Tag Archives: inhlosane

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – Autumn 2015

Barry Downard

Here’s an unusual sighting – a Praying Mantis “riding” a bicycle!

Praying Mantis fits in with the KZN Midlands lifestyle.

Praying Mantis fits in with the KZN Midlands lifestyle.

Brandon Powell

2015-04-18 Inhlosane 08

We climbed Inhlosane in a stiff autumn wind – the view of the changing colours of the landscape and fast-sailing clouds was incomparable, as was the huge eagle that flew straight over our heads as soon as we opened the first weissbier at the top…

2015-04-18 Inhlosane 07

There seemed to be beautiful, late-blooming flowers in every crevice and cranny of the mountain.

2015-04-18 Inhlosane 01 2015-04-18 Inhlosane 06 2015-04-18 Inhlosane 05 2015-04-18 Inhlosane 04 2015-04-18 Inhlosane 03 2015-04-18 Inhlosane 02

At Bukamanzi the spiders and beetles get odder and odder looking, but I’m quite fond of them now: This shy, translucent one hides under the rose leaves.

2015-05-04 Bukamanzi 01

There’s a rather mad-looking orange and black one who turned up in the kindling basket.

Scorpion Spider

Scorpion Spider

And a beetle with a back that looks like a Congolese mask.

2015-05-04 Bukamanzi 03

Otherwise it’s been the usual Reedbuck, jackal and vervet monkeys but no sign of the resident genet or duiker in while.

A new addition is the resident snake, Sir Hiss, who I trod on one afternoon on the sunny door-mat. He streaked away like molten toffee being thrown in the air, a wild line of green, as I yelled and jumped up and down on the kitchen table for a good hour. After I described him to her, Helen Booysen thought it must have been a boomslang. She would know, after finding Barend with one whirling around his head like a kite. As snakes go it was wonderful to look at but like a mad horse I still shy away stupidly from hose-pipes/dropped tea-towels/dead sticks.

Our bit of the valley has had an especially fine blaze of autumn colour and flowers:

2015-05-09 Autumn 02

And as ever it’s the details that really stay with one long after the big showy scenes have faded from memory:

2015-05-09 Autumn 01

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

I think we are extraordinarily privileged to be able to observe wildlife at close quarters – often from the comfort of our favourite chair. Over the top of my computer screen, I was able to watch this gorgeous Golden Orb Web spider for a few weeks.

Golden Orb spider

Golden Orb spider

The low sun catching the threads of the web and creating sparkles in the partial shade of the forest. Quite challenging to photograph.

Golden Orb Spider

Golden Orb Spider

After a windy day, red Halleria lucida blossoms were caught in the web creating a really festive forest decoration. She is gone now.

Spider silhouette

Spider silhouette

Just outside, Hadedas built a nest in the Kiggelaria africana tree and hatched two babies. Once again, I was able to observe them at leisure, which was a treat, although the droppings made the most awful mess on the shrubs and patio beneath. Astonishing how two big chicks managed to perch on the tiny, flimsy nest. Before the fledged, they hopped from branch to branch stretching their wings.

Hadeda chicks

Hadeda chicks

A Midlands Autumn classic is the blaze of Leonotis leonaurus across fields and along roadsides. They are particularly spectacular this year.

Wild Dagga - Leonotis leonaurus

Wild Dagga – Leonotis leonaurus

Also still in flower in the long grass is the dainty, parasitic Striga bilabiata. The pinkish mauve flowers with prominent veins are borne on hairy, plum coloured stems.

Striga bilabiata

Striga bilabiata

Veronia natalensis (I think) is also still flowering. The dark purple contrasts beautifully with the gold, bronze and russet grasses.

Veronia  natalensis

Veronia natalensis

Not so natural, but spectacular nonetheless, are the seed heads of Blackjacks (Bidens pilosa) along paths in the grassland.



Also in the grassland, there are lots of buck to be seen. I spotted Oribi (a group of three), Common Duiker and Reedbuck.

