Tag Archives: kingfisher

Karkloof Wildlife Sightings – June 2014

Karkloof Sightings are compiled by Pat Cahill.

Having spent a major portion of my life in The Wicked City (Johannesburg), it is such a pleasure to have migrated to a more pleasant environment. I now understand why birds return to the Karkloof every year! One bird which is a resident of the Karkloof Conservation Centre is Twané, who runs the office and performs many other tasks with a smile. We hope she doesn’t join the migratory avians any time soon! One advantage of her job is the amazing view from the office and the hides. The following pictures are some which she has taken recently.

For some time it seemed as if the African Fish-Eagles had abandoned the Karkloof, but now they’re back and we have been seeing a pair at the hides more regularly. 1

A Giant Kingfisher likes to perch in the taller branch at the Gartmore hide and is seen in the early mornings. 2

Black Crakes and African Snipe have become more prolific at the Gartmore hide and observant birders are assured of a sighting of both.

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I have seen an otter many times in the past five years, but have never managed to capture more than an amorphous head in the distance; this Cape Clawless Otter, however, came out to greet Twané.5

All 3 Crane species have been seen daily. Usually a pair of Blue Cranes that are rather noisy and up to 47 Grey-Crowned Cranes. 6

We have had a family of 3 Wattled Cranes (2 parents and their offspring) make use of the pans at both hides. They are also seen in the surrounding fields. None have rings, so our blonde craniac, Tanya Smith, can’t positively identify them for us. You can notice how the youngster’s grey cap is starting to form.

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Malcolm Robinson suggested that the Steppe Buzzard which was reported in last month’s Sightings was probably a juvenile Jackal Buzzard as the Steppe Buzzards should have left on their annual migration. We have had a lot of “teenage” Jackal Buzzards, as well as adults, around and we have not had a sighting of the Steppe Buzzard, nor any others that may have a similar resemblance. The Long-crested Eagles are also out in their droves and we have seen the African Marsh Harrier on many occasions. An African Harrier-Hawk was seen a few mornings in the field.

Karkloof Sappi MTB route – Matthew Drew

It is most gratifying to receive a fair number of sightings from locals. Matthew Drew has kindly forwarded some images supplied by Dr David Everard, Divisional Environmental Manager at Sappi Forests. Matthew is a keen cyclist and regularly rides the trails in the SAPPI plantations. Matthew has submitted a very comprehensive report, for which we are very grateful! These were taken by a camera trap on the 30km Karkloof MTB route over a 10 day period.

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The camera trap was acquired by Sappi to survey what mammal species are found within plantations. Sappi’s foresters as well as the mountain bikers and trail runners who regularly access the plantations see many wildlife species.  The camera trap was specifically placed to record what was using the cycle track to move about these plantations.  David recorded the following species which are using the tracks to get about the plantations: Caracal, Serval, Black-backed Jackal, Porcupine, Bushpig, Bushbuck, Common Duiker and Common Reedbuck.

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David was surprised, not only by the variety, but also by the frequency the tracks are used.  Some species were recorded every night.  Sappi has deployed cameras in a variety of sites across their plantations and have recorded about 20 species of mammals and in good numbers. This goes to show that plantations are definitely places many mammal species are able to survive in, and with healthy numbers.

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My favourite pic is the one of the single Porcupine. No doubt on his way to forage somewhere, he is using the flow of the trail to gain some real momentum!

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I often ride on my own through the plantations and I sometimes see between 5 – 10 antelope, and other wildlife in various parts of the Shafton and Demagtenburg areas. I have also come across a whole heap of bloody quills that must have resulted from a major fight between two Porcupine or perhaps death by a Leopard or Caracal.

Spitzkop farm – Nick and Tim Hancock

Tim Hancock had some new visitors on Spitzkop this last month – a Cape Rock-Thrush and a sweet little Malachite Kingfisher which is a delight for anyone to see.  It is always a good idea to keep a list of species that you have seen on your property. You will never know the extent of the biodiversity unless you take the time to record your sightings. Well done to the Hancocks for always keeping a keen eye out for new species to record!

Sightings at Mbona Private Nature Reserve

Peter and Ronnie Ritchie were privileged to watch this beautiful Brown-hooded Kingfisher “fish” for worms on their lawn whilst they had a lovely al fresco lunch outdoors. “Not to be outdone, he proceeded to find at least 10 juicy worms in our lawn and sat in the winter sun getting visibly fatter. He is a most appealing bird”.

