Wildlife Sightings - May 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.

Lynne Garbutt - Rocamadour

Scrub hare

Scrub hare

Male reedbuck jousting

Male reedbuck jousting

one-horned male reedbuck

One-horned male reedbuck

Ashley Crookes - Copperleigh Farm

Inhlosane rising up above us

Inhlosane rising up above us.

Young Reedbuck which had managed to get through into our electrified night sheep camp and set off the alarm. I caught her and returned her to the distraught parents

Young Reedbuck which had managed to get through into our electrified night sheep camp and set off the alarm. I caught her and returned her to the distraught parents

Wasp sitting on a fence pole

Wasp sitting on a fence pole.

Very unusual Praying Mantis

Very unusual Praying Mantis

Rescued this chameleon from the flames of a firebreak, sadly something which happens to creatures when the fire season is upon us

Rescued this chameleon from the flames of a firebreak, sadly something which happens to creatures when the fire season is upon us.

Large rat which the dogs caught

Large rat which the dogs caught.

Whilst burning tracer lines we found this dead snake

Whilst burning tracer lines we found this dead snake.

Aristida junciformis or Ngongoni three-awn grass

Aristida junciformis or Ngongoni three-awn grass.

A beautiful sunset one evening over Mavela Dam

A beautiful sunset one evening over Mavela Dam.

 

Pat and Sandy Merrick – Albury – Lidgetton

Lately, the night closes in early. At sunrise each morning the cape weaver birds descend on the bottle brush trees outside our bedroom window, decimating the flowers. Just a cocaphony of sound as they fight for a place on the branches.

weaver eating bottlebrush flowers

Weaver eating bottlebrush flowers.

buff streaked chat eating caterpillar

Buff streaked chat eating caterpillar

The aloes are flowering but they haven’t touched them so far. There is a lot of competition for food so the garden is a sight to behold with hopping and flying birds, all jossling for the same grub or worm.

Dozens of sunbirds and buff streaked chats, doves, grass eaters, wagtails, drongos, mouse birds, bulbuls etc. A pair of African hoopoe are also visiting, as they do each winter.

african hoopoe

African hoopoe

Gurney's sugarbird

Gurney's sugarbird.

They normally live in the wattle plantation but now live in the gums adjacent to the house. I saw a black shouldered kite on top of a pin oak in our driveway a few days ago.

We have not seen many raptors of late. The odd day we see a gymnogene flying over the house being chased by the smaller birds. The blue crane, crowned crane and wattled crane are still arriving to eat the grain out of the feed tyres along with the cattle, spurwing and Egyptian geese and sacred ibis. A pair of egyptian geese have just raised nine chicks – they are about six weeks old now. Very late in the season. Seen quite a few duiker but not too many reed buck lately.

Three weeks ago, just before we went on holiday, we heard a scuffling in the study chimney and soot pouring down. We knew it was another barn owl which had fallen down. Pat collected his tools to undo the jet master. The owl flew free and landed on the floor, but not before covering the walls and curtains with soot. (The same thing happened last year when our housesiter was here. We walked into a horrible mess of sooty walls and furniture. He had placed the owl in a box as we were returning the following day) Pat took the young owl to FreeMe.

Rescued barn owl

Rescued barn owl.

They kept it for a week and then released it. They did ask us if we wanted it released here but the answer was an emphatic 'NO'. A few days ago the security went off early in the morning on our front verandah. Pat looked through the curtains but could see nothing suspicious. He reset the alarm. Five minutes later it went off again on the verandah. He looked through the curtains once again and called me. Sitting on the ballistrade and looking at us was a barn owl. Before I could grab my camera he had flown off. We are not sure if this is another chick or the mother.

Earlier in the month on a very hot day Pat was mowing the lawn on his ride on mower. He screamed out to me to bring my camera. I went rushing out to see a Natal green snake in the process of swallowing a large toad. The snake took one look at my camera and bright turquoise blouse and regurgitated the frog and moved a few metres away. He held his head high and kept looking for his meal, who was lying immobile. Somehow he did not seem to see it or perhaps its the movement of the prey that catches snakes attention. After a few minutes he lost interest and much to my disappointment (and his I would imagine) slithered off into the shrubbery. I thought the frog might be dead although I do not think these snakes have poisonous venom (do they?) Pat nudged the frog who woke up from his nightmare and hopped back into the stream from whence he’d been found.

green snake

Natal green snake

A few days after this I stopped to allow a puffadder to slowly cross the road on our driveway. Shortly after these snake episodes we got our very cold spell with rain and snow on the berg.

A week ago on our return from holiday, we found lots of poop spread around our bedroom floor from the skink who had decided to make the couch his home. He had been there for 2 months now. This just had to stop.

Skink

Skink

For the next few days I kept popping into the bedroom to try and catch him snoozing on the sunlit carpet. At last, there he was, and quite near the door to the verandah. He opened his eyes and we looked at each other. (He has got used to us and very tame now.) I said very softly “ Please just go outside. You need some fresh air”. He kept looking at me for a few moments and then, miracle of miracles, he turned around and slowly walked out the door. I was quite unprepared for this quick capitulation and slammed the door shut. But now to find something quickly to plug up the bottom of the door where he slides through. All I could put my hands on at such short notice was a box of tissues next to me bed. I sat down on the floor and hastily rolled them up and pushed them under the door. Just as I was finishing up, he returned and checked me out through the door. Shame, for a few hours he tried to get under the door without success. He went around the corner of the house and sat on some rock cladding in the sun for the rest of the day. For two days he kept coming back to check on the door, but no luck. Still blocked. I have not seen him since and hope that he has joined his friends in the rockery.

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