Beautiful Reedbuck ram

Beautiful Reedbuck ram

Relaxing in the sunshine in the middle of the road one afternoon was this beautiful Midlands Dwarf Chameleon (Bradypodion thamnobates). I moved him out of harm’s way and took some photos. Lucky me.

Midlands Dwarf Chameleon

Midlands Dwarf Chameleon

Mike and Anne Weedon

With much of our grass having been cut and the weather allowing for some green growth, the numbers of Reedbuck spotted have increased somewhat in recent weeks.

Female Bushbuck

Female Bushbuck

One of our members of staff was fortunately alerted by a scuffle in the bushes on the way to work recently and, on investigating, discovered a rather exhausted Serval (Leptailurus serval) caught in a snare. Not wanting to unnecessarily alarm the poor animal, I called on Free-Me and SA Can for assistance and they both reacted immediately. With a blanket over its head, the serval was soon calmed and the snare around its rump was quickly removed. A thorough examination surprisingly revealed no injuries whatsoever and the cat was released back into the bush. Many thanks for the prompt and expert help from these two wonderful organisations.

Serval trapped in snare. Free-me and SA CAN helped to free it.

Serval trapped in snare. Free-me and SA CAN helped to free it.

David Crookes

Sunset over Mavela Dam.

Sunset over Mavela Dam

Pat and Sandra Merrick

Some lovely sightings in April and May:

White-throated Swallow chicks thrown out their nest.

White-throated Swallow chicks thrown out their nest.

Painted lady butterfly

Painted lady butterfly

Dead jackal on D17 - run over during the night.

Dead jackal on D17 – run over during the night.

This moth was on the window when I drew the curtains one morning - no idea of its identity.

This moth was on the window when I drew the curtains one morning – no idea of its identity.

These lizards are very social and run in and out the rocks while I am gardening.

These lizards are very social and run in and out the rocks while I am gardening.

Jackal buzzard

Jackal buzzard

Southern Boubou shrieking at her partner down below her

Southern Boubou shrieking at her partner down below her

Malachite sunbird in autumn colours.

Malachite sunbird in autumn colours.

I think this is a reed frog in its brown colouring.

I think this is a reed frog in its brown colouring.

Buff-streaked Chats having a bath one hot morning

Buff-streaked Chats having a bath one hot morning

Reed cormorant drying its wings after diving in and out the pond all morning eating crabs and frogs.

Reed cormorant drying its wings after diving in and out the pond all morning eating crabs and frogs.

Common baboon spider

Common baboon spider

We have had 5 female water buck on the farm this month. They seem to hide during the day in the gum trees and come out in the early evening to drink at the dam.

We have had 5 female water buck on the farm this month. They seem to hide during the day in the gum trees and come out in the early evening to drink at the dam.

Female waterbuck

Female waterbuck

An Aardvark dug this huge hole in our driveway. We filled it in but he came back several times and dug it out again. So presumably heaps of termites down this hole.

An Aardvark dug this huge hole in our driveway. We filled it in but he came back several times and dug it out again. So presumably heaps of termites down this hole.

Cattle Egrets and Reed cormorants settling down for the night.

Cattle Egrets and Reed cormorants settling down for the night.

Secretary bird showing his crown of feathers.

Secretary bird showing his crown of feathers.

African Stonechat

African Stonechat

Crowned crane on power lines at dusk - juvenile in the middle with small crown.

Crowned crane on power lines at dusk – juvenile in the middle with small crown.

We have had a pair of Blacksmith plovers sleeping in our garden each evening - they would walk around the house with their distinct tink tink sound waking me up.

We have had a pair of Blacksmith plovers sleeping in our garden each evening – they would walk around the house with their distinct tink tink sound waking me up.

