Tag Archives: orchids

Kamberg & Hlatikulu Sightings – January 2017

Kamberg January 2017 – By Pam Kleiman

I enjoyed watching numerous White Storks around the district


White Stork

The first of the Common Moorhen chicks seen on the small dam on Connington farm


Common Moorhen

A little Dark-capped Yellow Warbler drying off after a bath


Long-crested Eagle. I have yet to discover where these birds nest.


Long-crested Eagle

IMG 7585 Great excitement as I drove out from the farm on the 10th. Sitting on the Escom wires were three Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters. This is a bird rarely seen in the KZN Midlands.


Blue-cheaked Bee-eater

A Spotted Flycatcher I saw purely by chance as it darted out of dense foliage to catch an insect


Spotted Flycatcher

A rather intense stare from a Cape Weaver


Cape Weaver

IMG 7962 This month I started seeing Amur Falcons around the area. Amazing to think that these small birds migrate all the way from northern China every year


Amur Falcon

IMG 7970 A male Southern Red Bishop showing off his beautiful Summer plumage


Southern Red Bishop (male)

A few butterflies in the garden


Small patches of the beautiful Hesperantha coccinea seen along the banks of a crystal clear stream.


Hesperantha coccinea

Hlatikulu Conservancy January 2017 – By Pam Kleiman

On my rounds recording the birds for SABAP2 I so enjoy being able to take photos of what I see in order to share them on this forum. I do hope you enjoy rambling with me!

Bar-throated Apalis, a species I only ever see in one spot along the road from Mooi River to Hlatikulu


Bar-throated Apalis

An unexpected find in a swampy area covered in tall grasses – Cuckoo Finch


Cuckoo Finch

A little bird that has coined the nickname “Bumble-bee bird” for obvious reasons. A male Yellow-crowned Bishop


Yellow-crowned Bishop (male)

I was rather surprised to find a pair of Ostriches along the road to the Crane sanctuary.


Ostrich (male and female)

Western Osprey another favourite species seen occasionally on our dams in Summer


Western Osprey

A short parade by a Red-necked Spurfowl on the road in front of my vehicle


Red-necked Spurfowl

A small group of young Cape Longclaws were fluffed-up against the wind on a high, grassy slope


Cape Longclaw

I don’t see too many mammals on my travels, but do see the occasional Dassie / Rock hyrax


Dassie / Rock Hyrax

Brunsvigia natalensis – a solitary plant at the side of the road


Brunsvigia natalensis


Brunsvigia natalensis

A summer flowering aloe just past it’s prime



One of the few orchids I have seen this month. I think this is Satyrium longicauda


Satyrium longicauda


Satyrium longicauda

Vlei Orchid – ? Satyrium hallackii


Vlei Orchid – ? Satyrium hallackii

Boston Wildlife Sightings – December 2015

Caroline McKerrow of “Stormy Hill”:

In November, I saw two large grey mongooses or it could be one that I saw one twice as it was in the same area on both days. A jackal ran across my path when I was out riding. Two bushbuck were grazing when taking a trail ride. A couple of mountain reedbuck, and then at home I saw a Common Reedbuck and Duiker

Crystelle Wilson of “Gramarye”:

Breeding season is in full swing. A necklace of Southern Red Bishops paints a picture of colonial harmony,

Southern Red Bishop

Southern Red Bishop

but there are a lot of territorial disputes between males

Male Southern Red Bishop

Male Southern Red Bishop

All these activities are keenly observed by Diderick Cuckoos for the slightest opportunity to slip into a nest and deposit an egg

Dideric Cuckoo

Dideric Cuckoo

Another parasitic species, a Dusky Indigobird, put in a surprise appearance on my kitchen stoep on Christmas morning. I haven’t seen them around for some time and this one was probably checking out the presence of African Firefinches.

Dusky Indigobird

Dusky Indigobird

A disaster though, on the same morning, was when I found that part of the nest of the Greater Swallows had broken off and an empty egg was lying on the stoep below.

