Tag Archives: indigenous plants

Boston Wildlife Sightings – August 2016

Caroline McKerrow of Stormy Hill

We saw quite a bit at Stormy Hill this August. The Bushbuck pair were visiting, as well as the Reedbuck. The resident Duiker is wandering around.


Resident Duiker wandering around

A vlei rat was helping itself to some horse food leavings at the stables.


Vlei rat

The Village Weavers and the Hadedas are building nests in the bird tree.


Village Weaver working hard on his nest to impress the female.

We went on a ride and saw a huge bird at the dam which we think was a lammergeier (it’s the only bird that fits the sighting in our bird book.) I’ve also included some photos of our resident Jackal Buzzards.


Jackal Buzzard


Jackal Buzzard

Crystelle Wilson of Gramarye

There is concern about the status of Secretarybirds in South Africa, which has been uplisted from Near-threatened to Vulnerable. This is due to factors such as habitat loss and collisions with fences and power lines. BirdLife South Africa has a special research project on these birds which can be followed at https://www.facebook.com/secretarybirdconservation. It is always a highlight to spot them in the field, and especially in an agricultural setting where they appear to adapt to their surroundings.



Equally pleasing was catching sight of a Wattled Crane, a long distance away from the camera.


Wattled Crane

The atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 included: Cape Glossy Starling, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Natal Spurfowl, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Red-necked Spurfowl, Spur-winged Goose, African Firefinch, Cape Wagtail,


Cape Wagtail

Black-headed Oriole, Southern Boubou, African Wattled Lapwing, African Spoonbill, Grey Crowned Crane, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Cape Sparrow, Cape Longclaw,


Cape Longclaw

Olive Thrush, Red-billed Teal, African Darter, Reed Cormorant, Common Moorhen, Southern Red Bishop, Red-capped Lark, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape Robin-Chat, Three-banded Plover,


Three-banded Plover

Cape Crow, Cape Turtle-Dove, Jackal Buzzard, House Sparrow, Red-billed Quelea, African Stonechat, Pied Starling, Cape Weaver, Drakensberg Prinia, Brown-throated Martin, Long-crested Eagle,


Long-crested Eagle

White-breasted Cormorant, Egyptian Goose, South African Shelduck (the male has a grey head and females black and white)


South African Shelduck

African Sacred Ibis, Red-knobbed Coot, Little Grebe, Yellow-billed Duck,


Yellow-billed Duck

Buff-streaked Chat,


Buff-streaked Chat (male)

Bokmakierie, Hadeda Ibis, Black-headed Heron, Wattled Crane, Village Weaver, Red-eyed Dove, Common Fiscal, Cape White-eye, Fork-tailed Drongo, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Speckled Mousebird,


Speckled Mousbirds

Sombre Greenbul, Amethyst Sunbird, Hamerkop, Secretarybird, Malachite Kingfisher


Malachite Kingfisher

Christeen Grant of Sitamani

Scattered bones and new life in August. Is anyone else missing the gusty winds usually prevalent during August?


We experienced mainly mild temperatures, apart from a couple of cold fronts that brought in some wonderful rain, between there were clear blue skies, spectacular sunrises and new green grass started covering the hillsides.


After the rain new life in popped up almost overnight. Dried out Moss, Selaginella dregei, greened up;


Selaginella dregei

Bracken Pteridium aquilinum and Tree Fern Cyathea dregei fronds started unfurling.


Pteridium aquilinum


Cyathea dregei

Colourful spots appeared in the new grass, Apodolirion buchananii one of my favourite first spring flowers,


Apodolirion buchananii

Dimorphotheca jucunda, Graderia scabra, Green-tipped Fire Lily, Cyrtanthus tuckii vibrantly red, Ledebouria ovatifolia, Nemesia caerulea and Ursinia tenuiloba.


Dimorphotheca jacunda


Dimorphotheca jacunda


Graderia scabra


Cyrtanthus tuckii


Ledebouria ovatifolia


Nemesia caerulea


Ursinia tenuiloba

A few dried out seed heads of Themeda triandra interspersed in unburnt areas.


Themeda triandra

Masses of Buddleja salviifolia flowers scent the air,


Buddleja salviifolia

new leaves of the Cabbage Trees, Cussonia paniculata wave like a feather dusters on long trunks


Cussonia paniculata

and the delicate yellow Ouhout, Leucosidea sericea flowers are attracting hover flies, bees and birds.


Leucosidea sericea


Leucosidea sericea

I found a few huge Field Mushrooms, Agaricus campestris after the rain.


Agaricus campestris

Revealed in burnt off areas were two sets of scattered bones. I think the skull is of a Porcupine and the other set was a small antelope, probably a Duiker. As there seemed to be little disturbance of the bones I think they died of natural causes.


Porcupine skull


Remains possibly of a Duiker

The Common Reedbuck are still keeping close to the house and one evening a female and male casually picked their way grazing as they moved.


Common Reedbuck (female)


Common Reedbuck (male)

An exciting find was a pile of what I’m sure was relatively fresh Eland droppings.


Eland droppings

The Village Weavers are back at the Pin Oak in the garden and one male was very busy starting to build a nest. Black-headed Orioles, Black-backed Puffbacks, Cape Robin-chats, Fork-tailed Drongos, Cape White-eyes, Speckled Pigeons and Southern Boubous are some of the birds I’ve seen round the house and at the birdbaths. The Fish Eagle I hear regularly calling from the valley.


Male Village Weaver building a nest


Male Village Weaver building a nest

On my way home one day I spotted a tiny, ±2mm Crab spider, Family Thomisidae on the road. Unusual for me as I’d never seen a black one before, the ones I normally see are yellow, green or pink.


Crab Spider

On Mt. Shannon, Mondi Plantation, Philip came across a very weak Long-crested Eagle on the ground, it had a ring on one leg. On investigation he discovered that it had been ringed by Lindy Jane Thompson, as an adult bird, on the 25th March 2015, on the Boston-Dargle Road. When he returned it had gone, leaving no trace.


Long-crested Eagle

On another day we saw a pair of South African Shelducks, Yellow-billed Ducks and a Reed Cormorant on the dam as we walked past.


Three Yellow-billed ducks in the foreground, two South African Shelduck in the middle (male and female), and a Reed Cormorant in the background.

Boston Wildlife Sightings – July 2016

Christeen Grant of Sitamani

02 Cover IMG_6073

Fire and Ice July, the first part of the month was characterized by smoky, hazy skies from fire-break burning. A cold front brought a sharp frost on 3 July, with very chilly temperatures and a few flakes of snow on the previous day.

02 Cover IMG_6101

The dry, warmer, intervening weather was changed into a snowy winter wonderland on the 25 July, much needed moisture, including rain, soaked the dry soil for a few days.

