Tag Archives: caracal

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – June 2014

Simon Hayes – Hambledon

A fish eagle has been visiting our dam lately, trying rather unsuccessfully to catch a fish.

fish eagle in flight


Maybe the otter in the dam puts him off!


Sandra and Pat Merrick – Albury

We have had sleepless nights this past month with our 3 barn owlets learning to fly.

barn owlet

They have been flying onto our verandah, onto our window sills, causing the alarm to go off as much as 5 times a night. After the alarm went off one night and we saw the owl on the window sill, we also saw a natal red rock rabbit in the garden hopping around. Just may be the one that lived in my formal garden for 4 months as a baby and vanished in March. Things have quietened down this past week, so it looks like the owlets are now hunting on their own. There is still an adult barn owl in the chimney which the other 2 adults keep chasing.

The hamerkop came into the garden again on an overcast day.


We have dozens of sunbirds and most of them have lost their summer colours, so have found it difficult to identify. Greater collared sunbird

greater collared sunbird

Female malachite sunbird

female malachite sunbird

Also many common stonechats and buff streaked chats.  Common Stonechat

common stonechat

Some Female African Stonechats (saxicola torquatus) – Thanks to Hugh Bulcock for identifying them as well as the Yellow-throated Petronia.

little bird

Hundreds of seed eaters on the lawn every day. Up to 16 sacred ibis on dam every day and the odd spoonbill. Gurney sugarbird

guerney sugar bird

At the beginning of june our 2 adult blue crane arrived at the dam one afternoon and mournfully cried for about ten minutes and then flew off. A few hours later one blue crane arrived and he too also gave a few mournful cries and flew off. I can only guess that mom and dad were saying a sad farewell to their baby as I have not seen them since. I miss them but they will be back next season, I am sure. Cape White-eye

cape white eye

A redthroated wryneck living in corner post in our garden. A pair of shelduck, egyptian geese, spurwing geese, plovers. Black crested eagle, jackal buzzard. Heard the cry of the fish eagle several times during the month. Cape Robin

cape robin

a Secretary Bird arrived at last for a short while and then flew off

secretary bird

Yellow-throated Petronia (gymnoris superciliaris)

bird on bare branches

Malachite sunbird in eclipse

malachite sunbird in eclipse

Black sunbird – with its tongue out!

black sunbird tongue out

Common duiker

common duiker

One morning saw a Natal red duiker standing in the middle of the road just past Endebeni farm. I stopped the car, went for my camera but it ran back into the bush. I have never seen one here before but I checked out the website and it was definitely a red duiker. Dark auburn in colour, small head and smaller in size than the common duiker.

Lots of reedbuck on the hills and in the long grass around the house. The males have been chasing a female for a couple of weeks now. They came to blows one morning. Walked towards each other, face to face, eyeball to eyeball and then the fight began. Locked horns, pushing backwards and forwards.

reedbuck fighting

One of them went down and I wondered what would happen next but he got up, they looked at each other and calmly walked off.

male reedbuck after fight

We had fun with the trail camera. Captured as many as 100 photos in 2 nights with the trail camera we hired for the month (from the Dargle Conservancy). Well worth the R100. Pat changed the camera position about every 5 days.  Some very interesting photos of the owls with the owlets practising their jumping and flapping skills before learning to fly. They have been flying for the last 2 weeks.

barn owl practicing flying

We also saw many jackal in the bush. One running up the burn at 7am one morning.

jackal albury

male bush buck,

male bush buck



and lastly a beautiful caracal which is very special.


Many male and female reedbuck on our road to the house. Strangely no images of bush pig or female bush buck were captured.

Robin Barnsley – Sanctuary

Saw a Genet up the tree late one night when I arrived home. Also saw the one-horned Bushbuck that attacked Jenny Fly a few months ago.

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Have seen the Vervet Monkey’s on the corner of our farm near Barret’s Country house on quite a few occasions. This morning I saw a Reedbuck take off up the hill when putting out salt lick for our cows.

