Tag Archives: secretary bird

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.

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – October 2014

Rob Mackintosh – Carlisle Farm

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

Bushbuck mature female (2)

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

Bushbuck mature female (3)

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

Bushbuck mature female (4)

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

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

Bushbuck mature female (1)

Simon and Debbie Hayes – Hambledon

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

red lipped herald

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

red lipped snake

This fallen lemon attracted a swarm of bees.

bees on lemon

Rose and Barry Downard – Oak Tree Cottage

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

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

Hadeda squadron with Gymnogene

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


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

Silver-striped Hawk Moth

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

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

Spurwing Single

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


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

Porcupine Quill

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

copperleigh hail

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

copperleigh hail and sheep

Patrick and Sandra Merrick – Albury farm

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

We have seen the secretary bird on numerous occasions.

The secretary bird landing on top of hillaria tree.

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

The flapping of wings starts

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


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

Wagtail eggs.

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

.Redcollared widows

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

Our blue crane just after the big storm

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

Male and female reed buck.

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

Southern boubou.

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

Precious male oribi

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

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

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

Cape Robin

Cape robin

Black Sunbird

Black sunbird.

Drakensberg Prinia

Drakensberg prinia

Lesser double collared Sunbird

Lesser double collared sunbird I think.

Guerneys Sugarbird

.Gurneys sugar bird

Malachite Sunbird

Malachite sunbird again

Red faced Mousebird

Red faced mousebird

Yellow eyed Canary

yellow eyed canary.

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

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

Veronia oligocephala


Eriosema distinctum

Eriosema distinctum

Pentanisia prunelloides

Pentanisia prunelloides

Brandon Powell – Bukamanzi Cottage

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

swallow under eaves

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

swallows on ped post

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

firebreak culamanzi

Thankfully the rains followed and things are greening up again.

culamanzi greening up

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

getting greener

greener culamanzi

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

Dieter Setz – Wakecroft

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

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

Found these Coprinus plicatilis or Japanese Umbrella

I also found these Coprinus plicatilis or Japanese Umbrella

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

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

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

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

The Wattle is also in full bloom

The Wattle is also in full bloom

The Crow talks to me every morning

And the Crow is talking to me every morning

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

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

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


Helen Booysen – Kilgobbin Cottage

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

Raphionacme hirsuta

Graderia scabra

graderia scabra

Helichrysum ecklonis

helichrysum ecklonis

More summer flowers in the Asclepias Family



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

Rafiki the Samango and junior eating blossoms

samamngo eating blossomssamamngo againsamango 1

Kat Herrington – Aloe Ridge Huge hailstorm in the valley


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



Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

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

r samango with baby

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

r reedbuck male

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

r stone chat

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

r wagtail spring dargle 127

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

r tulbaghia spring oct 2014 035

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

r burnt night adder in grassland

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

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

Boston Wildlife Sightings – August

Christeen Grant – Sitamani

We have had a very dry, mild to hot August, unusually for this time of year, almost wind free. That was until the last weekend, on the 29 August it was bitterly cold with snow flurries that didn’t settle, but the Drakensberg had a dusting, glimpsed between moving clouds; then wild wind for two days.

2014 08 29 Snow

Spring flowers have been sparse. There were fewer ragged Anemone fanninii flowers on our hillside and quickly ravaged by the wind, as were Apodiolirion buchananii. Ledebouria obvatifolia have flourished, bright purple spots of colour between the rocks.

Plant Ledebouria obvatifolia

Cyrtanthus tuckii bravely fly red flags.

Plant Cyrtanthus tuckii

Pale pink confetti of Dimorphotheca jucunda daisies shine on dry ground.

Plant Dimorphotheca jucunda

One hive of activity is the winter remains of Rocket in the vegetable garden. Bees, Cape Canaries and Striped Mice feast on the flowers and seeds.

Insect Bee

Mammal Striped Mouse

Bird Cape Canaries

The Leucosidea sericera and Halleria lucida flowers also still attracted many insects, Carpenter bees, Bees, Ants and Ladybirds.

Insect Ladybird on Ouhout

Cape White-eyes, Bulbuls, Cape Robin-Chats and Southern Boubous enjoy the bird bath. A Malachite Sunbird and Red-collared Widowbirds are in the process of growing their summer plumage. Amethyst Sunbirds busily gather cobwebs for new nests. The first Yellow-billed Kite of the season joined the Long-crested Eagles and Jackal Buzzards soaring overhead.