CW5 - Egg of Greater Striped Swallow

Despite the dry conditions and shortage of suitable mud, the parents wasted no time to begin fixing the damage

Greater Striped Swallow

Greater Striped Swallow

I was delighted to notice that one chick seemed to have survived in the nest. During the days following, the parents were kept busy alternating between feeding their offspring and repairing the nest

Surviving chick of Greater Striped Swallow

Surviving chick of Greater Striped Swallow

Breeding success for other species meant there are a number of fledglings flopping around in the vegetation, trying out their balancing acts, like Levaillant’s Cisticola

Levaillant's Cisticola

Levaillant’s Cisticola

And Amethyst Sunbird sitting pretty

Amethyst Sunbird

Amethyst Sunbird

And African Stonechat testing its vocal skills

African Stonechat

African Stonechat

I was very pleased to find a posse of Orange-breasted Waxbills feeding on a path. By standing very still, they came quite close and allowed themselves to be photographed.

Orange-breasted Waxbill

Orange-breasted Waxbill

SABAP2 atlas sightings for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 included: White-throated Swallow, Cape Robin-chat, African Sacred Ibis, Brown-throated Martin, Helmeted Guineafowl, Black-headed Oriole, Red-knobbed Coot, Pied Starling, Brimstone Canary, African Firefinch, Barn Owl, Natal Spurfowl, African Black Duck, Cape Grassbird, African Rail, Yellow-fronted Canary, Cape Canary, Common Waxbill, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Wailing Cisticola, Cape Longclaw, Speckled Pigeon, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Bar-throated Apalis, Jackal Buzzard

Jackal Buzzard

Jackal Buzzard

Sombre Greenbul, Wattled Crane, African Wattled Lapwing, Red-billed Teal, African Snipe, South African Shelduck, Black Crake, Common Moorhen, Reed Cormorant, Three-banded Plover, Blacksmith Lapwing, Barn Swallow, Little Grebe, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Cape Wagtail, African Darter, White-breasted Cormorant, Yellow-billed Kite,

Yellow-billed Kite

Yellow-billed Kite

Drakensberg Prinia, African Stonechat, African Reed-warbler, Little Rush-warbler, Red-chested Flufftail, Red-collared Widowbird, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Yellow-billed Duck, Southern Red Bishop, Cape Crow, Common Quail, Burchell’s Coucal, Pied Kingfisher, Red-billed Quelea, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape White-eye, Speckled Mousebird, Black Saw-wing, Amethyst Sunbird, Green Wood-hoopoe, Black-headed Heron, Bokmakierie, Red-capped Lark, African Pipit, Village Weaver,

Village Weaver

Village Weaver

Cape Weaver, Zitting Cisticola, Red-necked Spurfowl, Common Fiscal, Spur-winged Goose, Egyptian Goose, Fork-tailed Drongo, African Dusky Flycatcher, Olive Thrush, African Hoopoe, Southern Boubou, Cape Turtle-dove, Red-eyed Dove, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, House Sparrow, Cape Sparrow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Diderick Cuckoo, African Paradise-flycatcher, Greater Striped Swallow, Hadeda Ibis, Long-crested Eagle, Cattle Egret, Grey Crowned Crane, (cutting a lonely figure in a dam drying out)

Grey Crowned Crane

Grey Crowned Crane

African Spoonbill, Dusky Indigobird, African Fish-Eagle

African Fish-Eagle

African Fish-Eagle

Christeen Grant of “Sitamani”:

At last rain, thunderstorms, misty mornings and damp overcast days.

After the storm

After the storm

Although it seems too late for most of the indigenous flowering plants, flower numbers are way down compared to most Decembers, many of the wide variety are represented. The insect world however has come alive, particularly moths.

There were two first sightings for Sitamani, both have the common name ‘maiden’ although not the same genus, African Maiden Moth, Family Thyretidae and Cool Maiden, Amata kuhlweini.

African Maiden Moth, Family Thyretidae

African Maiden Moth, Family Thyretidae

Cool Maiden, Amata kuhlweini

Cool Maiden, Amata kuhlweini

Then many more of which I only have three ID’s, Marbled Emperor; a stunning red moth Metarctica lateritia and Plum Slug, Latoia lastistriga which is quite apt as the caterpillars eat plums and we have an orchard of them!