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


iNtaba iFihlekile

This iconic midlands peak is visible from the hills surrounding Mpophomeni – it has long been a dream of some of the boys who enjoy hiking, to climb it. “Intaba ifihlekile” was the comment as we drove out through the Dargle valley – the hill was indeed hidden, shrouded in cloud.r inhlosane dec 2014 057

Undeterred, we set off up towards the peak anyway, with a chorus of Cidacas echoing through the plantation, hoping that the cloud would lift for a little while at least so we could see the views. The first indigenous plant we came across on emerging from the plantation was protea. Everyone reminisced about seeing them on the trip to Hlatikulu in 2013.

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The mist got thicker the higher we climbed. At least it wasn’t baking hot on the slopes as it could have been – even at 8 in the morning.

r inhlosane dec 2014 094

Plenty of summer plants were in bloom, so opportunities to stop and discuss them, the animal tracks, and the insects allowed us to catch our breath.

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The last part of the 2,2km ascent to the ridge is very steep through large dolerite boulders. “My best moment was reaching the top and the gentle blow of the mist and cold wind. I needed that after the steep, sweaty hike.” said Asanda. The mist swirled, offering occasional glimpses of the valley below.

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On reaching the beacon, we sent photos and messages to those who were unable to join us due to family commitments “Sesisenhlosana, we are 1947m above sea level.”

r inhlosane dec 2014 beacon1

A discussion about the name Inhlosane followed. Hlosa means to ‘develop’ – the shape of the hill from a distance looks like a young girl’s developing breast.

Everyone took turns to take photographs and videos (thanks Sue Hopkins!), capturing the colours on the rocks, the tiny flowers, the skinks, the graffiti on the beacon and of course, one another.r inhlosane dec 2014 197

We explored a little and settled down for a picnic amongst the rocks.

r asa sihle phila inhlosane dec 2014 281

A group of hikers emerged through the mist to join us. Rose Dix, one of the group, was delighted to meet the boys saying “Oh I know all about you, I follow the blogs and Facebook and see pictures of all your adventures and everything that is happening in Mpophomeni!”

r inhlosane dec 2014 144

While we finished off our brunch, the intrepid hikers set off down the other side of Inhlosane for a distant waterfall where they planned to stop for lunch and then walk about 6kms along the road, back to the carpark. I enjoyed meeting people who were old enough to be my grandparents on top of the mountain.”   commented Asanda.

r inhlosane dec 2014 200

The cloud lifted and the views were wonderful. We could see the Drakensberg and had fun pointing out Howick, uMngeni Vlei, kwaHaza, Lion’s River, Midmar and Albert Falls dam. “Where is Zenzane in Balgowan?” Philani wanted to know, having made new friends who live there, on the MCF excursion to Shawswood recently.

r inhlosane dec 2014 267

Taking the opportunity to sit quietly listening to the sounds that floated up from the valley,

r asanda inhlosane dec 2014 169

and imagining we could fly! r sihle inhlosane dec 2014 crop

When it was time to leave, the boys skipped like mountain goats down the slope. Philani and Sihle were intrigued by the cairn of rocks that marked the path. “Well done to the people who came up with that idea to show the way, it is great.”

r inhlosane cairn dec 2014 108

Not wanting the adventure to end, halfway down we sat a while in the grassland, enjoying the views and using the binoculars (thanks N3TC) as magnifying glasses to look at the details on the flowers surrounding us.

r inhlosane dec 2014 320

On the way home we stopped at the Mandela Capture Site, to visit the sculpture that they had only seen on television before and wander through the displays. “Awesome, Perfect, Mnandi” were the comments in the visitors book from Mpophomeni. These words described an entire day of interesting revelations, actually.

r inhlosane dec 2014 350

Midlands Conservancies Forum believes that giving young people opportunities to be in nature stimulates creativity, curiosity and imagination, interest in local flora and fauna and respect for, and connectedness to, nature. These experiences are essential to produce tomorrow’s creative thinkers and change agents.