Black-backed Jackal call in the evenings. Common Reedbuck come close to the house to feed. Sadly we found an adult Serval lying dead, with no apparent cause on the driveway early on 21 August as we drove out before dawn. When we returned the next evening all evidence of it had gone.2014 08 Frost

Barry and Kirsten Cromhout – Highland Glen

Single Cape Vulture flying above; African (Ethiopian) Snipe in a ; Denham’s Bustard.

Rory and Sue Brighton – Elandsvlei

Pair of Fish-Eagles on the dam for the last month. What a lovely cry to hear first thing every morning.

Trevor Scheepers – Lapa Lapa

While visiting at “Four Gates” farm, saw a single Southern Ground Hornbill

Bruce and Bev Astrup – Highland Glen

Pair of Common Reedbuck lying outside garden fence and watching activities

David and Wizz Lawrence – The Willows

Single Grey Duiker, seen often outside garden fence in field.

Crystelle Wilson – Gramarye

Yellow-billed Kites are often regarded as the harbingers of spring when they return from overwintering in Africa north of the equator. I saw my first YBK on 26 July near Ashburton, Pietermaritzburg, when Boston was still very much in the grip of fierce frosts. Winter birding was still slow with low numbers, but it is easier to see forest birds with less foliage on the trees. I was pleased with finding a Lemon Dove, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler Boston_9189_Yellow-throated-Woodland-Warbler

and Swee Waxbill at Norwood forest in the Boston pentad, as well as seeing some swifts making a return.


The list for pentad 2940_3000 were: Alpine Swift, Greater Striped Swallow, Rock Martin, Terrestrial Brownbul, Lemon Dove, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Forest Canary,


Bar-throated Apalis, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, African Olive-Pigeon, Olive Woodpecker, Yellow-breasted Apalis,

Boston_9154_Yellow-breasted-Apalis Swee Waxbill, Sombre Greenbul, African Firefinch, Blacksmith Lapwing, Yellow-fronted Canary, Little Swift, African Black Swift, Southern Boubou, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Red-throated Wryneck, African Harrier-Hawk,


Speckled Mousebird, Black-headed Oriole, Pied Crow, Black Sparrowhawk, Jackal Buzzard, Grey Crowned Crane, Common Moorhen, African Sacred Ibis, Little Grebe, Red-knobbed Coot, South African Shelduck, House Sparrow, Dark-capped Bulbul, Common Fiscal, Common Waxbill, African Stonechat,


Fan-tailed Widowbird, Hamerkop, Reed Cormorant, Cape Wagtail, Cape Crow, White-breasted Cormorant, Cape Glossy Starling, Long-crested Eagle, Egyptian Goose, Spur-winged Goose, Yellow-billed Kite, Black-headed Heron,

Boston_9317_Black-headed Heron

Pin-tailed Whydah, Cape Canary, Cape Sparrow, Village Weaver, Cape Robin-Chat, Drakensberg Prinia, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Bokmakierie, Cape Longclaw, Red-necked Spurfowl, Cape Turtle-Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Hadeda Ibis, African Rail, Olive Thrush.

In the Elandshoek pentad I saw a Secretarybird between Kia Ora and Boston View and hope that they will breed this year in the area that Rob Geldart had pointed out to me.


The list for Elandshoek pentad 2935_300: African Harrier-Hawk, Red-throated Wryneck, Red-billed Quelea, Giant Kingfisher, Black-headed Oriole, Dark-capped Bulbul, Southern Black Tit,


Southern Red Bishop, Red-knobbed Coot, Black Sparrowhawk, African Pipit, Red-capped Lark, Fan-tailed Widowbird, White-breasted Cormorant, Hamerkop, Yellow-billed Kite, Cape Glossy Starling, Pied Starling, Speckled Pigeon, Amethyst Sunbird, Wattled Crane, Sombre Greenbul, Cape White-eye, Cape Batis, Common Waxbill, African Stonechat, Bokmakierie, Malachite Kingfisher, Little Grebe, Three-banded Plover,


Spur-winged Goose, Yellow-billed Duck, Reed Cormorant, Jackal Buzzard, Brown-throated Martin, Cape Wagtail, Common Fiscal, Cape Crow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Cape Canary, Levaillant’s Cisticola, African Rail, Cape Longclaw, Speckled Mousebird, Egyptian Goose, South African Shelduck, Olive Thrush, Blacksmith Lapwing, Grey Crowned Crane, Village Weaver, Cape Robin-Chat, African Dusky Flycatcher, Cape Sparrow, Hadeda Ibis, Drakensberg Prinia, Fork-tailed Drongo, Cape Turtle-Dove, Red-eyed Dove, African Sacred Ibis, Red-necked Spurfowl, Helmeted Guineafowl, Southern Boubou.

