Tag Archives: snail

Boston Wildlife Sightings – Summer 2016

November 2016 Sitamani Sightings – Christeen Grant

November has had the first typically summer rainfall pattern in three years. Hot humid haze days, interspersed with misty cool ones, regular thunderstorm activity and glorious rain. Finally our well has some water in it, the first time since May. Wildflowers particularly have responded and the hillside is covered in a neon orange wash of Watsonia socium.


Watsonia socium

Some of the spectacular array of flowers are: Adjuga ophrydis; Albuca pachychlamys; Asclepias albens, these amazing flower heads droop downwards, hiding the vivid lime green and pink flowers;


Adjuga ophrydis


Albuca pachychlamys


Asclepias albens


Asclepias albens

Aspidonepsis flava with Crab spider; Berkheya macrocephala;


Aspidonepsis flava with a well camouflaged crab spider


Berkheya macrocephala


Berkheya macrocephala

Chlorophytum cooperi; Cyanotis speciosa; Cyphia elata; Dierama latifolium; Helichrysum pallidum; Hermannia woodii; Indigofera hilaris, bright pink clumps in the grass;


Chlorophytum cooperi


Cyanotis speciosa


Cyphia elata


Dierama latifolium


Helichrysum pallidum


Hermannia woodii


Indigofera hilaris

another different Ledebouria sp; delicate Lobelia erinus; hundreds of Merwilla nervosa; Pachycarpus natalensis; Scabiosa columbaria; Searsia discolor;


Ledebouria sp.


Lobelia erinus


Merwilla nervosa


Merwilla nervosa


Pachycarpus natalensis


Scabiosa columbaria


Searsia discolor

two species of Silene, Silene bellidoides and Silene burchellii;


Silene bellidoides


Silene bellidoides


Silene burchellii

Sisyranthus trichostomus; Trachyandra asperata; Wahlenbergia cuspidata;


Sisyranthus trichostomus


Trachyandra asperata


Wahlenbergia cuspidata

I finally have a name for this beautiful Watsonia via a Facebook group: Flora of southern Africa, Watsonia meriana


Watsonia meriana


Watsonia meriana

and Xysmalobium parviflorum.


Xysmalobium parviflorum

I managed to get a photo of a Spectacled Weaver on a nest in the Plane Tree. The Spectacled Weavers don’t seem to strip off the leaves in the vicinity of their nests as the Village Weavers do; perhaps they seek camouflage rather than being able to see their predators approach. The Striped Swallows have returned over a month later than usual. Red-collared Widows are now in full courting plumage and a large flock roams over the seeding grass. A Long-crested Eagle perches regularly on the Eskom post. The Southern Boubou’s are a delight with their varying call and quiet movements on the lawn and in shrubbery. A Bokmakierie pair are frequently heard and seen in the Leucosidea sericea and Buddleja thicket that has grown up behind the house.


Spectacled Weaver


Spectacled Weaver nest

With the rainfall, fungi pop up regularly. A Horse Mushroom and Star Stinkhorn with a millipede are two of them.


Horse mushroom, Agaricus arvensis


Star Stinkhorn, Aseroe ruba, with a millipede

Butterflies are starting to be seen more frequently. I watched an African Common White butterfly feeding in Vernonia natalensis.


African Common White butterfly on Vernonia natalensis

Bagworm larvae, of the Psyshidae Family of moths, on Vernonia hirsuta.


Bagworm on Vernonia hirsuta

Insects, like these Dotted Fruit Chafer beetles on Albuca pachychlamys, are nibbling many flowers and buds.


Dotted Fruit Chafer beetles on Albuca pachychlamys

Finally a delight on the lawn one morning, a Common cannibal snail, Natalina cafra!


Common cannibal snail, Natalina cafra


Common cannibal snail, Natalina cafra

November 2016 on Stormy Hill – Caroline McKerrow

I’ve seen the pair of Reedbuck a few times this month. I also had some Woodland Dormice in the ceiling until the cats dispatched them. Check the fluffy tail. The other one got eaten.


