Wildlife Sightings - November 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.

Please send your contributions to us, and feel free to comment on the sightings, or to ask any question by sending an e-mail to us here. Pictures should be at least 850px wide.


Barry and Rose Downard - Oaktree Cottage

Barry writes: "Spotted this lovely speciman of a Spotted Eagle Owl on our roof this afternoon".

Spotted Eagle Owl 

Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm, Lidgetton

We have had a wonderful month of good rains filling up our dam which is now three quarters full, encouraging many of the water birds to visit us. 

Our blue crane started sitting on two eggs at the end of October on a neighbouring farm right up against the barbed wire fence, obviously for protection.  The pair took it in turns to visit the cattle feed tyres during the day.

One day I saw a calf about to chase the crane away. The calves often playfully chase the crows and Egyptian Goose, but they soon return to feed. 

A calf about to chase the blue crane eating round  the cattle tyres

A calf about to chase the blue crane eating round the cattle tyres

After filling up for ten minutes the crane would walk up to a small hillock in front of our house and then slowly fly off keeping low up the valley.  Pat decided to see if he could find them and was fortunate enough to see them on his 3rd walk up the hill.  They hatched out two chicks on Sunday 26th November, we think, which makes it a 28-day incubation period, which I think is accurate.  Pat walked up this morning and saw two ginger chicks scuttling into the long grass with mom and dad following. They are about 130mm tall. Pat took my camera but because of the long lush grass was unable to find them again for a photo.  Hopefully get some pics next month when they visit us, as they always do.

The pair of Wagtails fed their chicks under the miniature rose bushes in front of our verandah for about ten days and then, would you believe it, they started building another nest in same pot plant. I had thrown the other nest out so that I could water my plant.  What was amusing was that the three chicks would come visit mom on her nest of three eggs each evening and want a snack from her. They stand and shiver, its sooo cute.

Wagtail chicks waiting to be fed

Wagtail chicks waiting to be fed

Wagtail mom sitting once again on new nest

Wagtail mom sitting once again on new nest

For a few days she would fly off the nest and go look for a worm or two.  Then she got fed up and early one morning I saw her chasing them away when they approached her.  She has been sitting since 23rd November.  Dad often pays her a visit and sometimes he takes a turn to sit while she goes off looking for food, but I have seen him giving her food  as well. Amazing little creatures.

Wagtail chick in my rose bush

Wagtail chick in my rose bush

A lady who read the Dargle newsletter last month, informed me that what I thought were Lesser Striped Swallows are actually Greater Striped Swallows, for which I apologise. Obviously, I was not diligent in looking for the differences between the two.  They finished building their mud nest in the courtyard on 1st November.  It now looks like the young have hatched as mom and dad are constantly in and out the nest.

Greater striped swallows completed nest in courtyard

Greater Striped Swallows completed nest in courtyard

A female Amethyst Sunbird started building her nest on the same verandah as the Wagtail, but at the other end, and has attached it to a piece of rope that was hanging there.

Amythest female sunbird making her nest on front verandah

Female Amythest Sunbird making her nest on front verandah

That was early November and took three weeks to complete. They don’t build on wet days and there were quite a few of those days. She has been sitting for a few days now.  So, there is lots of coming and going on the verandah.  I see it all from my computer, through the glass doors, and they always announce their arrival with loud cheeps.  While the female Sunbird was building her nest (she does it on her own, not like the Wagtails and Swallows which share the job), her partner would sometimes sit on my Begonia and peer up at her work. He would also sit on the hanging basket or the balustrade admiring her handiwork, which is awesome to watch. Last time she nested there she hatched out three chicks. 

female Sunbird

Female Sunbird

Male Amythest Sunbird checking out the nest above his head

Male Amythest Sunbird checking out the nest above his head

The White-throated Swallows are nesting outside our study window along with the sparrows which have nests on each corner of the house. 

The barn owl is now in our study chimney.

The three Cape Robin-Chat chicks flew off mid-month.  I have only seen one flying around. 

Cape Robin-Chat chicks

One day we saw two Martial eagles being chased by eight Crows. 

One evening there were four Crowned Cranes at the dam and six Blue Cranes. 

Crowned Cranes

Crowned Crane

Blue Cranes at sunset

Blue Cranes at sunset

The Wattled Cranes come and go – they are the same pair as last season (one has the same tag as last season – white tag on one leg and blue (lower) and green (upper) on other leg). This bird came from Shawlands farm at Nottingham Road where it was tagged.

Wattled Cranes

Wattled Cranes

A Yellow-eyed Canary is sitting on four eggs in the standard rose bush.

Not sure what weavers these are due to one having a red eye and the other a brown

Not sure what Weavers these are due to one having a red eye and the other a brown

We have had two puff adders in the garden this month and one close to the house when our young grandchildren were here. We had to kill it I’m afraid.



Snake on verandah – no idea what kind?

Snake on verandah – no idea what kind?

Pat saw two white storks at Lions River a week ago, but none have landed around here.

We have seen quite a number of reedbuck this month – they have been jumping over our fence and grazing the lush grass just beyond our garden.  Also, one oribi racing across the hills as usual and a few duikers.

