Tag Archives: green snake

Hisss – Helping Individuals Survive Snake Season

-by Nick Evans –

We are all aware that snake season is well underway, especially now that Summer’s here and the temperatures are constantly rising. The snakes have started to come together to mate and to hunt, after their low activity period in Winter. This causes a widespread panic and fear, especially for the well-being of family and pets. This will have been exacerbated by the much publicised snakebite, on a young girl from a Night Adder, in Pietermaritzburg recently. There is, however, no need to panic and there is no need to live in fear of snakes either.

Brown House Snake - One of the friendliest snakes to have around. Docile, non-venomous and they love eating rats! They’re brown with cream-coloured markings going down the body.

Brown House Snake – One of the friendliest snakes to have around. Docile, non-venomous and they love eating rats! They’re brown with cream-coloured markings going down the body.

Snakes are amongst one of the most feared and misunderstood animals on earth, which stems from myths, legends, superstitions and over-exaggerated tales about these unique creatures. T.V. also has a negative impact by portraying them in a false way (i.e the Anaconda movies!). The lack of understanding and education about these animals often leads to them being killed, so it’s time we change our perceptions of these ecologically important animals.

Boomslang (male)- Thicker than the harmless green snakes, with a much larger head and eyes, these snakes are actually South Africa’s most toxic snake species. Fortunately, they are very shy and are reluctant to bite unless harassed. Interestingly, and quite uniquely amongst South African Snakes, they are sexually dimorphic. Males are green with black patterns, while females are a drab brown colour.

Boomslang (male)- Thicker than the harmless green snakes, with a much larger head and eyes, these snakes are actually South Africa’s most toxic snake species. Fortunately, they are very shy and are reluctant to bite unless harassed. Interestingly, and quite uniquely amongst South African Snakes, they are sexually dimorphic. Males are green with black patterns, while females are a drab brown colour.

Contrary to popular belief, snakes do not attack people. They do not want to bite us. They are more scared of us than we are of them and that is the truth of the matter. Whenever they see us or sense our presence approaching, they either flee or remain undetected. They are very secretive and shy animals that prefer to be left alone, and that is exactly what you should do if you see a snake.

Boomslang (female)

Boomslang (female)

People are often bitten while trying to capture or kill a snake, so don’t ever try. If you see a snake while out walking, in one of the many beautiful nature reserves or conservancies in the Midlands, simply keep calm and stay still. Snakes get nervous when they see a lot of fast movement. If it’s crossing the path, keep a safe distance, appreciate the sighting, and consider yourself lucky that you have seen such a secretive animal. It will move off quite quickly. If it appears to not be moving and just basking (typical Puff Adder behaviour), either walk around it, giving a wide birth, or walk the other way. That’s all you need to do to avoid being bitten. You may shout it if you want, but you would just be wasting your breath. Snakes are completely deaf and have no ears. *NEVER pick up a snake, alive or dead. Even if you think you know what it is.

Puff Adder - Quite common in the Midlands and highly venomous. They are a thick-bodied snake, with chevron markings and a large head, that are responsible for a few snakebites every year. This is because they prefer to keep still and rely on their camouflage to conceal them. They will not definitely bite if stood on.

Puff Adder – Quite common in the Midlands and highly venomous. They are a thick-bodied snake, with chevron markings and a large head, that are responsible for a few snakebites every year. This is because they prefer to keep still and rely on their camouflage to conceal them. They will not definitely bite if stood on.

If it’s in your house, or somewhere on your property where you really don’t want it, you will have to call your local snake catcher. Otherwise, give it a chance to escape, like leaving a door/window open that leads outside. You can try the police too if you can’t get hold of a snake catcher, but make sure they do not kill it (some policemen unfortunately do). Snakes should not be killed, for your own safety, and for the well-being of the environment. They’re actually doing us a favour.

The Green Snakes - These would consist of the Spotted Bush Snake, Western Natal Green Snake and Green Water Snakes. All are completely harmless, long, thin and green, which often leads them to being identified as Boomslangs or Green Mambas. Green Mambas do not occur in the Midlands. The Bush Snakes have quite prominent spots going down the body.