All the birds are busy in their nests. The Hadedas and Weavers have been building nests in the bird tree. The Speckled Pigeons are all over the place and the Red-winged Starlings are making messy nests on top of the lights in the shed. Swallows are also back making muddy nests. The Speckled Mousebirds got cold one lunchtime and formed a ball.


December 2016 on Gramarye – Crystelle Wilson

On a trip to a Zululand game reserve in November we were lucky enough to see cheetahs. Back at Boston I was just as excited seeing a Serval on an early morning walk down to the river.



The breeding season was in full swing and juvenile birds were everywhere to be seen. At the river two Levaillant’s Cisticola fledglings tried to balance on the same stalk


Levaillant’s Cisticola

And in the garden African Paradise Flycatcher parents were industriously feeding their newly fledged chicks


African Paradise Flycatcher

On the kitchen verandah there was a near tragedy when part of the nest of the Greater Striped Swallows collapsed on Christmas Day, leaving the three chicks exposed inside. Fortunately they were about to fledge and within a few days were flying strongly with the parents.


Greater Striped Swallows


Greater Striped Swallows

The atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 included: Dark-capped Yellow Warbler,


Dark-capped Yellow Warbler

Klaas’s Cuckoo, Black-headed Heron, Amethyst Sunbird, Common Moorhen, Hamerkop, Three-banded Plover, Wailing Cisticola, Blacksmith Lapwing, Speckled Mousebird,


Speckled Mousebirds

African Spoonbill, Black-headed Oriole, Bar-throated Apalis, Sombre Greenbul, Lazy Cisticola, Neddicky, Red-chested Cuckoo, Yellow-fronted Canary


Yellow-fronted Canary

Red-billed Quelea, House Sparrow, Speckled Pigeon, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Barn Swallow,


Barn Swallow

Yellow-billed Kite, Little Grebe, White-backed Duck,


White-backed Duck

Cape Wagtail, Black Crake, Cape Weaver, Reed Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant, Red-knobbed Coot, African Sacred Ibis, Spur-winged Goose, Cape Crow, African Pipit, Zitting Cisticola,


Zitting Cisticola

Fork-tailed Drongo, African Paradise-flycatcher, Cape Sparrow, Burchell’s Coucal, White-throated Swallow, Pied Kingfisher, Cape Glossy Starling,


Cape Glossy Starling

African Hoopoe, African Dusky Flycatcher, Black Saw-wing, Egyptian Goose, Cape Canary (well camouflaged in the summer grass)


Cape Canary

Red-chested Flufftail, Grey Crowned Crane,


Grey Crowned Crane

Cape Longclaw, Common Waxbill, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cattle Egret, Cape Grassbird, Yellow-billed Duck, Bokmakierie, Village Weaver,


Village Weaver

Southern Fiscal, Brown-throated Martin, Red-necked Spurfowl, Common Quail, Southern Red Bishop,


Southern Red Bishop

Drakensberg Prinia,


Drakensberg Prinia

Red-collared Widowbird, Fan-tailed Widowbird,


Fan-tailed Widowbird

Levaillant’s Cisticola, Little Rush-warbler, African Reed-warbler, African Stonechat, Long-crested Eagle, Hadeda Ibis, Cardinal Woodpecker


Cardinal Woodpecker

Cape Robin-chat, Olive Thrush, Pin-tailed Whydah


Pin-tailed Whydah

Red-eyed Dove,


Red-eyed Dove

Cape Turtle-dove, Southern Boubou, Greater Striped Swallow, Cape White-eye, Diderick Cuckoo


Diderick Cuckoo

December 2016 Sitamani Sightings – Christeen Grant

Sultry hot days with thunderstorms have produced a vivid green landscape, however there has not been enough rain to raise the water table significantly; although there is water in the well it is a fraction of what is usually there in December.


Summer solstice

Clouds obscured the full moon rise; however early the next morning it was visible through scudding clouds.


Summer solstice was a glorious day, ending in a beautiful sunset. Already many grasses are seeded, the red tinge of Themeda triandra softening the green.