02 Cover IMG_621602 Cover IMG_626202 Cover IMG_6273

Aloe maculata have started fruiting, there are still some bright orange flowers on the hillside;

Buddleja salvifolia burst into flower after the snow;

as well as hundreds of bright yellow Gazania krebsiana;

03 Flora Flower Gazania krebsiana IMG_6307

one or two Greyia sutherlandii flowers had opened earlier, now the tree is covered in red tipped branches;

03 Flora Flower Greyia sutherlandii IMG_6293

the Halleria lucida branches are dripping with flowers, the most I’ve seen in a long time;

03 Flora Flower Halleria lucida IMG_6297

now that the soil is damp Ledebouria ovatifolia rosette, flat leaves have tightly packed buds above them.

03 Flora Flower Ledebouria ovatifolia IMG_6327

We have been working at rehabilitating a hillside that had a stand of pine trees growing on it. It is a very slow process, nine years since the trees came down in a tornado. Removal of the trunks and large branches came first, then regular annual burns and weeding out alien species. We are seeing indigenous pioneer species coming in. Recently we cut down and removed Acacia melanoxylon

and were happy to identify small indigenous trees that grow in a grove, Canthium (now Afrocanthium) mundianum, which will remain there.

03 Flora Tree Canthium (now Afrocanthium) mundianum IMG_2301

This last month there have been several sightings of Common Reedbuck. A very fine male, with beautiful horns, regularly wanders quite close to the house. He rests in a patch of bracken, one evening he was emerging as I arrived home.

04 Mammal Common Reedbuck P1070655

Male Common Reedbuck

Then on a walk to the top of our property I saw three males and four females, the largest group I’ve seen together in recent years.

04 Mammal Common Reedbuck spoor IMG_6331

Common Reedbuck spoor

Down near the gate I found many small pieces of fur, possibly Vlei Rat, that had been discarded by a predator, possibly the Long-crested Eagle, as that gatepost is a frequent perch.

04 Mammal fur IMG_6029

A pile of Porcupine droppings indicated they are still around.

04 Mammal Porcupine droppings IMG_6312

Porcupine scat

A Black-headed Oriole has taken over from the Black-backed Puffback, trying to attack his mirrored image in the windows, defending his patch. His liquid song from the verandah, where he perched in between bouts was so beautiful.

05 Bird Black-headed Oriole IMG_6145

Black-headed Oriole

A Cape Robin-chat splashed in the verandah birdbath even though there was still snow on the ground.

05 Bird Cape Robin-chat IMG_6174

A flock of Cape Weavers sunned themselves in bare branches.

05 Bird Cape Weaver IMG_6078

Cape Weavers

The large group of Cape White-eyes are my favourite winter birds, they all keep together, moving constantly whether foraging or taking a drink and dip.

05 Bird Cape White-eye IMG_6111

Cape White-eyes

05 Bird Cape White-eye IMG_6321

Cape White-eye

The Speckled Pigeons have multiplied, there are about six living here, roosting and nesting in the carports. I regularly hear the African Fish-Eagle calling from the valley, took a flight up over the house.

05 Bird Speckled Pigeon IMG_6163

Speckled Pigeon

There are many Striped Skinks living among the wooden slats of an outbuilding. They enjoy the warmth of a winter sun, basking.

06 Reptile Striped Skink IMG_6316

Striped Skink

There are many bees and hoverflies buzzing in the few flowering plants.

07 Invertebrate Bee on Buddleja salvifolia IMG_6288

I found what I think is a Wasp nest on the ground and several huge ant nests in trees.

07 Invertebrate Wasp nest IMG_6308

Possible wasp nest on the ground

07 Invertebrate Ant nest IMG_6314

Ant nest in the tree

A beautiful Painted Lady butterfly soaked up warmth from a rock on the hilltop.

07 Invertebrate Butterfly Painted Lady IMG_6310

Painted Lady Butterfly

Caroline McKerrow of Stormy Hill

We are getting quite a lot of activity at Stormy Hill Horse Trails. The buck are coming to drink at our horses’ water trough on the hill, so we have spotted a pair of Bushbuck, a Reedbuck, including a ‘teenager’ Reedbuck, and our resident Common (Grey) Duiker. We have even had a Bushbuck doe eating the rose bushes in the garden, which is great as it will save me some pruning.

We were quite excited to see a pair of Knysna Turaco (previously know as the Knysna Lourie), so I’m hoping that they have decided to nest in the area.

Crystelle Wilson of Gramarye

Birds have evolved very efficient ways to regulate their body temperature, but in winter it is hard not to think they are feeling the cold when they are sitting all huddled up like the Speckled Pigeons on the roof of a barn


Speckled Pigeons

or facing into the cold wind like a group of Helmeted Guineafowl


Helmeted Guineafowl

Black-headed Herons also appeared to huddle together in supporting companionship


Black-headed Heron

The atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000: Cape Weaver, African Sacred Ibis, Spur-winged Goose, Blacksmith Lapwing, Red-knobbed Coot, Yellow-billed Duck, Egyptian Goose, Red-winged Starling, Lanner Falcon, Rock Kestrel, Denham’s Bustard, Green Wood-hoopoe, Bokmakierie, Forest Canary, Pied Starling, Buff-streaked Chat


Buff-streaked Chat

African Firefinch, Sentinel Rock-thrush, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, House Sparrow


House Sparrow

Cape Wagtail, Grey Crowned Crane, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Levaillant’s Cisticola


Levaillant’s Cisticola

Black-shouldered Kite, Long-crested Eagle, Black-headed Heron, Cape Sparrow, Jackal Buzzard, Cape Robin-Chat, Cape Crow, Cape Turtle-dove, Fork-tailed Drongo


Fork-tailed Drongo

Cape White-eye, Speckled Pigeon, Village Weaver (the males beginning to practise their building skills)


Village Weaver

Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Cape Longclaw, Yellow Bishop, Little Grebe


Little Grebe

Drakensberg Prinia, Red-eyed Dove, Hadeda Ibis, White-necked Raven, African Stonechat, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape Canary and Southern Boubou (which appreciated having water available in the bird bath).


Southern Boubou

Threatened Plant Species – Curtisia dentata

CORNACEAE: Curtisia dentata (Near Threatened)

Curtisia dentata, from the family Cornaceae is one of KwaZulu-Natal’s Near Threatened trees, occurring from Ngome Forest to KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. This tree is commonly known as Assegai, and threatened by over-exploitation and bark harvesting.

Curtisia dentata4

The tree grows between 15m and 20 m tall with leaves that are leathery, shiny and dark green in colour. The leaves are opposite, 120mm long and 75 mm wide, with dense bunches at the base. The under leaf is pale green with noticeable veins.

Curtisia dentata3

The stalks are about 25mm containing fine red hairs. The flowers are small, cream-coloured and velvety, with about 10-25 flowers per umbel, varying from yellow to brownish red.

Curtisia dentata2

The fruit are drupe, one or two seeded, and white to red in colour.

Curtisia dentata1


  • Notten, A. (2004, July). Curtisia Dentata. Available on: http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantcd/curtisdent.htm [Accessed on 2 June, 2016]
  • Pooley, E. (1998). A field guide to wildflowers KwaZulu-Natal and the eastern region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.
  • Williams, V.L., Raimondo, D., Crouch, N.R., Cunningham, A.B., Scott-Shaw, C.R., Lötter, M. and Ngwenya, A.M.(2008). Curtisia dentata (Burm.f.) C.A.Sm. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2015.1. [Accessed on 2 June, 2016]
  • Images by A. Rebelo; D. Turner; C. Lochner and A.E. Symons

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – May 2016

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin

I do love ‘butterfly season’ in Dargle! My garden seems to be constantly on the move, with spots of colour flashing between Hypoestes, Kniphofia, Senecio, Polygala and Leonotis.

