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Life wonderings of a Nature Lover: July 2016 Sitamani Country Diary

July 30, 2016

02 Cover IMG_6273

Fire and Ice July, the first part of the month was characterized by smoky, hazy skies from fire-break burning.

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A cold front brought a sharp frost on 3 July, with very chilly temperatures and a few flakes of snow on the previous day.

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The dry, warmer, intervening weather was changed into a snowy winter wonderland on the 25 July, much needed moisture, including rain, soaked the dry soil for a few days.

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Aloe maculata have started fruiting, there are still some bright orange flowers on the hillside;

03 Flora Flower Aloe maculata IMG_6328

03 Flora Flower Aloe maculata IMG_6326

Buddleja salvifolia burst into flower after the snow;

03 Flora Flower Buddleja salvifolia IMG_6290

03 Flora Flower Buddleja salvifolia IMG_6295

as well as hundreds of bright yellow Gazania krebsiana;

03 Flora Flower Gazania krebsiana IMG_6307

one or two Greyia sutherlandii flowers had opened earlier, now the tree is covered in red tipped branches;

03 Flora Flower Greyia sutherlandii IMG_6293

the Halleria lucida branches are dripping with flowers, the most I’ve seen in a long time;

03 Flora Flower Halleria lucida IMG_6297

now that the soil is damp Ledebouria ovatifolia rosette, flat leaves have tightly packed buds above them.

03 Flora Flower Ledebouria ovatifolia IMG_6327

We have been working at rehabilitating a hillside that had a stand of pine trees growing on it. It is a very slow process, nine years since the trees came down in a tornado. Removal of the trunks and large branches came first, then regular annual burns and weeding out alien species. We are seeing indigenous pioneer species coming in. Recently we cut down and removed Acacia melanoxylon

03 Flora Tree Acacia melanoxylon IMG_2297

03 Flora Tree Acacia melanoxylon IMG_2298

and were happy to identify small indigenous trees that grow in a grove, Canthium (now Afrocanthium) mundianum, which will remain there.

03 Flora Tree Canthium (now Afrocanthium) mundianum IMG_2301

03 Flora Tree Canthium (now Afrocanthium) mundianum IMG_2302

This last month there have been several sightings of Common Reedbuck. A very fine male, with beautiful horns, regularly wanders quite close to the house. He rests in a patch of bracken, one evening he was emerging as I arrived home.

04 Mammal Common Reedbuck P1070655

Then on a walk to the top of our property I saw three males and four females, the largest group I’ve seen together in recent years.

04 Mammal Common Reedbuck spoor IMG_6331

Down near the gate I found many small pieces of fur, possibly Vlei Rat, that had been discarded by a predator, possibly the Long-crested Eagle, as that gatepost is a frequent perch.

04 Mammal fur IMG_6029

A pile of Porcupine droppings indicated they are still around.

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A Black-headed Oriole has taken over from the Black-backed Puffback, trying to attack his mirrored image in the windows, defending his patch. His liquid song from the verandah, where he perched in between bouts was so beautiful.

05 Bird Black-headed Oriole IMG_6145

05 Bird Black-headed Oriole IMG_6146

A Cape Robin-chat splashed in the verandah birdbath even though there was still snow on the ground.

05 Bird Cape Robin-chat IMG_6174

A flock of Cape Weavers sunned themselves in bare branches.

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The large group of Cape White-eyes are my favourite winter birds, they all keep together, moving constantly whether foraging

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or taking a drink and dip.

05 Bird Cape White-eye IMG_6111

The Speckled Pigeons have multiplied, there are about six living here, roosting and nesting in the carports.

05 Bird Speckled Pigeon IMG_6163

The Fish Eagle I hear regularly calling from the valley, took a flight up over the house.

There are many Striped Skinks living among the wooden slats of an outbuilding. They enjoy the warmth of a winter sun, basking.

06 Reptile Striped Skink IMG_6316

There are many bees and hoverflies buzzing in the few flowering plants.

07 Invertebrate Bee on Buddleja salvifolia IMG_6288

I found what I think is a Wasp nest on the ground

07 Invertebrate Wasp nest IMG_6308

and several huge ant nests in trees.

07 Invertebrate Ant nest IMG_6314

A beautiful Painted Lady butterfly soaked up warmth from a rock on the hilltop.

07 Invertebrate Butterfly Painted Lady IMG_6310

4 Comments
  1. Beautiful as always

  2. Adore the wintery hues of this post. So exciting to find a canthium in your rehab project. Well done – worthwhile work.

    • It’s been a long slow process, over the last nine years, but at last really showing progress!

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