Dieter Setz – Wakecroft

At present this is the only colour, even with frost on it, along the riverbed

frosted orange fruit

Bugweed (Solanum mauritianum) or what is left of it after strong frost

frosted bugweed

Don’t know the name of this weed. It flowers, seeds and is frost resistant (all in one) and no animal eats it. Can anybody out there shed some light on it?

what is this weed

Here is the most hated flower by hikers and people walking in the veld – Blackjacks!

black jacks

These tiny little flowers are flowering now and have a very pleasant sweet scent

buddleja close up

Strawflowers are hanging in as well

straw flowers are hanging in

The frost got hold of these wild melons as well.

frosted wild melons

Images from the Trail Camera:  a Small Antelope






Porcupine and Jackal


Common Male Duiker


Nikki Brighton

I spent most of the month beside the seaside, so have nothing interesting to report for Dargle. If you are interested, you can see what I saw at the beach here: https://plantabundance.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/east-coast-abundance-figs-flowers-and-footprints/

Keep an eye on the Dargle Facebook page for local news. Video footage of the Barn Owls captured at the Merrick’s property will be posted soon. https://www.facebook.com/dargle.kzn


Dargle Wildlife Sightings – January 2014

Brain and Marashene Lewis – Glen Gyle

A Greater Double-Collared Sunbird (male) at our feeder


Barend and Helen Booysen – Kilgobbin Cottage

This magnificent orchid was spotted in the grassland recently.  There are 52 genera of orchid in South Africa – some of which grow in trees, but mostly they are found in grasslands. Pterygodium magnum is the largest terrestrial orchid in South Africa. Most of the 18 local species occur in the Western Cape, with four in KZN.  It is usually found in damp grassland, often growing amongst Leucosidea sericea (ouhout).  The narrow, lance shaped leaves (bracts) are borne along the stem, which can be up to 1,5m tall. The inflorescence is made up of densely packed greenish-yellow flowers with purplish-red veins and dots.  Info source: http://www.dargleconservancy.org.za/wildflowerarchive/wfa022012.php

pterygodium magnum

Also in flower – Brunsvigia natalensis.  See more about this orchid at: http://www.dargleconservancy.org.za/wildflowerarchive/wfa01a2013.php

brunsvegia natalensis

Below are also some of the first images captured on one of the Trail Cameras which the Dargle Conservancy purchased last year . The camera was placed in the forest.   Most exciting was the Blue Duiker, with her baby.

blue duiker and baby

(Philantomba monticola) is a small, forest-dwelling duiker found in  Central Africa and southern South Africa. Blue duikers stand around 35 cm tall at the shoulder and weigh 4 kg. They are the smallest of the antelope family. The blue duiker has a brown coat with a slight blue tinge – hence the name – and a white underside. A glandular slit occurs beneath both eyes, with a very slight crest between the ears. Source: Wikipedia

blue duiker

Caracal (Caracal caracal) is a wild cat that is widely distributed across Africa, central Asia and southwest Asia into India. The word caracal is derived from the Turkish words kara kulak, which means “black ear”. Source: Wikipedia


Bushbuck is the most widespread antelope in Sub-Saharan Africa, and is found in rain forests, montane forests, forest-savanna mosaics and bush savanna forest and woodland. Source: Wikipedia


The Bushpig (Potamochoerus larvatus) is a member of the pig family and lives in forests, woodland, riverine vegetation and reedbeds in East and Southern Africa. Bushpigs can be very aggressive, especially when they have young. They are omnivorous and their diet could include roots, crops or carrion, as well as newborn lambs. Source: Wikipedia

bush pig

Porcupines are rodents with a coat of sharp spines, or quills, that defend them from predators. They are indigenous to the Americas, Southern Asia, Europe, and Africa. Porcupines are the third largest of the rodents, behind the capybara and the beaver. It eats leaves, herbs, twigs and green plants like clover and in the winter it may eat bark. Source: Wikipedia


Justin Herd – Bee Tree Farm

We have released this snail at St Andrews Church on Tuesday 28th.  There is a huge infestation of the “bad” non-indigenous snails (Helix apsera) in the Agapanthus next to church entrance.  I have been breeding the indigenous carnivorous snail – Natalina cafra.

