Tag Archives: duiker

Kamberg Wildlife Sightings – June 2016

Pamela Ellenberger Kleiman

Being new to the district I hope to be able to contribute sightings occasionally from the Kamberg Conservancy.

A view from the D450 across the hill where 2 farmers regularly put out carcasses for the Vultures. As an atlasser I have seen a group of up to 40+ individuals flying in the area.


During the first 2 weeks of May I was privileged to see a large flock of Southern Bald Ibis in 4 different areas, the main one along the D450


I see this pair of Grey Crowned Cranes regularly along our valley which has a series of farm dams in it.


I love the name Groundscraper Thrush. The only time I have seen them they have been calling from the top of the tallest trees!


Red-throated Wryneck, a permanent visitor to my garden.


During May the Black-headed Oriole was often in the garden. Now in June I no longer hear it.


African Harrier-hawk is often seen in the Oak trees along our valley much to the annoyance of many of the small birds.


Just a picture of a Long-crested Eagle giving the eye to two Hadedas.


On the 23rd May there were still White Storks around despite the fact that we had already had a few mornings of quite heavy frost.


Hottentot Teal that were a new atlas recording for our area.


On the road to Fairview farm I recorded 2 pairs and 2 individual Secretarybirds last week.


Buff-streaked Chat. This is a Species I am delighted to be finding more and more often in our area.


There is an ever present flock of White-faced Whistling Ducks on ponds on one of our dairy farms.


Another new atlas recording – rather a bad shot, unfortunately of a Black Crake on Connington’s small dam.


This Denham’s Bustard was also another new atlas recording which I saw along the main road to Kamberg.


It is such a pleasure to have a pair of Lanner Falcons on Connington. They give me the occasional fly-past.


High up on grass veld last week I was surprised to find 6 Wattled Crane – such beautiful creatures.


A very skittish and unexpected visitor to my garden on Connington this week was a Black Sparrowhawk, only just managed this record shot before it flew off.


Great to be back in the country and be able to see Duiker wandering across the fields in front of my cottage.


June 21st. Full moon breaking through the cloud.


Spring in Rosetta and Notties

A new Conservancy is being fledged in the area of KZN bounded by the Mooi River system on the north western side, the N3 in the north east, the road between Nottingham Road and the N3, and the Nottingham Road/Loteni Road. It is an area rich in grasslands, wetlands and water courses – the natural home of the serval – logo of the Rosetta Nottingham Road Conservancy.

Recently much interesting wildlife has been observed in the area, including Woolly-necked Storks who pop into Greenfields Butchery in the middle of Notties for snacks!

Chris had a Grey Duiker visit  her garden and has seen many sacred ibis on the wall of the dam in the background.

duiker in garden

Besides an array of splendid spring flowers, Sarah reported seeing helmeted guineafowl, longtailed widow birds, yellow-billed kites, the freshly-shed skin of a puffadder and stunning Scadoxus.

On the edge of the R103 between Nottingham Road and Rosetta is a small rock outcrop where Penny spotted dassies (rock hyrax) last year. Recently she has glimpsed one and wonders if anyone else seen them? Will they be affected by all the construction in the area with the building of the pipeline? Should we consider asking EKZN Wildlife to move them to a safer spot? Are there other colonies in our conservancy?


Cyrtanthus (below)  and Hypoxis (above) are in flower on the road verges.


Adrian reports: We have a bushbuck doe who is a fairly frequent visitor to the garden (although now that the rain has arrived and leaves are growing everywhere she has less need to come). A really close look through binoculars showed a very large number of engorged blue ticks on her neck where she cannot easily scratch them off. This made us think about the losses of ox peckers through agricultural dipping practices and how our wildlife has to suffer the consequences of blood-sucking parasites. Wonder if there has been any research into this and whether antelope and other animals now have a greater prevalence of tick-borne diseases? Or does their natural immunity still protect them?

bush buck doe ticks

The same doe is usually accompanied by a lamb, no longer suckling but browsing like its mother. Intriguingly, there are sometimes two lambs of very similar size. We wonder whether this is in fact also her offspring and did she have twins? But then, when the second lamb is not visible, is it just down in the bush out of sight or where is it? Bushbuck have quite a short gestation period (only about eight months), so it is possible for them to have two lambs in a calendar year. There is no great size difference between these two.  We caught a male Bushbuck on camera too.

bush buck ram

Our camera trap has also captured a Black backed Jackal,


A Long Crested Eagle

long crested eagle

A little porcupine


Reedbuck doe

reed buck doe

and Reedbuck ram

reedbuck ram

A Grey Duiker

grey duiker

and a Serval.


