Tag Archives: wildlife

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – June 2015

The lovely warm winter days have certainly been abundant this year, we have had some chilly frosty mornings here in the Dargle, but by 9am it’s usually pretty warm. One thing needing mentioning, the Merricks sent through their sightings for March, but somehow they got lost in “cyber space” and only came through in June! So let’s see what pictures have been sent in and creatures spotted…

Tony Ritchie/Helen Booysen – Crab Apple Cottages

This pic of our Crowned Eagle was taken by a guest: Tony Ritchie, as the bird flew over our driving session on Monday 15th June.

Crowned Eagle

Crowned Eagle

Nikki Brighton and Tiffany Atwell (Old Kilgobbin) as well as Tammy Caine & Shane McPherson (Owl Box Project)

Early morning wanders around the farmyard have been a real treat for the last while. Often the silent silhouette of a barn owl swoops by just before the sun starts to rise. The hungry hiss of a couple of chicks in the owl box is unmistakable, but we can’t see them tucked safely in their bed high in the shed. Fortunately, Tammy Caine and Shane McPherson of the Owl Box Project visited to install a box in another shed on the farm and couldn’t resist a peek. Tiffany took these wonderful photos while they ringed the chicks so that we will be able to see if one of them takes up residence nearby.

Barn Owl 1

Barn Owl 2

Barn Owl 3

Barn Owl 4

Barn Owl 5

Dr. Amy-Leigh Shuttleworth, School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Some images captured on the trail cameras on Albury Farm last month, Sandra Merrick sent through this information:

Dr Amy-Leigh put up 4 cameras during the month, as we had a very active aardvark on the farm but as usual, no luck after ten days, but there are a couple of other wonderful pics she sent us.

This huge samango monkey at sunrise was a surprise.

This huge samango monkey at sunrise was a surprise.

Male Duiker

Male Duiker

Male Duiker

Male Duiker

 

Jackal

Jackal

Porcupine

Porcupine

 

Reedbuck doe

Reedbuck doe

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

After attending all the recent Owl talks we’ve had in the Dargle, I have tried to be more observant to see what owls we have here on our farm. Last month we had a Barn Owl flying around inside our shed whilst we were working with the sheep. Then last week as I was driving out the gate in the evening, there was an African Eagle owl sitting on the fence just looking out over the veld. Hopefully he/she managed to catch lots of rodents and keep them out of our tractors!

Brian & Marashene Lewis – GlenGyle

The first part of June did not deliver many photographs. Brian then moved the camera to a different part of the GlenGyle forest. (These were all captured with the Dargle Conservancy Trophy Camera.)

Blue Duiker

Blue Duiker

Bushbuck doe

Bushbuck doe

Bushbuck ram

Bushbuck ram

Jackal

Jackal

Porcupine Family

Porcupine Family

Spotted Genet

Spotted Genet

Tailend of a Bushpig

Tailend of a Bushpig

Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm (March & June)

We were away when the juvenile Blue Crane started flying. They are still on our farm and fly to the dam every night at about 5.30pm.

Blue crane family - the juvenile started flying early march while we were away

Blue crane family – the juvenile started flying early march while we were away

Saw 7 crowned crane at the dam one evening. Have seen 2 sets of Crowned crane with one juvenile this month. Have not seen our Blue crane in a long while.

Grey crowned crane with juvenile

Grey crowned crane with juvenile

Last month we got quite excited when we saw a large hole had been dug in the hill opposite our house.

Aardvark burrow

Aardvark burrow

We went to investigate and found scratch marks from the claws of the aardvark just inside the burrow. I contacted Dr Amy Wilson who came out with her trail cameras and set up 3 outside the burrow. Unfortunately, the next 8 nights were either stormy or drizzly and cold. Much to our disappointment, the cameras showed no activity at all, so either he had bunkered down or gone elsewhere.

Aardvark claw marks inside burrow

Aardvark claw marks inside burrow

The black female sunbird was sitting when we went away but not there on our return so not sure if a juvenile had been hatched.

Black female sunbird sitting once again

Black female sunbird sitting once again

The swallows, sparrows, barn owls and rock pigeons are still around the house.

House sparrow

House sparrow

Seen a number of duiker and reed buck. They are eating the acorns.

Male duiker

Male duiker

The black sparrowhawks are still in the gum plantation. The buzzards seem to have vanished.

Jackal buzzard

Jackal buzzard

Chats, sunbirds, wagtails, southern bou bous, cape robins, drakensberg prinia, olive thrushs still around.