Natalina cafra

We had an infestation of the bad snails, on Beetree some years ago and the Natalina ate all of them and we have none left to feed the two youngsters that I have got left – so have pinched a few of the bad ones, from St Andrews. The snail we released is an adult and large (shell diameter 5cm) – it had just finished a meal of a Helix.  It looks different from the bad snails so please warn gardeners that the snail will be roaming and gobbling up your bad ones!

Dieter Setz – Wakeford Farm

Found “this” in the grass. Looked quite disgusting. Never seen these bright orange creatures before. They look like ticks but I am sure they are not. Anybody out there who knows what these are?  Ed’s note: A wonderful bright red, often seen on dead Songololos.  Some sort of mite? Did you see how many legs they had?

red beetles

These grasshoppers are reaching maturity towards the end of January.

green black grasshoppers

Fiscal Shrike’s Larder

fiscal shrike larder

Frogs and other aquatics are having a ball. Common River frog and Guttural Toad

common river frog

guttural toad

The powder puffs (Cyanotis speciosa)  are in full bloom in 2 different colours.

cyanotis powder puffs

Wyndham and Gilly Robartes – Wana Farm

We saw the most amazing thing: a Diedricks Cuckoo feeding its chick! It
was around for a couple of days, hopping around mostly on the rocks. I’m afraid
we couldn’t take any pics!

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

My sightings this month are all centred around the dam and forest where many hot summer hours have been spent.  A Spurwinged Goose casually landed beside me while I was swimming in the dam and swallows constantly dive and dip into the water. The pair of Egyptian Geese (who get very grumpy having to share the dam with me) is back, as are a couple of dabchicks (I watched one bashing a small fish on the surface of the water for ages before swallowing it), African Black Ducks (I think) and cormorants. A Wagtail has built a nest in the raft and is raising chicks.  She is quite brave, landing on the opposite corner of the raft even while my dog and I are sitting there!

summer nest wagtail raft

I’ve seen a fish eagle a few times and a guest on Old Kilgobbin saw a Crested Eagle near the dam.  There is evidence of water mongoose in the crab shells left on the on the banks where many beautifully coloured dragonflies flit amongst the Juncus and sedges.

Extra special moments have been the thousands of brown veined white butterflies fluttering by on their way East  and the full moon rising above the forest on a gorgeous summer evening.  There is a lot of misinformation floating around about the butterflies – read the real story here: https://midlandsconservanciesforum.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/white-butterfly-migration/

r moon rise over forest

Hundreds of swallows swirl above the forest edge in the early evenings and mornings, and on 27 January I observed them gathering in numbers (at least 200) on the electricity lines.  Winter is on it’s way. After the sun sets, the bats come out.  I have heard Wood Owls and a Burchell’s Coucal, seen a pair of Brown hooded Kingfishers often and found a dead Buff Spotted Flufftail outside of my window.

buff spotted flufftail

Although the grasslands must be full of flowers, these are blooming in the shade of the forest now.  Impatiens hochtettiii

summer nest forest impatiens hochstetteri

Crocosmia aurea

summer nest forest crocosmia aurea


summer nest forest plectranthus sp

Monopsis stellaroides

summer nest forest monopsis stellaroides

Disperis fanniniae

summer nest forest disperis fanniniae

Chlorophytum comosum

summer nest forest chlorophytum comosum

Robin and Tinks Fowler – Corrie Lynn Farm

This past month we have watched Cape Robins nest and raise three chicks in the ‘Tikkie Creeper’ on the side of our house, followed by a pair of Bulbuls producing two offspring in the Wisteria hanging from the eaves and then we are still watching a couple of Paradise Flycatchers feeding up another three chicks in a tree at the edge of the garden. The amazing thing to see is how these fast growing little birds manage to fit into some rather small nests, we would be busy adding on another room or two!