Marbled Emperor

Marbled Emperor

Metarctica lateritia

Metarctica lateritia

Plum Slug Latoia lastistriga

Plum Slug Latoia lastistriga

02 Moth P1050939 02 Moth IMG_1422 02 Moth P1050942 02 Moth P1050945 02 Moth P1050946

Other insects include butterflies, Common Meadow Blue, Cupidopsis cissus cissus and a Pirate, Catacroptera cloane cloane this was a first sighting here.

Common Meadow Blue, Cupidopsis cissus cissus

Common Meadow Blue, Cupidopsis cissus cissus

Pirate Catacroptera, cloane cloane

Pirate Catacroptera, cloane cloane

Bees are plentiful in the indigenous brambles and any other flower they can find.



Then I wrote last month: “The distinctive sound of the Bladder grasshoppers echoes at night, ‘gonion, gonion’, but I haven’t seen one yet”, and one appeared!

Bladder grasshopper

Bladder grasshopper

A gorgeous Blister Beetle, a shy Mottled Veld Antlion, a Praying mantis that pretended to be a stick insect and an interesting small wasp of the Enicospilus genus which lays its eggs in Cut Worms.

 Blister beetle on Cyanotis speciosa

Blister beetle on Cyanotis speciosa

Mottled Veld Antlion

Mottled Veld Antlion

Praying mantis

Praying mantis

Wasp of Enicospilus genus

Wasp of Enicospilus genus

The Village Weavers are still busy building, but one female is happy, she laid an egg now hatched and both parents are frantically feeding the demanding vocal chick! Other birds that attracted my attention was a Cape Longclaw, four Greater Striped Swallows and a disconsolately damp Red-throated Widow on top of a tree in the damp drizzle!

Village Weaver male

Village Weaver male

Village Weaver egg

Village Weaver egg

Greater Striped Swallow

Greater Striped Swallow

04 Bird Cape Longclaw IMG_4493

Red-collared Widowbird

Red-collared Widowbird

Flower species seen were: Agapanthus campanulatus, Asclepias albens, Berkheya speciosa, Commelina africana, Cynaotis speciosa,

Agapanthus campanulatus

Agapanthus campanulatus

Asclepias albens

Asclepias albens

Berkheya speciosa

Berkheya speciosa

Commelina africana

Commelina africana

Cynaotis speciosa

Cynaotis speciosa

both green and orange Dipcadi viride,

Dipcadi viride

Dipcadi viride

Dipcadi viride orange form

Dipcadi viride orange for

Dipcadi viride seeds

Dipcadi viride seeds

Gadiolus ecklonii, another first sighting just a single plant, Eulophia calanthoides, Eulophia ovalis, Eulophia zeheriana,

Gadiolus ecklonii

Gadiolus ecklonii

Orchid, Eulophia calanthoides

Orchid, Eulophia calanthoides

Orchid Eulophia ovalis

Orchid Eulophia ovalis

Orchid, Eulophia zeheriana

Orchid, Eulophia zeheriana

then an exception that is flowering profusely, some colonies of between 10-15 plants plus individuals scattered around, Orthochilus foliosus, Pachycarpus natalensis, Pelargonium luridum, Spotted-leaved Arum Zantedeschia albomaculata, Tephrosia purpurea, Watsonia confusa, Zornia capensis and fruiting Searsea discolour.

Orchid, Orthochilus foliosus

Orchid, Orthochilus foliosus

Pachycarpus natalensis

Pachycarpus natalensis

Pelargonium luridum

Pelargonium luridum

Spotted-leaved Arum Zantedeschia albomaculata

Spotted-leaved Arum Zantedeschia albomaculata

Tephrosia purpurea

Tephrosia purpurea

Watsonia confusa

Watsonia confusa

Zornia capensis

Zornia capensis

Searsea discolour

Searsea discolour

Black-backed Jackals yip and howl in the evenings. A male and female Common Duiker are regular visitors in the early morning and evening and have been enjoying the bounty of fallen plums!