The Green Snakes – These would consist of the Spotted Bush Snake, Western Natal Green Snake and Green Water Snakes. All are completely harmless, long, thin and green, which often leads them to being identified as Boomslangs or Green Mambas. Green Mambas do not occur in the Midlands. The Bush Snakes have quite prominent spots going down the body.

Snakes play a vital role in the ecosystem in two ways, as predators and as prey. Snakes are like a free pest control service, especially with regards to rats. We don’t really want rats around, as they can cause havoc in homes. Snakes are one of the many creatures that do a fantastic job at keeping rodent populations in check, so no need for rat traps or poisons, just let the local House Snake hunt in your garden. Venomous snakes like the Black Mamba, Puff Adder, Rinkhals and Mozambique Spitting Cobra, do the job just as well as House Snakes, if not better. Snakes also keep gecko populations in check, as well as all other lizards. Birds, bats, slugs, centipedes, and frogs are all on the menu.

Mozambique Spitting Cobra

Mozambique Spitting Cobra

They’re not just predators, but prey too. Birds, like raptors and herons, mongooses, genets and monitor lizards all love eating snakes, and so do some other species of snake. Yes, snakes will eat each other! They clearly are a key link in the food chain and are here for a good reason, just like all native wildlife.

Night Adder - A venomous species which is often mistaken for a Puff Adder, but is a lot smaller and a lot less toxic. They are more slender snakes than Puff Adders, brown in colour and have dark, pentagon-shaped patches going down the body.

Night Adder – A venomous species which is often mistaken for a Puff Adder, but is a lot smaller and a lot less toxic. They are more slender snakes than Puff Adders, brown in colour and have dark, pentagon-shaped patches going down the body.

So, how does one keep snakes away from one’s property? In truth, there is no set way or definite method in keeping them away. The best thing you can do is to keep your property neat and tidy. Get rid of piles of wood, bricks, and logs which provide shelter to snakes and their food. Jeyes fluid does not work, nor do any other repellants. Planting Geraniums all around your property will not keep them away either. If there’s “food” around, you’ll get snakes. If you are lucky enough to live on a farm/conservancy/reserve, you will definitely see a snake around the property at some point in time. It’s something you have to deal with while living in Africa. We are privileged with an abundance of wildlife.

Black Mamba - The most feared and notorious snake, but arguably the most shy and retreating. Occurs in some areas around Pietermaritzburg, and in Ashburton, but not a common species in the Midlands. Africa’s largest venomous snake, that averages in length of 2-2m. Highly venomous, and highly misunderstood. They have a bad, over-exaggerated reputation that is largely false.

Black Mamba – The most feared and notorious snake, but arguably the most shy and retreating. Occurs in some areas around Pietermaritzburg, and in Ashburton, but not a common species in the Midlands. Africa’s largest venomous snake, that averages in length of 2-2m. Highly venomous, and highly misunderstood. They have a bad, over-exaggerated reputation that is largely false.

So please, give the snakes a break. Next time you want to reach for a spade or stick to kill it, reach for a camera or cellphone instead. Keep a safe distance, and take a pic or too of your lucky sighting. Share your sighting with friends over email or social media! Tag the Midlands Conservancies Forum and the KwaZulu-Natal Amphibian and Reptile Conservation pages too.

Respect snakes, don’t fear or hate them. Understand that they’re fulfilling a role in nature, and they are needed.

Nick Evans runs a programme called KwaZulu-Natal Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, a chapter of The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization. The aim of the programme is to promote awareness of these ecologically important animals, and to educate the public.

For snake awareness and identification talks, or frogging evenings, please email Nick at nickevanskzn@gmail.com

With assistance for snake removals, you can contact Nick on 072 8095 806, who will put you in touch with the closest snake catcher. (Nick is based in Durban).

Karkloof Wildlife Sightings for October

The lack of rain in September saw the levels of both the Gartmore and Loskop pans dropping drastically. I (Pat Cahill)  didn’t realise just how shallow the Gartmore Pan was until I saw a Grey Heron standing ankle deep in the middle of it!