Our swallows have been busy building and now seem to be sitting. They’re too high up and close to the roof for us to see what’s going on inside. In the past, some of the chicks have literally fried to death under the corrugated iron, so we have constructed a “gazebo” on top of the tin to make it a bit cooler!

They seem to be a bit later than usual this year – perhaps they know something about the weather that we haven’t yet figured out?

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Found this spoor whilst setting up the Trail Camera, anyone know what it is as I ran out of time to try identify it…possibly Porcupine?  Ed’s note: what about water mongoose?  How big was it?

spoor maybe porcupine

Blue Agapanthus (probably A. campanulatus) flowering in the hills.


Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm

Have had wonderful sightings for the month.  For the 1st 2 weeks a giant kingfisher arrived almost daily alerting us to his presence with loud screeching noises.  Pat saw him catch a frog and bash it to death on a tree branch. We found a heap of crab shells and scat on our wooden swing, which was his favourite perch.

giant kingfisher screeching

While out in the field Pat heard a meowing noise and investigated to find a baby spotted genet about a month old. (eyes open)  He surprised  the baby blue crane and parents one day (youngster about 3 wks old) so they got in dam and swam to island.

3 week old blue crane chick

14th Jan – the blue crane came to eat from the voermol block.

4 week old blue crane cattle lick Shortly afterwards, they walked down hill to other side where there is an underground stream with sink holes along its course.  Pat and I saw at once that there was a problem.  The adults were peering in the long grass walking around not knowing what to do.  We realized that the youngster had fallen down one of these sink holes.  Pat in the meantime ran around the house trying to find his trout net.  I told him to leave it and just get down there asap. He must have been making a noise because the Nguni herd were alerted and came running up the hill to see what all the fuss was about.  The parents valiantly tried to ward them off with their wings running bravely forwards and backwards to try and keep the herd away.

blue crane parents fend off cows

Pat got to sinkhole and gently lifted out baby crane.  I could not take photo as thought he had drowned but then Pat placed him on the ground and he took off like a bullet.  Straight past his startled parents who then proceeded to chase him up the hill.  They ran so fast I could not get a photo.  What a relief that we  happened to see this drama and save this precious baby.

pat lifting baby crane from sinkhole

15th Jan – thousands of brown veined white butterflies on their migration route from north west to south east through the garden all day.

17th Jan – Pat saw fish eagle at dam from 5.30am dive bombing the 3 yellowbill ducklings on the dam.  He kept missing as they ducked under the water.  At about 7am I saw him sitting on edge of dam checking out his options for a meal.  The plovers were hovering and screeching at him.

yellow billed duckling

Then he took off towards the ducks and landed on top of the ducklings splashing about frantically. (I lost him at this point) The parents were trying desperately to fend him off but with no luck.  He flew off with a duckling clutched in his talons with mom looking on, distraught. He took his meal to the pine tree where I photographed him last month harassing the hadedas.

fish eagle

21st – gymnogene on dead tree – dogs chased him away.


25th – I was alerted to a hammerkop flying round the garden with loud noises. (I thought it was the giant kingfisher) He landed on the swing (favourite perch) and I got a lovely colourful picture of him and the yellow cannas and evening primrose flowers.


Have also seen a number of reed buck grazing down at the dam in the evenings.  Pat found 2 reed buck carcasses today (31st) around the dam – looks like the jackal numbers are growing!

male reedbuck

Dam sitings – 6 spoonbill, a pair of shell duck, saw the hammerkop running along edge of dam this morning.  Plovers, yellow billed duck, cormorant, spurwing, Egyptian geese, one pair with a gosling.  A pair of crested (crowned) crane every few days.

One night I nearly stood on a 1 metre long red lipped herald (snake) on our enclosed verandah.  It was cold and drizzling (I thought snakes only looked for a meal during the day and when it was hot!!) He was obviously chasing after the frogs.  Pat very kindly took him and placed him down the hill. I will admit that I am terrified of snakes.