Things are a bit quieter in the hills. Has anyone else noticed that there are seldom jackal calling at night? I still hear owls, but no jackal. Have seen a few groups of reedbuck – about 8 in total, during my grassland walks and one bushbuck.

r autumn 2016 reedbuck hiding

A couple of times I have come across Jackal Buzzards sitting quietly on hay bales waiting for a snack to show itself in the newly shorn fields. Unsure who this little brown fellow is in the tall grass?

r autumn 2016 bird on grass 1

I adore the subdued colours of this season. Lots of orange Leonotis leonaurus and the last of the Berkheya flowers

r berkheya

Most of the Gomphocarpus physocarpus pods have popped releasing their fairy seeds to float away.

r autumn gomphocarpus seeds1

The leaves of this Boophane have just abandoned the bulb.

r autumn 2016 boophane bulb1

Phymaspermum acerosum, still flowering, but faded.

r autumn 2016 phymaspermum 1

A solitary Aristea stands tall amongst the autumn golds.

r autumn 2016 Aristea 1

Clutia cordata, the grassland clutia, which grows to about 70 cm tall. The plants are single sex. Tiny pale green male and female flowers on separate plants clustered along the stalks.

autumn clutia cordata

Loved this twirled grass – anyone know which variety it is?

r autumn 2016 twirly grass

Shadows in the very scarce pools of water are spectacular. How on earth are animals to survive this winter when the streams have already stopped trickling?

r autumn shadows in pool

Michael Goddard – Steampunk Coffee

Not sure if these little guys have been spotted this far inland but this morning I saw this pair. Common myna (Acridotheres tristis), sometimes spelled mynah, also sometimes known as “Indian myna”

Indian Mynah

Jen Fly – Kildaragh Farm

At the beginning of the month we had Gurney’s Sugarbird in the garden revelling in the abundant blooms of the Leonotis. However they disappeared after a day or so. Probably off to the locally grown proteas, that they much prefer. A Greater Honeyguide was calling in the garden a couple of weeks ago. His unmistakable call of ” vic – tor ” rang out clearly, but I was unable to find him. Another uncommon sight for Kildaragh was a Purple Heron at our little dam. We have recorded one there before,but that was a few years ago. Below is the ribbon bush. Orthosiphon labiatus, a very worthwhile plant for the indigenous garden and the bees love it.

Ribbon bush (Orthosiphon labiatus)

Can anyone out there help me with the identification of the plant below? I know it is African and that it is perhaps a Halleria elliptica (E. Cape), which grows to about 2m. However I am not convinced that it is…
Comment by Nikki Brighton: Looks exotic. Pretty sure it is not indigenous.


Andrew Pridgeon – Copperleigh Farm

Skaapsteker on the road

Spotted skaapsteker 1

Spotted skaapsteker 2

Nola Barrett – God’s Grace

I took this picture of this minute little frog on the inside of my veranda window (~ a Painted Reed frog perhaps? Ash)

Frog 1

Then we put him in the garden. The frog is about 2 – 3 cms long but he jumps very far , over a meter maybe almost 2 metres. My gardener says he’s been on the window about 2 weeks. You’ll have to look closely to see him in the garden.

Frog 2

David Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

The 3 Wattled Crane have been regular visitors on our farm over the past couple of months now, here are a few pics of them with the Grey Crowned Cranes making an appearance too.

Wattled Cranes 1Wattled Cranes 2Wattled Cranes 3Wattled Cranes 4Wattled Cranes 5

Pat & Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm, Lidgetton

We have been away for most of May. All these photos were taken in April. Our dam is now just a puddle, so no more crane and water birds unfortunately.
There were dozens of butterflies this year.

Blue pansy


Gaudy commodore


Greenbanded swallowtail


Painted lady


The sunbirds were showing their eclipse colours. We have quite a number of sunbirds, now feeding off the proteas and aloes.

Greater collared sunbird in eclipse


a female Malachite or Amythest Sunbird? (not sure)


Male Malachite in eclipse


An arum lily frog was hiding amongst the pot plants for a couple of days during the cold weather.


Our skinks have disappeared now. Have a photo of the skin of one of them who was shedding his skin in our study. He was actually pulling off the skin of his legs with his mouth. He ran under the couch, hence only pic of body skin left on carpet.


Have not seen our Blue Crane for 6 weeks now but early one morning, beginning of may, woke to see 8 Grey Crowned Crane and 3 Wattled Crane at the dam. They flew off at sunrise.


The Wattled Crane swam around the dam for a while foraging with their long necks. The dam was quite shallow at this stage.


The Long-crested Eagle is still around


The African Harrier-Hawk (Gymnogene) arrives on the farm at about 07:30 on most days hopping around the rocks. With the lizards (skinks) which seem to have vanished around the house, he must be eating mice and rats.


Pat saw a pair of Oribi running through the farm. There are still a few Reedbuck and Duiker around.


At about 10pm one night the dogs started barking, (in that special way when something is amiss) and we went out to find a huge porcupine around our pond area next to the stone wall. He was trying to hide behind a tree to get away from the dogs. We put the animals away and tried to shush the porcupine out the gate, but he was having none of it and proceeded to try and climb the stone wall. This ended with him falling down, and nearly on top of Pat. He raced off with speed and we could not find him after that. He must have come through the culvert as our whole garden has bonnox fencing to keep the animals from encountering our dogs and prevent them from destroying my garden.



Juvenile Amethyst Sunbird who now has his amethyst throat


Grey Crowned Cranes and African Spoonbills


Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Sunset over the now very low Mavela Dam

Sunset over Mavela

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – March 2016

Pat & Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm, Lidgetton

Gaudy commodore

Garden Commodore or Garden Inspector Butterfly (Precis archesia)

It’s been a dry month – 80 ml in total. I saw the Blue Crane juvenile flying for the first time on 27th February. We see them almost daily mostly at sunset where they wade in the dam which is dropping at an alarming rate. One hot midday I watched in fascination as it seemed the blue crane adults were trying to teach the youngster to swim.

Crane 1 - Come on junior – this is how you swim

Come on junior – this is how you swim

They were swimming all over the dam while he just stood and watched. Not too interested but he suddenly decided to start running through the shallow water in wild abandon.

Crane 2 - Check this, I’m dancing on water

Check this, I’m dancing on water

Then up and down the side of the dam, wings widespread while his parents stood and watched the antics. At one stage mom or dad started running after him. I watched for an hour before they eventually wandered off to look for some lunch. They are a very close knit family and there is a lot of touching of beaks between them. They are such incredible parents. 5th youngster they have raised now.

Crane 3 - Awe come on – give me a peck goodnight

Awe come on – give me a peck goodnight

A malachite baby flew into the verandah door one day – as we had folk for lunch I did not take photos. I put him in a box for awhile and let him loose later where he flew off quite contented.