Themeda triandra

There are still many wildflowers in bloom, some that I saw were: Agapanthus campanulatus; Aristea woodii; Berkheya setifera; Clutia monticola fruit;


Agapanthus campanulatus


Aristea woodii


Berkheya setifera


Clutia monticola

Craterocapsa tarsodes, which I usually associate with the mountains grows here too on rocky clay patches;


Craterocapsa tarsodes

Dipcadi viride; Epilobium capense seeds; Gladiolus ecklonii; Haemanthus humilis; Lobelia erinus;


Dipcadi viride


Epilobium capense


Gladiolus ecklonii


Haemanthus humilis


Lobelia erinus

four orchids, Eulophia hians var. nutans; Eulophia ovalis var. bainesii; Eulophia zeyheriana and Satyrium longicauda;


Eulophia hians ver. nutans


Eulophia ovalis var. bainesii


Eulophia zeyheriana


Satyrium longicauda

Papaver aculeatum; Pelargonium luridum; Rubus ludwigii; Senecio subrubriflorus; Strigia bilabiata and Zantedeschia albomaculata.


Papaver aculeatum


Pelargonium luridum


Rubus ludwigii


Senecia subrubriflorus


Strigia bilabiata


Zantedeschia albomaculata


Zantedeschia albomaculata


An unusual fungi was growing in stone gravel.


In the lush foliage I found some delightful insects: two Bee Fly species, a Foam Grasshopper and a lucky sighting of a Giant Forest Cicada!


Bee Fly



Bee Fly


Foam Grasshopper



Giant Forest Cicada

Most mornings the birds find the night flying moths before I do, but I did see a few, including the wings of a Wounded Emperor, Neobunaeopsis arabella; then a rather spectacular first for me, a day flying moth, a Superb False Tiger, Heraclia sp. which at first I thought must be a butterfly!



Superb False Tiger, Heraclia sp.


Superb False Tiger, Heraclia sp.


Wings of an Emperor moth, Neobunaeopsis arabella

After a misty night I saw a water-beaded spider web.


Long-crested Eagles catch thermals between waiting and watching patiently from perches.


Two discarded eggshells, one from a Spectacled Weaver and the second from a Village Weaver prove that some of the nests were acceptable.

The Striped Swallows have selected a new site to build a nest, I hope this one works out. A pair of Cape Wagtails have recently taken up residence in the garden. Occasionally I hear Spotted Eagle-Owls calling at dusk and dawn.

One morning I discovered a newly excavated Antbear hole, as it was in the middle of the driveway we had to fill it in.


Sadly I will have to live-trap and relocate the Lesser Savanna Dormice that have taken up residence in the house; a hole in a carpet, wooly slippers and clothing where they have selected bedding material, and they devour any food left out… Drawers are their favoured places to make nests. I love their chirrups as they move through the house and occasional sightings as they scurry across the floor and furniture.


Dargle Wildlife Sightings – September 2016

Helen Booysen – Crab Apple Cottages

Windy day…My Mobile did its best… Wildflowers and an unknown bug pictured on our walk over the hills:


Leonotus in the hills





Granny’s Bonnet orchids


Carnivorous Snail on D707


Pat & Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm, Lidgetton

Welcome to the Snake farm. I have been expecting it – the hot days this month. On Monday my maid went out to sit outside next to the rockery – 12.30 – that’s when they emerge from the rockery – a metre long cobra. I told her not to sit there anymore. Then on Thursday Pat was doing a block burn in front of the house. The one labourer was putting out the fire with the fire hose when a puff adder shot between his legs and slithered down the hill at speed. Who said puffies move slowly. I’m afraid the other huge puff adder got burnt in the fire. I am now wondering how many more snakes are around the garden.

Our Black Sparrowhawk chick revealed his rufous feathers on the 27th august. A few days later I saw him sitting on a branch high up in one of the gum trees (6th sept). After that I saw him only on a few occasions when I whistled – then he would fly out from one of the trees and whistle back. I have not seen them since beginning of September but Pat sees them occasionally.


