Tag Archives: butterfly

Karkloof Wildlife Sightings – January 2015

I apologise for the delay in issuing this edition, I had a short break down the South Coast.  We have a real pot pourri (or should I say an Irish Stew!) this month, with flowers, birds and a toad. 

Karkloof Conservation Centre – Patrick Cahill

For several years after the Karkloof Conservation Centre opened I had the mutters because I had only once seen a Giant Kingfisher and when I did it was so camera shy I couldn’t get a good picture.  Last month a much braver bird put in an appearance and gave me the chance to take too many shots – that’s the problem with digital photography!

Giant Kingfisher

Giant Kingfisher

Twané had some great sightings in January. She managed to get a photograph of a Common Sandpiper that was a regular visitor to the distant muddy shore of the Gartmore pan.

Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper

Twané was lucky to get this shot of a male Diderick Cuckoo feeding a female – the way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach. The male fed her 3 juicy caterpillars and offered them to her with a gentle bobbing motion. They flew off into the sunset after the third one.

Diderick Cuckoo

Diderick Cuckoo

The butterfly that is photographed looks like it could be a male Window Acrea (Acrea oncaea). We would appreciate the correct ID from any Lepidopterists that might have a better idea of what it is.

Window Acrea

Window Acrea

On a recent frogging expedition by the EKZNW Kids Club, the kids found plenty of these little Painted Reed Frogs in the wetlands and mealies.

Painted Reed Frog

Painted Reed Frog

We have often had queries from visitors about the effect of the centre pivots used by local farmers for irrigating crops on the wildlife in the area and particularly on the cranes. The pictures of the Wattled Cranes and the Grey Crowned Cranes taken this month show that they do not impact the local fauna negatively.  They act as excellent perches for  raptors while they keep the rodent population under control. Centre pivots are also an extremely water efficient method of irrigation.

Grey Crowned Crane

Grey Crowned Crane

Wattled Crane

Wattled Crane

Denleigh – Ren and Britt Stubbs

We received some exciting news from Britt about a pair of African Grass-Owls that are nesting in their  grassland. They have seen a pair hang around before, but have finally confirmed that they have decided to breed on their farm. They have reported this sighting to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife who keep an active record of nest sites of various species.

According to the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the African Grass-Owl (Tyto capensis) is a habitat specialist and is mainly restricted to the open, grassy  habitats of marshes, wetlands and floodplains. It is estimated that there are less than 5000 of these birds left in southern Africa.

 The need for farmer co-operation centred on grazing densities and burning regimes, as well as alien plant control and no longer ploughing up native grassland areas no matter how small is extremely important. 

Well done Ren and Britt on a fantastic sighting and for taking on the role as custodians of your land.

Gartmore Farm – Charlie and Robyn MacGillivray

Charlie and Robyn were very excited about this pair of Lesser Striped Swallows that decided to build a nest outside their kitchen window.

Lesser Striped Swallow

Lesser Striped Swallow

Lesser Striped Swallow Nest

Lesser Striped Swallow Nest

During Robyn’s monthly walk, we found a few of these beautiful Asclepias albens (Cartwheel) flowers which seemed to be a favourite amongst the group.

Asclepias albens

Asclepias albens

Karkloof Roadside – Sears from Hillcrest

Geoff and Iris Sear from Hillcrest recently drove through the Karkloof Valley and sent us the following interesting sightings.

We passed by on our way to Rietvlei a few weeks ago when we were in search of the Forest Buzzard, which we saw just past the New Hanover turn off. We couldn’t get a good photo sadly. We also saw 9 pairs of Grey Crowned Cranes in the farmlands before we passed by your centre. There were also plenty of White Storks.

Mbona Private Nature Reserve – Richard Booth

Richard Booth from Mbona is a regular contributor and avid photographer. He sent us a picture of a Red-winged Francolin which had read about Chicken Licken’s phobia about the sky falling on her head and was keeping a weather eye on the stratosphere just in case.

Red-winged Francolin

Red-winged Francolin

Having gone through medical school, Richard doesn’t believe the ridiculous myth about frogs giving you warts, and he bravely photographed this Guttural Toad!

Guttural Toad

Guttural Toad

The Brunsvigia undulata, a rare threatened species, was found on Mbona and is a cousin to the more widely spread Brunsvigia radulosa or Candelabra flower.

Brunsvigia undulata 2

Brunsvigia undulata

Brunsvigia undulata 1

Brunsvigia undulata

Ringing at Gartmore Hide – Karin Nelson

Error correction: In the December 2014 Karkloof Sightings newsletter, we had incorrectly labelled this gorgeous Red-headed Quelea (photographed) as a “Red-headed Weaver”. Many thanks to Pam Nicol for pointing this out for us. We, Karin, Pat and Twané, will all need to go for an eye test!

