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Life Wonderings of a Nature Lover: October 2020 Sitamani Country Diary

November 1, 2020

Last October we only had 37.5mm of rain, this year the total rainfall for the month is 129mm, almost 100mm more! Being optimistic I had planted out the vegetable garden in the middle of October and it has been worth it, seedlings appearing and in the last few days seem to grow visibly! Over the 30 and 31 October we have had 46.5mm of rain. The coldest morning was on the 11th, 4C and the warmest day on the 28th and 29th October, 29C. As the ground moistened wildflowers started appearing in greater abundance, with some, for me, unusual species seen.

Friday 9 October:

To my delight I spotted an Emperor Swallowtail, Papilio ophidicephalus, feeding on Jasmine flowers.

Monday 12 October:

Although Swee Waxbills, a fairly common endemic, are around all year, they are very ‘shy’ and this is the first time I’ve managed to take photos, not great, but a record.

Swee Waxbills
Swee Waxbills

It was a misty morning after a shower during the previous night

Wednesday 14 October:

I hadn’t observed this species, Euphorbia striata, here before, though have seen other Euphorbia species here

Thursday 15 October:

During October there have been many Ladybird beetles on the wing, this one came indoors, and is not one of the alien species usually seen.

Saturday 17 October:

Soft predawn light in the haze.

Sunday 18 October:

I managed to spend time wandering our hillside, finding a wealth of flowers and other natural discoveries.

Acalypha glandulifolia, male

Ledebouria sp.

Hebenstretia dura

A Grass funnel-web spider web

Helichrysum cephaloideum
Helichrysum cephaloideum

Kniphofia bracystachya
Kniphofia bracystachya

Eriosema kraussianum

Gebera ambigua

Acalypha glandulifolia, female

A bee laden with pollen and Oxyopidae, Lynx spider, on Senecio macrocephalus

Senecio macrocephalus

Oxyopidae, Lynx spider, possibly Peucetia on Senecio macrocephalus

Sisyranthus trichostomus

Red Grass, Themeda triandra

Tulbaghia leucantha
Tulbaghia leucantha

Spiral unfurling of a new leaf, Common Tree Fern, Cythea dregei

Anemone fanninii

Aspidonepsis diplogossa

Hermannia woodii

Ledebouria cooperi

Twig Wilter, Holopterna sp.
Twig Wilter, Holopterna sp.

Olive Thrush

Speckled Pigeons, who are raising two fledglings

A dark velvety spider, possibly Ctenus corniger

Psammotropha mucronata

Moraea graminicola

Monopsis decipiens

Helichrysum aureum

A bagworm on Helichrysum aureum

A beautiful, elegant, striped Grasshopper

Gladiolus longicollis

Dwarf Everlasting, Helichrysum chionoshaerum

An unusual Fungi

Hibiscus aethiopicus

Dwarf Spikethorn, Gymnosporia uniflora
Dwarf Spikethorn, Gymnosporia uniflora

Schizoglossum flavum, I think it is the first time I’ve observed this here
Schizoglossum flavum

Albuca pachychlamys, unfurling spiral of buds

Polygala virgata
Polygala virgata

Tulbaghia ludwigiana, definitely a first observation
Tulbaghia ludwigiana

Eriosema salignum, orange form
Eriosema salignum, yellow form

Soap Aloe, Aloe maculata, seed pods

Raphionacme hirsuta

Pachycarpus natalensis

Drimia elata

Caterpillar Grass, Harpochloa falx

Rumex woodii, the flowers are tiny, more visible later in the season are the red ‘paper heart’ seeds

Tuesday 20 October:

Cherry Spot moth, Diaphone eumela

Asparagus africanus

Thursday 22 October:

Glowing cloud effects at dawn

Friday 23 October:

Common or Cabbage Tree Emperor moth, Bunaea alcinoe

Wednesday 28 October:

Once again, I saw an Emperor Swallowtail, Papilio ophidicephalus, rather battered, possibly the same one seen earlier in October

Evening light after the storm

Thursday 29 October:

Family Megachilidae, Leafcutting and Mason bees, possibly a Mason bee, Megachile sp.

Friday 30 and Saturday 31 October:

Rain and more glorious rain!

During the month Greater Striped Swallows have returned, I heard the distinctive call of a Black Cuckoo and had several sightings of the Common Grey Duiker and a male, female and juvenile Common Reedbuck.

  1. So much lovely rain! Exciting about the Tulbaghia. I have never seen a Gymnosporia uniflora before.

    • The rain is incredible, still falling now! I’d seen the Tulbagia l only once before, but not here so exciting! You are welcome to come and see the Gymnosporia uniflora, the little flowers are too dear. xxx

  2. The rain is incredible here too – especially welcome after several days in the high 30s in the past few weeks. We used to go walking regularly in forest and grassland patches in the Midlands, but have not done so since the advent of the pandemic, so I really loved seeing your photos of the diversity of grassland species. So wonderful all those spring flowers.

    • So pleased that you enjoyed sharing the magic Carol! I’m always amazed at the resilience of our indigenous forbes and how different species respond to the changing weather patterns. It rained most of yesterday and on and off during the night, such a beautiful sound! xxx

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