigobird

A disaster though, on the same morning, was when I found that part of the nest of the Greater Swallows had broken off and an empty egg was lying on the stoep below.

CW5 - Egg of Greater Striped Swallow

Despite the dry conditions and shortage of suitable mud, the parents wasted no time to begin fixing the damage

Greater Striped Swallow

Greater Striped Swallow

I was delighted to notice that one chick seemed to have survived in the nest. During the days following, the parents were kept busy alternating between feeding their offspring and repairing the nest

Surviving chick of Greater Striped Swallow

Surviving chick of Greater Striped Swallow

Breeding success for other species meant there are a number of fledglings flopping around in the vegetation, trying out their balancing acts, like Levaillant’s Cisticola

Levaillant's Cisticola

Levaillant’s Cisticola

And Amethyst Sunbird sitting pretty

Amethyst Sunbird

Amethyst Sunbird

And African Stonechat testing its vocal skills

African Stonechat

African Stonechat

I was very pleased to find a posse of Orange-breasted Waxbills feeding on a path. By standing very still, they came quite close and allowed themselves to be photographed.

Orange-breasted Waxbill

Orange-breasted Waxbill

SABAP2 atlas sightings for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 included: White-throated Swallow, Cape Robin-chat, African Sacred Ibis, Brown-throated Martin, Helmeted Guineafowl, Black-headed Oriole, Red-knobbed Coot, Pied Starling, Brimstone Canary, African Firefinch, Barn Owl, Natal Spurfowl, African Black Duck, Cape Grassbird, African Rail, Yellow-fronted Canary, Cape Canary, Common Waxbill, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Wailing Cisticola, Cape Longclaw, Speckled Pigeon, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Bar-throated Apalis, Jackal Buzzard

Jackal Buzzard

Jackal Buzzard

Sombre Greenbul, Wattled Crane, African Wattled Lapwing, Red-billed Teal, African Snipe, South African Shelduck, Black Crake, Common Moorhen, Reed Cormorant, Three-banded Plover, Blacksmith Lapwing, Barn Swallow, Little Grebe, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Cape Wagtail, African Darter, White-breasted Cormorant, Yellow-billed Kite,

Yellow-billed Kite

Yellow-billed Kite

Drakensberg Prinia, African Stonechat, African Reed-warbler, Little Rush-warbler, Red-chested Flufftail, Red-collared Widowbird, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Yellow-billed Duck, Southern Red Bishop, Cape Crow, Common Quail, Burchell’s Coucal, Pied Kingfisher, Red-billed Quelea, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape White-eye, Speckled Mousebird, Black Saw-wing, Amethyst Sunbird, Green Wood-hoopoe, Black-headed Heron, Bokmakierie, Red-capped Lark, African Pipit, Village Weaver,

Village Weaver

Village Weaver

Cape Weaver, Zitting Cisticola, Red-necked Spurfowl, Common Fiscal, Spur-winged Goose, Egyptian Goose, Fork-tailed Drongo, African Dusky Flycatcher, Olive Thrush, African Hoopoe, Southern Boubou, Cape Turtle-dove, Red-eyed Dove, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, House Sparrow, Cape Sparrow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Diderick Cuckoo, African Paradise-flycatcher, Greater Striped Swallow, Hadeda Ibis, Long-crested Eagle, Cattle Egret, Grey Crowned Crane, (cutting a lonely figure in a dam drying out)

Grey Crowned Crane

Grey Crowned Crane

African Spoonbill, Dusky Indigobird, African Fish-Eagle

African Fish-Eagle

African Fish-Eagle

Christeen Grant of “Sitamani”:

At last rain, thunderstorms, misty mornings and damp overcast days.

After the storm

After the storm

Although it seems too late for most of the indigenous flowering plants, flower numbers are way down compared to most Decembers, many of the wide variety are represented. The insect world however has come alive, particularly moths.

There were two first sightings for Sitamani, both have the common name ‘maiden’ although not the same genus, African Maiden Moth, Family Thyretidae and Cool Maiden, Amata kuhlweini.