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Richard Booth reported that: “A Black Stork has been seen on a few occasions in the past two weeks on Mbona. Not new to our bird list, but not commonly seen”.

The Croxfords

Michael Croxford had a sightings of a Large-spotted Genet near their shed some time ago and supplied this great photo which he managed to take with his cellphone. The Large-spotted Genet has fairly large spots, usually rusty-brown in colour, and a dark brown or black-tipped tail. They are nocturnal and are certainly not fussy when it comes to food, as they feed on insects, small rodents, reptiles, amphibians, birds and other small mammals. It’s wonderful to know that we have such a diversity of creatures in the valley.

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Ground-Hornbill news

Thank you to all who have been updating us on the whereabouts of the female Southern Ground-Hornbill. John Roff saw a Ground Hornbill flying across the Karkloof canopy tours section of forested valley early morning on 4th May this year. He also heard them calling regularly in the forest around Canopy tours. “The sounds do vary, but I don’t know if it is one or more. I think it or they are spending a bit of time near troops of Samango monkeys, as I often hear them together”.  Mike Benson managed to get a superb photograph of her when she made a visit to Connomara one day. Between Mike and Tony Matchett, we have been very well informed of her presence in this area and on this property.

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How do we know it’s a lady? Notice the violet patch that breaks up the red on her neck, just below her beak. Males don’t have this patch, so their neck will be fully red.

Please keep your eyes open for her and any others that might be around and let us know about it so that we can pass this information on to the relevant people involved in the conservation of this endangered species.

Dargle Wildife Sightings for January

Dieter Setz – Wakeford Farm

I had a visit of the brown hooded kingfisher just outside my studio window.

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On some of my walks in the morning on Wakecroft, when I remember to bring my camera, I have spotted a few insects and birds – hungry beetle on a thistle

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Lovely Beetle. Don’t know what kind of beetle.

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Here we have the Xmas music, the cicada beetle if I am correct.

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A pair of my resident swallows or similar creatures.

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A lovely green moth

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Simon Hayes – Hambledon

I saw a caracal whilst jogging on the track that goes past Solitude (Petrusstroom).

Malvina and Evert van Breemem  – Old Furth Estate

Here on Old Furth Estate, we have been blessed by many baby chameleons this Summer, they are a delight! We also found this lovely adult recently, and it was very relaxed about being collected for its date with the camera.

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We also had an amazing experience with a carnivorous snail who ate a garden snail right under our noses! I would be delighted to see more of these chaps in our garden!

carnivorous snail A

We have been hard at work clearing invasive Wattle down near the Furth River and Evert took this photo of a pineapple Eucomis to show me for identification purposes.

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The river is becoming a wonderful picnic spot and there are some stretches which are great for swimming and tubing. We have also seen several water mongoose on a regular basis, on and near the farm.

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Otherwise, January has been as abundant as the preceding months with Cranes, Flufftails, Cuckoos, Sunbirds, Storks and raptors, plus a few snakes thrown in. The Knysna Louries are very vocal in the indigenous forest next to the house, and every so often we catch a flash of colour as they move around. I was ecstatic when I identified the enormous raptor circling overhead as a Black Eagle, who then went to ground on the upper grass slopes of Nhlosane, wonder what he found? For anyone who is on Facebook, please go and have a look at our new Facebook page – Old Furth Estate. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Old-Furth-Estate/507001752673713

Craig Cameron – Dargle Farm Stall

Three new residents at the Dargle Farm Stall

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 Gill Addison – Antheap

All of a sudden lots to see here. An immature Crowned Eagle spent a couple of days at Antheap and killed one of my old free range layers and killed and ate Trouble a big black Zulu Rooster. The Gymnogene has been terrorising the weavers and has chased off the Hadeda’s who were nesting in the pine tree next to my house. I’ve just about had it with ‘top of the food chain’ creatures!

The Black Crows have raised two youngsters and the family live in the garden. I saw two Jackal pups at dusk, lots of adults but these are the first pups. One evening before one of the big storms I watched a big Serval wandering around the flood plane! A baby duiker was attached by a dog or mongoose and died later at Free Me. Only two adult chameleons and two babies, the weather seems to have affected the Chameleons badly this year. Also very few Reedbuck sightings, I hear the occasional whistle at night but no buck. Today I saw a pair of Diederick Cuckoos.

Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm

Another interesting month. At 6am one morning 2 weeks ago we heard the dogs barking madly at the pond near the house. My daughter and I raced up there and my terrier came down the road with blood on her back and legs. Our rottweiler was still careering around the pond. I expected the worst. Surprisingly it was a mother otter protecting her baby hiding in the reeds. Fortunately my rottie does not like water and was just barking madly. I dragged him off and locked him away and went back to the pond and saw daddy otter running down the hill to meet his distressed family. My terrier had bites on her hind quarters and on her feet and legs so a fight must have ensued with the mommy otter being the victor thank goodness. First time we have seen them here in the garden.

Our blue crane laid 2 eggs on an island in our dam – this is her 3rd lot of eggs!

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Such perseverance is amazing. She started sitting about the 6th January and the babies were born on the 31st January. We are watching closely but they get very disturbed if we get too close.

Crane sitting on her eggs

Mom and dad swim back to land off and on during the day to eat leaving the youngsters behind. There is a channel about 5 metres wide between the island and the edge of the dam. I just pray that the jackal, who are across the dam in a burrow don’t decide to swim across to the island and eat the chicks. One of our ngunis was calving last week and sitting close by were 2 jackal. Pat chased them away.

swimming across the channel to the mainland

A civet ran across the road near the farm at 6pm one evening. Same place that I saw it a few months ago. A samango monkey jumped over our electric gate one morning and came towards the house. I think it saw our dogs and ran and jumped over the stone wall.

A dab chick has laid 6 eggs in her floating nest covered with grass on our dam. Not sure if they have hatched yet.

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Another dab chick with 3 babies. 4 resident white stork. Seen very few this year. Biggest group on the farm were 14. 6 whiskered terns. 3 Plovers land on our lawn every few days. We found 2 baby swallows dead next to our bedroom window. The adults had broken down their nest. This might have been due to the very hot days we had at the beginning of Jan. We found a juvenile red chested cuckoo sitting on our front verandah. It did not seem to be hurt so no idea how it arrived there as have no large trees nearby. Pat released it further down the road.

Juvenile red chested cuckoo (piet my vrou)

Our most thrilling siting was seeing a female water buck in our wattle plantation on the 26th January. Have not seen her since. Has anyone lost a water buck? Must be an escapee from somewhere.  I was fortunate enough to have my camera with me as had been photographing the crane sitting on her eggs. We have never seen water buck in this area.

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Clive Shippey – Northington

A gymnogene diving through a flock of weavers. Hard to tell if it was a game or not.

Helen and Barend Booysen – Kilgobbin Cottage

Aren’t the wildflowers magnificent this season!  Orchid – Disa woodii on the D707

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in the forest – Streptocarpus

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and sundews – Drosera aliciea on the rocks

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Woolly necked storks have taken a liking to the verandah of our Crowned Eagle Cottage.

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Mike and Anne Weeden – River Run

We have had an interesting few weeks watching 3 baby swallows in a nest under the eaves develop to the stage where they must now be close to fending for themselves. The parents have had a full time job keeping them fed.

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Also was walking along one of the paths on the farm last week and had a large caracal strolling ahead of me for about 300 metres before it turned off into the grass. Yesterday I spotted a pair of adult bush buck in our wetland – hopefully a breeding pair.

John Matterson – visitor at Zuvuya

Although very unusual for the area, I am sure I spotted two female and two male Pied Wheatears in early January. (Jenny Fly, who has been birding in the area for many years, is unconvinced. She comments: “Look at the buff streaked chat and distribution. I can’t dispute that the bird is a pied wheatear as I haven’t seen it, but it is very rare in SA”)

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

I have enjoyed watching a family of Egyptian Geese grow.  The parents hiss furiously when my dog and I are bold enough to swim in the same BIG dam as they are in!  They seem to move between two dams – do they just waddle along the road for a couple of hundred metres for a change of scenery?  They would be very exposed to predators so it must be a dangerous exercise. Other interesting birds have been herons and crowned eagles.  The Wood Owls have started calling again at night.