There have been lots of Reedbuck around. One day there were 4 adult females and 4 youngsters together,


and for the first time we have had 2 sets of oribi on the farm – 3 males and 3 females – the one male only has one horn. (I did fill in and send off the Oribi survey form) We see them almost daily.


At the beginning of September a buzzard arrived and sat on the dead tree for about an hour – it has been identified as a juvenile Jackal Buzzard. Thanks to the Birdlife KZN Midlands Club for their assistance in this identification.


The Burchell’s Coucal keeps evading my camera – flew past the house with large worm in its beak and went straight into the shrubbery once more where I think it may be nesting.
One very windy night there was a scratching on our bedroom door while I was reading. This glass door leads onto the verandah. I was a bit nervous about opening the curtain but was surprised to find that it was a Speckled Mousebird who had probably been blown out of the trees. Pat placed it in a box and released him next morning.


Our 2 Blue Cranes are back on the farm and wade in the puddle of a dam each evening. On the 14th sept 20 crowned crane flew over the farm flying west. A porcupine was trying to get into the garden by digging a huge hole at the farm gate – the dogs would stand and bark at it but he took no notice – he did get in the one night and dug up a lot of my dietes bulbs. Pat attached more wire to the bottom of the gate which seems to have worked. Still hear the howling of the jackal at night – my dogs love to howl along with them – gets very rowdy at times.

The swallows arrived ten days ago and once again are trying to make a nest on the glass light bowl at front verandah. I have left the light on which seems to have deterred them, but not sure where they have gone now. The sparrows are busy making nests under the eaves at all corners of the house and the wagtails are once more nesting in the jasmine creeper. The rock pigeons are nesting in the one chimney. We occasionally hear the Barn Owl when he clonks onto the roof of the study where we watch TV or sometimes on the bedroom roof late at night where he busily eats his prey. We are not sure if he/she is still in the study chimney. We think she may be living in the forest behind the house.
We are thankful for the rain this past month. Just pray we get a good season this year.

Male Amethyst sunbird


Female White-bellied Sunbird



Long-crested Eagle


Male Southern masked weaver building a nest


Red-billed Quelea (non-breeding males)


Scadoxus puniceus


Evert van Breemen – Old Furth

I have a vague memory of you asking for snow pictures some months back.
Herewith my belated reply.


Detail of picture:

The closest part of the Berg is some 70 kms away and I estimate we are seeing
about 100 km of snow along the range which varies from 2.5 to 3.3 km in height. The picture is taken from a mast which is at 1.6 km altitude

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – December 2015

Malvina van Breemen – Old Furth Estate

December has seen increasing competition for the puddles remaining in our dams and we have seen numerous Herons, African Spoonbills, Spur-winged Geese, Egyptian Geese, Hamerkops, Teal, Yellow-billed Ducks, African Black Ducks, loads of raptors, disconsolate African Fish-Eagles, Sacred Ibis and even Grey Crowned Cranes visiting the ever-shrinking pools. The dam closest to the house is now completely dry and only has a mud puddle to show for the tiny amounts of rain we have received so far. Most of our little streams are dry and the stream which feeds the house is still just managing to keep going. We are deeply grateful for that! The Furth River is so low it is just threading its way between the rocks. We are also deeply grateful that at least our livestock has grass to graze on thanks to the little bit of rain – unlike areas in the rest of SA where there is just spectacularly nothing. I recently travelled to Joburg and there was a howling dust storm all the way from Harrismith to Joburg. Heaven knows where that part of the Free State went….

Chameleons (Natal Dwarf) thankfully are still bountiful and I am gleefully awaiting the tiny babies who will appear all over the garden. The hot days have delivered numerous little brown grass snakes of varying sizes who have required rescue from our cats.

Midlands Dwarf Chameleon

Midlands Dwarf Chameleon

The Cicadas have been loving the heat and we found one emerging from its casing inside the house in late November, after the sightings had been listed.

Cicada (superfamily of insects in the order Hemiptera, suborder Auchenorrhyncha)

Cicada (superfamily of insects in the order Hemiptera, suborder Auchenorrhyncha)

Thousands of baby Praying Mantis have been hatching as well.