Red-headed Quelea

Red-headed Quelea

Karin Nelson’s January ringing session produced 33 birds, with 8 re-trapped birds all ringed within the past 2 years, mostly African Reed-Warblers (7).  Karin read up on the Reed-Warblers and found that they spend their non-breeding time in drier vegetation, away from water. Some birds further north than KZN do move south.

At first glance, we had assumed one of the birds to be a Bronze Mannikin, however, it was too big and Karin had noticed a prominent gape. It turned out to be a ‘baby’ Pin-tailed Whydah. It was very interesting to see how similar it looked to the Mannikin.

Other birds ringed included:

  • 14 x African Reed-Warbler
  • 6 x Southern Red Bishop
  • 3 x Pin-tailed Whydah
  • 3 x Cape Weaver
  • 2 x Fan-tailed Widowbirds
  • 2 x Amethyst Sunbird.
  • 1 x Barn Swallow
  • 1 x Levaillant’s Cisticola
  • 1 x Southern Grey-headed Sparrow

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – March 2014

Nigel Anderson – Lane’s End Farm

14 March – The Crowned Cranes seem to like the flooding as there is a flock of at least 20 adjacent to Lanes End Farm today.


Flooding this month on the farm:

lanes end flood

at least the ducks are happy.

happy ducks

David Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Rhombic Night Adder (Causus rhombeatus)

Rhombic Night Adder (Causus rhombeatus)


Leonotis leonurus, also known as lion’s tail and wild dagga, is part of the Lamiaceae family.

leonotis leonaurus

Ed’s note: Common names: Wild Dagga (E), Wildedagga, Duiwelstabak (Afr), mvovo (X), utshwala-bezinyoni (Z) Derivation of Name : Leonotis = from the Greek leon meaning lion and otis meaning ear, alluding to the resemblance of the corolla to a lion’s ear. leonurus = lion-coloured. Leonotis has become an invasive plant in Australia.

Andrew Pridgeon – Copperleigh Farm

Spotted 3 Wattled Cranes (Bugeranus carunculatus – Conservation Status Vulnerable) near some pine trees on the farm. Caught a Rhombic Night Adder, which David Crookes photographed and Pat McKrill confirmed as a female (look at the short tale) Rhombic Night Adder because of the repeating rhomboid pattern that runs along the dorsal area from head to tail (see pic above).

Robin Fowler – Corrie Lynn Farm

Had a Black-backed Jackal trying to get into my sheep just outside my garden gate! It’s now been fenced out…  Captured with the Dargle Conservancy Trail Camera.

jackal 1

jackal 2

jackal 3


Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

I seem to be consistantly capturing locusts or grasshoppers every month, here’s a very large brown one that was on the garden paving stones.

brown grasshopper

Mike Weeden – Hopedale

Spotted this unusual bird on the lawn the other day. It had the shape of a Myna but was pure white. Anyone know what it is?


Thanks to Hugh Bulcock who provided this information: “This is an Olive Thrush with Leucism”. Wikipedia provides this information: “Leucism is a condition in animals characterized by reduced pigmentation. Unlike albinism, it is caused by a reduction in all types of skin pigment, not just melanin. A further difference between albinism and leucism is in eye colour. Due to the lack of melanin production in both the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) and iris, albinos typically have red eyes due to the underlying blood vessels showing through. In contrast, most leucistic animals have normally coloured eyes.”

Rose and Barry Downard

Lots of butterfly activity this month, including African Monarch, Green-banded Swallowtails, Acara and Garden Acraeas, Gaudy Commodores, Common Diadems and masses of tiny Thorn-tree Blue butterflies. There have also been lots of caterpillars, cocoons and pupae.  Green-banded Swallowtail (Papilio nireus lyaeus),


Acraea acara acara (male),


and a female Garden Acraea (Acraea horta) newly emerged from its pupal stage.


Flocks of swallows have been busily feeding in the surrounding fields, particularly at sunset, in preparation for their migration. Also seen: Guinea fowls with their young, Step Buzzard, Herons, Gymnogene. Heard: Burchell’s Coucal.

Other: Dwarf Chameleon, skinks, Natal green snake. A large Red-lipped Herald was discovered in our kitchen one evening and relocated.

Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm – Lidgetton

We saw a serval running down the D18 at 9 o’clock one morning. Two porcupine running up our driveway one evening – a large and  smaller one.  Not sure if mom and dad or mom and youngster. Seen Jackal and steppe buzzards, White Stork which now seem to have flown off.

white stork

We have been inundated with black snakes on our veranda which feed on moths and frogs. The dogs killed a large one (1.5 metres) in the garage one night.

black snake

Response from Pat McKrill: “The snake is a Herald snake – Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia – (it sometimes has a red or orange upper lip). The body colour is anything from olive to dark grey, almost black and it sometimes has a white fleck pattern on the back. The head is always darker than the body – as you can see in the picture – and the underside of the snake is usually a creamy white colour.

It is a venomous rear-fanged snake, but the venom is of little consequence to man or beast. Heralds mainly eat frogs, and this is probably why you thought that they ate moths – maybe the frog was eating one when it got eaten by the snake! A classic food chain – the light attracts the insects which attract the frogs which attract the snakes – which attract your dog.

Heralds display lots of ‘attitude’ when first encountered, with lots of striking out from a defensive ‘S’ shape, with the head flattened like an adder (hence its Afrikaans nickname, Swart Adder). A lovely garden snake that calms down quite quickly and quietly goes about its business of keeping the frogs honest. They grow up to about 7- 800mm in length.”

grey crowned crane nguni cow

Grey Crowned Crown with Nguni Cow


On the 22nd March I saw our three and half month old Blue Crane flying for the first time.  He flew around the dam for about a minute with his parents looking on.  Since then have seen him running up and down the edge of the dam and hopping up and down.  He is such a big “boy” now.

juv blue crane flying

reedbuck and blue crane

The highlight of our month was seeing an unidentifiable white “buzzard/eagle” sitting on a rock, on the farm on 24th March.  Rushed home and grabbed the bird book but had little success with identification.  I phoned Barend Booysen as I thought it might be a juvenile Crowned Eagle but he said they did not have Crowned Eagle babies this season.  Nikki sent photos off to Shane McPherson (Crowned Eagle Research Project) who said “definitely not a Crowned Eagle but could be a Steppe Buzzard.”  I was sure it wasn’t, so sent photos to Eve Hughes who kindly forwarded them to David Allan, Curator of Birds at the Durban Natural Science Museum.  He identified the bird as a Honey Buzzard which apparently is a rare siting in this area.  We are just awaiting some other experts opinions to confirm this but David seems very sure that its a Honey Buzzard.  So we are very excited about this siting.  We saw him on 2 consecutive days and since then he has disappeared.

honey buzzard

6 Pied Starlings appeared on the lawn one morning after a big storm the night before when we had hundreds of moths hitting the windows and coming beneath the doors.  They were all over the lawn the next morning and the birds were having a feast.  The one starling was actually picking up moths and pushing them into youngsters beak.

pied starlings

Dozens of butterflies all over the place. I’m not very good at chasing them down. Some take a while to suck out the nectar while others never seem to stay still for a second.

Garden Commodore (Presis archesia archesia, summer or wet form)

Garden Commodore (Presis archesia archesia, summer or wet form)


Gaudy Commodore (Presis octavia sesamus, dry or winter form)

Gaudy Commodore (Presis octavia sesamus, dry or winter form)


vanessa cardui

Vanessa cardui (is a well-known colourful butterfly, known as the Painted Lady, or in North America as the Cosmopolitan)


Our wild hare has left us.  Strangely it was over the period while we were on holiday!

Our swallows still seem to be feeding young outside our study window.  The barn owls are still screeching each night.  The rock pigeons, chats, sparrows, wag tails and starlings still occupying our roof, gutters, chimney and verandah. The chats are making an awful mess on our verandah couches – they are very social birds. Have had a couple of sunbirds and swallows flying inside the house. Fortunately managed to save them from the cats and dogs.

malachite sunbird in eclipse

malachite sunbird in eclipse

Jean Cunniliffe – il Postino

Early one morning in late March, I noticed our little resident swallows and lots of others lining up on the power lines. I watched for ages as more and more gathered in a long stripe. They were fluttering and twittering as if to check “Is everyone here? Are you all ready?”. Then, as if there was a signal they all flew off at once in a v formation. It was absolutely wonderful to watch and I felt quite emotional saying goodbye to them.