David Clulow, while visiting Boston on 11 August:
Between 10 am and 11 am overlooking Melrose dam


African Fish-Eagle circling overhead; Egyptian Geese; Huge flock of flying yellow-billed Ducks; Spurwing Geese; lots of African Shelduck on water; Little Grebe; Reed Cormorant; Common Moorhen; White-breasted Cormorant; Blacksmith Lapwing; Sacred Ibis; African Stonechat; Common Fiscal; African Darter.

DSCF2643African Darter

On leaving the dam: Brown-throated Martin; Yellow-billed Kite; many Pied Crows; Cape Crows; Jackal Buzzard; Cape Turtle-Dove; Hadedah Ibis; and in garden at “The Willows”: many Village Weavers; Cape Sparrow; House Sparrow; Cape Weaver; Red-billed Quelea; in silage pit -Helmetted Guineafowl.

Driving by “Kampoko”:

Three Grey Crowned Cranes feeding near R617

DSCF2677Three Grey Crowned Cranes

Question for Bostonians and well-wishers of Impendle Nature Reserve:

What will the plans for Smithfield dam, downstream the uMkomaas river from the R617, in the old Deepdale valley; and the Impendle dam upstream from the R617 have as an impact on these two places?      

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – June 2014

Simon Hayes – Hambledon

A fish eagle has been visiting our dam lately, trying rather unsuccessfully to catch a fish.

fish eagle in flight


Maybe the otter in the dam puts him off!


Sandra and Pat Merrick – Albury

We have had sleepless nights this past month with our 3 barn owlets learning to fly.

barn owlet

They have been flying onto our verandah, onto our window sills, causing the alarm to go off as much as 5 times a night. After the alarm went off one night and we saw the owl on the window sill, we also saw a natal red rock rabbit in the garden hopping around. Just may be the one that lived in my formal garden for 4 months as a baby and vanished in March. Things have quietened down this past week, so it looks like the owlets are now hunting on their own. There is still an adult barn owl in the chimney which the other 2 adults keep chasing.

The hamerkop came into the garden again on an overcast day.


We have dozens of sunbirds and most of them have lost their summer colours, so have found it difficult to identify. Greater collared sunbird

greater collared sunbird

Female malachite sunbird

female malachite sunbird

Also many common stonechats and buff streaked chats.  Common Stonechat

common stonechat

Some Female African Stonechats (saxicola torquatus) – Thanks to Hugh Bulcock for identifying them as well as the Yellow-throated Petronia.

little bird

Hundreds of seed eaters on the lawn every day. Up to 16 sacred ibis on dam every day and the odd spoonbill. Gurney sugarbird

guerney sugar bird

At the beginning of june our 2 adult blue crane arrived at the dam one afternoon and mournfully cried for about ten minutes and then flew off. A few hours later one blue crane arrived and he too also gave a few mournful cries and flew off. I can only guess that mom and dad were saying a sad farewell to their baby as I have not seen them since. I miss them but they will be back next season, I am sure. Cape White-eye

cape white eye

A redthroated wryneck living in corner post in our garden. A pair of shelduck, egyptian geese, spurwing geese, plovers. Black crested eagle, jackal buzzard. Heard the cry of the fish eagle several times during the month. Cape Robin

cape robin

a Secretary Bird arrived at last for a short while and then flew off

secretary bird

Yellow-throated Petronia (gymnoris superciliaris)

bird on bare branches

Malachite sunbird in eclipse

malachite sunbird in eclipse

Black sunbird – with its tongue out!

black sunbird tongue out

Common duiker

common duiker

One morning saw a Natal red duiker standing in the middle of the road just past Endebeni farm. I stopped the car, went for my camera but it ran back into the bush. I have never seen one here before but I checked out the website and it was definitely a red duiker. Dark auburn in colour, small head and smaller in size than the common duiker.