Karkloof Wildlife Sightings – July, August and September 2015

Jul, Aug, Sep 2015 header

Karkloof Conservation Centre

We had regular sightings of up to 86 different bird species at the Karkloof Conservation Centre and nearby farmlands visible from the road. The winter months had surprisingly better lists than spring!

View from the Crowned Crane Hide in Winter

View from the Crowned Crane Hide in Winter

On the 21st August, Karin Nelson reported a sighting of the first Steppe Buzzard of the season in the Karkloof as she was travelling back from her visit to Benvie Gardens. On the 2nd September, we had our first sighting of the Yellow-billed Kite here at the Centre. It’s always exciting to see the migrants return, understanding that many of them have endured a tough journey.

The Wattled Crane Hide was full of life as the sun rose to greet the day. By the time the light was good enough for a photo, the Blue Cranes and Grey Crowned Cranes had already flown off. These three Wattled Cranes stayed around for a little while though.

The Wattled Crane Hide was full of life as the sun rose to greet the day. By the time the light was good enough for a photo, the Blue Cranes and Grey Crowned Cranes had already flown off. These three Wattled Cranes stayed around for a little while though.

We have had great sightings of all three crane species (a perk of having them breed in the area), which is something members of the Karkloof Conservancy can be proud of, as this indicates suitable wetland and grassland habitat allowing a healthy environment.

The Wattled Cranes were extremely active and even gave us a rendition of the "Can-Can" dance.

The Wattled Cranes were extremely active and even gave us a rendition of the “Can-Can” dance.

We must not be complacent though, as there are a number of threats we face, which can be of detriment to these stately birds, as well as other fauna and flora. Threats include but are not limited to drainage of wetlands (no matter how big or small), fracking, developments that put pressure on an already sensitive environment, and not to forget the dreaded N3 Bypass.

A typical winter scene with Wattled Cranes amongst the White-faced Ducks in the foreground and a Common Reedbuck grazing in the background.

A typical winter scene with Wattled Cranes amongst the White-faced Ducks in the foreground and a Common Reedbuck grazing in the background.

Adam Riley, of Rockjumper Birding Tours, brought visitors to the hides on the 15 December, who were thrilled to see 4 Wattled Cranes at the Loskop pan. Two of the birds had rings and stayed there for the remainder of the day looking a lot like a couple. The one on the far left is Mbeche’s sibling (Mbeche is our adopted Wattled Crane that was collected in the Karkloof as a second egg after being abandoned) and the one next to our charmer is its assumed partner that was colour ringed as a chick by Brent Coverdale and Tanya Smith in October 2013 at Impendle Nature Reserve. This is the first re-sighting of the Impendle bird since it fledged.

Wattled Cranes by Adam Riley

Wattled Cranes by Adam Riley

Other sightings included: African Black Duck; African Black Swift; African Darter; African Fish-Eagle; African Hoopoe; African Jacana; African Marsh-Harrier; African Olive-Pigeon; African Pipit; African Sacred Ibis; African Snipe; African Spoonbill;

African Spoonbill

African Spoonbill

African Stonechat; African Wattled Lapwing; Amethyst Sunbird; Black Crake; Black-headed Heron; Black-shouldered Kite; Blacksmith Lapwing; Black-winged Lapwing; Blue Crane; Brown-throated Martin; Buff-streaked Chat; Burchell’s Coucal; Cape Canary; Cape Crow; Cape Robin-chat; Cape Shoveler; Cape Turtle-dove; Cape Wagtail; Cardinal Woodpecker; Common Fiscal; Crowned Lapwing; Crowned Lapwing; Dark-capped Bulbul; Drakensberg Prinia; Egyptian Goose; Fan-tailed Widowbird; Forest Buzzard; Fork-tailed Drongo; Giant Kingfisher; Green Wood-Hoopoe; Grey Crowned Crane; Grey Heron; Hadeda Ibis; Hamerkop; Helmeted Guineafowl; Hottentot Teal; Jackal Buzzard;

A Jackal Buzzard caught some rodent salad.

A Jackal Buzzard caught some rodent salad.