Nikki Brighton Old Kilgobbin Farm

I adore autumn. Especially watching the grasslands change and forest canopy start to open up. Amongst the late flowers there are so many interesting seed heads

farm late summer seed head

This Brunsvigia has probably ‘tumbled’ away by now

farm brunsvigia seed pod

Berkheya multijuga is still flowering but this species (possibly speciosa) just has fluffy pompoms waving in the breeze

autumn seedhead

This month there have been masses of mushrooms popping up everywhere. Bright yellow cow boletus, tiny orange clusters and many more. This copper coloured one looked delicious, but I couldn’t identify it, so didn’t have it for breakfast. Anyone have an idea?

mushroom country life 003

I was sad to find this cuckoo dead on my veranda one afternoon. I could see the ‘feather print’ where it had flown into the window.

cuckoo 003



Boston Wildlife Sightings – March 2014

Caroline McKerrow Stoney Hill one Bushbuck; one Duiker; two Common Reedbuck; one Vlei Rat; a Snake – presumed Boomslang?  This is a picture of snake inspecting the plumbing on outside of house.



Christeen Grant Sitamani I love this time of year when the heat of summer has abated; the weather settled to stunning days in golden sunshine and the mellowness of Autumn is creeping in. Many insects, including butterflies and moths, have been around. If anyone had been watching me stalk this tiny butterfly, about 25mm, over the lawn, they would have rolled around laughing! It did help though to post the photos on the Facebook group: Southern Africa Butterflies, Bugs, Bees and other small things, where Steve Woodhall gave me a possible ID: a female Common Zebra Blue, of the Leptotes genus; most likely to be Leptotes pirithous.

2014 03 Butterfly 01 Zebra Blue female

Zebra Blue female

Sharing, seeing and learning from a Facebook group is an unexpected pleasure. Excellent photos from all over Southern Africa are posted and friendly expert advice and ID’s offered, really quickly.

2014 03 Butterfly 02 Zebra Blue female Blue

Zebra Blue female Blue

Some of the other insect-life seen were: Grasshoppers;

2014 03 Insect 01



2014 03 Insect 02 Locust Heteracris

Locust Heteracris

a myriad of Beetles including some with amusing common names:

2014 03 Insect 03 Museum beetle

Museum beetle


2014 03 Insect 04 Stink bug

Stink bug


2014 03 Insect 05 Pleasing fungus beetle

Pleasing fungus beetle

and a fantastic diversity of fast moving Flies, one in particular of the Philoliche genus intrigued me!

2014 03 Insect 08 Fly Philoliche sp

Fly Philoliche sp

Three main flowers caught my eye, as they shone in numbers in the grassland: brilliant yellow swathes of Helichrysum cooperi;

2014 03 Plant 01 Helichrysum cooperi

Helichrysum cooperi

tall, graceful, Plectranthus calycinus;

2014 03 Plant 02 Plectranthus calycinus

Plectranthus calycinus

and the stunning, regal, Leonotis leonurus.

2014 03 Plant 03 Leonotis leonurus (1)

Leonotis leonurus

A variety of fungi appeared after rain, Boletus edulis growing under the Pin Oak avenue attracted Bush Pig, who literally ploughed up the earth in their eagerness to eat them!

2014 03 Fungi 01 Boletus edulis (1)

Boletus edulis

One early morning in half light I saw ‘big daddy’ Bush Pig sauntering off into the pine trees on Mount Shannon across from our gate, and on another morning driving out, really lovely sighting of the Caracal. Common Reed buck are round the house at night, resting on the hillside during the day. The Common Duiker love the Sweet Chestnuts that have fallen and can often be seen munching! Most evenings Black-backed Jackal call from the valley. An occasional visitor, the African Harrier-Hawk, swooped into the trees looking for fledglings. Dark-capped Bulbuls, Black-headed Orioles, Fork-tailed Drongos, Hadeda Ibises, Grey-headed Canaries, Cape Sparrows, Cape Robin-Chats, Southern Black Tits, Amethyst Sunbirds, Lesser Striped Swallows, Black and Red-chested Cuckoos calling, Cape White-eyes, Red-winged Starlings, Black-shouldered Kites, Jackal Buzzards, Long-crested Eagles, Rock Kestrels, Steppe Buzzards and Grey Herons, Wailing Cisticolas, Speckled Mousebirds, and Spotted Eagle Owls hooting to each other in the early morning and evenings.


Black-shouldered-Kite by Crystelle Wilson

Rob and Celia Spiers – The Rockeries  2 young Berg Adders and a young Green House Snake run over in the driveway. Cape Parrots in the Pecan Nut trees David and Barbara Clulow during a visit to Boston on 30 March; Spur-winged Geese; Red-eyed Dove; Common Fiscal; Barn Swallows, feeding and perching.  During a visit to Boston for four days from 13 March to 16 March: Grey Crowned Cranes with chicks at “The Willows; “Elandsvlei”; “Melrose” Crystelle Wilson Gramarye There are three Grey Crowned Crane families raising chicks that I came across this month. Apart from the one surviving chick (out of three hatchlings) at The Willows

Grey-Crowned-Crane_5140_The Willows

Grey-Crowned-Crane The Willows

there are two juveniles at Melrose Dam

Boston_4884_Grey-Crowned-Crane_Melrose Dam

Grey-Crowned-Crane_Melrose Dam

and next door at the dam at Boston Tea Party there is a youngster of a few weeks old.