KK Oct 1

Despite the unfavourable weather, there have been a good number of sightings. If you thought an Avocet was a missile used in the Falklands War, think again! Since Twané’s initial sighting of the Pied Avocet, it was been noted by two separate visitors, both on 12 October at the Gartmore hide.

You don’t necessarily have to visit the hides to spot birds, anyone visiting the toilet at the Conservation Centre might have heard strange noises – close inspection of the shelf by the door would have shown that a Cape Robin Chat was busy making her nest behind the vase on the shelf, in which she proceeded to lay two eggs. Follow this story in the November issue!

KK Oct 2

There are two new sighting to the Conservation Centre. These are the Black Cuckoo seen by Twané and the Southern Double-collared Sunbird seen and photographed by the Larkins (Chris and Ingy) from Mali who regularly visit the hides. If we could persuade Stuart Mackenzie to plant honeysuckle instead of maize, we might see more Sunbirds! It might even have a profitable spin-off by having his cows produce naturally sweetened milk!

KK Oct 3

We have recently had the use of the Midlands Conservancies Forum’s camera trap which has captured some interesting close-ups of Black Crake

KK Oct 4

and African Snipe who are normally very camera shy.

KK Oct 5

Other species recorded during October: Grey Crowned Cranes, Blue Cranes and Wattled Cranes. Great Egret, Cattled Egret, Little Egret, and Black-headed Heron. Yellow-billed Kites, Long-crested Eagles, Jackal Buzzard and an African Marsh Harrier. Groundscraper Thrush, Giant Kingfisher, Pied Kingfishers, Southern Black Tit, Cape White-eye, Cape Crow, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Red-billed Teal, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Little Rush Warbler, Drakensberg Prinia, Yellow-billed Duck, Three-banded Plover, Yellow-fronted Canary and African Rails.

Plenty of Common Reedbuck have been seen in the wetlands at both hides.

KK Oct 6

Percyvera 111 – attack of the Robyn (not McGillivray)

In a sequel to the snake saga, Twané recently saw Percyvera (or one of his/her relatives) slithering across the step by the office door.  Although it was headed away from the toilet where our Resident Cape Robin Chat (RCRC) had built her nest, RCRC is a bit of a birdbrain or has a general aversion to snakes and started dive-bombing it!  Twané has developed a soft spot for Percyvera and was able to rescue it from the ‘Snake Eagle’ in disguise.

KK Oct 7

Percyvera was in the process of ecdysis, a term that Pat McKrill uses in his book, “Getting to know the neighbours”, to describe the process of a snake shedding its old skin. You can see in the picture how Percyvera’s eyes are milky and the usual green colouration is replaced by a dull grey/blue/green colour. This is a typical sign of ecdysis which lasts about 10 days.

KK Oct 8

Mist netting at Gartmore Hide – Karen Nelson

Monday 27th October dawned bright, clear and seemed an ideal ringing day. After erecting the first few nets, I realised the day was not so perfect. A wind had picked up that had me anchoring all the poles to prevent them from blowing over! The wind was possibly a blessing in disguise because I looked up to see a huge flock of Southern Red Bishop rise up from the newly planted mealie field and fly straight into my nets.

KK Oct 9

As the wind was causing the nets to billow quite badly, the majority of the flock managed to be blown out of the nets. So instead of having to extract 100+ bishops I was left with 37! More than enough on what turned out to be a very windy day not suited to bird ringing!

The following species were caught, ringed and measured that morning:

  • 37 x Southern Red Bishop (♂photographed during transitional stage of obtaining bright red breeding plumage.)
  • 1 x Levaillant’s Cisticola
  • 2 x Red-billed Quelea
  • 2 x Village Weaver

Denleigh Farm – Ren and Britt Stubbs

Britt reported her sighting of a small flock of Swee Waxbills on their farm. They have a soft, high-pitched ’swie swie sweeeeeuu’ song, hence their appropriate name. The regular pair of Blue Cranes have been seen daily, but there have been no signs of nesting yet.
Loskop Farm

AJ Liebenberg, Farm manager on Loskop, notified us of a very large and complex structure of holes, which are well utilised, and asked if we could set up the camera trap to see who the occupants are. We were       delighted to see that it was home to a fairly large family of Porcupines who manage to co-exist without   losing any eyes in the process.