There have been dozens of moths this month and the frogs have been having a feast on the verandah. No snakes yet!

One morning while having tea on the stoep, we saw 2 Common Reedbuck fighting down at the dam.

Reedbuck 1 - Female reed buck either playing or fighting

Female Common Reedbuck either playing or fighting

We presumed they were males fighting over the females as usual. But as they parted we were surprised to see they were 2 females. A chase ensued and then another charge and more head butting and pushing.

Reedbuck 2 - The Chase

The Chase

It did not look friendly and I wondered if they were fighting over a male!!! But he was nowhere in sight. They eventually parted on friendly terms and carried on grazing. I was surprised at this behaviour between 2 females who are usually so docile.

Reedbuck 3 - The Charge

The Charge

Pat saw an African Jacana at the dam 2 days in a row, but every time I looked for him he was nowhere to be seen.

The Martial Eagle returned to the same dead gum tree a few days after the stork kill. It was a stifling day. His beak was ajar and his wings pulled away from his body. I was so thrilled to see him once again, but that was the last time. A number of raptors around.

Pat saw a black sparrow hawk eating a rat along our driveway. We went for a walk one evening around the dam and found 2 Blacksmith Lapwing eggs lying out in the open a few metres from the dam edge.

Blacksmith plovers eggs

Blacksmith Lapwing eggs

One morning I saw a strange coloured raptor on our dead tree – I went outside to get closer for a photo shoot.

Unknown Raptor 1

Then I heard another raptor making a sort of “peeeoooo” noise which went on for a few
minutes. This one was somewhere in the gum trees opposite our house. The raptor left the dead tree and flew up to the gum trees, found a perch, and he too started his “peeeoooo” calling.

Unknown Raptor 2

Then suddenly the other raptor flew in and joined him a few metres away on the same level. There was a chorus of whistling to and fro and then the one flew off and the other followed shortly after.

Unknown Raptor 3

I have no idea what raptors these are but think they are juveniles because of their light coloured eyes. They are both differently coloured yet whistled the same song. I have asked Ashley to please see if he could find someone to identify them for me. I googled juvenile steppe and jackal buzzards, and also forest buzzards, but got so confused after a few hours gave up.

The skinks (lizards) round the house have become very friendly and enjoy the morning sun in our study. They love the warmth of the sun and sit for some time on the carpet wherever the sun touches it. Strange little creatures and very social. They have now found their way into our bathroom too.

Skink in our study enjoying the morning sun

All day long they slip under the aluminium doors into the study and our bedroom which adjoins both sides of the verandah. The dogs ignore them and they run around freely looking for and eating the dead moths from the previous night and anything else that’s edible.

Skink eating all the dead moths from the night before

They always seem to know how to get out of the house which amazes me. At one stage I used to shush them out the door until I found that they definitely know their way around. Amazing.

Heard several African Fish-Eagles crying this morning over the house – they were miles up – the sky was so blue and bright that I could see nothing, but that wonderful sound lingered in the thermals – a sound that one does not forget – this is our beautiful country, Africa.


Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

The Yellow-billed Kites have gone, but the Barn Owls are back in their box in the farmyard – hope they breed successfully again. I saw just one Reedbuck doe all month and one Common Duiker. Jackal Buzzards, Cormorants, Egyptian Geese, a small brown duck, wagtails, hadedas, a Giant Kingfisher and an African Fish-Eagle watch as we enjoy the last swims of the season in a not yet full dam.

Autumn changes always seem the most obvious, and are much loved by most Midlanders – the chilly ground underfoot in the mornings, perfect afternoons and gentle light of the evenings.

grassland view of Inhlosane

View of Inhlosane

Disperis fanninaea, appears quite at home in the understory of wattle or pine woodlots. Flowers are borne on stems of up to 40cm tall, sometimes singly or in clusters of up to eight. Petals are joined to form a white helmet-shaped hood, flushed with pink speckles and rimmed in green. Dormant during winter, with new shoots emerging from the underground tuber in spring. The pollination of Disperis is interesting; it is carried out mainly by specialized oil-collecting bees, Rediviva coloratat, this is a rare phenomenon in plants. The bees collect the oil as food for their larvae. Once pollinated, the fruit capsule ripens and thousands of minute, dust-like seeds are released and dispersed by wind. As is the case with most orchids, they have a symbiotic relationship with the fungi that live in their roots – supplying them with nutrients absorbed from decaying organic matter.

disperis fanninaea

Disperis fanninaea

Leonotis intermedia and Pycnostachys reticulata are flowering in grasslands.

pycnostachys reticulata

Pycnostachys reticulata

Plectranthus laxiflorus, Hypoestes triflora, Desmondium repandum and Plectranthus dolichopodus flower on forest edges.

desmodium repandum

Desmodium repandum

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Rain has been minimal this month, sometimes we do still get a bit of dew on the grass though.

Dew on the veld grass

This grass was being burnt from the heat of the rocks, until we had a tiny bit of rainfall.

Grass burnt from the heat of the rocks before the rains arrived

Some pink Everlastings and Watsonia flowering in the veld.


Sunset over the Dargle

Sunset over the Dargle

Spiky Caterpillar

Spiky Caterpillar

Some kind of worms found whilst digging a hole in the ground, they managed to burrow quickly under everytime I turned the soil over, pretty sure they weren’t maggots

Worms in deep soil
Rainforest Brown Butterfly

Rainforest Brown

A few different kinds of fungi and mushrooms sprang up after the rains at the beginning of the month.

Malvina & Evert van Breemen – Old Furth Estate

March has been extremely busy on Old Furth Estate with multiple celebrations and hordes of visitors, so we have been battening down the hatches more than usual!

No sooner had the dust settled from the last carload of visitors than we had the call we have been waiting for from Free Me that the two Serval were on their way for release on the farm.

Serval 1

Never a dull moment here! We went over to the other side of the Furth River and released there as we know that we have Serval near our dams already and didn’t want to cause a territorial problem.

Serval 5

Serval 2

The male was released first, rather groggy after his antidote, and then the female.

Serval 3

We were very surprised that neither of them bolted, they just took their time sniffing the new territory and then gradually melted away into the surrounding vegetation.

Serval 4

On some of the walks showing everyone around we found some lovely fungi in the forest


and a really large bulb which had been disturbed – any guesses on what it could be?

mystery bulb

Jen Fly – Kildaragh Farm

The swallows have been gathering since the 1st March. On a couple of evenings the sky over us has looked just like Mt Moreland . Literally 1000’s. Almost in competition with the Amur Falcons at Mooi River.

This extraordinary “nest” is growing out of or is stuck to a wall in the garden. The fluff looks like human hair clippings. At the top of the nest there is a white lava and below it is the brown pupa. I think we need Dr Jason Londt ‘s expertise again…

Strange Nest

Dr Jason Londt’s Response: “Many caterpillars incorporate their long hairs into their cocoons – I think that is what we see in the photo – the pupal case left behind by the emerged adult moth is frequently found inside the cocoon – or bits of it should it break up. I wouldn’t like to guess at the species that made these cocoons but maybe a Monkey Moth.”