We had a lovely visit from the Knysna Loeries (or Turaco), who have increased their flock from two to five. What a delight to just catch the flash of their beautiful plumage as they explore the indigenous forest along the stream bed near the house! Various Flycatchers and Sunbirds have been very active in and around the garden and the Paradise Flycatchers are often seen flitting upstream to where the waterfall should be running (but is not) near the house – they must have a nest there again this year.

On returning from a recent road trip to Gauteng, we were welcomed back to the Midlands by the most spectacular sight of thousands of Amur Falcons (previously known as Eastern Red-Footed Kestrels) arriving in Mooi River at sunset, seeking a roost for the night in the big London Plane trees near the Spar. I could not have asked for a better welcome home! Hopefully they will decimate the huge swarms of locusts we have been having in the garden now that they have arrived.

Amur Falcons

Amur Falcons

Wishing everyone in our wonderful Valley all the very best for an excellent 2016, hopefully we will get some rain next year!

Wendy de Waal – Honeywood Cottage


The junior Crowned Crane and its parents went away for a few days and then they were back without jnr. Did they deliver him/her to its mate? They seem to have made two paddocks their home territory. I see them every day.
The village weavers have been entertaining in their tree right in front of the veranda. Many nests on the ground testify to frustrated hens not being ready to mate. Broken egg-shells tell of success and busy-ness. I’ve noticed the Drongo checking out the possibilities of a meal, as does the resident Fiscal Shrike.
The entrance porch is home now to a pair of house martins (I think). One flew into the cottage to the delight of my old cat who could do nothing but chatter. It was evening so I switched off the inside lights and it soon found its way out.

Never have I seen such a variety of insects as those that invade any lighted room in my cottage!


Metarctica lateritia

Metarctica lateritia

Does anyone know the ID of this brown moth?

Does anyone know the ID of this brown moth?

The insects invite predators so of course I have had to remove frogs from the cottage. At last I remembered to photograph one: the flash in the bucket has given the toad an unusual colour but its patterns show quite clearly. The cross on its back is reminiscent of the cross on a donkey’s back, but I don’t think there’s any linking the toad to that legend!

Guttural Toad

Guttural Toad

Dieter Setz – Wakecroft

The first pic is where I was walking with Inhlosane in the back. I have never seen the grass that short before and only very few flowers very low down to the ground before.



This purple flower was almost not visible at all.


This yellow flower I have seen many a times before, but this time very low to the ground and not many about.


Purple flower next to a fern, also not taller than 15cm in height.


Dung Beatle busy rolling his food store for the next generation.


Evening primrose normally well over 1 meter tall, this one 20cm high.


Never seen this before on the side of an eroded path.


This green friend was very happy where he was


Normally these Beatles are also 10x bigger. Must have been the lack of rain this year that stunned all growth up here in the upper dargle.


Nicole Schafer – Woodcroft Farm, Lidgetton

A large Bushbuck ram seen on Woodcroft farm, photographed from a distance



Brunsvigia photographed in the Mbona Private Nature Reserve

Mbona Nature Reserve - Brunsvigia 2

And here a little closer…

Mbona Nature Reserve - Brunsvigia

Charles Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Common Slug Eater (Thanks Pat McKrill for the identification!)

Common Slug Eater

Common Slug Eater

Andrew Pridgeon – Copperleigh Farm

Black and orange locust

Black & Orange Locust

David Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Black scorpion seen near the MTN tower on the top of the farm

Black Scorpion

Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm, Lidgetton

Our 2 wagtail babies hatched on a day of 38 degrees (1st dec) The 2 white throated baby swallows on the front verandah decided it was just too hot and decided to also get out of the nest and sit on top of it

White-throated Swallow sitting outside his mud nest

White-throated Swallow sitting outside his mud nest

They kept sitting on lampshade for a few days and then across to the ledge a metre away for a few hours where mom kept encouraging them to get out there and fly. Eventually on the 7th December they flew out and sat on gutter where mom and dad fed them for a few hours (they were born 23rd November approx.)

