Wildlife Sightings - April 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.

Pauline Holden - WOODSONG FARM

This Porcupine came to visit one evening in late April.  Much amusement and careful curiosity for our two young dogs.

Porcupine

We have seen a male, female and young adult Bushbuck grazing on the river bank earlier this month.

Barry Downard - Oak Tree Cottage

This must be the smartest chameleon in the Dargle. It spends the entire day in a clump of grass around a bee hive. I saw him nabbing a couple of bees, and flies… he was just too fast for me to catch him in action.

Chameleon

 

PAT AND SANDRA MERRICK – ALBURY FARM – LIDGETTON

On the 8th April, the lesser striped swallow chicks were still sleeping in their broken nest in the courtyard.  Shortly thereafter all the swallows seem to have left when the cold spell arrived.
Pat has seen the black sparrow hawks flying around the farm, so I wonder if they are getting ready to nest soon.

On the 11th April, a big storm lasting 6 hours brought hundreds of flying ants into the garden.  This was late afternoon.  As the swallows had vanished 2 large guttural toads came hopping onto the lawn and had a feast for an hour, until they were so full they just sat there looking at the fluttering ants around them.  Was quite amusing watching their antics as they are not the fastest amphibians.

Another interesting sighting was a skink eating a large worm – I normally see them eating flies and moths but as there are not many around now, I suppose the diet has changed to worms.  I have a small couch in our bedroom and there is a skink living down the inside of it.  It has been there a month now and we have tried countless times to get it to run out the glass doors but it will have none of it.  It just runs back into the couch. Are there any Lizard specialists out there who can tell me why this skink will not go outside?  Goodness knows what its eating. I just hope it hasn’t laid eggs in the couch.

We have been invaded by a swarm of bees the past 2 weeks.  A few days ago, they went into our chimney. We tried smoking them out but the only one who was disturbed by the smoke was our barn owl who flew off into the trees behind our house.  We are not sure if the bees have settled in the chimney but quite a number of them have fallen down the chimney and flown around the windows or else died on the floor.

Its lovely to see the bees around again but not in our chimney.

The wattle crane still visit and the latest arrivals are 5 crowned crane.  We are not sure if 3 of them are grown chicks or just 5 adults that keep together.  Like our pair of blue crane who also pay us daily visits, they have found the cattle feed in the tyres. 

The sunbirds are still about.    The malachites are in eclipse.  A pair of gurney sugar birds have returned.  They always arrive in autumn.  Not sure why. The sparrows are nesting once more.
The robins, buff streaked chats, sparrows, bulbuls and white eyes all seem to enjoy a midday bath in our rock pool outside our kitchen window.  It doesn’t seem to matter if the weather is cold or hot, they still bath.

A pair of cape turtle dove chicks are about 10 days old now – their nest is in a swamp cyprus tree which is changing into its autumn colours.  We also found a cape turtle dove sitting on her nest on the lower branches of the pin oak tree, the leaves a glory of orange red and yellow.

I saw something amusing while driving through the Lidgetton village.  There are many tethered animals there and I saw something white jumping up and down the side of one of the cows.  As I got closer it turned out to be a white chicken who was eating the ticks on the underbelly of the animal.  One way of getting protein.  The animal just kept on grazing.

unidentified butterflies

Unidentified butterflies

Comment from Ashley Crookes: I believe that Sandra's butterflies are the African Monarch, here's a link.

Dark capped Bulbuls

Dark capped Bulbuls

Male Amythest Sunbird

Male Amythest Sunbird

Skink eating caterpillar

Skink eating caterpillar

Toad eating termites

Toad eating termites

Gurney's sugarbird

Gurney's sugarbird

unidentified sunbird

Unidentified sunbird

Female Cape weaver?

Female Cape weaver?

Male malachite sunbird in eclipse

Male malachite sunbird in eclipse

Female buff streaked chat

Female buff streaked chat

MALE AND FEMALE MALACHITE SUNBIRDS IN ECLIPSE

Male and female malachite sunbirds in eclipse

Cape wagtail with caterpillar

Cape wagtail with caterpillar

White eyes ready for a bath

White eyes ready for a bath

CAPE TURTLE DOVE CHICKS ABOUT 8 DAYS OLD

Cape turtle dove chicks - about 8 days old

Cape turtle dove sitting on nest

Cape turtle dove sitting on nest

5 CROWNED CRANE AND SPURWING

Five crowned cranes and a spurwing goose

Female amythest sunbird?

Female amythest sunbird?

Ashley Crookes - Copperleigh Farm Manager

Cabbage tree growing next to a rock in the veld

Cabbage tree growing next to a rock in the veld

Caterpillar found whilst burning tracer lines

Everlastings in the veld

Everlastings in the veld

Frog on the road, used my torch to light him up when doing late night sheep rounds

Frog on the road, used my torch to light him up when doing late night sheep rounds

Hungry hairy caterpillar

Hungry hairy caterpillar

Looking down on the natural forest on Copperleigh Farm

Looking down on the natural forest on Copperleigh Farm

Grassland, Inhlosane in the background

Grassland, Inhlosane in the background

Wild dagga - Leonotis leonurus

Wild dagga - Leonotis leonurus

Nikki Brighton - Old Kilgobbin Farm

One afternoon, while out walking, we came across an Oribi trapped in a Bonnox fence. She was still alive and we managed to cut her free and take her to Free Me.  Sadly, she had lost the use of her back legs and had to be put down.   

Bonnox fences really are walls of death.  Animals cannot get through them, so when being chased by dogs (domestic or hunting) they stand no chance.  If you have to fence, barbed wire is better but you should leave off the bottom strand to enable fleeing creatures to get through easily.  

Oribi trapped in fence

The oribi trapped in the fence

rescued oribi

Rescued oribi

The next afternoon, I was fortunate to see seven Oribi in the hills which slightly lessened my sadness.

Oribi in a field

Oribi in a field

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