Three reedbuck through the mist in our garden

Three reedbuck through the mist in our garden

Mother and son reedbuck

Mother and son reedbuck

When driving out in the evenings we have been surprised to see so many wild hares on the road.
A few Natal Francolins have run across the lawn early in the mornings. Got a pic of one in the shrubbery.

Natal Francolin

Natal Francolin

Gradaria scabra - (penstemon)

Gradaria scabra - wild penstemon

Wishing you all a blessed and peaceful Christmas and many interesting sightings in the New year.


Christeen Grant - Sitamani, Boston

Once again snow blanketed the Drakensberg on the 16 November, we even had a dusting here at Sitamani.

Snow on Drakensberg

It also brought the second good rain of November. Although I was away for most of the month, each time I returned home there was a noticeable greening and growth. The cold weather in October and November have had an adverse effect on most of the flowering plants, there have been some exceptions, which have thrived in these conditions.

One morning I discovered a Mole-rat on the surface near a large mole hill.


On closer inspection I realised it was Crytomys mahalia, a rather special species that Professor Nigel Bennet had found on the 13 December 2005. That was the last time I had seen one.

These are some of the interesting variety of flowers seen:

Alepidea natalensis;

alepidea natalensis

Aristea woodii; Aristea woodii

Asidonepsis diplogossa; Asidonepsis diplogossa

Chlorophytum cooperi; Chlorophytum cooperi

Dierama latifolium; Dierama latifolium

the grass-like appearance of Dipcadi viride always fascinates me; Dipcadi virideDipcadi viride detail

Haemanthus humilis;

Haemanthus humilis

Hebenstretia dura; Hebenstretia dura

Indigofera hilaris is one of the species that have flourished this season, there are masses on the hillside;

Indigofera hilaris

Lotononis corymbosa;

Lotononis corymbosa

Merwilla nervosa;

Merwilla nervosa

a lovely Miraglossum sp.;

Miraglossum sp

Pelargonium luridum;

Pelargonium luridum

Rubus ludwigii;Rubus ludwigii

Trachyandra asperata; Trachyandra asperata

Vernonia hirsuta;Vernonia hirsuta

an abundance of Vernonia natalensis;

Vernonia natalensis

Wahlenbergia krebsii;Wahlenbergia krebsii

The Watsonia sociumare starting to flower, interestingly they are virtually over on Sani Pass, so flowering later here;Watsonia socium

a very yellow form of the scented Xysmalobium involucratumXysmalobium involucratum

and Zaluzianskya elongataZaluzianskya elongata.

A large Horse Mushroom, Agaricus arvensis, nestled in the grass after the good rain.

Fungi Horse Mushroom Agaricus arvensis

There seem to have been fewer moths and other insects, these caught my eye;

an assortment of Beetles and a Bee;

Assortment of Bee and Beetles

Gaudy Commodore, Junonia actavia in Summer colour;

Gaudy Commodore Junonia actavia

a delicate Hoplocoryphella sp. Mantid, Hoplocoryphella sp Mantid

and a Pill millipede. Pill millipede

Black-backed jackals have been in full voice in the valley, common reedbuck are heard now more than seen as there is good grazing on the hillside.

Although I didn’t have my camera with me, one of my special sightings was a stunning male African Paradise-Flycatcher, it’s distinctive blue head and long trailing orange tail flitting amongst the shrubbery! This is a first here at Sitamani, so hoping to see it again.

A Masked Weaver made an attempt to build a nest, but it seems to have been abandoned.

Red-winged Starlings seem intent on trying to gain access to the inside of the house, needing assistance several times to find their way out again.


Michael Goddard - Riverdale

Some pics of Noo Noos within the last month. I think this is a Devils Mare Mantis. Devils Mare Mantis Devils Mare Mantis

I think this is a Hemiptera Nepomorpha. Hemiptera Hemiptera


Nikki Brighton – from the hills, river banks, and roadsides of Dargle

albuca setosa

Albuca setosa

asclepias cucullata

Asclepias cucullata

Dierama, probably Ingneum sp.

Dierama sp., probably Ingneum.

eriosema  distinctum

Eriosema distinctum

gladiolus longicollis

Gladiolus longicollis

pachycarpus natalensis

Pachycarpus natalensis

Papaver sp.

Papaver aculeatum.

Scilla nervosa

Merwilla nervosa (formerly) Scilla nervosa.

xysmalobium undulatum

Xysmalobium undulatum

Freeme KZN

Freeme KZN sent the following to Dargle Chairperson, Ashley Crookes:

"Another release - a rather odd one too. This was a serval male that was admitted as a kitten to FREEME KZN after it was found on the Dargle/Impendle road, near an adult female's carcass which we suspect was hit by a vehicle. We hand-raised this Serval, and from the beginning he had a mind of his own. Glad to say, it all ended well, and he has been returned safely to the Dargle.


This serval was included in our Rabies Research project, blood samples are taken while undergoing rehabilitation at our facility, these blood samples are then sent through to the University of Pretoria, where Professor Wanda Markotter and her team get to work on testing the titre levels to see how these animals have built up antibodies to the disease after vaccination.

The release went well, but rather unexpectedly, this serval jumped straight into a dam, swam across no problem, exited the other side and disappeared".

Serval release Serval swimming after release

If you would you like to join the FREEME KZN community and support what they are doing, you can find more details by clicking here. They would love to have you on board.