A public Launch Meeting for the Conservancy is to be held at 1700 on Friday 14th November 2014 at Rawdons Hotel. This will provide an opportunity for residents of the area to hear about the activities and aims of the Conservancy, to offer their names for membership and to stand as ‘champions’ for their selected conservation activity.

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – August

Spring has brought a myriad of things for us all to look at. Beautiful blooms appearing on the trees as well as new leaves starting to shoot, loads of animal and bird life out and about, as well as a rain spider desperately trying to bring us all some respite after these dry few months. Here’s hoping the rain comes soon…

Brandon Powell – Bukamanzi

This month I haven’t seen anything very LARGE except for this mad rain spider (Palystes) – he hadn’t heard about us not having had any lately.  He crept out of my watering-can after I had done about ten trips with it overflowing its brim. Hopefully he’ll stick around and devour some of my jumping spiders?

rain spider

Things are looking very sad and khaki except for Jenny Stipcich’s proteas and new grass shoots struggling through the fire-breaks.

brandon's cottage

On the Conservancy’s camera I caught several clips of wonderful, leaf-munching duiker, usually alone but once in a pair. A very beautiful foxy-faced genet has also been cutting ’round the place. I’ve scrubbed down my door-steps with clove oil in the hope that one doesn’t have any melodramatic snake sightings as winter draws to its close!

brandons cottage dam

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Wild flowers that have now started popping up all over the place. Ledebouria

copperleigh ledobouria


copperleigh helichrysum

Senecio speciosus

copperleigh senecio speciosus

We also had about 16 Guinea Fowl appearing back on our farm aound the sheep camps after disappearing for a good few months. They were also calling the rain and are welcome back!

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

Saw the first Yellow-billed Kite on 19 August.  Afternoon walks are a real delight where paths are mown through the tall golden grass.

winter grassland trail dargle 088

This magnificent Yellowwood on the edge of the forest can be seen for miles.

winter yellowwood

Interesting reflections in cold pools, where there is just a little water left.

J themeda in pool

N3TC brought a group of media people to visit the Midlands and we took them for a walk in the forest. Barend had them enthralled.

forest walk Barend

Anita Heyl said “I absolutely loved, loved, loved the time spent with your group! Oh, my goodness what a special piece of paradise. I do hope to visit again soon and spend proper quiet time there. If I was Winnie-the-Pooh that would most definitely have been my part of the forest.”

forest walk Penz

Our forest even made the morning news on SABC! Watch the film clip here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3yIKpWoRxs

Anne and Mike Weeden – Hopedale Farm

The other morning at around 11 o’clock we spotted an African Striped Weasel on the fire break close to the house. We walked to within about 5 metres of it and it was totally unconcerned about our presence. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me but it was definitely a weasel rather than a polecat as it had a solid white patch on top of its head and lacked the white markings under its eyes.

Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm

Dr Amy-Leigh Shuttleworth (nee Wilson) came to the farm during the month and Pat took her to 4 burrows. Unfortunately, they all seem to be empty of aardvarks. The one we had last year has vanished perhaps due to lack of termites in the area where he dug.


Have seen a number of reed buck this month. One evening as many as ten on the burn, just driving up to my house in an area of 1km. There are always 2 males.

more reed buck

One stands some distance away and the other one mingles with the females and youngsters. These are the same 2 that were fighting some months ago. A number of male and female duiker.