I found this gay fellow on Grandpa’s Hairy Balls (Gomphocarpus physocarpus)

Colourful Caterpillar

The dehisced seed capsule of the Kigelaria africana and below the unopened capsules. The seeds in the capsules are very pretty, black with red flesh. The birds always beat me to it and I didn’t manage to get a photo. The Acraea butterfly breeds on this tree and at times it is crawling with caterpillars. The fruit and larvae attract a huge number of birds and there is constant activity. It is a really worthwhile tree for a larger garden. Cuckoos and Black Headed Orioles feast on the caterpillars. The doves scratch round under the tree picking up seeds, the toppies, sparrows, weavers and white eyes strip the capsules of the fruit. Thrushes and boubous too.

Kigelaria Africana

Wyndham Robartes – Wana Farm

Wyndham sent in a video of some “Processionary Worms”, here is a still from that video.


David Mann – Knowhere Farm

Rode on the bike up to the top of the farm last week with Ben (the Ridgeback) and as we got to the top a Jackal took off and Ben decided to give chase. He returned a while later looking a bit tired, obviously the Jackal gave him a good run!

Louise Bolton – Robhaven Farm

I recently took a walk up Inhlosane mountain this week and took a few pictures.

Inhlosane View from the top

The weather was perfect as we were up there by 7am. Here is a picture of the view from the top plus a panorama.

Inhlosane Panorama

There were many flowers in bloom but this one caught my eye, Crassula alba.

Crassula alba

Crassula alba

Also saw this lizard basking in the sun. Love how the shadow reveals the jagged edge of its tail.


Threatened Plant Species – Nerine pancratioides

AMARYLLIDACEAE: Nerine pancratioides [Near Threatened]

Nerine pancratioides, commonly referred to as the White Nerine, is a plant that grows up to 600 mm long. It was previously observed in parts of the Midlands, south-western KZN as well as in north-eastern Lesotho. This gorgeous flower is also featured in the Midlands Conservancies Forum 2016 Wildflowers Calendar.


Nerine pancratioides photographed in the Karkloof by Richard Booth

Habitat loss and destruction has caused a significant decline in the species population size in several of its localities, and in some instances even resulting in extinction. Deterioration of wetlands in the form of overgrazing, invasive alien plant infestation and damming are major concerns for the population’s survival.

Nerine pancratioides

Nerine pancratioides photographed by CREW

The plant grows in moist areas with acidic soils, on banks of streams, in grassy depressions and in seepage areas on steep hillsides. The flowers appear between March and April and are known to respond well after fires have occurred.

Nerine pollinator

Nerine pancratioides photographed in the Karkloof by Richard Booth

The leaves grow to 300 mm long, are narrow, round at base and almost flattened towards the top. The stalk is robust growing to 600 mm long. The sheathing bracts are narrowly egg-shaped with sharp tips. The pedicels are densely covered with hairs, 300−450 mm long. The inflorescence is umbel, 10−20. Tepals are ± 25 mm and white.

Nerine pancratioides seed

Nerine pancratioides photographed by CREW

If you have seen this plant, please contact Suvarna Parbhoo, CREW programme: KZN Node Manager S.Parbhoo@sanbi.org.za


  • Baker, J.G. 1896. Amaryllideae. In: W.T. Thiselton-Dyer (ed). Flora Capensis VI (Haemodoraceae to Liliaceae):171-246. L. Reeve & Co., London.
  • Craib, C. 2004. Nerine pancratioides. Degradation of grassland habitats by exotic plantations are threatening the beautiful white Nerine with extinction. Veld & Flora 90:105-107
  • Mtshali, H. & von Staden, L. 2015. Nerine pancratioides Baker. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2015.1. Accessed on 2016/03/16
  • Pooley, E. 1998. A field guide to wild flowers of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.

Threatened Plant Species – Huttonaea woodii

ORCHIDACEAE Huttonaea woodii Schltr. [Vulnerable]

Huttonaea woodii II

This beautiful upright orchid is up to 300 mm tall, with a strong straight stem and two leaves. It is known from grassland on two farms in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and in Giants Castle Game Reserve. Leaves directly attached, clasping the stem up to 50 mm long. Flowers small, pale green or whitish, Petal heavily marked with reddish-purple. It is said to flower in February. Threats to this species are habitat transformation due to agriculture and forestry plantations in the Midlands.

Photograph caption: CREW

If you have seen this plant, please contact Suvarna Parbhoo, CREW programme: KZN Node Manager s.parbhoo@sanbi.org.za


LINDER H.P & KURZWEIL H. 1999. Orchids of Southern Africa: 297. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Von Staden, L. & Victor, J.E 2006. Huttonaea woodii Schltr. National Assessment: Red List of South Africa Plants version 2014. 1. Accessed on 2015/01/13

Elusive Orchids of Mahaqwa

Midlands CREW arranged a field trip to Mahaqwa, also known as Bulwer Mountain, in the hope of finding flowering orchids with enchanting names like Disperis cardiophora, Satyrium neglectum, Disa versicolor, Disperis renibractea. We didn’t find them.

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 01 P1020287

Many species are flowering later than usual this year and obviously, we were a little early. We did however find plenty of other delights to satisfy our passion for plant hunting. Including: Protea caffra and Protea roupellia, Morea inclinata,


Aristea woodii,

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Aristea woodii P1020308

Schizoglossum elingue (a first for most of us),

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Schizoglossum elingue IMG_2500

usually with white flowers, but a few pink flowered ones too.


Wahlenbergia sp,


2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Wahlenbergia sp with pollinator P1020248

Senecio macrocephallus, really tall specimens of Geranium pulchrum beside a stream,

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Geranium pulchrum P1020260

Gunnera – used medicinally during childbirth and in Lesotho the raw stems are eaten as sweets,

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Geranium pulchrum and Gunnera perpensa P1020258

Helichrysum spiralepsis,


Lotononis lotonoides, Helichrysum splendidum, Ranuculus baurii with big leaves

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Ranunculus baurii P1020261

and the dainty little Ranunculus multifidus,

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Ranunculus multifidus P1020255

Silene belladoides, Epilobium capense 

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Epilobium capense P1020269

Ornithogalum graminifolium, Urginea macrocentra  

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Urginea macrocentra IMG_2508

Stachys kuntzei,

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Stachys kuntzei P1020259

Agapanthus campanualata, Mysotis semiplexicaulis

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Mysotis semiplexicaulis P1020264

A curious fern like leaf that must have be part of the parsley family, perhaps Anthriscus sylvestris?

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Anthriscus sylvestris Cow Parsley pos ID P1020265

We spent ages trying to decide if the slender Kniphofia parviflora was in fact that,

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Kniphofia parvifolia _ IMG_2507 Alchemilla woodii

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Alchemilla woodii P1020262

Commelina africana, Drosera natalensis 

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Drosera natalensis P1020279

Sebea sedoide,

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Sebea sedoide IMG_2509

Of course, we don’t just look at the plants, we spotted a African Harrier Hawk swirling below us and heard Barrett’s Warbler.  Saw these beautiful butterflies too.  Might this one be a Marsh Blue?

