Tag Archives: cuckoo

Boston Wildlife Sightings – November 2014

Christeen Grant – Sitamani

Rain and thunderstorms in a typically Summer pattern almost every day, has resulted in a carpeting of wildflowers!

02 Cover after the storm IMG_2262

Black-backed Jackal call in the dark hours, Duiker daintily pick their way in dew laden grass in the early mornings and the family of three Common Reedbuck are often seen together near the house.

04 Cover Flower field IMG_2295

Flowers seen include: Ajuga ophrydis,

Flower Ajuga ophrydis IMG_2277

Albuca setosa,

Flower Albuca setosa IMG_2314

Aristea cognata,

Flower Aristea cognata P1010858

Aspidonepsis flava,

Flower Aspidonepsis flava IMG_2286

Aster bakerianus,

03 Cover Aster bakerianus IMG_2278

Cyphia elata,

Flower Cyphia elata P1010863

Dimorphotheca jucunda,

Flower Dimorphotheca jucunda IMG_2297

Gladiolus longicollis the sweetly scented “Honey Flower” which only opens at night and in misty conditions, is pollinated by a Hawk Moth,

Flower Gladiolus longicollis IMG_2248

an abundance of Haemanthus humilis in a rocky patch,

Flower Haemanthus humilis IMG_2302

one of my favourites Heliophila rigiuscula,

Flower Heliophila rigidiuscula IMG_2331

bright patches of Indigofera hilaris,

Flower Indigofera hilaris IMG_2298

Lotononis corymbosa,

Flower Lotononis corymbosa IMG_2334

many Merwilla nervosa flowers,

Flower Merwilla nervosa IMG_2291

the dainty Orithogalum graminifolium,

Flower Ornithogalum graminifolium P1010861

a stunning Pachycarpus natalensis,

Flower Pachycarpus natalensis P1010857

the dainty trailing Pelargonium alchemilloides

Flower Pelargonium alchemilloides IMG_2333

and Pelargonium luridum,

Flower Pelargonium luridum IMG_2281

bright red Peucedanum caffrum seed heads,

Flower Peucedanum caffrum seeds IMG_2316

many Wahlenbergia sp including cuspidata

Flower Wahlenbergia cuspidata MG_2285

and vibrantly neon orange Watsonia socium scattered on the hillside.

Flower Watsonia socium IMG_2296

Beautiful moths, these particularly caught my eye, a Bagworm on a Vernonia sp. this is the laval form of the Psychidae family of moths. Males have clear grey wings with hairy veins when they hatch, females never leave the laval bag. Once mated, most females remain in the bag, lay eggs within it and die. Insect Bagworm on Vernonia sp IMG_2325

A Slug moth,

Insect Moth Slug moth IMG_2270

Speckled / Wattle Emperor with it’s stunning pink ‘eyes’

Insect Moth Speckled Emperor P1010856

and a delightful bright coloured moth which I haven’t been able to identify, does anyone know it’s name?

Insect Moth P1010855

Red-collared Widow males are fully in their striking black courting plumage, red collars very bright, Striped Swallows in free flight sometimes swooping in and out of the house are only two of the myriad of birds around at the moment!

A lovely find of a hatched African Stonechat egg, neatly deposited out in the open away from the nest. Bird African Stonechat egg

Tiny Swee Waxbills forage for seeds in the grass,

Bird Swee Waxbill male IMG_2273

close to a Four-striped Mouse that has become very tame.

Mammal Four-striped Grass Mouse IMG_2243

Bev and Bruce Astrup – Highlands Glen

Hear African Fish-Eagle calling fairly often; Long-crested Eagles; African Harrier-Hawk; Water Mongoose often; Spur-winged Geese, Common Reedbuck on a daily basis at house


Barbara and David, visiting Gramarye, watching at birdfeeder: Pin-tailed Whydah female

DSCF3800fem Pin-tailed Whydah


DSCF3802Cape Sparrow

Delighted to hear Grey Crowned Crane calling and then seeing the female in a field at The Willows feeding near a water furrow and calling to mate, who had gone “flyabout”. From regular duetting, they appear to be preparing for the breeding season. Also at feed table were regular visits by Village Weavers.

DSCF3806Village Weaver

Greater Striped Swallows are nesting on the verandah and swooping about.

Gordon Pascoe – Keswick

Reported seeing 27 Grey Crowned Cranes flying over Keswick late in November

Crystelle Wilson – Gramarye

The decision I took some years ago to grow lots more indigenous plants in my garden is paying off handsomely with more bird species coming to inspect what is on offer by way of food or security for nesting purposes. A newcomer during November was Brimstone Canary who was out in the open contentedly munching on euphorbia seeds.