KK Oct 10

About 10 minutes before we collected the camera trap (at about 09h20), a Large Grey Mongoose visited the one hole hoping to find some small vertebrates such as rodents to eat, but instead landed in a terrifying display of sharp spines, and left seconds later.

KK Oct 11

Along the Road – Adam Riley

Adam Riley, Managing Director of Rockjumper Birding Tours, took this superb photograph of a Common Cuckoo (formerly European Cuckoo) on the 2 October 2014 along the Karkloof Road, where the tar meets the dirt.

KK Oct 12

This birds species claim to fame is its association with the well-known cuckoo clock that features a mechanical bird and is fitted with bellows and pipes that imitate the call of the Common Cuckoo. We always appreciate feedback from expert birders who spend time bird watching in our beautiful Karkloof Valley.

SAPPI – Bernie Herbst
There was great excitement within the Sappi Plantations in the Karkloof when an African Buffalo bull ‘escaped’ from Game Valley and decided to check out the #1 ranked mountain biking trails in South Africa. He liked them so much that he stuck around for quite some time.

KK Oct 13

Katina Saville reported that this Buffalo chased them in their car along their driveway, making town trips a daily nightmare! He has been safely returned to his home with a heavy fine for not having a membership board and failing to register as a day visitor at the Karkloof Country Club (home of the Karkloof Mtb Club).

Another sighting within in the Sappi Plantations was this Rhombic Night Adder hiding in the shade of the rock. Pat McKrill describes this snake as “a forager that eats amphibians, mainly toads, and the common name is to some extent a misnomer, as it’s known to look for food at any time of the day or night”.

KK Oct 14

It’s always great to receive sightings from our local Sappi foresters. A big thank you to Bernie Herbst for sending us these excellent photographs.

Karkloof Wildlife Sightings for September

Karkloof Conservation Centre – Patrick Cahill

Sightings have improved recently, with a group of African Spoonbills unconcernedly sharing their bath in the Gartmore Pan with some cows. Twané said the cattle, despite their size advantage, were more concerned about the presence of the birds.

September Sightings 1

Two infrequent visitors on the Gartmore pan were the Great Egret which Twané saw recently and the Giant Kingfisher which landed on the rock in front of me.

September Sightings 2

September Sightings 3

We are having daily sightings of African Rails, Black Crake and African Snipe. We have also been seeing the Drakensberg Prinia and Southern Grey-headed Sparrow more often. Two Long-crested Eagles were seen flying in unison and gave a shrieking call for a few minutes. The avenue of trees are dominated by a combination of Fork-tailed Drongos and Southern Black Flycatchers who are feeding on all the delicious insects.

Snake Saga – Part 2

Twané showed great foresight when she labelled last month’s “Snake Saga” Part 1. She obviously had a feeling that it wasn’t yet over, so here is Part 2!  She was working on her laptop reading through Part 1 when she suddenly became aware of a pair of eyes watching her from just above the screen. As she is now quite used to its presence, she grabbed a camera and photographed it.

September Sightings 5

It was obviously not satisfied with the information it had gleaned from Roberts’ Birds on its last visit, so it sought out a slightly more recent edition.

September Sightings 6

Having heard about Pat McKrill’s reputation as an authority on snakes it then perused his excellent book on the subject – ‘Getting to know the Neighbours’. As it appears to have decided that the Conservation Centre is a friendly place, I think it deserves a name so that it may be put onto the payroll! We’re unsure of its sex, so I’d like to propose an asexual name like Percyvera!

September Sightings 7

Karkloof Babies – Patrick Cahill

I am not sure where baby birds come from, when I was a kid the stork delivery epitomised current belief to be replaced later by the gooseberry bush hypothesis. Whichever is correct, the delivery service has been working overtime recently.

AJ Liebenberg, a manager on Loskop Farm, sent in this picture of a family of Egyptian Geese seen on Loskop Pan. Though most despise this bird, one cannot help falling in love with the goslings who have complete faith in their parents and follow closely.