Flowers have been wonderful. Sophubia cana

Sopubia cana

and Satyrium (possibly cristatum)


Trapped on Camera

The roving camera trap which belongs to the Midlands Conservancies Forum has been in the valley on Hilton College Estate for the last 6 weeks.  These are some of the hundreds of interesting images which it captured. Thanks Deren Coetzer for sending them in.  If you’d like to set up the camera trap in your Conservancy for a while, contact Hazel at secretary@midlandsconservancies.org.za.



HC Nyala



Spotted Genet


Another Caracal








MCF are considering buying a set of cameras to conduct some in depth wildlife surveys and possibly holding a workshop on how to make the best use of them.

For a typical survey the recommended layout is at least one camera per square kilometer. Run for at least 400-500 camera trap days to pick up common animals, and 1000-2000 days to pick up rare animals.  Camera trap days = (number of cameras x number of days) so eg 5 cameras x 30 days = 150 camera trap days. So with 5 cameras covering 5km2, the survey period should be at least 3 months ( 5 cameras x 90 days = 450 camera trap days).  Ideally a survey should be run annually at the same time each year to make useful comparisons.

If you are interested in participating, or perhaps buying a camera for your own Conservancy, let Hazel know secretary@midlandsconservancies.org.za

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – June 2013

Dargle hills are striped in black and gold while raptors watch fires in the hope of an easy meal.

winter hills and dam res.

Kevin Culverwell – The Wallows

For the June sightings we have had a Verrauxs (Black) eagle on the farm that caught a feral cat & consumed it one day. Crowned crane pair nesting in the vlei between Howard Long & ourselves.Two sightings of a honey badger – very unusual.

Josie and Dieter Rowe-Setz – Wakeford

spotted on Wakecroft, a Shrike’s winter larder -stored neatly on one of the fences

Larder-1 2013

Larder-3 2013

Larder-4 2013

Larder-2 2013

Jill Hunter

Being fully retired from farming in Zimbabwe I now have the odd day when I can sit and watch nature unfolding in and around my house. At this time of year my little north facing veranda is my most popular spot to sit in the sun and watch the little creatures that share it with me.

The other day I heard a scuffle under a wooden trunk and out came a lizard with part of a wasp in its mouth. The fairly large black wasps have their hives dotted around the house under the eaves. They have never harmed me but they become over excited and will attack the gardener on a hot day. So they have been removed from above the shed door.

Three years ago I had a large luncheon party and my son (who is a man of the bush) decided we should remove the rather large hive next to the front door. I was interested how he would do it without killing them all. The evening before after sun down, he sprayed them with water from my high pressure garden tap. They all fell on the ground and because it was dark and they were very wet they were unable to fly. He then bundled them all into a plastic container with their nest and we released them a good distance from the house. It only took them about a month before they had re-established their hive in the exact same spot above the front door. How little the layman knows of the minds of these little creatures.

winter pleargonuum leaf. res. JPG

Now, the lizard was trying to kill the unfortunate wasp by turning his head from side to side and scraping it on the tiles.(The scene reminded me of the crocodiles we used to breed.) This commotion attracted another lizard and then the fight was on, as to who would have the wasp for lunch. I was unable to see which one won but one of them came into view again with the now dead wasp in his mouth and swallowed it there and then. After he disappeared into the rocks nearby, I spotted a part of the wasp left on the tiles. It was the head. I was interested to wonder why it was the head not the stinging end that he had decided not to eat.

A few days later I watched a smaller lizard literally stalking a wasp sunning itself on the tiles. He crept unnoticed to within two centimetres of the wasp, because he was obscured from the vision of the wasp by a small ledge. He slowly put one front foot on the ledge and waited a minute or more but when he lifted his other front leg the wasp spotted the predator and flew away. The hunt was fruitless that time.

My latest observation was yesterday, when I spotted a lizard with the front end of a wasp in its mouth – it seemed to be having difficulty swallowing the now dead creature. It was eating it head first with the legs hanging out of his mouth. The wasps legs appeared stuck between the lizards teeth, I sympathised with the little creature. I visualised having to catch the lizard, holding it so I could prise open its mouth and remove the wasp with a tooth pick! Fortunately it rushed around for a good three minutes and eventually I watch him swallow his lunch. But then I spotted the sting end of the wasp left behind at the spot where the whole drama had started and also a small piece of its guts. The lizard went to the lap pool for a drink and then came back to the remains and promptly completed his meal, with what, I presume, to be the tastiest part of a wasp!