Dargle Wildlife Sightings August 2013

Sue Robinson – Ivanhoe Farm  I enclose a couple of photos of the more than 150 Cape Vultures which visited our Vulture Restaurant after we put a cow there which had to be destroyed after being attacked by jackals while giving birth.


Cape Vulture in Flight


Vultures Gathering


Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres), also known as Kolbe’s Vulture. It is endemic to southern Africa, and is found mainly in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana and in some parts of northern Namibia. It nests on cliffs and lays one egg per year.

Rose & Barry Downard – Oak Tree Cottage 

Birds:  Two grey crowned cranes are seen and heard regularly on Moyeni farm next to us. On 30/8, four cranes were seen flying towards Finchley. Three grey crowned cranes were also seen earlier this month over the Sinclair’s farm. Grey herons, yellow-billed kite, amethyst sunbirds, prinias, sparrows, black and pied crows, olive thrush, southern boubou, hoopoes, fiscal shrike. The Egyptian Geese who took over the crows’ nest last month have been sitting on eggs, but have needed to guard the nest from another pair of keen Egyptian Geese. A Cape Robin has become a daily visitor inside our house, and occasionally flies off with some of our cat’s dried kibble in his beak!

Also seen:  Duiker, Natal green snakes, bees, butterflies. Heard:  Fish Eagles, Cape Parrots, Jackals. In flower:  Scadoxis, Freylinia, Kniphofia, Strelitzia, Proteas, Watsonias, Clivias

Nigel Anderson – Lane’s End Farm

There were about 40 Crowned Cranes on Laurie Boshoff’s farm in Lion’s River vlei on Petrus Stroom road

Cranes and farm 009

Gaudy Commodore Butterfly (This is the winter form of Precis octavia sesamus)

Gaudy Commodore  (3)

I have just photographed a Spotted Bush Snake on Lane’s End


Spotted Bush Snake (Philothamnus semivariegatus) is a non-venomous snake in the family Colubridae, distributed from South Africa to Sudan and Guinea. Mostly found in trees in bush and forest areas, where it hunts lizards and Treefrogs. They are excellent climbers and swimmers, and have very good eyesight. Very common and completely harmless to humans.

Craig Cameron: Swallows are back at the Dargle Store!

 Andrew Pridgeon – Copperleigh Farm:  Saw a Red Duiker in the gum trees near La Bon Vie, as well as a Civit Cat in the same spot earlier in the month.

 Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

The usual array of Yellow Billed Duck, Red-Knobbed Coot, Spurwing Geese, and a pair of Egyptian Geese on our dam. We were also visited by the African Harrier-Hawk or “Gymnogene” which was busy trying to catch something in the Bottle Brush tree. Other birds we spotted included: Starlings, Cape Weaver and sunbirds.

We also had a gorgeous sunset the one evening, we had visitors from up country staying with us and they called me to have a look. I only had about 5mins to capture a few before all the colours disappeared.

sunset mavela

Whilst doing the rounds on the farm, I stopped off at a smaller dam and captured the pic below. Mavela Dam with Inhlosane in the distance

mavela dam inhlosane

Large moth found one night


Wild Aloes flowering in the veld


Malvina van Breemem – Old Furth

We had a Spoonbill here and saw an Otter pair with a youngster on our road.nLots of reedbuck, duiker and bushbuck, plenty of Owl calls, and we heard some Jackal pups in the one plantation near the gate, they must have been calling for their mum.  We have also had numerous sightings of water mongoose.

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

Birds: A big group of Spurwinged Geese flying North early in the month. Yellow billed kite spotted on 28 Aug.  Bush black cap, Thickbilled weavers, masked Weavers, Southern Boubou, Olive Thrush, Ring-necked dove, Chorister Robin Chat, Cape Robin Chat, Mousebirds, White Eyes, Sombre bulbuls, Bulbuls,  Cape Parrots, double collared sunbird, amethyst sunbird, Stone chat, fiscal shrike, Grey heron, yellow billed ducks, Jackal Buzzard, Egyptian geese, Cardinal woodpecker, Rock pigeons, ring necked doves, Bronze mannekins.