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 03 Butterfly Marsh Blue pos ID IMG_2510

and this possibly a False Silver-bottom Brown?

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 03 Butterfly Flase Silver-bottom Brown pos ID IMG_2522

Gaudy Commodore on Erica caffrarum,

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 03 Butterfly Gaudy Commodore IMG_2519

Rubus ludwigii,

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Rubus ludwigii IMG_2515

Morea trifida,

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Moraea trifida P1020270

Hypericum lalandii,

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Hypericum lalandii P1020272

Plenty of Brunsvegia undulata (not in flower yet), Dierama,


Ajuga ophrydis,

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Ajuga ophrydis P1020274

Berkheya macrocephala (also not flowering yet), Scabiosa columbaria, Indigofera hedyantha,

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Indigofera hedyantha P1020284

Alepidea natalensis , Streptocarpus pussilus,  Cycnium racemosa

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Cycnium racemosum IMG_2506

Eriosema distinctum, Craterocapsa tarsodes, Heliophila rigidiuscula, Aspidonepsis diploglossa,


Delosperma hirtum

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Delosperma hirtum Fruits IMG_2527

Rhodohypoxis baurii with this tiny crab spider.

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 03 Crab spider on Rhodohypoxis baurii P1020304
Aspidonepsis flava

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Aspidonepsis flava P1020299

Zaluzianskya microsiphon

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Zaluzianskya microsiphon P1020276

Lotononis pulchella

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Lotononis pulchella P1020252

Lotononis corymbosa

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Lotononis corymbosa P1020309

We puzzled over a very tall Helichrysum with red stems and clasping leaves. Anyone know what species it is? Thanks Alison Young for providing an id – Helichrysum mutabile .

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Helichrysum sp P1020254

and this – possibly Muralita sp

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Muralita sp pos ID P1020278

We climbed to 2013m above sea level – the views of the surrounding valleys were spectacular.

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 01 P1020298

On the way back down, we did come across a few orchids, yay! – Satyrium longicauda and Disa stachyoides.

2015 01 04 CREW Mahaqwa 02 Disa stachyoides IMG_2528

As we enjoyed a picnic (Eve’s Lebkuchen were particularly memorable), hang gliders launched themselves from the edge of the mountain and floated past like giant dragon flies. A special day with unexpected surprises – you never know how adventures will turn out.

Thank you Eve Hughes and Christeen Grant for the photographs.



Dargle Wildlife Sightings – December 2014

Marashene Lewis – Glen Gyle

I took the photograph one morning from our guest bedroom upstairs. The view is looking towards the D707 as it meandered down the hill to join the D17.

marashene sunrise

Helen Booysen – Kilgobbin Cottage

Came across this large snail up in the hills on Carlisle,


and spotted this beautiful moth on the same walk.


Andrew Pridgeon – Copperleigh Farm

Saw a Water Mongoose cross the road just before the entrance gate to the farm. Di Droste photographed this:


Pat McKrill’s Comment: “Your snake is a rinkhals – looks like a juvenile with attitude. You’ll find a few colour and pattern variations around that might lead to a bit of confusion, but the basic jizz of the variegated version shown in your pic is diagnostic.”

Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm

Another month of misty grey days. I am always alerted by the special cry of the fish eagles as they fly overhead. Seen them high in the sky at least 4 times in past month. A pair of red necked francolin woke us at 5am one morning but ran into the shrubs before I could get a picture. The secretary bird walking the hills on a few occasions and also seen flying over farm. Common Stone chats are common.

Common stonechat

Hundreds of white butterflies flew into the garden on the 30th November and there were also dozens of dragon flies on the same day, so the swallows were having a field day.

brown veined butterfly on a felicia wrightii

colourful butterfly

A handful of white stork arrived on the 1st december and they are still here in the lands. Don’t know what happened to the rest of them. All the widow birds left end of november. Only one lonely chap left.

our only red collared  widow bird left

Our 2 wagtail babies left the nest on the 27th november and decided to shelter in my miniature rose bushes in front of the house, where mom fed them for about a week, before they started venturing forth to find their own food.  wagtail baby

One afternoon they both found a worm and rushed into the roses, only to rush out again being chased by an olive thrush. She loves going in there to pick up frogs as our water feature is also there and an attraction for the frogs. They now fly around the garden and love hopping in and out of the rocks looking for insects.

2 babies on the rocks

We had 2 cape canaries laying last month. One in the standard rose and the other in a standard duranta. One lot hatched out on the 9th dec with 2 babies and the other one on the 10th dec with 2 babies. Unfortunately on the 16th dec I found that my standard roses braches were broken, and a tattered nest with no week old babies. There were no prints below the rose, so I can only presume that a gymnogene had taken them. The other 2 babies are doing fine so far except that my cat is intrigued by the cheeping.

A grey heron came to visit in the garden one morning.

Grey heron

Pat saw one of the sparrow hawks eating a bird in the pastures.  Lots of red billed Queleas around.

red billed male quelea

One afternoon a small baby jackal, still with its fluffy hair ran in front of the car and into the wattle plantation on our farm. Saw 2 duiker in a chase across the hills.

One morning saw a mother oribi and her young male son running across the hill in front of the house.

Mom and male baby oribi running across the hill

A black sunbird and his mate are building a nest which looks almost complete, on the glass shade of our verandah.

female black sunbird

The black sunbirds nest on our verandah

Every few days the Steppe buzzard comes and perches on our dead tree next to the pond.

This steppe buzzard

Saw a grey mongoose running around the D18 at midday – Don’t see them much during the day. The birds all seem very busy nesting or finding food for their young – all in a great hurry. Cape Robin in my formal garden with a whole clump of something in its beak.

cape robin with a mouthful

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Luckily a cellphone is always on hand (well, except in extreme situations when you actually really need them…) so I managed to capture a few locusts this month on the farm.

Red and Blue Grasshopper

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

I like looking up. You always see something interesting. This month, African spoonbill, Grey Heron, lots of Spurwinged Geese, Jackal Buzzards, Swallows, Cormorants, Knysna Turacos, Crowned and Blue Cranes have flown over my head. I was delighted to see a Blue Crane at ground level too.

r December blue crane

Once my gaze shifted from the sky to the earth there were so many summer delights at ground level. Only one in six plants in healthy grassland are actually grasses, perfectly illustrated by this selection.Satyrium longicauda,

December flowers Satyrium longicauda

 Kouhoutia amatymbica,

Dec kouhautia

Dipcadi viride,

December Dipcadi viride

Eulophia foliosa,

December Eulophia foliosa


December flowers Ajuga


December flowers anthericum


December flowers Aristea

Cephalaria oblongifolia,

December flowers Cephalaria oblongifolia

Cyanotis speciosa,

December flowers cyanotis

Cyphia longifolia,

December flowers Cyphia longifolia

Diclis reptans,

December flowers Diclis

Hypericum lalandii,

December flowers Hypericum lalandii

Lobelia erinus,

December flowers lobelia


December flowers pentanisia

Rhodohypoxis baurii,

December flowers rhodohypoxis

Scilla nervosa,

December flowers Scilla nervosa

Senecio (discodregeanus?),

December flowers senecio discodregeanus

Silene bellidoides,

December flowers Silene


December flowers trachyandra

Tulbaghia natalensis,

December flowers tulbahgia natalensis

Psammotropha mucronata,

December Psammotropha

Senecio oxyriifolius,

December Senecio oxy

Sisyanthus trichostomus,

December Sisyanthus trichostomus

Vernonia hirsuta,

December Vernonia hirsuta

Senecio setosa,

senecio setosa

Hermannia depressa,


Hypoxis parvula,

Hypoxis parvula

Zantedeschia albomaculata,

December flowers Zantedeschia

Hibiscus trionum,

Hibiscus trionum



Hesperantha baurii,

Hesperantha baurii

Gerbera ambigua.