African Maiden Moth, Family Thyretidae

African Maiden Moth, Family Thyretidae

Cool Maiden, Amata kuhlweini

Cool Maiden, Amata kuhlweini

Then many more of which I only have three ID’s, Marbled Emperor; a stunning red moth Metarctica lateritia and Plum Slug, Latoia lastistriga which is quite apt as the caterpillars eat plums and we have an orchard of them!

Marbled Emperor

Marbled Emperor

Metarctica lateritia

Metarctica lateritia

Plum Slug Latoia lastistriga

Plum Slug Latoia lastistriga

02 Moth P1050939 02 Moth IMG_1422 02 Moth P1050942 02 Moth P1050945 02 Moth P1050946

Other insects include butterflies, Common Meadow Blue, Cupidopsis cissus cissus and a Pirate, Catacroptera cloane cloane this was a first sighting here.

Common Meadow Blue, Cupidopsis cissus cissus

Common Meadow Blue, Cupidopsis cissus cissus

Pirate Catacroptera, cloane cloane

Pirate Catacroptera, cloane cloane

Bees are plentiful in the indigenous brambles and any other flower they can find.

Bee

Bee

Then I wrote last month: “The distinctive sound of the Bladder grasshoppers echoes at night, ‘gonion, gonion’, but I haven’t seen one yet”, and one appeared!

Bladder grasshopper

Bladder grasshopper

A gorgeous Blister Beetle, a shy Mottled Veld Antlion, a Praying mantis that pretended to be a stick insect and an interesting small wasp of the Enicospilus genus which lays its eggs in Cut Worms.

 Blister beetle on Cyanotis speciosa

Blister beetle on Cyanotis speciosa

Mottled Veld Antlion

Mottled Veld Antlion

Praying mantis

Praying mantis

Wasp of Enicospilus genus

Wasp of Enicospilus genus

The Village Weavers are still busy building, but one female is happy, she laid an egg now hatched and both parents are frantically feeding the demanding vocal chick! Other birds that attracted my attention was a Cape Longclaw, four Greater Striped Swallows and a disconsolately damp Red-throated Widow on top of a tree in the damp drizzle!

Village Weaver male

Village Weaver male

Village Weaver egg

Village Weaver egg

Greater Striped Swallow

Greater Striped Swallow

04 Bird Cape Longclaw IMG_4493

Red-collared Widowbird

Red-collared Widowbird

Flower species seen were: Agapanthus campanulatus, Asclepias albens, Berkheya speciosa, Commelina africana, Cynaotis speciosa,

Agapanthus campanulatus

Agapanthus campanulatus

Asclepias albens

Asclepias albens

Berkheya speciosa

Berkheya speciosa

Commelina africana

Commelina africana

Cynaotis speciosa

Cynaotis speciosa

both green and orange Dipcadi viride,

Dipcadi viride

Dipcadi viride

Dipcadi viride orange form

Dipcadi viride orange for

Dipcadi viride seeds

Dipcadi viride seeds

Gadiolus ecklonii, another first sighting just a single plant, Eulophia calanthoides, Eulophia ovalis, Eulophia zeheriana,

Gadiolus ecklonii

Gadiolus ecklonii

Orchid, Eulophia calanthoides

Orchid, Eulophia calanthoides

Orchid Eulophia ovalis

Orchid Eulophia ovalis

Orchid, Eulophia zeheriana

Orchid, Eulophia zeheriana

then an exception that is flowering profusely, some colonies of between 10-15 plants plus individuals scattered around, Orthochilus foliosus, Pachycarpus natalensis, Pelargonium luridum, Spotted-leaved Arum Zantedeschia albomaculata, Tephrosia purpurea, Watsonia confusa, Zornia capensis and fruiting Searsea discolour.

Orchid, Orthochilus foliosus

Orchid, Orthochilus foliosus

Pachycarpus natalensis

Pachycarpus natalensis

Pelargonium luridum

Pelargonium luridum

Spotted-leaved Arum Zantedeschia albomaculata

Spotted-leaved Arum Zantedeschia albomaculata

Tephrosia purpurea

Tephrosia purpurea

Watsonia confusa

Watsonia confusa

Zornia capensis

Zornia capensis

Searsea discolour

Searsea discolour

Black-backed Jackals yip and howl in the evenings. A male and female Common Duiker are regular visitors in the early morning and evening and have been enjoying the bounty of fallen plums!