Mommy swallow flying in to feed the 2 young that had just left the nest

Mommy swallow flying in to feed the 2 young that had just left the nest

They then joined the parents and flew off into the blue skies – they returned to the mud nest each evening for 2 weeks thereafter and then we went on holiday. They were not here on our return.

I was very excited to watch the growth and feeding of the wagtail young on our verandah.

Cape Wagtail

Cape Wagtail

Both parents so diligent feeding non stop till late evening

Pair of Cape Wagtails feeding their young

Pair of Cape Wagtails feeding their young

Then on the 10th December I went out to see them and they were lying dead beneath their nest. One half eaten and very little left of the other one

Remains of dead wagtail babies

Remains of dead wagtail babies

I was absolutely devastated. I cannot understand what is happening with this pair of wagtails. First she laid 2 eggs in the jasmine creeper in spring and never sat on them. Then she made a nest in the other creeper and the 2 young just disappeared on the tenth day too. Then they came and built on the verandah in my pot plant and again death – but why and who would eat them? A few days later they decided to start building again on the verandah but this time in my maidenhair fern. That was an absolute no no. Removed the fern. They now have built another nest in the jasmine creeper but so high that I cannot see anything but see the pair of adults flitting in and out.

On the other side of the verandah the female Amethyst Sunbird started feeding her young at the beginning of December. On the 10th dec I saw one sunbird peeking its head out the nest and tweeting loudly for its food.

Only room for one sunbird at a time to stick its head out of nest

Only room for one sunbird at a time to stick its head out of nest

Poor mama was working overtime because he screamed all day long – then 2 days later suddenly another head appeared behind the front head battling to get the front position, but no room.

2 juvenile Amethyst Sunbirds

2 juvenile Amethyst Sunbirds

No wonder mom was working so hard. Dad arrived now and then to check out the progress of the young. On the 15th dec both babies left the nest at lunch time and sat on the hanging basket for awhile.

2 juvenile Amethyst Sunbirds leaving the nest for the first time

2 juvenile Amethyst Sunbirds leaving the nest for the first time

Unfortunately I was not here to see this magic emergence but fortunately my husband was, and took a few pics. Thereafter mom fed both of them in the bottlebrush tree and fuschia bushes outside my bedroom. I could not see them but could hear them and saw mom popping in and out. I was just so thrilled to know that at least the swallow and sunbird babes had survived.

There are at least 4 sets of sparrows being fed by mom on the lawn at the moment. Two have 3 each, one has one and the other one has 2, so they too have done well considering this is their 2nd batch this season.
A pair of starlings have been feeding young in the one chimney and rock pigeons feeding in the other chimney.

What was very special this year was seeing one juvenile Red-throated Wryneck emerge from its nest in the hollow pole next to the gate in front of our house.

Juvenile and adult Red-throated Wryneck

Juvenile and adult Red-throated Wryneck

The female has sat there and called for about 3 seasons now and no young ever seemed to come from this. This juvenile sat on top of the pole for a few days before eventually flying off with mom.

Juvenile Red-throated Wryneck testing his wings before flying off with mom

Juvenile Red-throated Wryneck testing his wings before flying off with mom

Another first for us was having a pair of black cuckoo calling in the trees around the house. Probably because our trees have grown large (we have been here nearly 8 years)
An olive thrush has been digging up our ground cover in the formal garden looking for grubs and worms and is nesting in one of the standard drassina bushes.

One afternoon, 2 Cape Longclaws were giving vent to their feelings for hours while sitting in the proteas.

Couple of Cape Longclaws

Couple of Cape Longclaws

I have only seen 2 juvenile Cape Robin-Chats this season.

Juvenile Cape Robin-Chat

Juvenile Cape Robin-Chat

Have only seen 16 white stork in our lands. Pat saw an oribi running through farm and also a Martial Eagle. Our gardener sadly killed another Red-lipped Herald on the verandah (~perhaps the gardener needs to attend a Snake Talk with Pat McKrill?! – Ash). Our house sitter saw a genet at 7pm walking along the stone wall behind the house.

A pair of Natal Spurfowl walked down our driveway one morning.