Lanner Falcon; Levaillant’s Cisticola; Little Grebe; Little Swift; Long-crested Eagle;

Long-crested Eagle

Long-crested Eagle

Long-tailed Widowbird; Malachite Kingfisher; Natal Spurfowl; Olive Thrush; Olive Woodpecker; Osprey;

This Osprey was seen daily. This sighting was out of season for inland distribution.

This Osprey was seen daily. This sighting was out of season for inland distribution.

Pied Crow; Pied Kingfisher; Pied Starling; Pin-tailed Whydah; Purple Heron; Red-billed Quelea; Red-billed Teal; Red-eyed Dove; Reed Cormorant; South African Shelduck; Southern Black Flycatcher; Southern Boubou; Southern Grey-headed Sparrow; Southern Red Bishop; Speckled Mousebird; Speckled Pigeon; Spur-winged Goose; Village Weaver; White-breasted Cormorant; White-throated Swallow; Wood Sandpiper; Yellow-billed Duck; and Yellow-fronted Canary.

Orange Ground-Thrush Project @ Benvie – Karin Nelson

Under the guidance and supervision of Prof. Colleen Downs of UKZN, I have started an exciting project on the Orange Ground-Thrush. These birds are uncommon residents of the KwaZulu-Natal Mistbelt Forests. These forests are classified as Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, IBA’s, as they have important bird, tree and flowering plant species.

Orange Ground-Thrush by Karin Nelson

Orange Ground-Thrush by Karin Nelson

Benvie lies within these Mistbelt Forests, hosting a healthy population of Orange Ground-Thrush. With the support and enthusiasm of John and Jenny Robinson of Benvie, I have started catching and colour-ringing some thrushes.

The engraved colour ring used to identify the birds from a distance using binoculars or photographs

The engraved colour ring used to identify the birds from a distance using binoculars or photographs

I have also taken blood samples which will be analysed by UKZN staff for genetics, relatedness, population and sex. In the future, we will also be assessing breeding biology to determine factors such as nest success, fidelity, sites used, and threats.

Bird Ringing @ Gartmore – Karin Nelson

Winter proves to be a difficult time to do bird ringing at the Gartmore hide, as the mealies have been turned into silage, causing the mist nets to be fairly exposed. Karin was, however, grateful that a large flock of Red-billed Quelea did not fly into her nets. Despite the slow morning, she managed to catch 10 birds, with 3 of these being re-traps:

  • 4 Levaillant’s Cisticola
  • 2 Southern Red Bishop
  • 2 African Stonechat
  • 1 Cape Robin Chat
  • 1 Southern Grey-headed Sparrow

Karin also managed to list 43 different species during the morning, which includes this Giant Kingfisher which was a highlight to the day.

Giant Kingfisher by Karin Nelson

Giant Kingfisher by Karin Nelson

Mbona Private Nature Reserve – Richard Booth

An Orange-breasted Bush Shrike which we have had in our garden at Mbona. They are not on our bird list and have never heard them calling here. SABAP2 does show this is the edge of their range, but probably more down towards Albert Falls dam. I saw this little one outside our bedroom window and then again one week later when he flew into a window stunning himself. Fortunately not too bad, but we were able to pick him up for a photo shoot before he/she flew away. Beautiful colours!

Orange-breasted Bush Shrike by Richard Booth

Orange-breasted Bush Shrike by Richard Booth

I’ve included a picture of one of the lovely orchids that grow in our COOL forest: Polystachya pubescens.

Polystachya pubescens, an orchids that grow in the cool forest at Mbona

Polystachya pubescens, an orchids that grow in the cool forest at Mbona

“Twitching bug” bites the Campbell’s – Lisa Campbell

The Campbell family are becoming real bird watchers of late, and they were very excited about a “lifer” for them and for their garden.

Groundscraper Thrush photographed by Lisa Campbell

Groundscraper Thrush photographed by Lisa Campbell

This Groundscraper Thrush had the Campbell paparazzi snap its good side for the rest of the community to enjoy. Well done and we look forward to future contributions!

Crane Custodian – Tony Matchett (Agric. Manager of Benson Farming)

There is no better reward for a crane custodian than stumbling upon a Wattled Crane chick that has been smartly hidden by its parents.