My previous sightings of this canary were usually near patches of forest elsewhere in the district. Brimstone is the largest of the canaries and has a heavy bill (Afrikaans name is Dikbekkanarie) and one could compare the differentiation in markings with the other two yellow canaries also found at Gramarye, the Yellow-fronted and Cape Canaries.


African Firefinch ventured out in the open, while Dark-capped Yellow Warblers, African Reed Warblers


and Little Rush Warblers continued to kick up a din along the river.


Along the Dargle Road I was pleased to spot a little band of Orange-breasted Waxbills, a species that appear to be in some trouble. It is always exciting to see a swirl of swifts moving across the sky and usually it is a challenge to identify them. Alpine Swift is the easiest because of its large size, white chin and belly and the power and speed of its flight.


It was very satisfactory to take a birder friend who wanted to see a Bush Blackcap to the Norwood forest, stopping the car and telling her it should be here somewhere, and the next moment she was calling out she’s found it.

The SABAP2 list for Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 was: Yellow-throated Petronia, Greater Honeyguide, Red-chested Flufftail, Red-collared Widowbird, Reed Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant, Jackal Buzzard, Red-capped Lark, African Darter, Red-throated Wryneck, Yellow-billed Kite, Cape Glossy Starling, African Fish-Eagle, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Southern Red Bishop,


Zitting Cisticola, Blacksmith Lapwing, Red-billed Quelea, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Sparrow, House, Pied Starling, African Pipit, Pied Crow, Forest Canary, Wattled Crane, Red-winged Starling, Cape Batis, Sombre Greenbul,


Black-backed Puffback, Green-backed Camaroptera, Bar-throated Apalis, Black Cuckoo, Speckled Pigeon, Long-tailed Widowbird, Buff-streaked Chat, White-throated Swallow, Malachite Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Three-banded Plover, Little Grebe, Cuckoo, Red-chested, Brown-throated Martin, Common Fiscal, Black Saw-wing, Common Moorhen, Red-knobbed Coot, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, African Firefinch, Speckled Mousebird, Cattle Egret, Brimstone Canary, Neddicky, Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow Bishop, Barratt’s Warbler, Yellow-billed Duck, Yellow-fronted Canary,


Black-headed Heron, African Reed-Warbler, Long-crested Eagle, Diderick Cuckoo,


Cape Grassbird, Common Quail, Bokmakierie, African Sacred Ibis, Greater Striped Swallow, African Black Duck, Common Waxbill, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Cape Sparrow, Amethyst Sunbird, African Harrier-Hawk, Dark-capped Bulbul, Spur-winged Goose, African Stonechat, Red-necked Spurfowl, Egyptian Goose, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Little Rush-Warbler, African Rail, Cape Wagtail, Cape Longclaw, Fan-tailed Widowbird,


Burchell’s Coucal, Cape Crow, Cape Turtle-Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Fork-tailed Drongo, Helmeted Guineafowl, Black-headed Oriole, Cape Robin-Chat, African Hoopoe, Cape Canary, African Paradise-Flycatcher, African Dusky Flycatcher, Southern Boubou, Olive Thrush, Hadeda Ibis, Grey Crowned Crane, Barn Swallow.


During a visit home Matthew Murray took time out to accompany me to Impendle town to do a SABAP2 atlas list. We ticked 61 birds in about three hours, the highest total so far for this pentad.

The list for Impendle pentad 2935_2950 was: Pin-tailed Whydah, Yellow-billed Duck, African Rail, African Reed-Warbler, Black-headed Heron, Red-chested Flufftail, Long-tailed Widowbird, Little Rush-Warbler, Spur-winged Goose, Grey Crowned Crane, Common Waxbill, Familiar Chat, Speckled Mousebird, Common Myna, Wattled Starling,


Red-chested Cuckoo, Pied Starling, House Sparrow, African Harrier-Hawk, Cape Wagtail, Cape Turtle-Dove, Cape Sparrow, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Buff-streaked Chat, Cape Crow, Blacksmith Lapwing, Blue Crane,


Cattle Egret, Pied Crow, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Red-collared Widowbird, Lanner Falcon, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape Longclaw, Cape Grassbird, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Bokmakierie, Yellow Bishop, Jackal Buzzard, African Pipit, Cape Glossy Starling, Fork-tailed Drongo, Cape Weaver, African Dusky Flycatcher, Levaillant’s Cisticola,


Drakensberg Prinia, African Sacred Ibis, Cape White-eye, Black Saw-wing, Little Grebe, Red-knobbed Coot, South African Shelduck, African Spoonbill, Cape Canary, Egyptian Goose, Cape Robin-Chat, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Common Fiscal, Hadeda Ibis, Greater Striped Swallow, African Stonechat.


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