Tag Archives: hail

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – January 2015

Helen Booysen – Crab Apple Cottages

Nests in Kev's vlei - look at the workmanship of the Thick Billed Weaver.

Nests in Kev’s vlei – look at the workmanship of the Thick Billed Weaver.

Brunsvigia have just begun to flower.

Brunsvigia have just begun to flower.

Barend holding a very 'live' Boomslang.

Barend holding a very ‘live’ Boomslang.

A very beautiful moth.

A very beautiful moth.

David Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Crasulla alba

Crasulla alba

Rose and Barry Downard – Oak Tree Cottage

Birds: Black widowfinches (males and females) seen for the first time in our garden. Redbilled Woodhoopoes, Sunbirds – amethyst and double-collared, Paradise Flycatchers, Wagtails, Sparrows, crested Eagle, Kites, Guineafowls, Storks, African Black Duck. A pair of Herons were regular visitors to our property for some time, but unfortunately the skeletal remains of one of the Herons has been found.


Others: Chameleon (female). Lots of skinks – adults and juveniles. Surprisingly no snakes have been seen although they must be around.

A creepy finding – hundreds of baby spiders just emerging from their nest. Within a few minutes all the spiders had completely disappeared in amongst the foliage.


A huge number of mushrooms came up in our garden in December and have since shrivelled up in the hot weather this month.


Our dogs were fascinated by the mushrooms but thankfully they didn’t eat any, and neither did we, as we’re not sure which mushrooms are poisonous.


Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

We had some strong storms this past month.

Garden and driveway getting flooded.

Garden and driveway getting flooded.

A few trees were blown over or snapped in half. We also had quite a bit of rain fall which was welcome as it’s been so dry.

Pine tree blown over on the farm.

Pine tree blown over on the farm.

Tree down, Inhlosane behind.

Tree down, Inhlosane behind.

Brave Crab that was on the lawn.

Brave Crab that was on the lawn.

Cabbage Tree and Aloe at Barrett's.

Cabbage Tree and Aloe at Barrett’s.

Natal Green Snake slithering between the pot plants

Natal Green Snake slithering between the pot plants

Dandelions with Inhlosane watching over.

Dandelions with Inhlosane watching over.

Bullfrog that was making a racket outside our dining room one evening. I think he got stage fright, as I took this picture he froze in this position and didn't make another.

Bullfrog that was making a racket outside our dining room one evening. I think he got stage fright, as I took this picture he froze in this position and didn’t make another.

Dragon Fly

Dragon Fly

Resident Swallows

Resident Swallows

Red and black locust

Red and black locust

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

So many wonderful summer flowers in the less disturbed areas. A first for me on Old Kilgobbin is Miroglossa verticillare

miraglossa verticillare

An old favourite, Eulophia clavicornis – but flowering months later than usual.

eulophia clavicornis

Lots of wild Agapanthus campanulatus


Exceptionally cheerful Berkheya setifera attended by beetles

berkheya setifera

Buchnera simplex (used as a love charm in traditional medicine)

buchnera simplex

Senecio – not sure of the species, possibly isatideus.

senecio sp

Aloe boylei near the famous old Dargle oak tree.

Aloe boylei

Think this must be Cephalaria, but I am not certain. There are masses of white heads of Cephalaria pungens bobbing in the grassland with Vernonia natalensis right now.

cephalaria - possibly

Hermannia depressa hides in the tall grass.

hermannia depressa

Ajuga orphrydis

Ajuga orphydis

Ajuga orphydis

Silene burchellii – the Gunpowder plant


The beautiful indigenous bramble, Rubus ludwigii seems to be particularly visible this year.

rubus ludwigii

Rare Brunsvigia undulata – dark red flowers can be seen from quite a distance in the grassland.

brunsvigia undulata jan

Zaluzianskya natalensis opens at dusk, so I was lucky to be up early enough to enjoy it before it closed again.

zaluzianskya natalensis januaryJPG

Pink splashes across the grassland right now are Watsonia densiflora.

watsonia densiflora jan

Often see this pair of Blue Cranes who pay no attention to the arguments amongst the young bulls!

blue cranes cattle

Gorgeous flash of the Yellow Bishop.

yellow widow bird

Reedbuck doe in a wetland, and many more in the hills.

reedbuck doe

Had two Barn Owls around for a while, screeching at night and flying low at dusk. A real treat. Need to get some owl boxes up soon! Plenty of tiny bats swooping about. A couple of times one came into my house and couldn’t get out.
Love all the Hadedas.