Natal Spurfowl

Natal Spurfowl

Another first for us was the female Buff-streaked Chat nesting under the eaves of the house. Could not see the nest but they kept flying in and out. One precious baby came of this mating.

Juvenile male Buff-streaked Chat

Juvenile male Buff-streaked Chat

One morning I heard a commotion out the front and saw dad chasing his son around the rockery – poor little guy was terrified and screeching his head off.

Adult father Buff-streaked Chat chasing his juvenile son away – little chap hiding behind rockery

Adult father Buff-streaked Chat chasing his juvenile son away – little chap hiding behind rockery

Dad eventually left. Juvenile male buff streaked chat resting on rock after being chased by dad…

Juvenile male Buff-streaked Chat resting on rock after being chased by dad

Juvenile male Buff-streaked Chat resting on rock after being chased by dad

Ingrid if you are reading this, I have about 12 photos for you if you are still interested, as you told me last year that there was only 1 picture on the internet of a juvenile and then the one I took last year. Now I have some lovely ones of him which I will post next month or contact me should you need the photos.

I think this may be a juvenile Malachite Sunbird?

I think this may be a juvenile malachite sunbird

Eidin Griffin

Spotted lots of these giant African land snails on the D16 between Corrie Lynn and the river. Saw them around the same time last year too. I was in and out of the car a couple of times moving them so they wouldn’t get squashed by traffic. Must ask the Corrie Lynn school kids to make a ‘Beware of the Snails’ sign 🙂


Barend & Helen Booysen – Crab Apple Cottages

The Carnivorous snail on the right is busy having a dinner of Agate Snail in Kilgobbin Forest…


Carl Bronner – Old Kilgobbin Farm

I was riding with a friend up on our main hayfield last week and we saw two huge black birds with red faces. When we got home and checked in the Roberts’ bird book, we found out that they were ground hornbills! Quite rare in our area. We didn’t get too close as we had dogs with us, and the birds marched along the edge of the field and then disappeared into the forest.

Ashley’s Response: Thanks Carl! That is a rare and a great find. Southern Ground-Hornbills are listed as ‘Vulnerable’ throughout Africa by the IUCN, but within South Africa they have been classified as ‘Endangered’, as their numbers outside of formally protected areas are still declining. If you have a moment and can possibly provide additional info such as exact location and GPS coordinates, please go to the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project website:


Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

American brambles (declared Invasive Alien Plants) are a terrible curse that we are battling to get rid of on the farm, but after 3 years we are almost winning the battle. The berries are delicious though…I will miss them!

American Bramble Berries

American Bramble Berries

The dandelions are certainly popping up all over the countryside.


Had a plague of beetles arrive the one day, luckily they soon disappeared.

Beetle plague, here one day and gone the next

A large green locust came to visit.

Large green locust

And a hairy worm was playing on the lawn.

Large hairy worm

This beautiful large moth was sitting on the dog’s blanket.

Large moth on dog blanket

On one occasion I picked up a dead leaf from the hydrangea bush and found this very large yellow spider inside (Hairy Field Spider), I set him down and made my retreat!

Large yellow spider inside a Hydrangea leaf

Hairy Field Spider

One evening the dogs were going mad, so I went outside to find out the cause…


I found a very docile Natal Black Snake Natal black snake...1which didn’t seem at all worried about all the commotion it was causing. It slowly slithered through the grass, and went down the drain pipe.

Natal black snake...2

This beautiful Painted Reed Frog came into the kitchen one evening so I tried to take it outside. I found out it had really sticky foot pads as I struggled to get it off my hand!

Painted Reed Frog

Every evening these black beetles are attracted in their hundreds to the gate security lights

Thousands of small black beetles drawn to the security lights

A couple of coiled up Millipedes found under an old tyre.

Tightly Coiled Millipedes

And a strange bug I found, never seen one before.

Unknown bug

The wild Aloes were managing to collect some of the dew drops.

Water collecting in wild aloe leaves

Water running down the road after a big rain! Sadly it was short lived and we still needs lots more to add to the little puddles of dams in the area.