September Sightings 8

Twané has seen plenty of Blacksmith  Lapwing chicks on the shores of the Loskop Pan. They are hard so spot and photograph, as they are far away and blend in very well with the vegetation.

Perhaps the highlight of the recent deliveries has been the arrival of a Verreaux’s (Giant) Eagle Owl chick on Gartmore virtually in Charlie’s back yard.  I managed to capture this photo of Wol and Wollet in the late afternoon. They are nocturnal and primarily hunt at night and their diet consists of mammals up to the size of Vervet monkeys, a variety of birds such as Secretarybirds, ducks, raptors, and they also eat reptiles, frogs, fish and arthropods.

September Sightings 9

Mbona Private Nature Reserve – Richard Booth

An immature Martial Eagle perched on a dead tree, giving a clear, excellent view. We occasionally see Martial here, but not often.

A Black Sparrowhawk flying across our lake carrying a bird the size of a dabchick (Little Grebe). It sat on the road in front of me to recover from exertion before flying into a tree. Can’t be sure what its prey was, but very likely a dabchick as it was taken over water. We have a pair of Egyptian geese with goslings but they are on a different dam.

A Striped Flufftail was heard calling in the grassland on “little Mbona” hill, a new one for our bird list, and gives us three flufftails with the Buff-spotted and Red-chested. The call was exactly as described in Roberts and continued for some time.

Mist-netting at Gartmore Hide – Karin Nelson

Thursday 25th September was windy and not an ideal day for ringing. Billowing nets are more visible to the birds and thus capture numbers lower. We did still catch and ring 13 birds. A small flock of   Yellow-fronted Canaries were the favourites of the morning.

September Sightings 10

The following species were caught, ringed and measured :

  • 4 x Yellow-fronted Canary
  • 4 x Red-billed Quelea
  • 2 x Southern Red Bishop
  • 2 x Levaillant’s Cisticola
  • 1 x African Stonechat

Raptor Ringing Day – Karin Nelson

The 2nd Raptor Ringing Day was held on Saturday the 13th September 2014, where 4 teams, with 4 participants per team took part. Each team had a qualified ringer, a falconer, a raptor expert/handler/researcher and a trainee/enthusiast. Our team was made up of Ben Hoffman (Raptor Rescue), Stuart Pringle (Falconer), Brent Coverdale (Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife) and myself, Karin Nelson (Ringer).

September Sightings 11

Each team had one baited Balchatri Trap and were given a route to drive to find and trap the raptors. Our team randomly selected the Richmond area. The day was in part to collect valuable data for Lorinda Hart, who is working on a Jackal Buzzard project as her Post-doctoral Research at UKZN. All Jackal Buzzards caught were ringed, measured, weighed, bloods taken, and photographed to collect data for the project. In total 11 raptors were caught by the four teams.

September Sightings 12

The topic of Lorinda’s project is the Population relatedness and colour variation of Jackal Buzzards. Only 3.5% of bird species demonstrate plumage polymorphism (variation in feather colour) within a population of same age and sex. Birds of prey have a relatively high incidence of plumage polymorphism.  Jackal Buzzards vary in their colour morphs throughout southern Africa . Up to seven plumage categories have been identified in the eastern Karoo with colours and patterns varying in the face, chest, back, eye, and tail of individuals .

You can contribute to the project by sending colour images of Jackal Buzzards and relevant GPS co-ordinates to Lorinda at rinjordaan@gmail.com. This information will be useful to add to the database of colour variation for the area. Please note that both front and back profiles are required.  This photographed Jackal Buzzard was taken by one of the four teams in the Karkloof. Stuart MacKenzie’s cattle and the beautiful Loskop mountain can be seen in the background.

September Sightings 13

Karkloof Wildlife Sightings for August

There has been a pair of South African Shelduck visiting the Loskop pan fairly regularly. The Grey Heron pictured here seemed to co-exist quite happily with them, but there has been a pair of Egyptian Geese who have an aversion to Shelduck and chase them off cursing and swearing at them!