While I was away, Jethro took this photo of this snake in my house. I reckon an Olive House Snake. I’m delighted as it has obviously come to eat all the rats!

Olive House Snake

At the beginning of January, Dias cotonifolia were in full bloom, but they are all faded now.

dais cotonifolia

Rowan Lancaster

Some very large hail stones which came down in a storm last month…

Hail in handHail on lawnHail Damage

Marashene Lewis – Glengyle Farm

We have set up the Dargle Conservancy camera in our part of the forest near
a water stream.

Porcupine 2

It has been up for one week, and these are the best night photographs.

Bushbuck 2

During the day there has been no movement past the camera.

Bushbuck 1

We have rented the camera for 2 months and hope to capture a lot more of our forest dwellers.



Pelargonium luridum

Pelargonium luridum



Invasive verbena

Invasive verbena

Cephalaria pungens

Cephalaria pungens

Crassula alba

Crassula alba

Eulophia clavicornis

Eulophia clavicornis





Brunsvegia possibly undulata

Brunsvegia possibly undulata

Berkheya setifera

Berkheya setifera

Asclepias macropus

Asclepias macropus

Aloe cooperi

Aloe cooperi



Pap and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm Lidgetton

What a surprise to find on our return from holiday a 2 week old (not sure, just going by last years photos) baby blue crane.

3 week old blue crane

They had nested on a neighbouring farm as our dam had had very little water but they always faithfully return to us each year. I am not sure why, but am truly blessed by their continued presence on our farm.7 weeks old blue crane

We have had a number of birds nesting and hatching this month. Firstly the sparrows hatched out in the eaves under the roof next to our formal garden. Then the wagtails hatched out a 2nd set of babies (3) in the same jasmine creeper. The cape robin, whose picture I put in last months newsletter with nest material in her beak had made her nest in our large pot in the formal garden. She hatched out 3 babies.

2 week old cape robins

We watched them on a daily basis. At 16 days old one disappeared and the other 2 had moved out of nest and sat in the shade of the shrub in pot. The next day they disappeared. The mother was totally traumatised and her distress calls were awful to hear. She searched in the flower beds and shrubs in the formal garden with myself on hands and knees checking as well, but to no avail. No sign of them at all and haven’t seen them since.

Cape robin about to feed her 3 youngsters

The wagtails disappeared same day and they are busily hopping around the garden. Our swallows hatched out 2 youngsters who kept flying into the house and veranda doors for 2 days. Then one morning I heard the mom twittering loudly next to our bedroom window. She was hopping around the youngster, trying to encourage the baby to fly. She eventually just sat and watched it and after a few minutes it flew off. On the 3rd day we found the one baby dead outside the bedroom window. He was soaking wet from the heavy dew during the cold night. The other swallow had broken its wing and I took it to Free Me. It died a few days later.The parents are back in the nest, so probably laying once more. The sparrows have taken over the other swallows nest under the eaves.

Baby Swallow with broken wing

On the 7 January Pat saw a Serval at 7am at the end of our driveway and also a Duiker with her youngster. The Black-headed Heron has been in the garden on and off and have taken photos of him capturing a lizard and locust.

Black-headed heron with lizard Black-headed heron on takeoff

The female Amethyst Sunbird hatched out one baby beginning January. I only took photo on the 15th when he sat looking out of nest. He disappeared on the 19th January.