Seen female oribi quite often. She seems to keep to the long grass and on occassion see her nibbling the green burn.

female oribi

Saw and heard a pair of jackal buzzards – their cry reverberated for an hour one morning. Our 2 blue crane arrived at the dry dam one morning. Haven’t seen them since. Hear them occasionally. Saw 2 yellowbilled kites for the 1st time on 10th August. Saw a pied kingfisher pick up a frog from our pond. He flew to the dead tree where he pounded it to death with his beak and then swallowed it.

pied kingfisher frog

A pair of gymnogene flew over the house early one morning. Heard a very loud peeu cry one morning – went on for ages – I eventually tracked it to the hollow pole next to the  gate where a red throated wryneck was calling for attention. This is the second one we have on the farm. The other one is in a hollow pole half way down our driveway.


Early one morning, Pat heard a freckled night jar in the trees behind the house. The siting of the month for me was seeing and photographing a spotted eagle owlet and adult – not sure if male or female, but I am sure someone will advise me.

sptted eagle owlet

Pat had been walking around the gum trees looking for the sparrowhawks when he heard a loud hooting from the ground. On investigation it looked like the owlet had fallen out the tree and one of the adults was on the ground with it and the other was hooting high above in the tree.

spotted eagle owl parents

Pat left them as had the dogs with him. The next day he again went looking for them and found the owlet in the fork of a gum tree and mom/dad nearby on the branch of a tree. Pat phoned me and told me to come post haste with my camera which I did. Got some lovely snaps. The adult was not too happy and screeched loudly, while the other one which I could not see was hooting higher up. We left them after a few minutes. When I walk down through the gum tree avenue I see one of them flying through the canopy.

.Back view of owlet

So now its egyptian geese, black sparrowhawks and spotted eagle owls flying through the canopy.

Our sparrowhawks left the nest on 26th July. A pair of egyptian geese took over straight away. Early in the mornings and late afternoons would see the sparrowhawk youngsters sitting on a dead gum tree probably waiting for their food, as saw three sitting on same tree late one afternoon. But for the past 2 weeks they have been flying around the canopy of the gums. When I walk around that area, they fly through the canopy and screech loudly. We have seen the adults fly past the house from Dargle side late in the afternoons carrying a bird. Quite large, so presumably a dove.

Dr Ian Little of the EWT Threatened Grasslands Programme commented on my sparrowhawk story last month. I was wrong about a number of things. This is his letter:

Just a quick clarification on Pat and Sandra Merrick’s wonderful sightings with the Black Sparrowhawks. The Male is not rufous coloured, they were in fact looking at one of the juveniles, the male is the same colour as the female but smaller. He delivers food to the female to take to the nest and hence is not often seen at the nest. Thanks for the great pics, now to answer your questions:

How old would you say they are now and is it possible to tell if they are male or female? They must be about 6-8 weeks now, They leave the actual nest at about 35-40 days after hatching. Juveniles are both rufous the only way to tell the sex is by their size. By 30 days they are fully grown and the males are almost half the size of the females. Your confusion is that I think your two youngsters are both females and hence same size.

Are they still being fed by the adults and how long does that go on for? They are fed by the adults for another 1-2 months so yes at this stage they are still being fed by the adults. You very seldom see both adults at the nest as the male provides most food but he will clean the food (remove feathers) away from the nest and then pass the food to the female who brings it in to feed the young.

There is also one more bit of confusion that can crop up. Black Spars (as I call them) come in two colour morphs. What you have are the standard colour morphs but adults can be pitch black with no white on the stomach and juveniles can be pure white with black flecks as opposed to the rufous colour which you have seen here. Anyway, no need to add further confusion. Basic rule of thumb, if it’s rufous it’s juvenile, if it’s Black and white it’s adult and females are almost twice the size of males.

These 2 youngsters grew so quickly.  Just after this snap they both flew off squealing in delight

Other birds we have seen include: Black headed Oriel

black headed oriel yellow eye

Common Stonechat


Drakensberg Prinia


Gurneys Sugarbird


Malachite Sunbird


Olive Thrush


Southern Grey-headed Sparrow (passer diffuses)

what bird is this

Yellow eyed Canary

yellow eyed canary

Lots of scat amongst the rocks – doe this belong to the wild or Natal Red Hare?