1

The White-throated Swallows are back and have been making some home renovations in preparation for the upcoming breeding season. I had the first sighting of them on the 18 July 2014 after they returned from a short vacation.

Twané had a rare sighting of a single Pied Avocet on the Loskop Pan last month, a lifer for her, and also for the Karkloof Valley on the Southern African Bird Atlas Project 2. Roberts Field Guide shows that it should not be seen in this area, but like many other birds I am sure it isn’t familiar with Roberts!

2

The pans are exceedingly low at the moment, so there are increased sightings of African Snipe, Black Crakes and African Rails.

Snake Saga by Pat Cahill

A couple of weeks ago I was in the office talking to Twané when she let out a gentle scream – more of surprise than alarm. When I asked “What’s wrong?” she said “Look behind you”. I was standing in front of a shelf on which the box files containing all the records of the Centre are stored. There, crawling through the hole in the spine of the file was a little Natal Green Snake.

3

Like the Elephants child in Just So Stories, it had a ‘satiable curiosity’ and it then dropped one shelf down to assimilate the contents of an old copy of ‘Roberts’. All this erudition gave it a severe case of brain strain and it went down onto the coffee table for some refreshment.

4

Twané decided that coffee is not suitable for reptiles, so she picked up the eleven foot barge pole (this is used for things that you ‘wouldn’t touch with a ten foot barge pole’) and ushered it out of the door whence it dashed off to make use of its newly acquired avian knowledge. It is to be hoped that the next edition of ‘Roberts’ will be in a format which will be easier for snakes to handle and also incorporate information on which birds are edible.

I said to Twané that I was sure there was a species called a “file” snake. She Googled it, and sure enough there is – the Cape File Snake. Ours is obviously a subspecies, as it still has all its front teeth!

5

Mist-netting at Gartmore Hide – Karen Nelson

Karin Nelson had a ringing session on the 13th of August, catching 32 birds in her mist-nets which is again good for winter! The following species were caught, ringed and measured that morning:-

  • 1 x Red Bishop
  • 2 x Levaillant’s Cisticola
  • 1 x Fork-tailed Drongo
  • 1 x Pied Kingfisher (photographed)
  • 16 x Red-billed Quelea
  • 1 x African Stonechat
  • 8 x Village Weaver
  • 2 x Fan-tailed Widowbirds

6

Seen along the River by Charlie MacGillivray

Charlie goes for many walks on the farm and delights in the many different species that he sees each day. On one occasion, he was fortunate to photograph this Water (Marsh) Mongoose along the riverbank before it noticed his presence.

These mongooses are predominantly nocturnal but also crepuscular (active in low light). They feed on crabs, amphibians and small vertebrates and live near permanent water-bodies such as rivers, streams and dams.

7

Loskop Farm – AJ Liebenberg (Farm Manager)

AJ managed to get this great photograph of part of the large flock of Grey Crowned Cranes congregating near the cattle. Cranes have adapted well to feeding in agricultural fields and are beneficial to farmers, as they eat insects and weed seeds found near crops. Both the Grey Crowned Cranes and the Blue Cranes have been seen dancing in the fields and pairing up for the summer.

Remember to keep a lookout for nesting cranes and report these sightings to us so that we may pass the information on to the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

8

Gilboa – Michael Keefer

While up at the top of Mt. Gilboa, Michael lifted a rock to look at what was hiding underneath. He came across this lovely scorpion which he mentioned he sees often in the Shawswood forest when leading a school group on an interpretive trail.

The scorpion has been identified as Opisthacanthus sp. by the Virtual Museum experts. The Virtual Museum is a great platform for members of the public to become citizen scientists. Let us know if you’re interested in contributing sightings to this and we will show you how to get involved!

9

Local Crane News

On the 13 August 2014, Karin Nelson and Twané saw a colour-ringed Blue Crane on Loskop Farm seen from the Wattled Crane Hide.

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The bird was very far away which made it very difficult to identify the colours of the rings and which leg they were on, but we eventually managed to get the right combination.