Female amethyst sunbird sitting on egg

Female amethyst sunbird sitting on egg

our amethyst sunbird hatchling

our amethyst sunbird hatchling

Male black sunbird

Male Amethyst Sunbird


We have seen a lot of jackal hunting during the day. Our dogs attacked one and he tore my dogs ear. I saw one chasing a female reedbuck early one evening along the dam wall. He gave up after awhile and turned his attention to the Blue Crane who come to the dam each evening. They craaked loudly and he ran off thank goodness.

Blue crane about 6 weeks old

Pat saw a pair of Coucals and a Knysna Lourie near the natural bush opposite our farm next to Lythwood lodge. On another day we saw 2 male Reedbuck chasing 6 females across the dam and hills. This went on for some hours, so presumably some of them were on heat. We had a male Reedbuck sleeping and grazing in our garden for a week. I got quite close to him for a photo and noticed he had a lot of bumps on his face. On checking the photo, it looks like it could be warts or ticks. Would anyone know?

Male reedbuck

We have been woken by the Natal Spurfowl at 5.30am on a number of mornings in our garden, but the minute I open the curtain to take a photo, they run into the shrubbery. Pat saw a Sparrowhawk attack a swallow midair and as it flew off clutching the bird, the other swallows frantically chased it.

Redbilled teal

Red-billed Teal


Until a few days ago, our dam was very low with few water fowl, but since the wonderful rains over the past few days (77mls) our dam has risen considerably and the Shelduck are back. They have been seen down at the lions river about a kilometre from us, so that’s wonderful news as they have nested here for the past 3 or 4 years.


African Spoonbills


We are just so grateful for the rain as our stream had dried up and there were problems with our borehole.

Orange throated longclaw

Cape Longclaw


Thanks Dr Jason Londt for the identification: “The beast goes by the name Precis octavia  – commonly called the Gaudy Commodore. This is the red summer form of the butterfly – which has a darker blue winter form. One usually sees them sunning themselves with wings outstretched on a rock or on the ground. They are pretty common and widely distributed in the eastern parts of SA – certainly common over the entire province of KZN”

Gaudy Commodore with summer red

Gaudy Commodore with summer red



Other sightings include:



Thunbergia natalansis

Thunbergia natalansis

Satyrium longicauda

Satyrium longicauda

Male malachite sunbird

Male malachite sunbird

Female malachite sunbird

Female malachite sunbird



Indigofera spicata

Indigofera spicata


Gem-studded puff-ball

Gem-studded puff-ball


Brunsvigia natalansis

Brunsvigia natalansis


Aloe boylei

Aloe boylei


Dargle Wildlife Sightings – October 2014

Rob Mackintosh – Carlisle Farm

We had a mature bushbuck doe killed on the farm early this morning by a big cat, I have a feeling due to signs of the struggle it may have been a cape leopard. We have positively identified leopard spoor on the forest roads.

Bushbuck mature female (2)

The bite marks on the neck, show the strangulation trait of a leopard suffocating prey. The carcass is still fresh and will be gone by the morning, due to the jackals.

Bushbuck mature female (3)

The results of the autopsy on the carcass of the bushbuck “the bite marks and meat consumption, are very indicative of a leopard kill – but because the bites on the skull were not examined in detail, there is no proof that the bushbuck was killed by leopard”  We have quite regular kills here, every 2 – 4 weeks up on the forest margins, even adult reedbuck, (Redunca arundinum) although similar in size and mass to bushbuck.

Bushbuck mature female (4)

Amanda Jones of African Small Cat Research commented: This is a fully grown adult bushbuck so not sure if a caracal would take one down but you never know. I have found a reference that says caracal can take up to adult bushbuck ewes, so we can’t rule out caracal.  If anyone has a trail camera nearby next time a kill is found, great idea to put it near the carcass, as the cat may come back at night.

I can’t see on the pics the teeth marks too clearly.  There should be two sets of bite marks from the upper and lower canines either on the windpipe or on the spine. For Caracal average width between the teeth marks is 29mm between the upper set and 23mm between the lower set and for Leopard 45mm / 35mm.