Gerbera ambigua

Two new exciting finds I never seen on the farm before were: Psorolea abottii and

summer 2015 107 - Copy

Knipophia breviflorus (if I have the id correct, that is!)

knipophia breviflora

Although this photo of Stachys aethiopica is out of focus, I had to include it – just look at those hairs on the stem. Isn’t it fun when you download your photos and discover a whole lot of interesting things you never realised were there in the field?

December flowers Stachys DOTS and HAIRS

Saw two Bushbuck, a few Common Duiker and a couple of Scrub Hares, big troops of Samango monkeys and 8 Reedbuck.

r December reedbuck group

Heard tree dassies, jackals, Wood Owls, Barn Owls, Burchell’s Coucal, Buff spotted Flufftail, African Cuckoo, Red Chested Cuckoo. Am thoroughly enjoying watching Weavers build their nests right outside my kitchen door – so fast and such enthusiasm!

r weaver building nest

There seem to be masses of insects about, pollinating everything in flower. Loved this gorgeous wasp on Vernonia.

r December wasp on Vernonia natalensis

Boston Wildlife Sightings – December 2014

Rose Dix – guest at Boston T-Party

Our New Year was spent at the beautiful premises of Rory and Sue (such warm and welcoming hosts, despite the varied needs of 20 hikers!). Jon led us on the Nhlosane hike –  which  presents us with a steep climb which  had the younger ones racing ahead, while we plodded sedately and breathlessly after them. For me, the cherry on the top, was meeting up with Nikki Brighton on top and we exchanged a rapturous greeting which remains a highlight of my trip.

rose and nikki

After a brief respite , we went down the back way to the Waterfall on Furth Stream. At this point, we were joined by a lovely dog who wouldn’t respond to our efforts to get him to return from whence he had arrived.  After lunching at the Waterfall, we climbed up yet another steep incline which brought us to  the Impendhle Road and started the long plod towards home – being Everglades Hotel where we had left our cars. By now, we were all worried about our Dog-Friend because he wouldn’t leave us, and he  was looking very concerned about his whereabouts.  So it was with infinite relief that the owner of Everglades welcomed him home with open arms. A lovely end to a lovely day.

inhlosane dec 2014 210

For those of us who consider a days rest a fate-worse-than-death, Rory came to our rescue the following day and most kindly took our diminished party of  6 on a magnificent hike on Edgeware across the road from Boston T Party.

boston hike with rory

Our hiking companions – and Rory – were indulgent  of my enthusiasm and patiently waited  in the misty dizzle while I rolled around in the wet grass photographing various flowers – the most exciting of which was this Bonatea speciosa. As my enthusiasm far surpasses my knowledge, a  many friends were bombarded with requests for an ID. Thank you to those who came to my rescue. I had taken my Mountain Flowers book and this beautiful plant wasn’t in that one – it was in the book which I had left at home (naturally).

bonatea.speciosa close up jpg

The following day, Rory again led us (this time, the full contingent of about 20) on yet another hike – on Mondi property. Taking in a magnificent waterfall where we saw Eucomis, Sandersonia and even a Littonia. As this was a HIKE (in capital letters), there wasn’t much chance to photographing flowers in detail.


The  stiff climb out of the waterfall valley drowned out all thought, except for the delicate call of an Emerald Cuckoo and TWO Red Chested Cuckoos who  persistently communicated with each other. I identified two Jackal Buzzards as Crowned Eagles and Rory gently corrected me…eek!!! (Well, they do SOUND vaguely similar don’t they?) Thank you to Rory and Sue for all you did to make this New Year one of the Very Best we have had for many years. Boston is brilliant!


Crystelle WIlson – Gramarye 
Once again I realised there is always something new to be found when out birding even in an area done many times before. This time I spotted a bird that behaved like a Tawny-flanked Prinia, but because I haven’t seen it during the SABAP2 period over the past seven years, I paid closer attention and saw it was a Lazy Cisticola – “a bird with prinia-like behaviour”. The giveaway is that the prinia has a grey head, while the cisticola has a rufous-coloured head.


In my garden I investigated the alarm calls of a party of birds and discovered a Spotted Eagle-Owl sitting in a tree outside my bedroom window. I saw it several times during the month and really hope it will take up residence.


Before Christmas we watched pairs of African Paradise Flycatchers Boston_3215_African-Paradise-Flycatcher

and Cape White-eyes building nests in the same tree within metres of each other outside the kitchen and I am keeping a close watch on the breeding developments.


The Greater Striped Swallows are feeding their chicks in the nest under the kitchen verandah.


I am concerned about the lack of Amur Falcons I’ve seen in the district, only a handful at most instead of numbering close to a hundred in past seasons.  In the wetland I was pleased to find the butterfly gladioulus, Gladiolus papilio and the small arum lily, Zantedeschia albomaculata.


The atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 was: Wing-snapping Cisticola, Cape Canary, Forest Canary, White Stork, Blue Crane, African Fish-Eagle, Brown-throated Martin, African Darter, Red-capped Lark, African Hoopoe, Black-headed Oriole, Pied Crow, Brimstone Canary, Reed Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant, Natal Spurfowl, Speckled Pigeon, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Red-winged Starling, Yellow Bishop, Pale-crowned Cisticola,


Lazy Cisticola,


African Emerald Cuckoo, Red-chested Cuckoo, Wailing Cisticola, Common Moorhen, Sombre Greenbul, Blacksmith Lapwing, African Firefinch, African Pipit, Cape Wagtail, Long-tailed Widowbird,


Jackal Buzzard, Pied Starling, Steppe Buzzard, Amur Falcon, Zitting Cisticola, Olive Thrush,


Pin-tailed Whydah, African Sacred Ibis, Fork-tailed Drongo, Red-knobbed Coot, Little Grebe, Cape Weaver, African Dusky Flycatcher,


African Paradise-Flycatcher, Southern Boubou, Long-crested Eagle, Speckled Mousebird, Buff-spotted Flufftail, House Sparrow, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Cape Sparrow, Sunbird, Amethyst, Cape White-eye, Dark-capped Bulbul, Black Saw-wing, Cape Longclaw, Yellow-billed Kite, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Malachite Kingfisher, Common Waxbill, Spur-winged Goose, Barn Swallow, White-throated Swallow, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Burchell’s Coucal, Cattle Egret,

IMG_4170_2975_Boston_Cattle-EgretAfrican Black Duck, Common Quail, Diderick Cuckoo, Cape Grassbird, Yellow-fronted Canary, African Stonechat, Egyptian Goose, Cape Crow, Yellow-billed Duck, Bokmakierie, Greater Striped Swallow, Red-billed Quelea, Common Fiscal, Cape Robin-Chat, Cape Turtle-Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Hadeda Ibis, Drakensberg Prinia, Red-necked Spurfowl, Red-collared Widowbird, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Southern Red Bishop, Grey Crowned Crane, Village Weaver, Little Rush-Warbler, African Reed-Warbler, Red-chested Flufftail, Black-winged Lapwing, Amur Falcon.