  • Right leg: Big Blue
  • Left leg: Red over White over Yellow

We immediately sent the photograph and ring combination on to Tanya Smith of the Endangered Wildlife Trust and she confirmed that this was the Blue Crane which was ringed on Ren and Britt Stubbs’ farm in the Karkloof on the 3 February 2011. She also saw this bird in a flock of 54 Blue Cranes on a farm in Hlatikulu on the 24th April 2012.

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It was very exciting to see that our locally produced Blue Crane is still doing well – let’s hope for more sightings!

Dargle Wildlife Sightings September

Andrew and Susi Anderson -Lane’s End

After the recent rains, as usual, our property filled with water. Fortunately it drains once the river returns to it normal level. This has the benefit of attracting unusual critters to the property – or perhaps we are just out more to keep an eye on water levels and therefore are seeing them!.  On 21 September I saw a lovely large water mongoose foraging on Lanes End.

Walking on a neighbour’s property on 23 September I counted 16 reedbuck and saw a flock of in excess of 30 crowned cranes as well as 2 blue cranes flying overhead.

On 25 September we woke to the sound of a distressed reedbuck, it was being pursued by 2 ‘hunting dogs’ which had chased it into the uMgeni river, it clambered out  on our side and fortunately the dogs did not cross.  It escaped along the river, well be thought!  Unfortunately 3 days later our staff discovered it unconscious and badly mauled around the neck, it had to be put down.

This lovely big Natal Green snake was photographed sunning itself in the late afternoon on the riverbank.

Paul Smit – Blesberg

I have seen 6 Oribi on my property at one time.

Jethro Bronner explored iNhlosane a couple of time in September

I saw 2 Oribi, a small bright green snake and a rock python slithering into a small cave. A huge rock had dislodged and fallen down, which was a bit disconcerting. At the peak, birds of prey were flying below me.

Sipho Mbaso – Honeywood

Two big porcupines and 4 Reedbuck in the evening.

Sam Rose and Shine Murphy

We spotted 7 Eland about 200 metres from our house, making their way up our mountain.  We have a pair of Egyptian geese that regularly frequent the pond near our home.

Justin and Karin Herd – Bee Tree Farm

BIG infestation of locust Pyrgomorphidae species Phymateus cinctus.  I believe the infestation is widespread and once eggs are laid and hoppers produced, there will be much feeding and destruction of vegetation.

Eidin Griffin and Malcolm Draper – Witsend

We’ve had a pair of Eygptian geese very busy around the place- they were having an aerial argument with a disgruntled crow the other day. We were worried that the resident reedbuck were gone as we saw hunting dogs chasing one across the fields below the Hanburys at high speed but were relieved to spot three yesterday. (One of the dogs was huge and white and looked like a greyhound cross.)

I dug up a molesnake in the garden, it was unharmed and slide back under the soil swiftly. Mlungisi (who really enjoyed Pat McKrills farmworker snake talk) caught a brown house snake in the woodpile on the verandah and instead of killing, it got it into a sack and left it on the table for us…and forgot to tell us about it til the next day.  It was also unharmed and we released it further away from the house. I’ve had a lovely blackheaded oriole singing happily behind the house and seen lots (up to thirty) guinea fowl in the fields. We also found a dead baby monkey in the garden, we think an eagle that has been hovering around killed it.

Sifiso Zuma D17

I saw 2 jackals at the small dam

Sharon and Robin Barnsley

have seen Bush buck ram and doe close to our dam and others close to Portmore dam, Cape battis flycatcher, African harrier hawk, loads of Guiney fowl, 11 crowned cranes and a pair of Black storks.

Nikki Brighton

A most perculiar thing in my garden this month:

I found one of our chickens with it’s head eaten off, under the shrubs beside my fence. The next day it was dragged across the fence into my garden. The next night it disappeared and a couple of days later an egg appeared on the bed of feathers! I think some creature is using this spot to store food. This week another headless chicken appeared in the same place – partially covered over with leaves and twigs – a few days later it too was gone. Does anyone know what animal does this? It would have to be something that climbs, because my garden is porcupine and chicken proof.