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Grasslands are at the peak now, so flowers are a bit hard to spot, besides the Kniphofia laxiflora which glow like tall candles in the veld (above).  I did come across this Eucomis (below) by chance which was exciting.  Anyone interested in reading about the plants I saw on a recent excursion to Sani Pass – have a look at the story here: http://plantabundance.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/sauntering-up-sani/

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Boston Wildlife Sightings September

Barry and Kirsten Cromhout of “Highland Glen

Three African Spoonbills at small dam; Giant Kingfisher at larger dam

Ian and Jenny Lawrence of “Endeavour”

Pairs of Blue Cranes and Grey Crowned Cranes, often, near the farmhouse

Rob and Gail Geldart of “Boston View” and “Watershed”

September 17 – flushed a pair of African Snipe on Watershed! Cape Parrots in the Yellowwoods this morning on Boston View, near old house.

Sept 29 – a Grey Duiker in grounds of Boston Country Club – often seen

Barbara and David Clulow of “The Willows”

Last month, the snow; this month, the floods on 7th September: The Elands river burst its banks

It was chilly, but some birds thrived: the Pied Kingfisher, the Yellow-billed Ducks, the Sacred Ibis, Spoonbill, all the Geese, occasional Black-head Heron, and the Blacksmith Lapwing were very active.

Sept 9 – Crane ballet: two Grey Crowned Cranes flew low over our heads and landed next to a pool, formed by the floods in the pastures on Netherby; we stood on a hill and watched below as they danced and waved their wings; then another two Cranes a few hundred meters away started dancing too; so the first two walked over a joined them and they stood together till we departed and at 18h00 they were heard, calling & flying their various ways.

Sept 30 – two Mongoose across the lawn from the verandah on The Willows

Birding on 16 Sept after the rains:

Southern Black Tit, Malachite Kingfisher.

Speckled Mousebirds, huddled up to keep warm

Mike and Carol Fynn of Tillietudlem Game Lodge and Nature Reserve

Four different Oribi weekly, 6 Blue Cranes in the vegetable fields, pair of African Fish-Eagles with a possible chick- we can hear an occasional nearby Fish-Eagle cry coming from the nest area! Carol saw a Leopard crossing the road near the drift by Rainbow Lakes.

“Tillietudlem” Outing on 25 September 2012

view towards Grand Lodge

Blue Cranes at dam

Denham’s Bustard on hills

early on, Elands stream

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Tillietudlem Cascades on Elands river

28 Sept – Evening light, mist on the hills, a storm brewing.  From a hillock on Gramarye, watching two Grey Crowned Cranes and two Spur-winged Geese. Suddenly the thunder rumbled, the lightening flashed and the Cranes flew. Starting across the wetlands, where the Reedbuck ewes bound so often, I stopped short – there ahead at 100 meters, the most elegant Reedbuck ram ever seen, full-horned, and stately. Taking another route, not to make him flee, as he watched intently, but with no sign of fear. His wetland, not mine. Like 180 years ago.

Pete and Debbie Nel of “Twin Rowan”:

Duiker on the Dargle road outside “Gramarye”; three Jackal Buzzard in tall Gum tree seen from house.

Graeme and Claire Hudson of “Kia Ora”

Cape Crows chasing Egyptian Geese at the dam; Bushbuck male on Dargle road.

Long-crested Eagle research in Boston:

On Sept 27 – Twane, of the Karkloof Crane Centre, also compiler of the Karkloof Sightings, and Mike Keefer tracked down a Long-crested Eagle nest in a stand of tall gum trees on the Elands river, as part of a data build-up of knowledge relating to this poorly-researched bird. While Mike was busy with nest photographs, another opportunity came his way – a male Bushbuck appeared on the banks of the Elands river in the Eucalyptus forest.

Bruce and Bev Astrup of “Highland Glen”

Two African Fish-Eagles heard calling; increase in Vervet Monkeys at Elands river; two Giant Kingfishers

Crystelle Wilson of “Gramarye”

Red-winged Francolin, Thick-billed Weaver, Black-headed Oriole, Cape Glossy Starling, Long-crested Eagle.

EVEN after five years of regular checks for birds for the atlas project one can still find birds not listed before. Exciting finds in the Elandshoek pentad 2930_3000 this month were Red-winged Francolin (at the Geldarts’ cottages) and African Grass-Owl (on Gramarye) which I haven’t noted here before, but have been reported elsewhere in the district. This brings my tally for the pentad to 232 species. Migrants are returning after winter and among them were African Paradise-Flycatcher, Greater Striped Swallow and Dark-capped Yellow Warbler.