Gilly Robartes – Wana Farm

I’ve been taking pics of this Scadoxus puniceus (I think that’s the correct species) over the last 2 weeks. It was the first one that I saw – since then, loads have popped their pretty little heads up. The dates are shown. It changed quickly over the first few days.

gilly scadoxus

Not the best pics – (with my Blackberry )That’s the best I can do!

gilly scadoxus puniceus

Learn more about Scadoxus https://midlandsconservanciesforum.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/midlands-wildflower-for-august-scadoxus-puniceus/

gilly scadoxus again

I also saw a little black otter playing in the river. A few others have spotted it, but it’s the first time I have.

Dieter Setz – Wakecroft

The nicest thing about August was the sight of Spring putting and end to Winter…

he nicest about August was the sighting of Spring putting an end to Winter at Wakecrof

The resident pair of Egyptian Geese are also happy about the end of winter

The resident pair of Egyptian gees are also happy about the end of Winter

A Raven also “changed his tune” sitting on the fence outside my studio window

A raven also did change his tunes sitting on the fence outside my studio window

Charles Robinson – Hebron Nguni Farm

Buck sighting was on 2nd September 2014 100metres from the main house around 9am.

Hebron Nguni Farm

Reedbuck along Petrus Stroom road, taken on cell phone.

River Bend Estate 29 Agust 2014

There is also a pair of Owls, sighted on the Hebron Nguni farm, but not photographed. They do not yet seem to have a nest,  should we put an owl nest up? Ed’s note: Come to Shane McPherson’s talk on 5 November at Tanglewood – he has just started an owl box project.

Please can you advise, we at Hebron Nguni farm have a monkey problem, who can we talk to for advice? Nikki suggests the following reading:

Kathy Herrington and Wayne Lourens – Aloe Ridge

Kathy writes: Whilst enjoying an early evening walk – I heard our ridgeback Murray excitedly barking and turned back to investigate.  There was a cacophony in on the edge of some tall grass – a growling, thumping and loud crackling noise which I had not come across before.  On getting closer I saw a very large porcupine, holding his head very low and growling/howling, whilst thumping hard with the front paws and rattling his considerable quills.  Our other dogs then appeared and our ridgeback and german/belgian shepherd withdrew circumspectly, as they have had (painful) experience with this species before!  I only had to remind our intrepid jack-russell type hound to stay back, whilst I attempted to take a slightly closer photograph of the spectacular animal using my phone, for the Dargle sightings!

I approached a couple of steps talking quietly in what I hoped would be a reassuring manner – but my ‘animal whispering’ is clearly not up to scratch, as he/she took one look at me – growled and charged – leaping forward and spinning to show off the fearsome array of very sharp quills.  Suffice it to say, I withdrew hurriedly and assured the beast that taking clear photos was not THAT important.  I, and the dogs, then continued on our perambulation and left the porcupine to its own devices.

NguNgumbane by Small Dam JPEG 1200dpi

Wayne writes:

Just after 8am on the morning of 22nd August, Kathy and I were on our way to Mount West with our two young horses for a Classical Equitation Clinic held by our German friend, when, with the horse trailer in-tow behind the Land Rover Defender (Kathy in with the 2 young horses on the dirt roads to keep them settled), right in front of me on the Hopedale main access road, was a Serval. Completely owning the roadway and parts of the verge!! Hoping Kathy was looking out of the horse trailer window, I gestured for her to look, and at the same time I grabbed my phone camera. So, while creeping along at the sedate pace that was suitable for the young horses on bumpy roads, I followed the Serval as it made its way along the roadway just ahead, not in the least bit intimidated by the looming Land Rover and horse trailer. At the same time I managed, with one hand on the wheel keeping the Defender & horse trailer on the best parts of the road, and the other setting up the camera on the mobile phone, and managed to take a few shots of the Serval as it sauntered down the roadway for about 100 metres, between 5 metres and 10 metres ahead of us. To me it seemed as though it was a sub-adult female, but that was just my intuition at the time. She playfully tapped at pieces of larger stone aggregate on the roadway along the way, and eventually found an interesting run, probably made by the resident flock of Spurfowl (formerly known as Natal Francolin), down which she disappeared from my view.

Serval 2 JPEG 1200dpi

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – July

Most of the icy fingers of winter have passed us by here in the Dargle, with a few cold days appearing here and there. Lots of frosty mornings over the last month yielded some great photos from those whose fingers didn’t freeze before releasing the camera trigger button!