Boston_4905__Grey-Crowned-Crane_Boston T-Party dam

Grey-Crowned-Crane_Boston T-Party dam

On the way to Howick one day I was very pleased to see a Martial Eagle near the Base Camp (Four Trees) site. This month we also said goodbye to migrants such as Barn Swallows, Amur Falcons,


Amur-Falcon female

White Storks and Steppe Buzzards.


Steppe-Buzzard imm

Fork-tailed Drongo, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape Sparrow, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, Cape White-eye, Cape Turtle Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Common Fiscal, African Stonechat, Black Saw-wing, Southern Red Bishop, Drakensberg Prinia, Cape Crow, Zitting Cisticola, House Sparrow, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Hadeda Ibis, Cape Wagtail, Cape Longclaw, White-throated Swallow, Barn Swallow, White Stork, Black-headed Heron, Cape Grassbird, Red-knobbed Coot, Common Moorhen, Yellow-billed Duck,



Little Grebe, Egyptian Goose, Blacksmith Lapwing,



Sombre Greenbul,



Bokmakierie, Cape Weaver, Malachite Sunbird, Speckled Mousebird, Pale-crowned Cisticola, Steppe Buzzard, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Common Waxbill, Red-collared Widowbird, Amethyst Sunbird, Greater Striped-Swallow, Cape Robin-Chat, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Little Rush-Warbler, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Barn Owl, Giant Kingfisher, Pin-tailed Whydah, African Reed-Warbler, Grey Crowned Crane, Red-necked Spurfowl, Reed Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Dideric Cuckoo, African Rail, Pied Starling, Pied Crow, Brown-throated Martin, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Yellow-fronted Canary, Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Batis, Amur Falcon, Long-crested Eagle, Hamerkop, Spur-winged Goose, Pied Kingfisher, African Hoopoe, Long-tailed Widowbird, South African Shelduck, African Dusky Flycatcher, African Sacred Ibis, Southern Boubou, Thick-billed Weaver, Yellow-billed Kite, Cape Glossy Starling,



African Olive-Pigeon,

Boston_5292_African Olive Pigeon

African Olive Pigeon

Jackal Buzzard, Yellow Bishop, Forest Canary, Southern Double-collared Sunbird,



Speckled Pigeon, Terrestrial Brownbul. Flight of 32 Grey Crowned Cranes on 21 March.

2014 March Grey Crowned Crane (2)

Grey Crowned Cranes in flight

Boston Wildlife Sightings – January 2014

Christeen Grant – Sitamani

Typical summer storms, with misty days between the sweltering heat. The resulting verdant green foliage studded with a multitude of flowers, butterflies and moths is a feast for the eyes!2014 01 Butterfly 02 Belenois aurota

A Facebook page was created for the annual Brown-veined White, Belenois aurota, migration. Fascinating to see where major flight paths occurred throughout South Africa. For about a week the migration passed through Sitamani, on two days thousands of these butterflies flew over.

2014 01 Butterfly 01 Belenois aurota

Three different varieties of Emperor moths, so dramatic amongst the smaller moths, Mopane,

2014 01 Moth 01 Mopane Moth

Speckled Emperor

2014 01 Moth 02 Speckled Emperor

and Common or Cabbage Tree Emperor, settled near the backdoor.

2014 01 Moth 05 Common Emperor

An intriguing small brown moth of the Monkey moth sp., rested on the backdoor for two days, amazing that a bird didn’t gobble it up.

2014 01 Moth 06 Monkey moth sp

Every January I wait with anticipation for the magnificent Brunsvigia undulata plants to flower.

2014 01 Plant Brunsvigia undulata 01

This year was no exception, but fewer plants actually flowered than last year. By the end of January several were already in their ‘tumble-weed’ dried out form.

