Wildlife Sightings - February 2017

The Dargle Conservancy publishes stories, pictures, and comments, which our members send to us each month, mostly as received by us, and with minimal editing on our part. We cannot guarantee the correctness of any information contained in reported sightings, nor do they necessarily reflect our views or opinions.

Michael Goddard - Riverdale

Just seen a Cape Fox in the Dargle (21 Jan). Thought it was a jackal but it was smaller, pointier face, big ears and it darted more like a cat and didn't have a dark coloured back at all. Followed it the whole way down our driveway as it ran in the light. Had 5 mins with the animal. Shame, it really was out of its depth...not very "street wise".

Editor Comment: Michael also sent in this picture of an interesting creature, I'm fairly certain it is some sort of Mole Cricket - Ash

Mole Cricket


Tiffany Attwell - Old Kilgobbin Farm

I could hardly believe my eyes when I spotted a baboon in the field with the horses! Everyone said it must be a samango monkey, but luckily we got a picture to prove it.  Very unusual to see a baboon here. It did not seem afraid of us pointing at it, and moved away slowly. The horses were all fascinated.



Barry Downard - Oak Tree Cottage

Spotted this guy in the garden this morning (note the smaller brown spider also in the web… they seemed to be getting on well).
Black leggedNephila or golden orb web spider Nephila fenestrata
Comment from Paul Van Uytrecht: "The big guy is a gal.  She is a black-legged Nephila or golden orb web spider (Nephila fenestrata).  The little spider will be a male of the same species."

Black legged Nephila

We’ve also been seeing evidence of porcupine in the garden (munched pumpkins, and scat). Thinking it might be an idea to set up the trail cam… have you got one available?

Ash - We certainly do! You may rent one for a month or two, and I will arrange to get one to you as soon as possible.


Rose Downard - Oak Tree Cottage

The boomslang continues to move actively from tree to tree around our garden, creating chaos and no doubt depleting our bird population. I rescued and relocated a Midlands Dwarf Chameleon, sadly an increasingly rare sighting these days, so hopefully he will avoid meeting the boomslang. 

In response to Colin Whittle’s question about the bagworm, I have attached another view of the bagworm from the underside, showing the silk attachment to our window. The bagworm has moved gradually up the window pane to its current position, where it has remained for several weeks without any further visible activity. It is approximately 2,5 cms in length and has the most delicate construction of twigs that I have ever seen.

Bagworm Psychidae family


Pat & Sandra Merrick - Albury Farm, Lidgetton

What a wonderful month – rain, rain and more rain, teeming down at times and also raining for a full 2 days. 245mm for the month.  Our 2 dams have joined for the first time in many years, the river is full and the waterfall at Granny Mouse is pouring over the top – what a site.  2 weeks ago there was barely a trickle between the rocks. The stream in my garden is gushing and filling up the dams below. I give God all the glory.


We went away for a few days and I phoned our housesitter to ask if all was well.  He hesitated and then said “ there was a snake in the house but I killed it and put it in your deepfreeze for you to identify”.  He obviously does not know my terror of snakes – I said “ you joking” He said “No”.  I hastily phoned the maid and asked her to check the deep freeze.  “Oh yes “ she said,  “I told him you will be cross to find it there” – I told her to take it out and throw it away – imagine if he had not told me and I had got home and opened the plastic packet?  Immediate heart attack!  Anyway it turned out to be a red lipped herald. (Ash: Red lipped heralds are quite common and non venemous, so I hope you informed him of that fact. They feed on amphibians (including rain frogs), lizards and other snakes - though only in captivity).

The white throated swallows hatched out 2 chicks and a few days before leaving the nest, down came the rain for 3 days and it was also cold.  I saw mom sitting on top of nest trying to keep them warm. The parents looked despondently at the rain from their perch on my hanging basket. No food. I did see a few flying ant feathers below the nest one morning but when the sun eventually came out, they were both dead. The one sitting perched on top of the nest and the other one had fallen over the side.  The mother sat grieving on the gutter for days. We were both heartbroken.

Our lesser striped swallows hatched out about a week ago – they too have been battling to find food for their chicks on the cold drizzly days.

The female malachite sunbird spent a few days pulling coir from the hanging basket on my verandah – isn’t it a bit late for nesting?

Female sunbird pulling coir out of hanging basket to make nest


We have seen the wattled crane quite often – he’s the one that is tagged and identified last year as being tagged at Shawlands farm, Nottingham road, 5 years ago.

The blue and crested crane arrive daily.  The cows are being fed and the crane like to pick up the leftovers around the tyres.

Blue crane


The strangest thing is that for the past few weeks the reedbuck have been coming into our garden at dusk. They are eating the kikuyu lawn! We shine the torch on them at night. I thought the veld grass would be sufficient for them.

Young male reedbuck

Young male Reedbuck in garden

Older male reedbuck

Older male Reedbuck in garden

Last night there was a rabbit hopping around too.

The kniphofias (pokers) are an absolute sight this year – the hills are full of orange flowers as are the wetlands.