Dieter Setz – Wakecroft

We counted 36 Eland in one herd, on our farm in the morning of 12th July. As I did not have my camera with me I do not have proof.  I did capture frost on colourful leaves.

Frost on colorful leaves at Wakecroft

Icy feet in one of the Wakecroft streams.

Icy feet in one of the Wakecroft streams.

Frozen watercress at Wakecroft stream.

Frozen watercress at Wakecroft stream.

‘Ice flowers’ in our pond

ice flowers

Tom and Lucinda Bate – Inversanda

We have seen a family of 6 bush pig on two occasions and 2 porcupines escorted us down our drive last night. Much to our relief a duiker has returned to our garden having been absent for a few months.

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

Once again, I have enjoyed the subtle colours, the little surprises and the birds so close to my cottage as everything struggles for survival in this dry season. The forests are topped with copper curls of the Dalberghia laden with seeds.

J dalberghia

The edges are strung with yellow Gnidia

J gnidia

and the sweet fragrance of Buddleja in full bloom. Both B. auriculata

J buddleja auriculata

and the faded mauve, B. saligna

J buddleja saligna

Under the canopy it is pretty dry, but Halleria lucida can be counted on to provide some succour for the birds.

J halleria

Winter is the nicest time to walk in the grasslands, as the animal paths are easy to follow and there are firebreaks to explore.

J cussionia firebreak

In recently burnt bits, the cheery Cyrtanthus breviflorus has already poked through the charcoal,

J cyrthanthus breviflorus

While in old grass, silvery Helichysum sparkle.

J helichrysum

Tiny pools of water reflect the husks of Themeda triandra and provide much needed moisture for wildlife.

J themeda in pool

Stone chats flit from rock to rock,

J stone chat on rock

Greyia sutherlandii are flowering already – glorious coral splashes against the blue sky.

J greyia

I do like this time of year.

J winter grass inhlosane

Benn Meadhon

Neville, Hayley and Damien van Lelyveld observed wildlife on Iain Sinclair’s property: Benn Meadhon over the weekends of 12th-13th and 19th-20 July

The weekend of the 12th had day time temperatures of 21°C with a night temp of -4°C on the Saturday night and wind speeds of around 5km/hr. the weekend of the 19th had similar weather conditions with day temps. Of 18°C and night temps of 0°C with wind speeds of approximately 45km/hr.

Oribi During both visits the Oribi were seen. On the weekend of the 12th 5 were seen and on the weekend of the 19th on the Saturday morning all 8 were seen just after sunrise.

Bush Buck During the weekend of the 12th no bush buck was seen however on the weekend of the 19th 4 were sighted by the bottom carrot fields near the Dargle River 2 does and 2 Rams. There was a distinct absence of Bush buck by the cross road but this is probably due to the felling of the Grahame forest next to your forest in which the bush buck used to live. The logging activity would also have a large effect on the bush buck that used to live in this area. We did investigate the open area in your new forest above the shed and there was evidence of recent activity in the form of sleeping areas that were visible, however no actual bush buck were seen. There was also evidence in the form of reasonably fresh bush buck scat in this area. There is also a lot of bush buck scat down near the bottom of the bottom carrot fields near the Dargle River. This is however expected due to the fairly regular sightings of Bushbuck in this area.

Reedbuck During the weekend of the 12th we saw 27 Reedbuck while during the weekend of the 19th we saw and counted 33 Reedbuck. There are a lot of very young Reedbuck and there appears to have been a breeding explosion between the Reedbuck most of the youngsters are of a similar age and all appear to be healthy and all the Reedbuck in general seem to be a lot more relaxed than previously noticed during our last few visits since the poaching episode. There has been a marked difference in their behaviour and they have seemed to have once again started to tame down and particular during the weekend of the 19th we were able to get quite close to many of them to observe them with out and undue stress caused. They would acknowledge our presence by lifting the head from grazing and then just continue to graze again. This was very pleasing to see since for the last few months we have not been able to get within a hundred metres of them before they would run for cover. Based on the comparisons of the counts made on the weekend of the 12th compared to the counts done on the weekend of 19th I would say the count of 27 to 30 reedbuck would be fairly accurate. Many of the original resident families like the ones near the cross roads and the ones that live in the vlei by the maize paddocks are still there. It was also pleasing to see how much the little one from the family that lives by the cross roads has grown up into quite a good looking young ram. Many of the Reedbuck does appear to be pregnant.