Bushbuck mature female (1)

Simon and Debbie Hayes – Hambledon

I found this snake on our lawn which the dogs had unfortunately killed. I couldn’t identify it.

red lipped herald

(Ashley: A search on the internet turned up this webpage so I believe it is a Herald snake or Red-lipped snake: http://academic.sun.ac.za/capeherp/cederberg/snakesherald.htm)

red lipped snake

This fallen lemon attracted a swarm of bees.

bees on lemon

Rose and Barry Downard – Oak Tree Cottage

The hot dry weather last month attracted much bird activity around our bird bath, with sparrows, weavers, cape robins, mousebirds, white-eyes, orioles, bulbuls, drongos and lots of olive thrushes all trying to claim the bath for themselves. Due to the demand for the bird bath, we set up a couple more baths around the garden which needed topping up regularly due to water evaporation and splashing birds.

There was a great commotion one day with much hadeda squawking, and on investigation, we saw at least 16 hadedas flying overhead and circling our jacaranda tree where a gymnogene was perched. A pair of crows joined in but were more intent on chasing everyone away from their nest in a tree nearby. Eventually the gymnogene flew off with a squadron of hadedas in hot pursuit behind him!

Hadeda squadron with Gymnogene

After the heavy rain and hail recently, we discovered two dead female blackheaded orioles. They did not appear to be injured, so the extreme weather may have been too much for them. A couple of male orioles have since been heard calling loudly.


Other birds seen: Black sparrowhawk (melanistic form), herons, egrets, Fish Eagles, yellowbilled kite, guineafowls, amethyst and doublecollared sunbirds, wagtails, prinias, southern boubou, rameron pigeons, doves, fiscal shrike, swifts and swallows. A pair of Paradise Flycatchers have also been flying about the garden and are our favourite birds to watch. Heard: Redchested Cuckoo, Burchell’s Coucal.  Also seen: Butterflies and moths – including Silver-striped Hawk Moth (Hippotion celerio)

Silver-striped Hawk Moth

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

The Spurwing Geese were feeling very brave one morning, they were all right next to the house, checking the reflections of themselves out in the veranda glass doors. I captured a few shots before they all took off onto the dam.

Spurwing Single

Earlier in the month I was taking some salt lick out for the cows, and I was about to dump a bag of it into one of their tyres when I saw this little guy perched on the inside. He’d managed to get in alright, there was a bramble growing next to the tyre but then he couldn’t get out so I took his mugshot and then gave a helping hand. Not sure if it’s a shrew or mouse?


The porcupine is obviously out and about as well – left his calling card…

Porcupine Quill

This is what the farm looked like after the massive hail storm, sadly we lost two sheep from the cold and wet.

copperleigh hail

Our driveway with all the hail. Inhlosane is in the background, can’t see it hidden behind the mist and rain clouds.

copperleigh hail and sheep

Patrick and Sandra Merrick – Albury farm

This has not been a great month for photography due to howling winds, grey and misty days. Pat saw a pair of Natal red rock rabbits in garden one night. The large grey mongoose is back swimming in the ponds and my rottie had another fight with it and came off second best. The mongoose bit through the nail and top of his paw. He is a warrior in the water and our rottie hates water.

We have seen the secretary bird on numerous occasions.

The secretary bird landing on top of hillaria tree.

For 3 days he arrived every evening and landed on a Halleria lucida tree about 200 metres down the valley. He would jump up and down flapping his wings for about a minute and then disappear into the tree. We found this behaviour very strange and went down the next morning to see if there was a nest inside the tree but could find nothing.

The flapping of wings starts

A pair of gymnogene flew over the house and I got a pic of one flying off the dead tree.


The wagtails hatched out one egg in our jasmine creeper but youngster died, probably the heavy rain last week and cold. They are now building another nest in the other jasmine creeper.

Wagtail eggs.

The red throated wry neck is still calling for a mate standing next to the hollow gate post. I said last month that the seed eaters eating on the lawn were red shouldered widows, but now that their wings have grown, their colouring has changed, so they are actually redcollared widows.

