Wildlife Sightings - August 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.

Crystelle Wilson - Gramarye

ON a bird atlas survey in the Petrusstroom area of the Dargle at the end of July, I was intrigued to find a pair of Cardinal Woodpeckers diligently tapping away on the stems of dried weeds which hardly appeared strong enough to carry their weight.

Cardinal Woodpecker

At another bridge across a stream I was delighted to see a Mountain Wagtail, as well as a Malachite Kingfisher.

mountain wagtail

Mountain Wagtail

malachite kingfisher

Malachite Kingfisher

During another survey along the road to Fort Nottingham I came across a hive of activity in the canopy of a patch of indigenous forest which was at eye level with the road. A Sombre Greenbul reveal itself and a flight of starlings revealed why they are named after their wings.

Sombre green bulbul

Sombre Greenbul

Red-wing starlings

Red-winged Starlings

And it was great to see the family of Wattled Cranes on the Boschhoek escarpment at Boston.

Wattled cranes

Wattled cranes

Aerial territorial disputes were the order of the day, with a Cape Crow tackling an African Fish Eagle, while an ambitious Fork-tailed Drongo harassed a Black Sparrowhawk.

Cape crow and fish eagle

Cape Crow and Fish Eagle

Drongo and sparrow hawk

Fork-tailed Drongo and Black Sparrowhawk

During August at Boston the presence of a Yellow-billed Kite confirmed that spring is on the way and a Yellow-fronted Canary trilled a welcome to the change of seasons from a perch amongst the plum blossoms.

Yellow-billed kite

Yellow-billed Kite

Yellow-fronted canary

Yellow-fronted Canary

Red-knobbed Coots have begun their breeding activities on the dam at Elandshoek farm

A pair South African Shelducks was already showing off their brood of 13 chicks.

Shellducks

South African Shelduck chicks

Shellduck with chicks

South African Shelduck with chicks

Christeen Grant - Sitamani, Boston

This August has been damper than the last few years. Early rain on the 17 August and several misty, drizzly days, has resulted in earlier than usual appearance of Spring flowers. It was only after this cold front moved through that we had blanketing frost for a few days, winter has generally been very mild this year.

View from Sitamani

On a few mornings there has been a sea of clouds over the Boston valley below us.

View from Sitamani

Sunset through a haze of smoke, after the rain many days have been hazy after burns have taken place.

Sunset from Sitamani

Although on the burnt areas the grass has greened, the common duiker and common reedbuck are often frequent visitors close to the house. Deposited on the driveway were droppings of either a serval or possibly black-backed jackal; both are quite similar, particularly when the main diet is small rodents.

Duiker

Duiker

Reedbuck

Reedbuck

Reedbuck

Reedbuck

Scat, possily serval or black-backed jackal

Scat, possibly serval or black-backed jackal

A few moths have been seen including this Lappet moth, Eutricha sp., about 50mm long with a delightfully furry head.

Lappet moth, Eutricha sp.

Lappet moth, Eutricha sp.

Birds are very active. There is a flock of Red-collared Widowbirds in process of moulting into their breeding plumage. The Cape White-eyes are busy in the Ouhout shrubbery and still have regular baths on the verandah. Yellow-fronted Canaries favour the birdbath further out in the garden. The resident pair of Southern Boubou forage in the undergrowth, calling to each other. The Fork-tailed Drongos perch on branches, periodically swooping into the dry grass. A pair of African Stonechats flit busily, their distinctive gravelly call indicating where they are.

African Stonechats

The Long-crested Eagle sits on the Eskom poles and Jackal Buzzards regularly fly over, as do Spur-winged and Egyptian Geese at dawn and dusk. Caught in grass near a fence was a lovely feather, probably from a Crow.

Crow feather?

Crow feather?

A delight was discovering two orchids starting to bloom, Eulophia hians var hians and Eulophia hians var inaequalis, earlier than last year, when their flowers appeared in September.

Eulophia hians var hians

Eulophia hians var hians

Eulophia hians var hians

Eulophia hians var hians

Eulophia hians var inaequalis

Eulophia hians var inaequalis

Eulophia hians var inaequalis

Eulophia hians var inaequalis

Aloe maculata have had a very long flowering season this year, the first flowers started in June and several plants still have flowers.

Aloe maculata

Aloe maculata

For the first time since 2014 Anemone fanninii are flowering in abundance, their ragged petals flying like white flags on the hillside.

Anemone fanninii

Anemone fanninii

Anemone fanninii

Anemone fanninii

Some of the other Spring flowers out are Apodolirion buchananii; minute Clutia cordata flowers; swathes of shiny pink Dimorphotheca jucunda; Gerbera ambigua; Graderia scabra; stunning Green-tipped Fire Lilies, Cyrtanthus tuckii; Hypoxis costata; abundant tightly packed Ledebouria ovatifolia; delicate Nemesia caerulea; a profusion of bright yellow Ouhout flowers, Leucosidea sericea; and one of my favourites, the dainty, elegant Tritonia lineata.

Apodolirion buchananii

Apodolirion buchananii

Clutia cordata

Clutia cordata

Clutia cordata

Clutia cordata

Dimorphotheca jucunda

Dimorphotheca jucunda

Gerbera ambigua

Gerbera ambigua

Graderia scabra

Graderia scabra

Green-tipped Fire Lily - Cyrtanthus tuckii

Green-tipped Fire Lily - Cyrtanthus tuckii

Hypoxis costata

Hypoxis costata

Ledebouria ovatifolia

Ledebouria ovatifolia

Nemesia caerulea

Nemesia caerulea

Ouhout Leucosidea sericea

Ouhout Leucosidea sericea

Ouhout Leucosidea sericea

Ouhout Leucosidea sericea

Tritonia lineata

Tritonia lineata

 

Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm, Lidgetton

Once again, the African Harrier-Hawk (previously known as the Gymnogene) has been hunting around our garden. One morning he had our Speckled Pigeons (previously Rock Pigeons) crashing into the windows. They were so terrified poor creatures.  He then hopped around peering into the shrubs looking for nests with young.  He eventually flew off without a meal.