2014 01 Plant Brunsvigia undulata 02

Amongst other flowers seen were: several ground orchids including Eulophia ovalis,

2014 01 Plant Eulophia ovalis

Habanaeria dives,

2014 01 Plant Habernaria dives

Satyrium longicauda and Satyrium cristatum;

2014 01 Plant Satyrium cristatum

Crocosmia masonorum

2014 01 Plant Crocosmia masonorum 01

Crocosmia paniculata,

2014 01 Plant Crocosmia paniculata

Geranium schlechteri,

2014 01 Plant Geranium schlechteri

Heliophila rigiduscula,

2014 01 Plant Heliophila rigidiuscula

Kniphofia buchananii,

2014 01 Plant Kniphofia buchananii

Sopubia cana (one of my favourites),

2014 01 Plant 02

Stachys aethiopica,

2014 01 Plant Stachys aethiopica

Vernonia natalensis,

2014 01 Plant Vernonia natalensis

many Watsonia densiflora

2014 01 Plant Watsonia densiflora 02

and the berries of Searsea discolor.

2014 01 Plant Searsea discolor

Red-collared Widowbirds, Common Waxbills, Dark-capped Bulbuls, Black-headed Orioles, Fork-tailed Drongos, Hadeda Ibises, Grey-headed Canaries, Cape Sparrows, Southern Black Tits, Amethyst Sunbirds, Lesser Striped Swallows, Red-chested Cuckoos, Cape White-eyes, Glossy and Red-winged Starlings, Black-shouldered Kites, Jackal Buzzards, Long-crested Eagles, Rock Kestrels, Steppe Buzzards and Grey Herons, Wailing Cisticolas, Spotted Eagle Owls hooting to each other in the early morning and evenings, are a some of the birds seen this month.

Several early morning encounters with Duiker and Reedbuck, and Black-backed Jackal calling close to the house at night.

Bruce and Bev Astrup – Highland Glen

Heard Spotted Eagle Owls hooting; Common Fiscal with brownish juvenile; Crested Barbet, on tree alongside the Elands river – at Christmas time, a pair were seen, but the flooding river covered the nest which was in a fallen tree, so any eggs were no doubt lost; Monitor lizard in front of house on banks of Elands river

Crystelle Wilson – Gramarye

It was very good to see Amur Falcons back in the district in January. These birds travel about 15 000 km every year from their breeding grounds in Mongolia, China, to South Africa for our summer here. The buzzards continue to confuse with the great colour variations in the plumage between adult and immature birds of both Jackal and Common (Steppe) Buzzards.

Boston_2237_Steppe Buzzard_imm

Forest Buzzards add to the mix, but they usually only occur in KZN during the winter months, according to raptor expert David Allan. At Gramarye and The Willows it was great to see the Grey Crowned Cranes with three chicks,


while I was surprised to see a Cape Weaver still working on a nest at the end of the month, quite late in the breeding season.


The list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 was: Grey Crowned Crane, Hadeda Ibis, Cape White-eye, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle Dove, Fork-tailed Drongo, Diderick Cuckoo, Little Rush Warbler,


Egyptian Goose, Cape Sparrow, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow,  Red-knobbed Coot, Bokmakierie, Common Moorhen, Black Saw-wing, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Red-collared Widowbird, Greater Striped-Swallow, Cape Robin-Chat, Cape Crow, Southern Red Bishop, African Stonechat, Drakensberg Prinia,


Olive Thrush, Cattle Egret,


Yellow-billed Kite, Barn Swallow, Red-necked Spurfowl, Cape Wagtail, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Common Waxbill, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Common Fiscal, African Firefinch, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Dark-capped Bulbul, Amethyst Sunbird, Pin-tailed Whydah, Village Weaver, Black-headed Oriole, African Dusky Flycatcher, Burchell’s Coucal, White Stork, Black-headed Heron, Spur-winged Goose, Pied Kingfisher, Cape Weaver, Little Grebe,


Cape Longclaw, Hamerkop, Yellow-billed Duck, African Pipit, Zitting Cisticola, Helmeted Guineafowl, Spotted Eagle-Owl, African Rail, Cape Glossy Starling, Speckled Mousebird, Pied Starling, Pale-crowned Cisticola, White-throated Swallow, Amur Falcon, Brown-throated Martin, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Jackal Buzzard,

Boston_2203_Jackal-Buzzard_imm_pic 1

Blacksmith Lapwing, Banded Martin, Speckled Pigeon, Red-winged Starling, Sombre Greenbul, Blue Crane, Terrestrial Brownbul, Cape Grassbird, African Emerald Cuckoo, Malachite Sunbird,


Southern Boubou, Barratt’s Warbler, Bar-throated Apalis, African Hoopoe, Cape Batis, Yellow Bishop, African Sacred Ibis, Olive Woodpecker, Horus Swift, Red-chested Cuckoo, Red-billed Quelea, House Sparrow, African Harrier-Hawk, Steppe (Common) Buzzard, White-breasted Cormorant, Yellow-fronted Canary, African Fish-Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, Reed Cormorant, Buff-streaked Chat, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Barn Owl, African Reed-Warbler, Red-chested Flufftail.