Lots of reedbuck on the hills and in the long grass around the house. The males have been chasing a female for a couple of weeks now. They came to blows one morning. Walked towards each other, face to face, eyeball to eyeball and then the fight began. Locked horns, pushing backwards and forwards.

reedbuck fighting

One of them went down and I wondered what would happen next but he got up, they looked at each other and calmly walked off.

male reedbuck after fight

We had fun with the trail camera. Captured as many as 100 photos in 2 nights with the trail camera we hired for the month (from the Dargle Conservancy). Well worth the R100. Pat changed the camera position about every 5 days.  Some very interesting photos of the owls with the owlets practising their jumping and flapping skills before learning to fly. They have been flying for the last 2 weeks.

barn owl practicing flying

We also saw many jackal in the bush. One running up the burn at 7am one morning.

jackal albury

male bush buck,

male bush buck



and lastly a beautiful caracal which is very special.


Many male and female reedbuck on our road to the house. Strangely no images of bush pig or female bush buck were captured.

Robin Barnsley – Sanctuary

Saw a Genet up the tree late one night when I arrived home. Also saw the one-horned Bushbuck that attacked Jenny Fly a few months ago.

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Have seen the Vervet Monkey’s on the corner of our farm near Barret’s Country house on quite a few occasions. This morning I saw a Reedbuck take off up the hill when putting out salt lick for our cows.

Dieter Setz – Wakecroft

At present this is the only colour, even with frost on it, along the riverbed

frosted orange fruit

Bugweed (Solanum mauritianum) or what is left of it after strong frost

frosted bugweed

Don’t know the name of this weed. It flowers, seeds and is frost resistant (all in one) and no animal eats it. Can anybody out there shed some light on it?

what is this weed

Here is the most hated flower by hikers and people walking in the veld – Blackjacks!

black jacks

These tiny little flowers are flowering now and have a very pleasant sweet scent

buddleja close up

Strawflowers are hanging in as well

straw flowers are hanging in

The frost got hold of these wild melons as well.

frosted wild melons

Images from the Trail Camera:  a Small Antelope






Porcupine and Jackal


Common Male Duiker


Nikki Brighton

I spent most of the month beside the seaside, so have nothing interesting to report for Dargle. If you are interested, you can see what I saw at the beach here: https://plantabundance.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/east-coast-abundance-figs-flowers-and-footprints/

Keep an eye on the Dargle Facebook page for local news. Video footage of the Barn Owls captured at the Merrick’s property will be posted soon. https://www.facebook.com/dargle.kzn


Boston Wildlife Sightings – June 2013

Frances and Pete Nel of Four Gates

A number of Bald Ibis; The Grey Crowned Crane baby is lovely and flying with them.  So sad that the other chick was interfered with by workers, who took it away. Have not seen the Ground Hornbills for a while but we hear them often in the early morning. A Barn Owl during the Fishing weekend of the middle of June, photographed by one of the fishermen: babies in house roof. The owl was there first thing on Sunday morning and remained there all day, even while Pete was driving up and down on the tractor nearby.

barn owl

Christeen Grant – Sitamani

During June we had the most wonderful moon sightings, finally a spectacular full moon in clear skies. On the morning of full moon, before dawn, I had a very special sighting of a Scrub Hare gazing at the shining orb, not far from our house.

Winter morning Grasses CGrant

June brought some much needed moisture, immediately Collared Earth-stars, Geastrum triplex fungi appeared in leaf litter.

Collared Earth Star CGrant

Winter is aloe time and the rocky hillside had distinctive orange glowing spots of colour, Common Soap Aloe, Aloe maculata.

aloe maculata CGrant

There is a buzz of insects and birds around the Greyia sutherlandii flowers, a closer inspection reveals glistening ‘pots’ of nectar.

Greyia sutherlandii CGrant

The flowering Buddleja salviifolia also attracts the same attention, Buddleija salvifolia CGrant

and for me a first time glimpse of a Dung fly, Scathophaga stercoraria, although the field guide for insects doesn’t show Boston included in it’s range, I am sure it is one.

Dung Fly CGrant

Scenecio madagascariensi and Euryops laxus provide vivid yellow splashes in the dry grass.

Euryops laxus CGRant

George Edlmann of Parkside: The Saasveld student with Gavin Dukes was travelling the dirt road from Boston to Parkside. On the rise past “Elandshoek” turnoff, moving towards “Boston View”, where the road takes a sharp left turn, a Waterbuck cow crossed the road immediately in front of him. Good luck, George with your sightings in Eston – your submissions have been great.