Wattled Crane chick playing "hide-and-go-seek" in the veld.

Wattled Crane chick playing “hide-and-go-seek” in the veld.

Tony luckily had his camera on hand and took a few photos before he left promptly, limiting the stress levels of the birds, and allowing the chick and parents to reunite. This was attempt number two for the pair of Wattled cranes this last breeding season, as they unfortunately lost their first chick. Let’s hope we see this one flying amongst the 311 others.

The Wattled Crane parents feeding in the burnt veld.

The Wattled Crane parents feeding in the burnt veld.

Tony took this photograph which represents part of the floater flock of about 50 Grey Crowned Cranes (they couldn’t all fit in the frame!) that were enjoying the safe lands that are provided by the Benson family.

Part of a flock of 50 Grey Crowned Cranes with a Common Reedbuck in the background.

Part of a flock of 50 Grey Crowned Cranes with a Common Reedbuck in the background.

This flock were seen daily for almost 2 months and spent the whole day there, only splitting up to find a place to roost for the night. A Common Reedbuck seemed to enjoyed their company, while grazing on the lush cover crop planted as part of the no-till farming technique which plays a significant role in preventing soil erosion.

Grey Crowned Cranes are the only cranes that can perch in trees.

Grey Crowned Cranes are the only cranes that can perch in trees.

Capturing the Moments – Chris and Ingy Larkin

Chris and Ingy managed to capture these gorgeous photographs during their visit to the bird hides.

Purple Heron well camouflaged. Photographed by Chris Larkin

Purple Heron well camouflaged. Photographed by Chris Larkin

African Snipe on the cold and frosty vegetation. Photographed by Chris Larkin

African Snipe on the cold and frosty vegetation. Photographed by Chris Larkin

Levaillant’s Cisticola in flight. Photographed by Ingy Larkin

Levaillant’s Cisticola in flight. Photographed by Ingy Larkin

Grey Crowned Crane in flight. Photographed by Chris Larkin

Grey Crowned Crane in flight. Photographed by Chris Larkin

Ingy Larkin photographed this White-breasted Cormorant with a fairly large fish in its beak.

Ingy Larkin photographed this White-breasted Cormorant with a fairly large fish in its beak.

Chris Larkin photographed this special sighting of the Osprey emerging out of the water with a meal fit for a king.

Chris Larkin photographed this special sighting of the Osprey emerging out of the water with a meal fit for a king.

White-breasted Cormorant and an African Darter having a squabble. Chris Larkin captured this typical book club scene.

White-breasted Cormorant and an African Darter having a squabble. Chris Larkin captured this typical book club scene.

Grey Crowned Crane puffed out after a bath. Photographed by Ingy Larkin.

Grey Crowned Crane puffed out after a bath. Photographed by Ingy Larkin.

Munching breakfast together. Photographed by Ingy Larkin.

Munching breakfast together. Photographed by Ingy Larkin.

Threatened Plant Species – Disperis woodii

ORCHIDACEAE: Disperis woodii [Declining]

Disperis woodii commonly known as Wood’s Disperis was named after John Medley Wood (1827 – 1915), a botanist and collector who became the first curator of the Natal Herbarium. Many people will know him through his numerous publication on KZN flora. The exquisite orchid is a declining species, which is under threat from urban development and sugarcane cultivation.

Disperis woodii is found in the damp, sandy grasslands of KZN and the Eastern Cape, growing to heights of between 40 – 150mm. Disperis woodii contains two leaves that are alternate, sharply pointed, dark green with silvery veins, egg-shaped with the wider part below the middle and are situated at the base or on the stem.

Wood's Disperis - Disperis woodii. Photograph by Geoff Nichols

Wood’s Disperis – Disperis woodii. Photograph by Geoff Nichols

Flowers are solitary, whitish or pink, in the axil of a small bract on a red stalk. Median sepal are egg-shaped with an upright, tubular spur (a slender hollow extension of the perianth, often containing nectar), 10 – 15mm long and dark yellow-green. Lateral sepals are broadest at the middle with two equal rounded ends, gradually narrowing to a long tip, however, the spurs are not pointed and are 4 – 6mm long, marked with a longitudinal pink streak. The petals are attached to the median sepal, curved like a sickle and divided into two unequal parts. They are long and rounded in outline, gradually narrowing to a long tip of 5 mm long and 3 mm wide. The ovary of Disperis woodii is egg-shaped and about 4 mm long.