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin

Plants in flower: Buddleja dysophylla, Buddleja auriculata, Gnidia slendens, In seed: Rhammnus prinoides, Vepris lanceolata

Birds: Southern Boubou, Thrush, Cape Robin Chat, Cape Parrots, Stone Chats, Bush black cap, Jackal Buzzard, Crowned Eagle, Collared Sunbird, Double collared sunbird, Thickbilled weaver, Heard Fish Eagle

cape robin chat RES

Mammals: common duiker,2 bush buck, 9 reedbuck (2 groups), samango monkeys Heard jackal

Lauren Taylor

This last Saturday morning, my family and I were startled awake by the sound of gunshots at 6am! Our hearts racing, my husband immediately asked “Do you think someone’s in trouble?” Not a pleasant way to wake up!! After enduring over 2 hours of continuous shot-gun noise, we realised it was a “public shoot” across the river. Another shoot a few weeks ago went on all Sunday afternoon! This seems very unreasonable!   We know that this is something that seems to happen every winter. However, most importantly, our concern is the impact that it is having on our wildlife and domestic animals? What are the “rules” regarding holding a public shoot? Do you need to inform neighbours? Our dogs were petrified; especially those that sleep out and I would have liked to have locked them up. The same applies to my horses which were galloping around the property and could have been easily injured (or shot)! The gun shot noise made fireworks seem tame!   Would this also not be classified as “public disturbance”?

In this day and age, if your neighbours are shooting whilst it’s still dark, with no notice – when do you actually know if someone truly IS in trouble?  And can you see where your bullets are ending up??

Another of our neighbours has enjoyed beautiful wattle crane and sacred ibis along their river frontage. Sadly, these have not been seen since the weekend.  We frequently see a herd of 7 reedbuck on our Lions River vlei.  We also fear that this will chase them off (if they haven’t already left).  This vlei is a wetland that is a natural sanctuary for so much wildlife that we should treasure. If they can’t live here, where to?

I don’t believe this is right! We may be zoned “agricultural” but we are surrounded by populated small holdings and it is neither safe nor in the best interests of nature to be holding public shoots without prior knowledge or consent of your neighbours!

Sadly, I think the days of “what was spotted in the Dargle?” may be challenged!

Nigel Anderson – Lane’s end Farm

I have just seen, but was too slow to photograph, a secretary bird flying over Lane’s End Farm at 14:55. It flew from Piggly Wiggly’s direction and headed south towards Midmar side.

There are also about 34 Crowned Cranes in the wetland along the Petrusstroom road.  Although they left during the shooting described above, they returned within a few hours.

Vaughan and Karen Koopman – Riverside Farm

Purple Crested Loerie, Honeyguide

Derek and Jenny Fly – Kildaragh Park

32 Cape Parrots Bushbuck with one horn

Kathy Herrington and Wayne Louwrens – Aloe Ridge

Caracal seen several times on Hopedale, causing some staff a little consternation! Several lovely Serval sightings.  Egyptian (Large Grey)  Mongoose pair doing the rounds! Black sunbirds having a feast on our lovely Aloes.

Anne & Mike Weeden at River Run

Besides the usual reedbuck and duiker sightings, which are always more plentiful during the winter months, we have spotted two serval fairly regularly over the last month as well as a caracal which was only about a 100 metres from the house. We also have a jackal which comes up to the house fence almost nightly to chat, rather loudly, to our dogs. For the first time since we arrived, we heard a porcupine calling one evening but couldn’t pick it up in the torch light.IMG_2517_4

I managed to get very close to a raptor last week when driving alongside the river and happened to have my camera with me and also photographed another one some distance off in the pines across the river. Maybe someone can identify them for me?