Olive thrush in the rain

Olive thrush in the rain

Gurney's Sugarbird

Gurney’s Sugarbird

Black sunbird on kniphofia

Black sunbird on kniphofia

I am convinced that these Malachite sunbirds were mating. I saw this happening beginning June. The problem is, do sunbirds mate in winter?

Malachites 1

Malachites

They first both landed on tree, looked at each other and then touched beaks (did not get this photo unfortunately). They moved closer together on branch and then she turned upside down and he flew on top of her – this all happened in seconds…

Malachites 4

Perhaps someone who is experienced in this behaviour can shed some light on what they were doing.

Male malachite sunbird

Male malachite sunbird

We saw our neighbour who told us that he had 9 water buck on his farm eating his pastures, so we decided to go for a hike one morning when the electricity was off for 13 hours (repairs). He also told us that there were a number of aardvark holes next to the dirt road. He had noticed the trophy camera that Dr Amy Wilson had put up the previous week, as we had told her the aardvark was around once more digging his holes. She put up several cameras around our farm roads.

Unknown butterfly

Unknown butterfly

It was a beautiful morning and we soon found the 9 Waterbuck lying in the long grass. There were many aardvark prints in the soft dirt road and also a number of large holes. I took a few pics and we carried on walking to a stream on the next door farm, wanting to stop for a tea break. What we encountered in the Wattle trees was a bush pig. Fortunately there was no confrontation and he just ran off. Whew.

Aardvark prints

Aardvark prints

The very next day those same 9 water buck arrived on our farm once more. We have always had 5 buck but now the 9 from next door had arrived – had they followed our scent?
They seemed to enjoy eating the roughage for a few hours before disappearing over the dam wall. We haven’t seen them since.

The water buck are back, but 9 arrived on farm this time although only managed to get 7 in this shot

The water buck are back, but 9 arrived on farm this time although only managed to get 7 in this shot

The one Barn owlet was giving us a lot of problems through the month by flying through the security beams every night. We were getting a little tired of this and one night when he arrived on the window sill I told Pat to go and fetch him before the dogs caught him! We put him in a large box and took him to Free Me next day. We decided to do this before he injured his wings. All the previous owlets that we have taken to Free Me had injured their wings. When I went to go see him a week later at Free Me, I was told that Tammy Caine from the Raptor Rehab centre had arrived at Free Me and had ringed him and taken him away. I just hope that he will be released soon in an area where he will be happy.

Barn owl on window sill

Barn owl on window sill

I have seen a number of commodore butterflies this month. One sat on the ceiling in our lounge for a week. One warm morning when I opened the doors he flew out.

Garden Commodore (Precis archesia)

Garden Commodore (Precis archesia)

Emperor swallowtail

Emperor swallowtail

A pair of African shelduck at the dam.

A pair of shelduck

A pair of shelduck

A yellowbilled duck hatched out 10 ducklings beginning of the month. So very late. A few days ago only 4 were left! Every night about 60 spurwing geese spend the night on the dam. Pat saw 3 francolin chicks.

Yellow bill duck and 4 ducklings

Yellow bill duck and 4 ducklings

There are a lot of reedbuck around – a few days ago saw a baby reedbuck with mom which was encouraging as the jackal are still howling every night.

Female reedbuck

Female reedbuck

Boston Wildlife Sightings for February

Christeen Grant – Sitamani

The highlight this month was the CREW fieldtrip here on the 15 February. See photos of the morning spent on our hillsides looking for wildflowers at: https://midlandsconservanciesforum.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/crew-fieldtrip-to-sitamani/

A multitude of moths have been seen in the early morning beneath the light outside the backdoor. The following, except one, were all taken on the 4 February! 2014 02 Moth 05 2014 02 Moth 02 2014 02 Moth 04 2014 02 Moth 06 2014 02 Moth 07 2014 02 Moth 08 2014 02 Moth 09 2014 02 Moth 10 2014 02 Moth 11 2014 02 Moth 12 If anyone knows of a good Moth field guide book I would be grateful to hear about it. The Field Guide to Insects of South Africa has a very limited selection of moths. Also seen were two types of Antlion, one I’ve never seen before and think is a Long-horned Antlion.

2014 02 Insect Long-horned Antlion

The Mottled Veld Antlion we see occasionally at this time of year. 2014 02 Insect Mottled Veld Antlion Red-collared Widowbirds, Dark-capped Bulbuls, Black-headed Orioles, Fork-tailed Drongos, Hadeda Ibises, Grey-headed Canaries, Cape Sparrows, Cape Robin-Chats, Southern Black Tits, Amethyst Sunbirds, Lesser Striped Swallows, Black and Red-chested Cuckoos calling, Cape White-eyes, Red-winged Starlings, Black-shouldered Kites, Jackal Buzzards, Long-crested Eagles, Rock Kestrels, Steppe Buzzards and Grey Herons, Wailing Cisticolas, Speckled Mousebirds, the call of a Fish Eagle from the dam on Mount Shannon (Mondi) and Spotted Eagle Owls hooting to each other in the early morning and evenings. A Serval sauntered along the servitude road one early morning as I drove out in half light. Several early morning encounters with Duiker and Reedbuck, and Black-backed Jackal calling close to the house at night.