Barry Cromhout: two Vultures on Sunday 1 June, swept from the Drakensberg by very strong winds; African Fish-Eagle, calling near the Elands river

Bruce Astrup of Highland Glen: saw large brown eagle, suspected Tawney Eagle, perched on tree near Elands river early in June

Rob and Celia Speirs of The Rockeries: an uninvited visitor made itself comfortable in the lounge…

green snake

Dave Clulow, visiting at The Willows, saw an African Harrier-Hawk, circling in line with the sun to disguise its presence; also in an hour’s observing from the stoep: Cape Crow; Black-headed Heron; Cape Turtle-Dove; Cape Sparrow; masses of Village Weavers; Southern Boubou; Cape Wagtail; House Sparrow; Red-billed Quelea; Dark-capped Bulbul; Hadedah Ibis; juvenile Jackal Buzzard, which stayed for 3 hours, perched on an old branch. An afternoon walk in the wetland revealed – Helmeted Guineafowl; Red-Eyed Dove; Fork-tailed Drongo; Familiar Chat; Blacksmith Lapwing; Natal Spurfowl; African Stonechat and Spurwing Geese

Trevor and Cheryl Scheepers of Lapa Lapa: Egyptian Gesse have hatched out 7 youngsters in the midst of winter; Barn Owls have 3 chicks still, quite grown up – earlier another one flew into a fence and was killed

Ian and Jenny Lawrence of Endeavour farm: Denham’s Bustard a regular visitor near farmhouse; and four Grey Crowned Cranes also, two being the juveniles;  two wattled Cranes in the stubble maize, in sight from the farmhouse

Joan Stewart of Seven Streams farm: While doing flower arranging – picked a heap of Hydrangeas, and took them in to Pietermaritzburg, when she discovered a dwarf Cameleon in the posy, so it was returned to her garden.

Crystelle Wilson – Graymarye

A treat for me early one morning was going with Rob Geldart and Michael to see the sites where Secretarybirds nest on his farm. On the way to the one site we did come across one bird, but we  didn’t see any birds at the nest. There were some white droppings below the tree, so hopefully they might breed this season.2013Jun17_Secretarybird_0945_s

It was also great to see the pair of Wattled Cranes with their chick which was ringed by Tanya Smith earlier in the month.

2013Jun17_Wattled Crane_0961_s

Another special sight was seeing 20 Cape Vultures riding the wind close to the Boston Gargage on a stormy Sunday morning. They remained in the same spot for more than an hour.

2013Jun09_Cape Vultures_s

Birding in winter remains good, even without the summer migrants I got a list of more than 70 birds in the Elandshoek pentad 2930_3000. I was pleased to catch a glimpse of a Grey Cuckooshrike, a bird that is more often heard than seen. One character that had me scratching my head for a while was a juvenile Jackal Buzzard that did a good impression of a Steppe Buzzard.

2013Jun17_Jackal Buzzard_juv_s

Cape Robin-Chat, Drakensberg Prinia, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle Dove, Olive Thrush, Dark-capped Bulbul, Southern Boubou, Speckled Mousebird, Fork-tailed Drongo, Hadeda Ibis, African Harrier-Hawk, Cape Wagtail, Helmeted Guineafowl, African Stonechat, Common Waxbill, Black Sparrowhawk, Egyptian Goose, Spur-winged Goose, Cape Crow, Red-chested Flufftail, Long-crested Eagle, African Black Duck, Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, African Sacred Ibis, African Rail, African Hoopoe, Denham’s Bustard, Bokmakierie, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Cape White-eye, Speckled Pigeon, Rufous-naped Lark, South African Shelduck, African Pipit, Cape Longclaw, Southern Red Bishop, Giant Kingfisher, Common Fiscal, Common Moorhen, Yellow-billed Duck, Village Weaver, Red-billed Quelea, Cape Sparrow, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, White-breasted Cormorant, Red-necked Spurfowl, Black-headed Heron, Jackal Buzzard, Grey Crowned Crane, Black-headed Oriole, House Sparrow, Cape Grassbird, Cape Parrot, Grey Cuckooshrike (picture below), Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Southern Black Tit, Reed Cormorant, Black-backed Puffback, Amethyst Sunbird, Wattled Crane, Secretarybird, Sombre Greenbul, Long-tailed Widowbird, Yellow Bishop, Pied Starling, Hamerkop, Brown-throated Martin, Green Wood-hoopoe, Spotted Eagle-Owl, Barn Owl, African Darter, Blacksmith Lapwing, Red-knobbed Coot.

2013Jun17_Grey Cuckooshrike_s