Iain Sinclair – Benn Meadhon

A very comprehensive report on the wildlife on Portion 2 of Maritzdaal written by Neville van Leyleveld who spent two nights last week-end patrolling the property.

Oribi – It is pleasing to report that there were 4 Oribi sighted over the weekend, 1 male 2 female and another very young female no bigger than a blue duiker. Finally they are breeding! Seen this was definitely the highlight of our weekend. More frequent visits to the Oribi paddock will be done to monitor the development of this youngster. Our action plan of firstly controlling poaching on the farm has clearly had positive effects if the Oribi are breeding as this is the first evidence of them breeding in the last 4 years. It is sad however that there has been a reduction in the adult population from 5 to 3 animals. We will endeavour to protect these Oribi as best as we can.

Bush Buck:  One pregnant female bush buck was sighted on the D17 on Friday night. She has regularly been sighted but this is the first time we have noticed that she is pregnant.

Reedbuck: There has been a dramatic increase in the number of Reedbuck sightings since the beginning of this year. Quite a few youngsters of varying ages can be seen some still with their parents. It is pleasing to report they are once again breeding well again. A total of 22 sighting of Reedbuck were made during the weekend. The Reedbuck are often seen feeding on the carrot field, on the oats paddock and in the vlei by the cross roads during the day. Both Reedbuck scat and tracks of varying ages can be found in these areas suggesting that they frequent these areas regularly. They are obviously feeling safe. Some seem to stay out most of the day and night in certain areas. This too leads us to believe that they are feeling safe and unthreatened. Clearly there has been a reduction in poaching activities in these areas of the farm as well.

Blue duiker: A single lone Blue duiker male was seen on the D17 on Sunday morning at about 04h00.

Grey duiker: Several grey duiker can still be seen all over the farm, particularly near the carrot and oats paddocks. Grey duiker are also been sighted in the vleis leading down from Graeme’s forests. Both Duiker scat and tracks can be found in these areas suggesting that they are frequenting these areas on a regular basis.

Bush pigs: Kean and I were “hunted” by a very large bushpig boar in the maize by Howard Long’s boundary as we were walking past the boundary fence between the oats paddock and the boundary fence. I estimate him to be about 140kg as he was about a metre tall and had a head nearly the size of a cows head. I heard the pigs in the maize eating. When I shone the torch into the area from where the noise was coming I saw him approach us in an aggressive manner grunting and clawing the dirt. I then forced him to back off, which he did very reluctantly. We then continued down onto the hay paddock just to have the same bushpig follow us and confront us again. I then forced him to back off again and we then left the area for safety reasons. He was really very aggressive and I suspect that he was protecting youngsters and I suspect that he has been hunted before. He is a potential danger for people in that area. Staff must please be warned about his presence. Although they are nocturnal creatures they have been known to protect their home domain even during the day, particularly if he is living in the maize and if young are present.

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.

Jackals: No jackals were seen or heard on Friday night or Saturday night. We did however see one loan jackal on Sunday morning around 09h30 leaving the oats area walking across the back ha paddock towards Hanbury.

Scrub Hare: An increase in scrub hare presence has been observed. Prior to this year we never saw them and only saw evidence of in the form of their fur in jackal scat. However this year things have changed. During the last three visits tom the farm this year we always see at least one mainly on the main road and this visit was no exception with one been seen crossing the road by the Oribi paddock. Since our visit I have done some very interesting research on scrub hare. Their anatomy is very different to that of other animals. They will also prefer to eat crops such as carrots in preference to their normal diet of grass and rhizomes. The increase in sightings could therefore be as a result of the carrot crops. We will keep this in mind over the next few visits to see if this is in fact true.

dried helichrysum

Blue Crane: During the weekend we observed several Blue Cranes in various place on the agriculture land. Most of them were in pairs.

Spurwing Geese: There appears to be an increase in the Spurwing goose population on the farm. A flock of eight birds was observed on their flight path from the dam across the field to the vlei behind the gum forest by the carrot and oats paddocks. Previously we only saw a single pair of them.