Grey duiker On the weekend of the 12th we saw 17 grey duiker however during the weekend of the 19th we only saw 5. We did however concentrate on a different area of the farm during the weekend of the 19th. Nearly every female duiker seen was pregnant, This is great news.

Marsh Mongoose During the visit of the 12th a single well fed marsh mongoose was seen by the “Y” junction. During previous visits we have only seen his tracks so it was quite a treat to actually see it during this visit. It was in a very good condition.

Bush pigs Once again there were no signs of any Bush pigs or bush pig activity anywhere on the farm.

Porcupine No porcupines were seen however there is a lot evidence of porcupine activity.

Jackals We did not see any jackals during either weekend however there is a lot of evidence of Jackal activity on the farm. During both Saturday nights there was a lot of Jackals calling. A lot of Jackal tracks are very evident all over the farm. There are still a lot of jackals following duikers, the fact that most of the female duiker that can be see appear to be pregnant. This explains why the jackals are following them.

Antbear During the weekend of the 12th we spent a lot of time walking the back Jackal paddock and where surprised to come across an ant bear hole near the boundary where the jackal paddock meets Hanbury’s maize paddock. He has also been very active according to the tracks in the area. This was an amazing find.

Blue Crane Several blue cranes were seen during both weekends.

Spurwing Geese The Spurwing geese presence on the farm has increased dramatically over the last few months to the point that during both weekend we saw a flock of about 10 birds. They seem to be roosting on the old maize paddocks.

Egyptian Geese

The Egyptian geese population on the farm has also increased over last few months which were also very pleasing. Several flocks of several geese can be seen flying around almost all day

Herons Several Herons were seen all over the farm during this weekend.

Guinea Fowl It is pleasing that the guinea fowl population has increased dramatically over the last few months. During both weekends we saw a flock of some 50 birds. This is the most we have seen in many years.

Francolin During the visit of 2th several Natal and Red Necked francolins were seen. On the 20th just as we were leaving through the Umgeni gate we had the privilege of watching a natal francolin mother with her 6 little chicks behind her cross the main tar road. The chicks were no more than about 2 inches high. This probably a once in a life time sighting. The good news however is that they are successfully breeding. Their numbers on the farm have increased over the last few years. The sighting of the Red Necked francolins was the first that we have observed on the farm.

Pigeons Although there are some pigeon around in the form of Rameron and doves there is not as much as what would be expected. Most of the pigeon are small juveniles with a distinct absence of the larger adults. This is a little concerning; however from a slightly different point of view at least they do seem to be breeding. There does not seem to be a major lack of food around for them so one can only assume that maybe te farm is being used as a breeding ground for them rather than a feeding area which must be somewhere else I the near facinity.

Owls A few owls where seen during both visits however we could not identify them accurately as they flew up before they could be identified accurately.

Once again several jackal buzzards and crown eagles were seen and an overall increase in raptors was seen. A large population of swallows were seen almost everywhere on the farm.

This is an old porcupine hole that is now been used by butterflies. We noticed this hole in May when we were there but didn’t have a camera with us. They are actually breeding in this hole and living in it like a cave. They were very dark blue and black in colour. Very interesting. (Note from Nikki: I have seen this phenomenon on Old Kilgobbin before – I think they are Gaudy Commodore butterflies – spectacular to watch)

gaudy commodore cave

 Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

The fire breaks in Dargle (as well as the ones that got away) have turned quite a bit of the valley an ugly black. But, finally we are starting to see new life appearing and some wonderful colours in amongst the ashes of the old.

yellow daisy in burnt veld

Sandra and Pat Merrick – Albury Farm

On a cold overcast day, Pat said there were 5 crowned cranes, 2 adults with 3 youngsters, on lower part of farm.  I grabbed my camera and off we went trying to find them.  They saw us coming and flew off.  For an hour we kept following them and eventually we decided to walk so as not to disturb them, but again before I could take a nice shot of them on the ground they flew off.  Just managed a few pics of them flying.

five crowned cranes in flight

Pat saw a starred robin. I decided to try photographing our Black sparrow hawks this month.  They have been using the same nest for 3 years now.  Pat had seen the female catching doves and also an egret, so we presumed there were youngsters to feed.  The task was difficult as the light was not great.  The nest is in a gum plantation. Its in the fork of a eucalyptus tree (gum) about 25 metres high.  Hit pay dirt with my first shot – mom feeding a baby.  The females are rapacious hunters and weigh about 1kg while the males are smaller and rufous coloured.