Mammals: Duikers, reedbuck, bushbuck, scrub hare, Samango monkeys. Lots of vervets along the D17. Other creatures: Gaudy commodore butterflies, frogs starting to call in wetlands, lots of tiny black caterpillars hatching.

Plants: Leucosidea sericea, Halleria lucida, Nemesia (below), Apodolirion buchananii, Cyrtanthus breviflorus, Ursinia tenuiloba, Senecio speciosus, Morea modesta.

nemesia res

Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm

Took photo of a fiscal shrikes larder on the barbed wire fence (a snake and a frog) and a decapitated bird staked at the end of a pin oak branch.

Steam train 20.7.13 152

Fiscal Shrike Larder (Remains of other birds)

Steam train 20.7.13 151

The chats are busy nesting as have not seen them around the garden for awhile.  A pair of orange throated longclaw arrive now and then. Malachite sunbirds, Olive thrush, cape robins are all in the garden. The yellow bill kites arrived a few days ago.  One had a fight with a jackal buzzard just near our house, probably about territory as the buzzard has been here for some time. Saw a few swallows around the house this morning.

We have a pair of black sparrow hawks nesting in the fork of a very tall gum tree in our avenue.  This is the 2nd year that they are nesting there.  Very hard to see them as the trees are dense and the light not very bright.  When we walk around the area, they fly out and make a lot of screeching noises, so have found it difficult to get a photo. 4-5 spoonbills in dam everyday. 1 sacred ibis arrived a few days ago at the dam.  They never come up to this part of the valley. 4 blue crane at the dam most days, mornings and evenings.  They are eating mielies on the neighbouring farm after combining.  Also saw 3 crowned crane there yesterday.

Sunset in all it’s Glory

August Sitings 2013 028

Many reedbuck on the hills. A few days ago, a ram spent hours chasing a doe around the hill next to the house. A female oribi is seen about twice a week on our boundary. A number of duikers daily.  Coming home one evening we saw 3 duikers and a beautiful bush buck ram about a km from our house on the D 18. A jackal on our private road at noon.  We have seen jackal hunting through the day quite often lately and of course lots of noise at night. The bush pig are digging up large sections of kikuyu on neighbouring farm.

August Sitings 2013 020

I saw some Nguni calves trying to chase a crow off an old cage in our land.  The crow would not budge and seemed to be eating something on top of the cage.  Then as the ngunis got closer, he bent down and it looked either that he was giving the calf some of his food, or just a good morning kiss.  I thought it so special,then mom arrived to see what all the fuss was about.

August Sitings 2013 009

My most exciting moment this month was when we were driving up our road on way home, we saw a reed buck doe suckling a fawn. This was about 5pm and I did not have my camera, and the dogs were on back of bakkie. I raced home, threw the dogs off, grabbed my camera and raced back down the road, thinking what chance of them still being there?  Well they were there, but the fawn had finished feeding.  I got out the bakkie and they stood frozen, looking at me for 10mins. Eventually the doe decided that everything was okay and turned around and walked away. The fawn looked at her for awhile, disappearing in the distance. She then started eating the green shoots for awhile and then lay down next to a rock and long grass. She was so well hidden that I battled to find her in my lens.  I stayed there for half an hour until dark but mother did not return. It was a special sitting for me and I have not seen them since.

August Sitings 2013 016

Éidín Griffin – Witsend

This month has been rather busy at Witsend with a natal green snake in the garden and two puff adders on the veranda. The green snake slid off into the undergrowth and the puffys were caught and relocated up the mountain near indigenous forest with lots of rocky outcrops…nowhere near anybody’s homes or livestock!  Juno very carefully helping to untie the sack with a Puff Adder inside…


Also spotted were the olive woodpeckers, some duiker and a mongoose out hunting (he should have come to the veranda…) A gang of mousebirds made a dramatic appearance, demolished my peas and left. Not at home but in the Dargle neighbourhood I saw 3 crowned cranes below Lemonwoods and two blue cranes at Ivanhoe. What a gorgeous sight.