Egyptian Geese: There also seems to be an increase in the Egyptian geese population on the farm as o flock of 10 birds was seen on the same flight path as the Spurwing geese. We have seen both species on the large patch of water in the field behind the gum forest. They both seem to go there in the morning at around 07h00 to 08h00.

Herons: No Herons were observed on the agricultural land during this visit.

Guinea Fowl: A flock of 15 birds was sight on field below the shed on Saturday afternoon and on Sunday morning. It is great to see that are still around. They migrate from fields across the road each day the fields below the sheds for a feed and then go back across the road to roost.

Quail: A small flock of 10 quail was seen on the road between the oats paddocks. It was great to see them again as they were not around last year or the previous year.

Natal Francolin: A flock of 10 birds was observed in the grass on the left side of the gum forest by the carrot and ever grass fields. Previously we have seen francolins by the cross road below the shed as well as in this area. This time we didn’t see any by the cross roads, but this was probably due to the burning that took place on Friday.

Pigeons: Several pigeons were seen all over the far made up of Rameron, Speckled rock pigeon and various other dove types. The numbers are down compared to previous years but this attributed to the lack of food for them. Interestingly the size of the grey dove species has changed. Mainly small youngsters are been seen. I suspect that there is not enough food for the bigger birds which seem to move off to where there is a better food source once they get bigger?

Owls: Five barn owls were sighted over the duration of the weekend. Three of which were seen on Friday night by the cross road area probably after the vlei rats etc. after the burn. One was seen on near the top carrot field by the dead forest that has recently been felled. Another was seen in the back jackal paddock at the back of the oats.

A dead Large Common Genet was found by the cross road on the fire break between your new forest and Graeme’s forest. There was no obvious signs of it cause of death. This is the first time we have seen one of these on the farm.

Poaching: We found a sliding door cage type porcupine type trap in long grass next to the new road from the oats to the main logging road at the back of the farm. It does appear however that it has been there for some time as it was fairly rusty. It was removed, destroyed and we asked Robin to dispose of it for us. There was no other evidence of any poaching found. We will however keep on top of the poaching issue particularly since the Oribi are now breeding.

Sandra and Pat Merrick – Albury farm

We have seen the secretary bird several days this month. Have not seen our blue crane family but hopefully they haven’t gone too far afield. 4 spoonbill arrived at the dam on the 5th June

spoonbills in dam

2 caracal playing at 10am one morning. Have seen the jackal running in front of our house at 8am on various mornings.  Thursday and Friday last week at 8am heard the jackal howling near the stone wall.  Pat went to investigate and found a female on heat, surrounded by a group of suitors!

Seen about 15 cape parrots flying over the house at about 4pm on 3 days during June.  We are always attracted by their raucous calling. 2 new arrivals in our garden were 5 gurney sugar birds (below) and a double collared sunbird. They were seen sucking on the proteae and tecoma flowers and a few roses that weren’t frosted.

guerneys sugarbird

Also rameron pigeons eating catoniasta berries. Pied kingfisher, orange throated long claws (below) and various chats. As our dam drops (it leaks) more and more spurwing geese are spending the night. Still see the crowned and wattled crane now and then.

orange throated longclaw

A horrible incident 2 weeks ago:  We have had a barn owl nesting in our roof for 4 years now since the Bronner’s cut their pine trees down.  She has had 4 lots of 2 babies.  We have had to take 2 to Free Me with injured wings.  This time we had just made a fire in the study and the next minute the baby owl fell onto the flue.  It was dead, obviously asphyxiated.  Must have fallen down the chimney during the day.  It never made a sound poor thing.  The mother must have heard something because she screeched around the outside house verandah for ten minutes.  The other baby was sitting quietly on the gutter wondering what all the fuss was about.  2 days later we went for a walk and saw baby owl sitting on a halleria tree (wild fuschia) at the stone wall.  It sat there all day.  I was very concerned wondering if the mother had left him and that he was now starving.  He wasn’t there the next day but we heard all the fuss and noise on the roof that night when mom was feeding him, thank goodness.  They now seem to have flown away.

baby barn owl