The SABAP2 list for the pentad is:  Olive Thrush, Amethyst Sunbird, Village Weaver, Cape Robin-Chat, Hadeda Ibis, Cape Turtle Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Black-headed Oriole, Helmeted Guineafowl, Dark-capped Bulbul, African Firefinch, Speckled Mousebird, Cape White-eye, Fork-tailed Drongo, Common Fiscal, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, Cape Sparrow, Grey Crowned Crane, Red-billed Quelea, Cape Crow, Egyptian Goose, African Sacred Ibis, Southern Boubou, White-breasted Cormorant, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Red-necked Spurfowl, Long-crested Eagle, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Blacksmith Lapwing, Spur-winged Goose, Yellow-billed Duck, African Spoonbill, African Stonechat, Cape Wagtail, Pin-tailed Whydah, African Rail, Jackal Buzzard, Black Sparrowhawk, Cape Longclaw, Red-chested Flufftail, Giant Kingfisher, Black-headed Heron, Green Wood-hoopoe, Reed Cormorant, African Pipit, Bokmakierie, Little Grebe, Cape Weaver, Cape Grassbird, Red-throated Wryneck, Drakensberg Prinia, Cape Glossy Starling, Common Waxbill, House Sparrow, Brown-throated Martin, Black Saw-wing, Cape Canary, Forest Canary, Yellow-fronted Canary, Red-knobbed Coot, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Yellow-billed Kite, Sombre Greenbul, African Hoopoe, Bar-throated Apalis, Thick-billed Weaver, Yellow-throated Petronia, Wattled Crane, Cape Parrot, Malachite Kingfisher, Southern Black Tit, White-throated Swallow, Southern Red Bishop, Red-winged Francolin,Cape Batis, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Greater Striped Swallow, African Grass-Owl.

Pete and Frances Nel of “Four Gates

A huge troop of Baboons near the Lancaster’s turnoff on the Dargle road on Thursday, 27 Sept., round midday. Ten Helmeted Guineafowl in paddock next to house for the last week or so.

More than 10 poacher dogs attacked a bull at 1 in the morning on the 25th Sept. Huge commotion as they were chased by staff. They ran up our driveway right past the house. . No damage to the bull. Saw a Grey Duiker in the forest this morning at 9am The Greater-striped Swallows are back at the front and back door, making their nests.

Terry and Vivien Cawood of “Edgeware”

Dramatic incident as Jackal Buzzard killed a Helmeted Guineafowl, as food for their juvenile. The parents watched as the third bird dined.

Porcupine was caught and effort was made to persuade it to return up Edgeware hill, dissuade it from eating in the garden. It escaped before lessons were complete, but hopefully learned enough.

Barn Owl lives in garages and is seen every now and again, on the lawn outside or inside on its chosen roost on a low wall.

Philip and Christeen Grant of “Sitamani”

September Spring green is lush this year, after the snow and rain in August. Many of the little wildflowers are showing their faces, Moraea graminicola, Gladiolus longicollis, Apodolirion buchananii, Nemesia caerulea and Aster bakerianus are a few I’ve spotted on my brief wanderings and driving in and out; but for me a wonderful new sighting here has been the smallest little Helichrysum I’ve seen, mat forming on hard sparsely vegetated ground, semi shaded by trees. The flower heads are only 2mm in diameter.

One very special evening stands out for me, after a hot clear day, just after sunset, I walked out beyond the house. An Eagle Owl was perched on a rock in the golden glow; he hooted, I replied and we exchanged a few more hooted greetings. A male duiker strolled into view, perambulating his marked perimeter, stopping frequently to sniff and mark as he went. A young female reedbuck, who sleeps amongst the rocks, Buddleja salviifolia and Leucosidea sericea that have grown up there providing cover; stood, stretched and preened before setting out for her evening meal. Then a bat flittered past into the night air. So very special, a magical few moments, that we are so privileged to have right on our doorstep.

Caroline McKerrow of “Stormy Hill”

One Serval cat, one Bushbuck, several Duiker and Reedbuck. Adolescent Gymnogene (African Harrier-Hawk) taking baby Weaver birds out of their nests in my bird tree. He was big and all brown but after discussions with some learned folk in the area we put him down to a junior Gymnogene. My poor Weavers went all quiet for a few hours. They probably needed trauma counselling.