Mike and Anne Weeden – River Run

We have been fortunate to see two serval, one quite large one which we spotted on a Sunday morning quite close to the house and which I managed to photograph.


We also had a porcupine walking in front of the car for a few hundred metres before it disappeared into the grass. This is the first one we have seen since buying in the Dargle six years ago. The reedbuck and duiker have again been plentiful this month while the swallows which nested under the eaves of the house last year returned on the 21st August; hopefully they are not too early.


Kevin & Margi Culverwell – The Wallows

Lots of bushbuck on our rye pastures in the evenings, with youngsters at foot. We have a male “melanistic” black sparrow hawk spending a lot of time chasing pigeons around the farm. “Our” small flock of 7 Spoonbills has returned to nest in the driveway again, which is delightful. The pair of Spectacled weavers busy building their very tidy long tunnelled nest. All the normal garden birds very busy with their spring activities.

Graham & Vicky Griffin – The Dargle Farm

Some recent sightings with pictures taken by our trail camera. First there was a dead Dassie that we found which we then put down in front of the camera hoping to see something exciting taking it.  We had seen a Serval take a Dassie the week before.  We think it’s a mongoose taking the Dassie.  Otherwise some Jackal, a bush pig and lots of bush buck.

Photos By Trail Camera

Photos By Trail Camera

Dargle Wildlife Sightings December 2012

On the few sunny days we enjoyed in the last week of December, many Dargleites took pictures of the Mngeni river. These are really beautiful and are a recommended read at http://darglelocalliving.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/the-river-runs-through-dargle/ Mike Weedon took this one to tempt you


Rose and Barry Downard – Oak Tree Cottage

On 7th Dec we noticed the birds in our garden were acting strangely. The mousebirds seemed very agitated and were flying around close to our house, and the black sunbirds, olive thrushes, sparrows and several other birds also seemed agitated and were all making a lot of noise. Shortly afterwards the hailstorm struck. It was the worst we’d seen and resulted in a thick layer of hail on the ground, a broken window, and our garden, fruit trees and vegetables seriously shredded. Thankfully all the birds seemed to have survived, but I imagine several nests must have been damaged by the hail.

oak cottage hail

After the storm we also discovered a baby chameleon, it’s amazing that he survived as the fuschia he was in was badly hit by the hail. No sign of any other baby chameleons nearby although being so tiny it is hard to find them.


Also seen: Long-crested Eagle, Kite, Southern Boubou, Fiscal Shrikes, Cuckoos – Redchested, Klaas’s, African Black, and Diedericks. Lots of noisy Hadeda activity. Grey Herons, Storks, Egrets. Heard Burchell’s Coucal. A Red-lipped Herald was lying right next to my hand as I was busy working in the garden – thankfully he kept very still and I left him in peace.

Insects: Dragonflies, Damselflies, caterpillars and lots of butterflies, including the Brown-veined White, African Common White and Large Vagrant.


Kathy Herrington and Wayne Lowrens– Aloe Ridge

Wayne and I saw 3 ground hornbill’s on the top farm early on Sat 8th – maybe they got blown off course after the massive storm the evening before!

Jethro Bronner

After a party earlier in the month, a bunch of young Dargleites headed up iNhlosane to watch the sunrise.  This produced some glorious pictures of our valley. See them all here: http://darglelocalliving.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/sunrise-from-inhlosane/


Sandra and Pat Merrick – Albury Farm

This month we were intrigued with the birthings of 2 sets of 4 each yellow eyed canaries.  They both made nests in our standard roses.  One only 2 metres from the garage so there was lots of coming and going by ourselves, family members and dogs.  I did not think that she would successfully feed these babies being so close to the house but she did so successfully and after 16 days all 4 flew off fully grown.