Running rain water - a welcome sight

Jenny Fly – Kildaragh Farm

The dry weather continues with just enough drizzle to keep things green. The Pavetta lanceolata,  (weeping brides bush )in the garden was looking very pretty but with the intense heat and no rain, it was soon over.

Pavetta lanceolata

Pavetta lanceolata

At the beginning of December we noticed a pair of Gurney’s Sugarbirds in the gigantic Jochroma cyaneum ( South American ) known as blue cestrum. One of the few exotics in the garden as the sunbirds, amethyst, malachite and Southern double-collared, love it too.

Jochroma cyaneum

Jochroma cyaneum

In the 12 years we have lived on Kildaragh, we have trotted up 128 bird species. Residents, holidaymakers and daytrippers. A motley selection outside the kitchen.

3 - Birds

The rye field alongside the garden, has attracted the tiny Zitting Cisticolas, and we constantly hear their loud, high pitched call as they fly dipping over the grass. Recently, in the early of the morning, we have heard the nkonyane’s (bladder beetle) eerie call . Our children used to think that the Martians had landed and were always rather wide eyed at the sound.

Our gardener, while eating her lunch noticed an umhlangane running across the wide lawn to cover, on the other side. It must have been a confused, large , grey mongoose.

A night adder paid us a Christmas visit. Tried to gain entry to house, but I shooed him off.

Night Adder

Night Adder

The Alberta magna gives us a good display of lovely bright flowers each summer.

Alberta magna

Alberta magna

The little Eucomis humilis

Eucomis humilis

Eucomis humilis

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – December 2014

Marashene Lewis – Glen Gyle

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

marashene sunrise

Helen Booysen – Kilgobbin Cottage

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


and spotted this beautiful moth on the same walk.


Andrew Pridgeon – Copperleigh Farm

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


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

Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm

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

Common stonechat

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

brown veined butterfly on a felicia wrightii

colourful butterfly

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

our only red collared  widow bird left

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

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

2 babies on the rocks

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

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

Grey heron

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

red billed male quelea

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

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

Mom and male baby oribi running across the hill

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

female black sunbird

The black sunbirds nest on our verandah

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

This steppe buzzard

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

cape robin with a mouthful

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

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

Red and Blue Grasshopper

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

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

r December blue crane

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

December flowers Satyrium longicauda

 Kouhoutia amatymbica,

Dec kouhautia

Dipcadi viride,

December Dipcadi viride

Eulophia foliosa,

December Eulophia foliosa


December flowers Ajuga


December flowers anthericum


December flowers Aristea

Cephalaria oblongifolia,

December flowers Cephalaria oblongifolia

Cyanotis speciosa,

December flowers cyanotis

Cyphia longifolia,

December flowers Cyphia longifolia

Diclis reptans,

December flowers Diclis

Hypericum lalandii,

December flowers Hypericum lalandii

Lobelia erinus,

December flowers lobelia


December flowers pentanisia

Rhodohypoxis baurii,

December flowers rhodohypoxis

Scilla nervosa,

December flowers Scilla nervosa

Senecio (discodregeanus?),

December flowers senecio discodregeanus

Silene bellidoides,

December flowers Silene


December flowers trachyandra

Tulbaghia natalensis,

December flowers tulbahgia natalensis

Psammotropha mucronata,

December Psammotropha

Senecio oxyriifolius,

December Senecio oxy

Sisyanthus trichostomus,

December Sisyanthus trichostomus

Vernonia hirsuta,

December Vernonia hirsuta

Senecio setosa,

senecio setosa

Hermannia depressa,


Hypoxis parvula,

Hypoxis parvula

Zantedeschia albomaculata,

December flowers Zantedeschia

Hibiscus trionum,

Hibiscus trionum



Hesperantha baurii,

Hesperantha baurii

Gerbera ambigua.

Gerbera ambigua

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

summer 2015 107 - Copy

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

knipophia breviflora

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

December flowers Stachys DOTS and HAIRS

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

r December reedbuck group

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

r weaver building nest

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

r December wasp on Vernonia natalensis