Disperis woodii can be seen flowering between March and August.

Please report sightings of these naturally occurring plants to Suvarna Parbhoo, CREW programme: KZN Node Manager s.parbhoo@sanbi.org.za


  • Kurzweil, H. & Victor, J.E. 2005. Disperis woodii Bolus. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2014.1. Accessed on 2015/06/04
  • Linder, H.P. & Kurzweil, H. 1999. Orchids of Southern Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam.
  • Pooley, E. 1998. A field guide to wildflowers KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.

Searching for Disa scullyi

CREW fieldtrips are seldom dull.  Kathy Milford compiled this report on a recent excursion:

The 4x4s packed with 10 wild flower lovers, wound their way up a steep hill to Lake Lyndhurst past magnificent indigenous forests dotted with Calodendron capense in full bloom. We passed many clumps of Dierama latifolium.

Lake Lyndhurst

Kobus Kruger who has a thatched home on the lakeside then led us past the lake where we saw a beautiful dark red Brunsvigia natalensis, just before we left the beaten track.

Brunsvigia natalensis

The 4x4s bumped and jolted their way over the boulder strewn mountainside up to the top of the escarpment, with a quick stop to look at the  white Craterocapsa tarsodes.

Craterocapsa tarsodes 1

The view from the top was spectacular. Umgeni source Bertha Kobus 1

We looked down onto the vlei which is the source of the life giving uMngeni river.

Umgeni source 1

The mountaintop of Drinkkop stood next to us. We were surrounded by beautiful flowers between the boulders in the grassland. The bright pink Delosperma lavisiae contrasted beautifully next to yellow Lotononis.

Delosperma lavisiae

The dainty little white flowers of Sutera floribunda peeped between the rocks. A Stachys kuntzei was in full bloom.

Stachys kuntzei

A most delicate white Felicia was blooming and Rhus discolor was in berry.

Rhus discolor 1

Jamesbrittenia breviflora spread along the ground

Jamesbrttenia breviflora 1

and Indigofera woodii bloomed next to a rock. Helichrysum appendiculatum looked like a professionally made posy!

Helichrysum appendiculatum 1

Scilla nervosa,

Scilla nervosa

Tulbaghia natalensis, Oxalis and a beautiful Moraea sp were blooming close together.Moraea sp

Some distance away the eye catching Pelargonium luridum stood tall.

But we had orchids to find, so we climbed into the 4x4s to make our way down the hill to a vlei between Drinkkop and Lake Lyndhurst. We had a quick stop to admire a Disperis cardiophora which has an extraordinary rich spicy scent – enticing us to get down on our hands and knees to smell it.

Disperis cardiophora

A bright little Argyrolobium was blooming nearby.

Argyrolobium sp

We arrived at the vlei and blooming on the side of a dry looking bank was a black Corycium dracomontanum or nigrescens orchid.

Corycium dracomontanum

We walked  down into the vlei passing Monsonia attenuata,

Monsonia attenuata

Wahlenbergia and Monopsis.

The vlei was unbelievably full of orchids. Satyrium trinerve 2

The white Satyrium trinerve were blooming in their hundreds and were the first to catch ones eye.

Satyrium trinerve

In between were dozens of  Satyrium longicauda.


There was a single orange Disa chrysostachya looking like a poker.

Disa chrysostachya

The Disa rhodantha were a rich pink

Disa rhodantha

and the brightest yellow Schizochilus zeyheri were blooming prolifically in between the tall grasses.

There was one lonely potential Disa scullyi which was past its prime and which Benny Bytebier too back to the herbarium to confirm its identity. Yes! it is Disa scullyi – at last we found one!

Having saturated ourselves with the numbers and varieties of orchids we made our way back to the house next to the lake to recharge. We had made a brief stop en route to look at an extraordinary Disa versicolor.