.Redcollared widows

On the day of the big hail storm our 2 blue crane landed close to the house and I got some nice pics. Now that there is a puddle in the dam they come almost every evening to wade. When I and the dogs walked past them one evening, they came towards us with wings held up halfway, crawked loudly for awhile and then proceeded to hop, skip and jump around with wings held high. They were only 10metres from us and I like to think they were greeting us and saying “here we are again waiting for the dam to fill so that we can lay our eggs once again”.

Our blue crane just after the big storm

Have seen male and female duiker together and separately and still a lot of reed buck.

Male and female reed buck.

One morning while I was in the bedroom I spied the Southern bou bou racing across the lawn. The next second she had a snake in her beak. (It was the day of the big storm) About 30cm long and 1.5cm thick. It was in a tight coil and thrashing about, so could not see the head which she had in her beak. Silver belly and grey on top.  The black flycatcher tried to get in on the action but she was having none of it. I suddenly realised that I was supposed to be photographing this but camera in kitchen and by the time I got back she had hopped into the shrubs and was busy pecking at it. As I had to go out I did not venture into the bushes to have a look but when I got back home, went and checked, but nothing left.

Southern boubou.

Heart breaking day for us. On 19th October we found a dead male oribi. He had stumpy horns and 2 lower teeth, so presumably a youngster. The ngunis were standing over his body and I thought that they had attacked him, but on investigation found that there was a large hole in the back side, and that was all that had been eaten making us wonder if the ngunis had chased the animal away. Our immediate thought was jackal but was told that they usually eat the stomach first, so we now think it may have been a caracal. We went to check the body again on Monday morning, there was nothing left! I must say we were stunned. What could have taken or eaten an entire buck including the skeleton?

Precious male oribi

Neville van Leyleveld comments: “This Oribi kill is definitely by Caracal. The feeding pattern is the tell-tale as they always only eat about a kg of the meat from the rump or from the soft inner of the rear legs. As far as the rest of the carcass that was eaten is concerned – that would have been jackal and probably bush pig.”

We still see our female oribi every few days thank goodness. We had never seen this male oribi before.

We still see our female oribi every few days thank goodness.  We had never seen this male oribi before..

Cape Robin

Cape robin

Black Sunbird

Black sunbird.

Drakensberg Prinia

Drakensberg prinia

Lesser double collared Sunbird

Lesser double collared sunbird I think.

Guerneys Sugarbird

.Gurneys sugar bird

Malachite Sunbird

Malachite sunbird again

Red faced Mousebird

Red faced mousebird

Yellow eyed Canary

yellow eyed canary.

This Cape White eye was chased into the window. I retrieved it and put it on the windowsill in the sun to warm up and recover. It flew off after ten minutes thankfully.

This cape white was chased into the window.  I retrieved it and put it on the windowsill in the sun to warm up and recover.  It flew off after ten minutes thankfully.

Veronia oligocephala


Eriosema distinctum

Eriosema distinctum

Pentanisia prunelloides

Pentanisia prunelloides

Brandon Powell – Bukamanzi Cottage

The swallows are back and fixing up their nest in the cottage’s eaves.

swallow under eaves

They love to take it in turns to fly into the sitting room and preen in front of the spotty old mirror there (does anyone know why they do this?) although they’ve yet to perch on the bedposts again like they sometimes did last year, which was a real Brothers Grimm moment.

swallows on ped post

We had a magnificent fire-break evening on the D17 – the flames sometimes two storeys high and reflected wonderfully in the dam.

firebreak culamanzi

Thankfully the rains followed and things are greening up again.

culamanzi greening up

Isn’t this the most beautiful time of year? Look at these photos taken this month only two weeks apart, each week getting greener.

getting greener

greener culamanzi

I’m keeping a lookout for the resident genet (I haven’t seen him in a while) and for the Paradise Flycatcher that swooped over my head last weekend – the first one I’ve seen on this side of the Dargle.

Dieter Setz – Wakecroft

Did not see many animals on Wakecroft the past month but mushrooms are a welcome sight. Here we have the Pamaeolus Papilionaceus

Did not see many animals on Wakecroft the past month but Mushtooms are a welcome sight. Here we have the Panaeolus Papilionaceus or Cracked Mottl Gill

Found these Coprinus plicatilis or Japanese Umbrella

I also found these Coprinus plicatilis or Japanese Umbrella

This Field Mushroom is on the menu almost every day now.