Bruce and Bev Astrup – Highland Glen

The sight of the month was when a great noise was heard from the free-range fowls – rushed to their rescue as Mongoose and a variety of other predators have been known to help themselves. We found a juvenile Monitor Lizard, making its embarrassed way along the path with a whole flock of the fowls behind, escorting it off the premises. Now it is not known whether it had already snacked on a few newly laid eggs or not, thereby having no further appetite, but the scene was unusual. The pair of Reedbuck remain in evidence, next to the garden fence.

Barbara and David Clulow were visiting Boston at the request of CREW representatives from Durban, who asked to be shown how to enter Edgeware to seek the elusive Asclepias bicuspis and Schizoglossum bidens near the summit at 1500 metres. Together with Chris Wahlberg and we two, the party included Hlengiwe Mtshali and Mbali Mkhize of CREW staff. The Midlands Conservancies blog post is available for viewing, so details are not repeated, but the successful finds of the two plants sought, justifies repetition.  Here is Barbara’s photo of the Schizoglossum of which 12 were found in the limited area searched


and only one sample of the Asclepias.


Temptation to show photos of two other flowers amongst the masses of species on the hill – a Sandersonia aurantiaca, blooming in timely proximity to December 25


and a new species for Edgeware, four plants of the Disa crassicornis, with the eager CREW folk admiring them.


Christeen Grant – Sitamani

Recently I heard a snippet of information, December in KwaZulu-Natal statistically has a cooler average temperature than November. That seems to be true this year, combined with being in the ‘mist-belt’, there have been many rainy overcast days and nights when we haven’t seen the sun, moon or stars. For the wildflowers on our hillsides it has been perfect and they have blossomed profusely!

02 Cover Rocky Hillside IMG_2424

Some of the sparkling jewel-like flowers seen this month: Agapanthus campanulatus;

02 Cover Flower Watsonia Socuim & Agapanthus campanulatus IMG_2479

Aristea woodii,

Flower Aristea woodii IMG_2412

Asclepias albens,

Flower Asclepias albens P1020017

Cyanotis speciosa the aptly named Doll’s Powder-puff;

Flower Cyanotis speciosa IMG_2366

Dipcadi viride;

Flower Dipcadi viride IMG_2369

Eucomis autumnalis Pineapple lily, with it’s distinctive tuft of green leafy bracts topping the inflorescence, traditional medicinal uses include treatment of low backache, assisting in post-operative recovery and healing of fractures, as well as urinary disease, stomach ache, fevers, colic, syphilis and to facilitate childbirth.

Flower Eucomis autumnalis IMG_2460

Fewer ground orchids than usual in December but these were flowering Eulophia foliosa and

Flower Eulophia foliosa IMG_2387

Eulophia ovalis;

Flower Eulophia ovalis IMG_2467

dainty Geranium schlecteri;

Flower Geranium schlecteri IMG_2473

Hypoxis parvula;

Flower Hypoxis parvula P1020008

Indigofera alpina (a new ID);

Flower Indigofera alpina IMG_2413

Papaver aculeatum;

Flower Papaver aculeatum IMG_2477

Pearsonia sessilifolia;

Flower Pearsonia sessilifolia IMG_2396

Pentanisia augustifolia;

Flower Pentanisia augustifolia IMG_2389

Senecio isatideus;

Flower Senecio isatideus IMG_2378

two sp. of Silene commonly known as Gunpowder Plants, as the seed capsules ‘explode’ when ripe, dispersing the fine black seeds, the flowers are open in the late afternoon or in dull light, quickly wilting in direct sun, Silene bellidioides

Flower Silene bellidioides IMG_2350

and Silene burchellii a very much smaller species with all the flowers held on one side of the flowering stem;

Flower Silene burchellii IMG_2376

Stachys aethiopica;

Flower Stachys aethiopica IMG_2362

Vernonia natalensis;

Flower Vernonia natalensis IMG_2402

Watsonia lepida;

Flower Watsonia lepida IMG_2384

Zaluzianskya elongata (another new ID)

Flower Zaluzianskya elongata IMG_2416

and Zantedeschia albomaculata the Spotted-leaved Arum.

Flower Zantedeschia albomaculata IMG_2436

A very attractive Mushroom grew rapidly in the damp conditions.

Fungi IMG_2341

A Cicada nymphal skin remained attached to the shade-cloth and just below a newly emerged Cicada waited to ‘harden’ before flying off to join the earsplitting chorus in the tree above.

Insect Cicada nymphal skin IMG_2356

Insect Cicada P1010985A surprise sighting of a Pamphagidae Transvaaliana playing hide and seek in the long grass.

Insect Pamphagidae Transvaaliana draconis IMG_2382

One early morning a Bladder Grasshopper Pneumora inanis was spotted on the lawn, it’s distinctive loud call, a screech followed by repeated ‘khonia’ is a typically Summer sound!

Insect Bladder Grasshopper Pneumora inanis P1020211

Two moths caught my eye, Plume Moth sp.

Insect Moth Plume Moth sp IMG_2401

and a Translucent Ermine.

Insect Moth Translucent Ermine IMG_2440

A delightful Bee fly Australoechus hirtus flitted from flower to flower, resting very briefly on a stone.

Insect Bee fly Australoechus hirtus IMG_2478

A vibrantly striped caterpillar munched hungrily on it’s favourite, Albuca flowers.

Insect caterpillar IMG_2372

Many Millipedes and Pill Millipedes track their many footed way.

Invertebrate Millipede  P1010954

Invertebrate Pill millipede IMG_2347

On dewy mornings the tall grass is festooned with sparkling webs, the underside view of this tiny (3mm) Orb-Web spider waiting patiently in the centre of it’s web.

Spider Orb-Web Spider IMG_2358

On a walk through the grasses I spotted a tiny juvenile Striped skink sunning on a rock.

Reptile Striped skink juvenile IMG_2391

Beneath shrubs and trees there is evidence in empty eggshells that baby birds are hatching, and high-pitched calls seem to echo through the garden. The frenetic parents clear the ‘nightly crop’ of moths that settle near the light outside the kitchen. The Striped Swallows haven’t managed to make their dabbed nest ‘stick’ this year.

Bird Striped Swallow IMG_2439

One evening I watched a duiker eating fallen plums. Compressed ‘beds’ in the grass show where the Reedbuck rest during the day.02 Cover Flower Watsonia Socuim & Agapanthus campanulatus IMG_2479