Dargle Wildlife Sightings for July

Nigel Anderson – Lane’s End

I have two interesting sightings: a Rainforest Brown butterfly

Rainforest Brown Cassionympha cassius (11) res

and a common reedbuck.

Reedbuck resized 1

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Not too much this month, I was up in the Kruger Park last week (great sightings there!) and before that I had relatives Kynan (14) and Nicky (10) visit the farm for two weeks. Nicky played with his first frog, at 10 years old I was quite stunned he’d never played with one before!

Nicky holding his first frog.res

They helped me clean up the side of the road between the Boston turnoff and our farm entrance which is about 500m long. We managed to collect a full feed bag worth of rubbish, mainly comprised of beer bottles, coke cans etc. As you can see they weren’t too impressed with the way that people treat their country. Sadly we already had a coke can that managed to find its way onto the side of the road the next day.

Rubbish in Dargle

We also had a young Fish Eagle terrorizing the rest of the birds, ducks and geese the one day. It tried to catch a coot off the dam before dropping it, and then proceeded to fly around the area causing all the other birds to take off. One old crow obviously got tired of the ruckus and actually chased it away!

Sunset over Mavela Dam.res. JPG

Rose and Barry Downard – Oak Tree Cottage

After much resistance, the crows have been evicted from their nest at the top of one of our plane trees by a pair of Egyptian geese who have taken over the nest.

Also seen: Long-crested Eagle, hoopoes, cape robin, house sparrows, cape sparrows, fiscal shrike, mousebirds, southern boubou, olive thrush, weavers, redeyed doves, cape turtle doves, egrets, cardinal woodpecker, bulbuls, flocks of red-billed quelea, white-eyes, storks, grey herons, black kites. Bees, carpenter bees, butterflies, caterpillars, dwarf chameleon, slender mongoose. Heard: Jackals, Fish Eagles.

Sandra and Pat Merrick – Albury

With July being so warm have had a number of butterflies. So strange for this time of year. Saw an otter in the dam and it bit the nose of our rottie. Our dogs killed a samango monkey yesterday. Our rottie was savaged by one earlier this year. Thank goodness we weren’t here to see this. I guess they are coming into the garden looking for food. Saw a fish eagle sitting on the top of one of our pine trees overlooking the dam. We have been inundated with thousands of grasshoppers eating our azaleas and anything else that is turning green. This is crazy weather. Our oak trees started leafing 10 days ago – a month early. We have had plenty reed buck and oribi eating the green shoots on the fire breaks.


In the past week we have seen a female oribi on our one boundary fence, and a male on the other boundary fence. On the 26th july took a photo of 3 oribi (2 females and one male) and 5 reed buck grazing on the hill – all in one photo!! So blessed to get that photo.

The 5 reed buck are so well camouflaged in between the rocks that they are hard to see.  The 3 oribi below..

On Saturday had the bizarre experience of watching 5 blue crane landing at the dam. There were 4 adult ones and a youngster. I watched for 2 hrs until it got dark. The 4 large ones kept running up and down the edge of the dam and then would stop and look back at the youngster. There was a lot of “craaking”.

4 cranes running along dam

The youngster would slowly follow them and then stop. I thought they were trying to wean him/her and kept expecting them to fly away and leave him behind. Could not understand why there were 4 adults involved in this behaviour. At no time did the youngster run to meet up with them. They would always run back to him and have a “craaking” session. After the sun set and it was getting dark, the 2 adults moved slightly away and the other 2 went and had a “chat” with baby

chatting to the youngster

The next morning the 3 had flown off and only 2 remained. They have been walking around the dam for 4 days now. Not sure if its our original pair or not. Sometimes one of them sits down (photo) and sometimes walks around the island area where she laid last year and lost the egg she laid there, due to water flowing into the dam and washing it away. So I have another pair to watch. Very exciting.

The pair that were left next morning.  She kept sitting down

Neville van Lelyveld – Benn Meadhon

Oribi It is very pleasing to report that baby and mother where once again sighted this last weekend. Baby and mother both appear to be doing well. Baby has increased in size relevant to month’s gap since the last count was done.

Bush Buck One male and one female where observed by the bottom carrot field in the natural forest near the Dargle river. Both appeared to be in good health. It is very unusual to see a male and a female together as they are solitary animals and only meet up to mate and then go their separate ways once the act of mating has taken place. One sincerely hopes that this pair where in the process of mating, time will tell as we will continue to monitor these two bush buck in this area to see the outcome of this observation.