Disa versicolor

After lunch we set off home. A short stop at a little vlei on the way out of the Bravazulu estate did not yield any new orchids but there were little insectivorous Drosera natalensis glistening in the sunlight at the edge.

Drosera natalenis

One lady got stuck up to her knees in mud in the vlei, with water overflowing from her gumboots and was pulled out by Benny before she was swallowed up by the mud!

Vlei orchid

The weather was kind to us – a bright blue sky with white fluffy clouds was replaced with dark grey storm clouds which soon blew over, unlike the hailstorm which caused damage back in Pietermaritzburg.

Kobus Kruger was an excellent guide and host, and Suvarna “the Stig” Parbhoo turned out to be an expert 4WD driver! Thanks to Benny Bytebier for sharing his amazing orchid knowledge.


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.



Summer in Impendle

Plant enthusiasts and amateur botanists seem able to find floral treasures wherever they wander. Sharp eyes spot interesting things along roadsides, on working farms and in residential areas – often in unexpected places.   The Impendle area is rich in special flora – a collection of summer flower photos gathered recently follows.

r impendle stream with crocosmia pottsii 138

Kniphofia laxiflora are particularly spectacular this season,

r kniphofia laxiflora impendle 405

there seem to be more Kniphofia buchananii than usual too.

r kniphofia buchananii impendle 434

The altitude in Impendle is much higher than the surrounding midlands, so it comes as no surprise to find Ericas amongst the rocks.

r erica probably aestiva  impendle 145

Many flowers attended by beetles, bees and butterflies, including this Xysmalobium (possibly parviflorum?)

r xysmalobium beetle impendle 210

The large flowered Pachycarpus grandiflorum in abundance.

r pachycarpus grandiflorus impendle 242

With the ground saturated, the vleis were a picture with Satyrium hallackii en masse –

r satyrium halackii

quite the most gorgeous colour.

r satyrium halackii flower impendle 340

Manulea florifera

r manulea florifera impendle 307

Pycnostachys reticulata

r pycnostachys reticulata impendle 387

along stream beds, the grey leaved Senecio macrospermus was evident

r senecio macrospermus impendle 161

and clumps of Alipidea – either woodii or amatymbica  which is listed as Vulnerable in the Red Data List.

r alepidea amatymbica impendle 187

A nest cleverly woven between stalks of Chlorophytum krookianum

r nest on chlorophytum krookianum impendle 165

Plenty of orchids at this time of year – including the tall Pterygodium magnum

r pterygodium magnum impendle 177

Habenaria dives

r habeneria dives close impendle 305

and this Satyrium – possibly neglectum?

r orchid maybe satyrium neglectum impendle 392

Schizochilus flexuosus

r schizochilus flexuosus impendle 321

On the road verge – Ink plant – Harveya speciosa

r harveya speciosa impendle 389


r whalenbergia impendle 246

Dainty Morea brevistyla and

r morea brevistyla impendle 222

bright blue Morea inclinata – the nodding wild Morea

r morea inclinata impendle 267

Crassula alba (or is it C. vaginata?)

r crassula alba impendle 225

and a small Crassula clinging to the rocks  – Crassula pellucida?

r crassula maybe pellucida impendle 327

Cheerful Berkheya, with attendant insects

r berkheya speciosa impendle 160

Eucomis autumnalis

r eucomis autumnalis impendle 219

Plenty of Watsonia densiflora in full bloom

r watsonia densiflora close up impendle 293

and the indigenous bramble – Rubus ludwigii

r rubus ludwigii impendle 191

Agapanthus campanulatus have also flowered profusely this summer

r agapanthus campanulatus impendle 142

Interesting small compact, grey leaved shrub – Helichrysum spiralepsis

r helichrysum spiralepsis impendle 213

Hibiscus trionum

r hibiscus trionum impendle 193

Dainty Polygala hottentotta

r polygala hottentotta impendle 286

This little unidentified blue flowered plant – any ideas?

r mystery blue flower impendle 200

Where have you been exploring lately?   Why not head up towards Impendle?  Take the Dargle Road and amble all the way through to Boston.

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