Gymnogene

Two pairs of Cape Wagtails are now nesting in the jasmine creeper again.  

Our Barn Owls are back. We placed expanding mesh around the chimney to keep them out which it did but now they are back under the eaves of the roof above the front veranda.  They must have pulled out the netting and bags that Pat had placed in there. Once again they are making a dreadful mess of the walls and the regurgitation of the hair balls.  All night we get woken up with their clunking onto the roof above our bedroom.  Well we have a trail camera  now so will be able to see what they are up to. 

We have had a number of oribi again and two of them are pretty permanent around the house, as are the duiker who come out of the trees at dusk and start to graze just outside our garden on the hillside.

Saw a Black-shouldered Kite on the 29th august for the first time.  Something has destroyed the Black Sparrowhawk's nest.  I think it may have been vervet monkeys.  They were swinging through the gum trees earlier in the month.  What a pity.  I so enjoyed watching for the young to emerge each year. 

The Hamerkop has been visiting our ponds in the garden. 

Hamerkop

The only sunbirds in the garden are the Malachite and the Gurney's Sugarbird.

On the 15th august Pat saw eight water buck and a baby grazing up on top of the hill behind our house.  I have never seen a male waterbuck with the group so do not know where the baby came from.  As I was not at home, Pat took some pics.  By the time I got back they had all vanished.  Look closely at the picture and you will also see a reedbuck in the rocks (far right).

Waterbuck

The majority of my pictures are taken at sunset and dusk as this is when we take the dogs walking.  Some evenings we have seen ten reedbuck,  The last rays of the sun catching the red coats of the buck.

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The duiker are inclined to come out when the sun has set. 

The oribi graze on and off all day. 

The Secretarybird is still walking the burns and rocks. 

Secretary bird

What was very exciting for us was to see a Denham's Bustard (previously Stanley's Bustard).  He was some distance away – I managed to get one picture of it before it flew off. What a beautiful bird. 

Also walking about is the Black-bellied Korhaan.  Quite difficult to see as it blends in with the winter colours.

Korhaan

We have seen a number of dead snakes on the D18, mostly red lipped heralds. Have also seen a few slithering across our driveway during the hot days.

Dead Herald snake

One evening I spotted two duiker glaring at each other about 30 metres apart up on the hill.  Then the chase started.  First one would chase the other round the hill, and then it was the turn of the other one to do the chasing.  After five minutes one of them eventually ran off into the trees and vanished.  Sadly, too dark for a picture.

We have seen and heard the Blue and Grey Crowned Cranes.  As our dam is empty we think they are hanging out at our neighbours dam.  The jackal are out and about every night howling along with our dogs.

We had 20mm rain this month plus a few drizzly nights.

 

Ashley Crookes - Copperleigh Farm

I have been so busy the past few months that I have not had a chance to send in any pictures of my wildlife sightings, so I thought I better sit down and finally share some.

There have been some lovely sightings of the African Spoonbill recently, I managed to get some images of one of them trying to balance on the top of one of the conifers.

Spoonbill

African Spoonbill

Spoonbill

African Spoonbill

The Dargle was blessed by having 2 days of snow coming down this past month. The top of Inhlosane received the most, but it was usually all melted by mid morning.

Snow on Inhlosane

Snow on Inhlosane

Snow on Inhlosane

Snow on Inhlosane

Snow on Inhlosane

Snow on Inhlosane

Snow on Inhlosane

Snow on Inhlosane

Snow on Inhlosane

Snow on Inhlosane Range

A waterbuck was spotted for the first time crossing the Mavela dam wall.

Waterbuck on farm dam wall

Waterbuck on Mavela Farm dam wall

There were also a couple of days when we spotted these rare Wattled Cranes, a pair, and they had a chick with them so we were extremely excited by this sighting!

Wattled crane with chick

Wattled Cranes with chick

A couple of very unusual sightings. We woke up one morning to a Waterbuck walking across our dam wall - first time sighting on Copperleigh Farm. Possibly due to the mountain range being burnt, the animals might be coming down to search for better grazing. A little while later she got to the corner post, and an African Fish Eagle had also decided to fly across at the same time. Both of them got such a huge fright that the waterbuck took off up the hill, and the eagle flew back across the dam!

Waterbuck and Fish Eagle meet

Waterbuck and African Fish Eagle meet.

Both Waterbuck and Fish Eagle get a huge fright

Both Waterbuck and African Fish Eagle get a huge fright.

Waterbuck and Fish Eagle head in opposite directions

Waterbuck and African Fish Eagle head in opposite directions.

Other sightings:

A pair of Yellow-billed duck on Mavela Farm dam

A pair of Yellow-billed Ducks on Mavela Farm dam.

A spurwing goose hanging out with the sacred ibis

A Spur-winged Goose hanging out with the African Sacred Ibises.

Frozen water from trough

Frozen water from trough.

Waterbuck

Waterbuck.

Evert van Breeman - Old Furth

Evert made use of the Dargle Conservancy Trail camera for a couple of months, he only managed to capture this Bushbuck during the time he had the camera set up though.

Bushbuck capture on trailcam  

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