Bright yellow Cyrtanthus breviflorus in wetland. Scadoxus in full flower. Disvclis repens, Helichrysum adenocarpum, Valeriana lanceolata(I think), Ledebouria ovatifolia, Nemesia, Hemizygia teucrifolia, albuca, Clausena anisata, Canthium mundianum.

3 Sept was an exciting day: saw Yellow Billed Kite, African Hoopoe, Red winged Starlings and heard Fish Eagles.

A few Cape Parrots are around. Jackal Buzzard, Bush Blackcap, Pintailed Whydah, weavers, bronze mannekins, double collared sunbird, Knysna loeries, forest canaries, francolins, Egyptian geese.

Heard: Blue Cranes, tree dassies, jackals Lots of Samango monkeys about. So many grasshoppers! They are really splendid to look at but have put paid to my kale and I fear from my broad beans.

Carl and John Bronner – Old Kilgobbin

2 Duiker, 6 Oribi, 9 Reedbuck, Bushbuck ram and doe.

Rob Mackintosh – Carlisle Farm

I have seen 7 Spurwing geese on our dam during the last few days.

Barry and Rose Downard – Oak Tree Cottage

All the lovely new spring growth has attracted lots of bees and butterflies. Lots of bird activity too, including Sunbirds, Wagtails, Olive Thrush, Cape Robin, Cape white-eyes, Canary, Weavers, Orioles, Bulbuls, Doves, Mousebirds, Sparrows, Drongo, Hoopoes, Redbilled Woodhoopoe, Crows, Southern Boubou, Cisticola, Fiscal Shrike, Crested Eagle, Grey Herons. The Scadoxus have been fabulous too.

Dennis Sokhela – Old Kilgobbin farm

3 Cape Parrots – I love those birds. I saw this snake in the driveway and took a photo of it. I named it Bongani so I don’t think it will be back! (Pat McKrill suggested that when you give a snake a name, it disappears!). I saw many reedbuck and 2 oribi.Sandra and Pat Merrick – Albury Farm

Red throated wryneck nesting in fence post. We are thrilled to have a pair of blue crane = the female is sitting about 20 metres from our dam so we can watch her progress from our house.  What a privilege.  Last Sunday saw a group of 7 blue crane on crest of hill.  Stunning sight.

A pair of wattled crane have been flying to the dam about 2 or 3 times a week.  One evening got a photo of them together with the blue crane. Last week was fortunate to see the Wattled crane swimming across the dam which I have never seen before.  We have seen the blue crane swimming on various occasions but never the wattled crane.  They had a great bathing time splashing around and then grooming for about half hour.

Few days ago saw our one and only olive thrush was hopping around at water feature in front of verandah.  I heard a squeaking noise and went to investigate.  The thrush had a small frog in its beak and was beating it on the paving!  I have never seen this behaviour from a small bird before.  I thought only raptors and snakes ate frogs!  Went to get camera but it flew off with frog dangling from its beak. Shame. Our white throated swallows are back nesting.  One arrived in our study last week.  Pat and I did a complete aerobic workout trying to get it out the double doors and windows.  I am not sure who was more exhausted after half hour, the swallow or ourselves, but it did eventually get the message and flew off.

Saw a gymnogene looking for lizards on rocks. Yellowbilled kite and jackal buzzard every day.  Have not seen secretary bird for some time. Malachite sunbirds, cape robins, wagtails, drakensberg prinias, chats.  Heard the black cuckoo in the gum trees yesterday. We see a pair of shell duck at the dam daily.

Lots of reed buck eating the green burn.  Duiker.  Porcupine coming home one evening in the driveway. Pat saw jackal running up hill at 7am.

Kevin Barnsley – Portmore and Constantia

4 Crowned Cranes in 3rd week of September are now resident again on Portmore pastureland. Now permanent resident purple heron on Constantia dam. Woolly Necked Stork brazenly using my garden for a day ignoring all human activity – must be from amberfield/glen judging by thick skinned behaviour. Black Ducks and Samango Monkeys making their annual raids on my maize laden cattle feeders in the beef paddocks. Gun shy Rameron Pigeons looking for refuge around cattle feeding stations.