Cape Weaver eating Kniphofia Flowers


Female Amythest sunbird eating from Kniphofias


Black headed grey heron or juvenile grey heron

Common stonechat

Common stonechat with large worm

Female or juvenile common stonechat

Female or juvenile common stonechat


Greenbacked swallowtail butterfly


Juvenile Amythest Sunbird


Juvenile male Buffstreaked Chat

Lesser double collared male sunbird.jpg

Lesser double collared male sunbird


Male and female Reedbuck come into our garden each evening to browse the kikuyu


Stream in our garden with Dissotis canescens - Pink Wild Tibouchina - along the banks




Ashley Crookes - Copperleigh Farm

I moved a large rock out of a field and found an ant colony underneath, they proceeded to quickly move all their eggs below ground.

Ants moving eggs

The waterfall at Barretts Country House (private residence) is flowing nicely after all the lovely rains we had.

Falls at Barretts

This spring at Knowhere farm is also flowing nicely

Stream on KnowhereFarm

Marshy area below Mavela dam on Copperleigh Farm, Inhlosane in the background

Marshy area below Mavela dam with Inhlosane in the distance

Mushrooms growing in the veld

Mushrooms in the veld

Bushbuck ram which was hiding in the grass

Reedbuck ram

I also captured a few videos on Copperleigh Farm with the Dargle Conservancy's Trail camera this month, it spotted a Serval, Vervet Monkey Family, Francolin and Common Duiker. There are two other videos I took of the ants moving eggs, and the little spring flowing so if you would like to view them please click here to head on over to the Dargle Facebook video page.


Owen and Wendy Garvie


GPS 290 28 33.30S Alt 1344m - 300 03 58.08E


  1. Danaus chrysippus f. chrysippusAfrican Monarch


  1. Cassionympha cassius Rainforest Brown
  2. Paralethe dendrophilus f. alticola Forest Beauty


  1. Acraea horta Garden Acraea
  2. Acraea petraea Blood-red Acraea


  1. Charaxes varanes varanes Pearl Charaxes
  2. Cymothoe alcimeda trimeni Battling glider
  3. Precis Octavia sesamus Gaudy Commodore
  4. Precis (Junonia) oenone oenone Blue Pansy
  5. Vanessa (Cynthia) cardui Painted Lady
  6. Junonia tugela African Leaf Butterfly
  7. Antanartia hippomene Southern short-tailed Admiral
  8. Libythea labdaca Laius African Snout Butterfly


  1. Leptotes brevidentatus Short-toothed Blue
  2. Cacyreus lingeus Bush Bronze
  3. Anthene definite Common Hairtail


  1. Eurema brigitta brigitta Broad – bordered GrassYellow
  2. Belenois aurota Brown-veined White
  3. Belenois creona severina African common White
  4. Belenois zochalia zochalia Forest White


  1. Papilo demodocus Citrus Swallowtail
  2. Papilio nireus lyaeus Green-banded Swallowtail
  3. Papilio dardanus cenea Mocker Swallowtail
  4. Papilio echeriodes echeriodes White-banded Swallowtail
  5. Papilio euphranor Bush Kite Swallowtail
  6. Papilio ophidicephalus Emperor Swallowtail


  1. Gegenes niso Common Hottentot skipper
  2. Metisella metis Gold spotted Sylph


Nikki Brighton

Spotted some treasures during the time I spent in Dargle this month:

Plenty of mushrooms, including an entire dead tree decorated in orange frills!
fungi covered tree

Collared Earth Star

collared earth star

Bracket fungi on fallen logs

bracket fungi on log

Lots of butterflies about too-

Loving the gorgeous orange crocosmia,
butterfly and crocosmia

and plentiful dandelions,

Butterfly on dandelion

Flitting about in the forest too.

butterfly in forest

Spectacular Brunsvigia natalensis in the grassland
brunsvigia natalensis

Xysmalobium sp
xysmalobium sp

Felt very fortunate to watch a bush buck doe on the forest edge for a while
bushbuck doe

Saw two oribi (well, they saw me first) bounding through the long grass


Readers Comments :

Sandra Merrick - Albury Farm, Lidgetton: "Nikki so sad to hear that you will be leaving us. Your flora and fauna pictures this month were really awesome. We really do live in an amazingly beautifully area and are truly blessed by our wildlife and wild flowers. It is sometimes so difficult to capture the true beauty of the midlands. I wish you well in your new home. Hopefully one day you will rejoin us in capturing the beauty of nature." 

Adrian J. Armstrong, PhD, Pr.Sc.Nat., Animal Scientist (Herpetofauna & Invertebrates)
 Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife on some of the images from last month: "The giant snails are granular agate snails Cochlitoma granulata, the insect shell is an exuvium of a cicada (Christmas bug), and the beetles eating the pumpkin flowers are oil beetles (Meloidae), also known as CMR (for Cape Mounted Rifles) beetles and blister beetles. The spider with the red stripe is a black button spider (Lactrodectus sp.)"

Kate Brown: "Thanks again to all you wonderful people out there in the Dargle for the super pics and comments. What a pleasure to look through."

Please feel free to comment on the sightings or to ask any question by sending an e-mail to us here.