Reedbuck A total of 20 sighting where made with a similar result as last month. All the youngsters seemed to fine and health. It is pleasing that they don’ seem to mind us observing them from a fairly close range and in some cases only metres away. They are obviously feeling safe. Most of the females are accompanied by a youngster of various ages. Breed ing is therefore going well. It is interesting to note that the reedbuck are now coming out as early as 16h00 in the afternoon and the odd animal can be seen during the day. This is probably due to the colder weather currently been experienced as well as that they feel safe enough to come out during these times. What is really interesting that they are coming out very shortly after the farm activity ceases.

Grey duiker Once again several grey duikers were sighted during the weekend. One thing that was very different on this weekend was that a male together with a pregnant female was sighted just off the road behind the old quarry at about 08h00 on Sunday morning. Another doe was also sighted by your cross roads forest at about 09h00. This is the first time that we have observed duiker that time of the morning. Although duiker are usually diurnal animals the ones on the farm have resorted to been nocturnal. It is well documented that this happen when they feel threatened. I assume that the ones on the farm have resorted to nocturnal feeding due to the normal farm activities. However with the diurnal sighting made his last weekend it appears as though this is changing once again. The other possibility is that Sunday morning was abnormally cold and it might just be a case of the duiker were moving back to their sleeping areas a lot later as a result of the cold weather. Antelope have been known to do this. These various theories will have to be proven out over the next few visits.

Bush pigs No bush pigs were observed this weekend. This seemed unusual as all conditions seemed ideal for them, but from my experience with these creatures is that they appear to have a mind of their own and just once you think you understand them they do something strange like not coming out on a perfect night like on this occasion. Well that is bush pigs. I love them for their intellectual brain. Doing anything with them is always a battle of wills and a case of trying to out whit them. Truly an intelligent animal.

Porcupine No Porcupine were observed, however there is a lot of evidence in the forms of scat, tracks and quills to suggest that there is porcupine activity were seen. A fair amount of new porcupine diggings were also observed.

Jackals No jackals were sighted, however based on the sheer numbers of jackals calling on the farm on Saturday night at varying times all through the night. There appears to be an increase in jackal activity on the farm. This will make sense based on the increase of calving by the antelope happening at the moment. It could also be attributed to the burning that has taken place as they are now able to see their prey such as vlei rat’s a lot easier. There also appears to be lot of cattle calving at the moment on the farm, this too will increase the jackal activity on the farm.

Blue Crane Several blue cranes were observed by the by the bottom boundary near Handbury where we spent most of Saturday.

Spurwing Geese A flock of five Spurwing geese where sighted flying overhead towards Howard Long’s by the boundary near Handbury at around 09h00 on Saturday morning. These are the only ones sighted this visit as this where we concentrated our observations this month.

Egyptian Geese A flock of eight Egyptian geese were sighted flying over head towards Howard Long’s by the boundary near Hanbury on Saturday morning around 10h00.

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

Lots of interesting paw and claw prints in the mud on the edges of dam and pools. Definitely water mongoose and jackal, but some biggish “cat” ones too – about the size of the palm of my hand – Caracal I expect.

Sombre bulbul, brown headed kingfisher, Fish Eagle, weavers, collared sunbird, 50 Cape Parrots, double collared sunbird, amethyst sunbird, bulbuls, chorister robin, thrush, cape robin chat, stone chat, fiscal shrike, white eyes, mouse birds, bush black cap, crows, thick billed weavers, purple heron, yellow billed ducks, Jackal Buzzard, Egyptian geese, Cardinal woodpecker, southern boubou.

Duiker, reedbuck, bushbuck, heard bush pig, scrub hare, Samangos.

Halleria, Buddleja dysophylla, Buddleja salvifolia, Jamesbritennia kraussiana, Apodolirion buchananii (pic), Cyrtanthus breviflorus, Ursinia tenuiloba


Cranes at Dargle School

As part of the Dargle Conservancy 10 Anniversary celebrations, we sponsored a lesson on Cranes – (our logo) at Corrie Lynn School. Only three of the learners had seen cranes in the wild. After learning about the three types of cranes found in South Africa: their habitats and eating habits, how they mate for life and love to dance, they made two crowned cranes puppets. Using recycled cardboard tubing, old posters, bags and local gathered dry grass, two beautiful cranes were created and everybody went outside to try and make their cranes dance with some grace.

Crane Puppet at Dargle School

Read about the fun Corrie Lynn School children had during the holidays photographing the uMngeni River (also a Dargle Conservancy sponsored activity): http://darglelocalliving.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/budding-dargle-photographers/