Canaries 001

The other mother was further down the road and all 4 of them flew away 2 weeks ago.  I was amazed that these little babies survived first the cold days, then the heat (we put blue gum branches over the top of rose bush to try and cool them down) and then the torrential storms over the past 2 weeks.  She sat on them the only the first week and I saw her one afternoon flapping her wings over them to try and keep them cool.  When they were hot they would stretch their necks up and open their beaks.  After that she slept close by and fed them but they were alone in the nest.

Canaries 004

A few days before they flew off, a jackal buzzard must have heard their chirpings and sat for 2 days on our swing hammock waiting for a meal but it was so close to the house and the entry to the nest virtually impossible.  We were thrilled to see the 4 babies fly off one evening at 5pm on the 29th December.

Canaries 013

Saw 4 white storks today (31st) have seen very few this year.  2 and 3 here and there. Plumcoloured starling, grey lourie, diederichs cuckoo at my daughters house at Barnsley’s house, on Xmas day. Heard fish eagle.  Seen 4 blue crane at dam on several occasions and the usual pair come onto farm every few days.   Spoonbill, dab chick, spurwing. 2 Crested crane yesterday.  Our barn owls are still here, 2 prs swallows have hatched young above our bedroom windows.  Sparrows have hatched.  2 prs malachite sunbirds.  Olive thrush.  Lots of chats hopping around the stone walls and orange throated longclaws.  Black crested eagle and yellow billed kites and steppe buzzard.

Reed buck every day on hill, duiker and jackal screeching every night. For a number of days the male reed buck spent hours chasing each other across the hills. A few male samango monkeys.

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin

Plants flowering: Pavetta cooperii, Eucomis, Impatiens hochstetteri, Sutera, Wahlenbergia, Gunnera, Cyanotis, pink Watsonia, Tulbaghia, Merwilla nervosa (below), Nemesia, Albuca setosa, Plectranthus, Oxalis, Hypoxis parvula, Eriosema salignum, Pelargonium luridum, Ajuga ophrydis, Indigofera, Senecio, Helichrysum, Argylobium tuberosum, Papaver aculeatum, Hypericum aethiopicum, Ornithogalum (poss graminifolum?), Monopsis decipiens, Aristea woodii, Lotononis pulchra, Hypxis sp,  Sophubia cana, Agapanthus caulescens, Streptocarpus, Veronia, Heliophila rigiiuscula, Hemezygia teucrifolia, Pavonia columella, Dias cotonifolia, Thunbergia natalensis

scilla nervosa 1res..Crop

Trees seeding: Vepris lanceolata, Canthium mundianum, Rhus, Clausena anisata.

Birds: forest weavers, Egyptian geese, spurwinged goose, 3 Herons, hadedas, fork tailed drongos, rock pigeon, bronze mannekins, stone chats, jackal buzzard, black African sunbirds, francolins, crowned eagle, cape robing chat, orange thrush, masked weavers, widows, mousebirds, swifts, Cardinal woodpecker, Knysna Loeries, Southern Boubou.

Heard: red chested cuckoo, Burchell’s coucal, black African cuckoo, Klaus cuckoo, Diedericks cuckoo, fish eagle

Mammals:  duiker, samango, bushbuck. Reedbuck, hares.

 Dieter Setz – Wakeford

Have to share an “only in the Dargle” story with you from New Year’s Eve. At the Party at about 11 a woman has an Asthma attack and falls over. The music gets turned off and a very concerned partner announces “Is there a Doctor or a Vet in the house”.  We need urgent help – the Dargle is very wild.

Helen and Barend Booysen – Kilgobbin Cottage

We have ssen some lovely flower in the forest, including this tree orchid Mysssss

Mystacidium caffrum.res.crop

and a Dargle original – Disperis fanniniae

dis crassicornis res, crop.

Also int he grassland – a ground orchid – Disa crassicornis

dis crassicornis res, crop.

and bright splashes of blue Agapanthus africanus

Agapanthus africanus.res.crop