Blsck sparrow hawk feeding baby

Dad seemed to spend a lot of time guarding the nest and one afternoon, while sitting beneath the tree, I saw him bending up and down as if feeding the youngster.  Mom would sit in a tree nearby giving her “keeeu” call ending with a short “blip”. A few days later while taking pics, a 2nd youngster suddenly appeared.

.Dad spent a lot of time guarding the nest while mom was the rapacious hunterThereafter, they  seemed to enjoy peering at me from above.  On 26th July, while watching the 2 youngsters, now so grown up, first one flew off and then the other followed.

Suddenly after 2 weeks of taking snaps, discovered there was a 2nd baby!They shrieked with  delight. This was the first time I had seen them fly, so not sure how old they would be.  The nest is very deep, so this is why I never saw them when they were very young.  Not sure when they start hunting for themselves.  Will keep watching them to see what happens.These 2 youngsters grew so quickly.  Just after this snap they both flew off squealing in delight

Comment from Dr Ian Little of EWT: Just a quick clarification on Pat and Sandra Merrick’s wonderful sightings. With the Black Sparrowhawks. The Male is not rufous coloured, they were in fact looking at one of the juveniles, the male is the same colour as the female but smaller. He delivers food to the female to take to the nest and hence is not often seen at the nest.

Pat saw reedbuck mating and one morning 2 male oribi running flat out down the hill in a chase.

Checking to see if she's ready for mating.

I managed to get a few photos of the male reedbuck showing a lot of interest in a female, with her youngster standing close by, watching the action.e follows her, with youngster watching the action.

The reedbuck are now feeding off the green burn.  One evening there was our magnificent male with 2 females and 2 youngsters, and another day, captured 7 in a pasture at sunset.

The male reed buck showing lots of interest while the female becomes coy

Lots of duiker (male) around,  grazing during the day as well. Ian Little, EWT:  I would like appeal to all conservancy members who have Oribi on their properties to submit their survey forms in September, the form can be found at https://www.ewt.org.za/TGSP/oribi.html Or by request from jibam@ewt.org.za

.Male duiker early morning eating soya stova

Early one morning saw a gymnogene jumping up and down in the long grass.  He was stamping his prey but could not see what it was.

Gymnogene in long grass with prey

Broad leafed Coral tree before the frost arrived

Broad leafed Coral tree before the frost arrived

Some lovely sunsets this month with all the smoke from burns.

lovely sunsets this month

Our redthroated wryneck is still living in the hollow fence pole. Black headed Oriel

Black headed oriole

Our pair of sugar gurneys just love the bottle brush tree.  A few days ago while I was gardening, about 20 white eyes arrived in same tree. The gurneys did not like that and chased them away.  They sing all day long.  Lesser double-collared sunbird.

Lesser doublecollared sunbird.

One evening in the middle of July, while my grandsons were here, the owls starting making a big commotion on the roof.  Went on for an hour.  We have not heard or seen them since, so I guess they were having a farewell party!  I can now start cleaning the walls of our house!  A pair of orange throated longclaws appear each morning.

.Orange throated longclaw

Still a few sunbirds, chats, robins, olive thrush.  The rock pigeons are nesting once again in the chimney. Long crested eagle and jackal buzzard still around.  Heard the fish eagle.  A martial eagle flew over the house one morning.  I have a number of flowering boxes on my verandah, and this moth took advantage, feeding off the alyssum which is sweet smelling and seems to attract them.

this moth took advantage, feeding off the alyssum which is sweet smelling and seems to attract them

Remember to check the Dargle Facebook page for local news: https://www.facebook.com/dargle.kzn

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