This Field Mushroom is almost every day now on the menue.

Some of the invading plants are in full bloom like the American Bramble

ome of the invading plants are in full bloom like here the American Brambul

The Wattle is also in full bloom

The Wattle is also in full bloom

The Crow talks to me every morning

And the Crow is talking to me every morning

The Fly catcher is enjoying the abundance of flies and rests in between on my fence outside my window.

The Fly catcher is enjoying the abundance of flyes around and rests inbetween on my fence outside my window.

The Locusts are everywhere. This one did not make it across the road.


Helen Booysen – Kilgobbin Cottage

Lovely wildflowers spotted on my drives across the hills, including Raphionacme hirstua

Raphionacme hirsuta

Graderia scabra

graderia scabra

Helichrysum ecklonis

helichrysum ecklonis

More summer flowers in the Asclepias Family



These photos below were taken by one of our guests, Marzena Banasiak, at Crab Apple Cottages.samango

Rafiki the Samango and junior eating blossoms

samamngo eating blossomssamamngo againsamango 1

Kat Herrington – Aloe Ridge Huge hailstorm in the valley


Jethro Bronner spotted these Dassies on Inhlosane during the Dargle Conservancy Spring Hike.



Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

So much activity this month – porcupines eating my arum lily and sorrel roots, rabbits running around (love the early light glowing through their pink ears), samango monkeys with babies clinging to their tummies

r samango with baby

seriously noisy tree dassies at night, two Oribi bounding across the hills, Bushbuck, plenty of Duiker and Reedbuck.

r reedbuck male

My garden is awash with White Eyes. Other busy birds include swee waxbills, drongos, mousebirds, Drakensberg Prinia, Thrushes, Choristor and Cape Robins, Southern Boubous and Spurfowl. Heard the first African Black Cuckoo of 24 October, joining the chorus of the Red Chested and Klaas’s cukoos. Stone Chats follow me on my walks.

r stone chat

Saw 2 Blue Cranes flying overhead a couple of times, African Harrier Hawk, Jackal Buzzards, YB Kites,  Crowned Eagle and a raptor I couldn’t identify. Hear Burchells Coucal early mornings and Wood Owls at night. Watched this little wagtail splash in a puddle for ages.

r wagtail spring dargle 127

Grasslands coming alive with flowers. Natal Crocus, Nemesia, Watsonia, Helichrysum, Cyrtanthus (fire lilies), Kohautia, Monopsis, Clerodendrum hirsutum, Tulbaghia

r tulbaghia spring oct 2014 035

Ledebouria, Raphionacme, Acalypha, Limosella, Pentanisia, Hypoxis, Hermizygia, Lots and lots of beautiful mushrooms (feasting on the field ones, but treat others with respect) r spring mushroom oct 2014Frogs are active now, quite deafening at night.  This little Night Adder didn’t make it through the fires.

r burnt night adder in grassland

Remember: The public is invited to continue to submit roadkill data and photographs. Participants should specify the location of the roadkill (preferably GPS co-ordinates), try to identify the species seen and record the date on which it was seen.    Recorded roadkill sightings and photographs can be sent to roads@ewt.org.za and via the EWT’s Road Watch South Africa smartphone app which can be downloaded on http://www.prismsw.com/roadwatch/android/RoadWatchSouthAfrica.apk. The South African iTunes store also offers a facility to download the EWT’s Road Watch app for iPhone users. Additional information is available on www.ewt.org.za.      Three members of the public who accurately record and submit the most roadkill sightings between 1 November 2014 and 31 January 2015 will win prizes.    Prizes up for grabs include:

  • Two Desert Fox 5L fuel cells, two Halogen spot light sets, and a set of off-road tyres, (Courtesy of Bike Gear);
  • Two Zeus zs2100B helmets, five P1 lubes and five tyre repair kits, (Courtesy of FG Enterprises)