Wildlife Sightings - March 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 the Sightings nor do they necessarily reflect our views or opinions.

Barry Downard - Oak Tree Cottage

Here is a pic of that Golden Orb spider's construction (with a close up). On checking today, the whole construction is still there, but the spider has left the building. We've seen 5 constructions, but this one was extraordinary… probably about 3 m high.

golden orb web

Golden Orbweb spider and web

golden orb web close up

Also some pictures from the trail cam we'd loaned this past month. Not a lot happens in the garden, it seems, but 2 rather nice vids of duikers (I know they're not that uncommon, but these two pictures are rather nice (one appears to be mum and kid).

duiker Duiker with young

Also had a visit from a long (at least 1m) olive house snake (didn't take any pics).

Was using the trail cam hoping to see the porcupine responsible for chomping some pumpkins, and who deposited the scat, but he must have moved on, or was at home watching NetFlix.

Porcupine scat

Porcupine scat

Pat & Sandra Merrick - Albury Farm, Lidgetton

Autumn is here – crisp mornings and evenings and lovely balmy days. We got good rain this month. The blue cranes are here most days eating from the feed tyres and then grooming themselves at the dam in the late afternoons.

Sometimes the male runs up and down the edge of the dam trying to impress his damsel who takes no interest and carries on grooming.

Blue Crane

Blue Cranes

Lots of seed eating birds mainly queleas eating the mature grass seed.

Female redbilled quelea

Female redbilled quelea

One early morning a fish eagle flew over the farm and landed at the edge of the water – within seconds he had plucked one of the yellow billed chicks hiding in the long grass. He flew into a large pine tree where he stayed for an hour feeding off the chick.

Fish eagle

The pair of wattled crane still visit us – one with the tag.

Wattled cranes

Wattled cranes

The crowned cranes also land around the dam and spend a few hours wading.

Our Rottweiler killed a night adder next to our garage- he was so quiet about it that we only discovered this when it was all over – there was blood spatter all over the garage walls.

Our lesser striped swallow chicks (2) hatched out on a cold and wet morning.

First glimpse of Lesser striped swallow chick

First glimpse of Lesser striped swallow chick

They sat with mom on the hanging basket most of the day waiting for food which never arrived. The weather was like this for two days and I was concerned that they too would die without nourishment like the two white throated swallow chicks last month. Somehow the parents kept finding some form of food for them although it took hours for them to return and feed their young.

Adult Lesser striped swallow in the rain

Adult Lesser striped swallow in the rain

Then on the same miserable day their mud nest broke on the side attached to the neon light but the rest of the nest held firm. Just as well as the four of them slept very tightly together for a couple of cold wet nights.

2 adult lesser striped swallows plus 2 chicks squashed into their broken nest

Adult lesser striped swallows and chicks squashed into their broken nest

During these wet days the chicks would strengthen their wings by sitting on our washline and trying to keep their balance with mom and dad looking on dispassionately.

Swallows on washline

Swallows on washline

Since the weather cleared I have not seen them so do not know where they are nesting at night.

There have been many reedbuck around and the duikers are eating the acorns under the oak trees.

Male Reedbuck

Male Reedbuck

At 7am yesterday Pat saw a serval jumping out of a pin oak in our avenue where it raced up the driveway ahead of him and then disappeared over the stone wall. There are a number of cape turtle doves that nest in the oak branches. Apparently a black crow chased it on its way.

At dawn today 5 black stork flew over the house heading west. The white stork disappeared 2 weeks ago.

One morning I saw a steppe buzzard eating something on the lawn – by the time I grabbed the camera, it had finished its meal.

Steppe Buzzard

Steppe Buzzard

The jackal have been active these past weeks.

Other sightings:

African Harrier hawk (Gymnogene)

African Harrier hawk (Gymnogene)

Male Redbilled Quelea

Male Redbilled Quelea

Lesser Double-collared sunbird

Lesser Double-collared sunbird

Gaudy Commodore

Gaudy Commodore

Gaudy Commodore

Nikki Brighton - seen on Ubunye Farm

During the Conservancy walk to Mpophoma Falls, I was excited to find many specimens of this daisy – which I think may be Senecio dregeanus (Vulnerable in the Red Data list). It is a perennial herb with simple flowering stem up to 1m tall, with leathery leaves that embrace the stem. I cannot be certain about the ID.

Senecio sp.

Senecio sp.

Clinging to the crevices on the waterfall rock face were clumps of bright pink Hesperantha scopulosa. These flowers only open in daylight.

Hesperantha scopulosa

Hesperantha scopulosa

Near the streams on the top of the plateau, lots of cheerful yellow Sebaea natalensis in flower.

Sebaea natalensis

Sebaea natalensis

Also the last flowers still visible on Rabdiosella calcycina - more info about this plant here.

Rabdiosella calcycina

Rabdiosella calcycina

Also found lots of fragrant Hebenstretia oatesii in flower while exploring the banks of the Dargle River where Mr Zuma’s team have been clearing.

Hebenstretia oatesii

Hebenstretia oatesii

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