David and Wizz Lawrence – The Willows

We have been watching out for the resident pair of Grey Crowned Cranes, who have hatched three chicks in January, one of which disappeared after the heavy rains; but the other two are growing rapidly. At the end of the month only one chick could be seen in the long grass.

Group of Grey Crowned Cranes in Boston: Flock of 43 Cranes seen regularly on Trelyon, Tembeni, and Four Gates farms. On the latter farm, a report from Pete and Francis Nel of Blue Cranes, a pair of Grey Crowned Cranes and the 3 Southern Ground Hornbills that have been seen there from time to time – now returned for a visit. Boston_3307_Grey Crowned Cranes Barbara Clulow on CREW fieldtrip to Sitamani Amongst many other wildflower photos was this greenish nymph of the Eyed Flower variety of mantid on a Berkheya bloom. Green nymph on Berkheya flower (2) Crystelle Wilson- Gramarye It was good to see about 60-70 Amur Falcons hunting grasshoppers from the wires along the Dargle Road, Boston_3233_ but it was sad to find a White Stork killed by overhead wires along a farm road. _compo_web Both these birds are migrants that travel thousands of kilometres every year to visit us in summer before returning to China or Europe for the northern summer where they breed. The sunbirds in their glorious breeding colours continued to delight as they feed on abundant veld flowers. I was also pleased to find a Groundscraper Thrush near Barrett’s Guesthouse in the Dargle, a bird I haven’t seen in the district for a long time. Boston_3043_Ground-scraper-Thrush The atlas bird list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000 was: Greater Striped-Swallow, Boston_2850_White-throated-Swallow Grey Crowned Crane, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle Dove, Diderik Cuckoo, Cape Robin-Chat, Hadeda Ibis, African Sacred Ibis, Blacksmith Lapwing, Little Grebe, Red-knobbed Coot, Cape Sparrow, Southern Greyheaded Sparrow, Amethyst Sunbird, Boston_2857_Amethyst-Sunbird Le Vaillant’s Cisticola, African Dusky Flycatcher, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Little Rush Warbler, Pin-tailed Whydah, Common Waxbill, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Black Saw-wing, Common Moorhen, Boston_3302_Common-Moorhen Southern Red Bishop, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Cormorant, Black-headed Heron, Cattle Egret, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, African Stonechat, Long-crested Eagle, Boston_2777_Long-crested Eagle_imm South African Shelduck, Boston_2791_ Drakensberg Prinia, Village Weaver, Barn Swallow, Horus Swift, Brown-throated Martin, Spur-winged Goose, Cape White-eye, Common Fiscal, Yellow-fronted Canary, African Reed-Warbler, South African Shelduck, Egyptian Goose, African Darter, African Rail, Bokmakierie, Boston_2891_Bokmakierie Yellow-billed Duck, Red-necked Spurfowl, Cape Crow, Cape Wagtail, Speckled Pigeon, Cape Longclaw, Pied Kingfisher, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Southern Boubou, Fork-tailed Drongo, Dark-capped Bulbul, Steppe Buzzard, Boston_2845_Steppe-Buzzard_juv Sombre Greenbul, Red-winged Starling, Amur Falcon, Red-chested Flufftail, Pied Starling, House Sparrow, Wailing Cisticola, Long-tailed Widowbird, Speckled Mousebird, Thick-billed Weaver, Malachite Sunbird, Boston_2803_Malachite-Sunbird Hamerkop, Boston_3107_Hamerkop Black-headed Oriole, Yellow Bishop, African Emerald Cuckoo, Barratt’s Warbler, Bar-throated Apalis, African Hoopoe, Terrestrial Brownbul, Cape Batis, African Olive Pigeon, Olive Woodpecker, Greater Honeyguide, Yellow-billed Kite, African Quailfinch, Giant Kingfisher. Boston_2878_ David Clulow on The Willows A Monitor Lizard has been seen on a neighbour’s property but has been shot by another nearby smallholder. Why? Same reason as he shoots Genet cats and so satisfies some primeval urge to kill. Thought that would have gone out with Homo erectus having defeated the Neanderthals in Europe, but clearly it was not a total victory.