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

January 1, 2021

The 2020 has finally drawn to a close. One aspect that continues is the cycles of nature and has been one of my greatest solaces. During December many wonderful and varied life forms revealed themselves here, a time of growth, renewal and beauty.

On the last night of December, 31, I measured 39,5mm of rain, this brought the total for December to 207,5mm. The highest daytime temperature was 30C on two days, 27 and 29 December, the lowest nighttime temperature was 8,5C on the 2 December. A sultry, warm summer month with rapidly growing foliage.

Now that the Summer Solstice has passed, 21 December, we begin the gradual passage to winter, though usually our warmest month is February.

Here are some of the wonderful flora and fauna seen during the month.

Wednesday 2

A soft misty day.

A very large Common Cannibal snail, Natalina cafra, was resting in the passage way.

Monday 7

This unusual moth had avoided being eaten by the early birds.

Tuesday 8

Whilst doing alien Bramble eradication I came across this stunning

Pineapple Lily, Eucomis autumnalis

Vernonia natalensis

Dipcadi viride

and spotted these Cicada, Family Cicadidae, nymphal skins

Thursday 10

This lovely unfurling Fern caught my eye.

Anthericum cooperi

Stachys aethiopica

Friday 11

A simply stunning sunrise

The last of the waning moon in the brightening sky
Soft morning predawn light over a mist filled valley
Finally the sun popped over the far hill

A gorgeous, small spider, moving very quickly, I learnt was of the Family Theridiidae, a Tidarren species.

Saturday 12

A short walk was rewarded by these lovely finds,

Orange Poppy, Papaver aculeatum

Berkheya setifera and Silene bellidioides

Silene bellidioides

Cyanotis speciosa

Searsia species

and this lovely moth

Later that morning I was astounded to see a Narina Trogan in a tree near the house, I grabbed my camera, pointed and clicked, but didn’t manage to capture this special sighting! The distribution does cover this area, my guess is that now the trees and shrubbery have grown up near the house it has become more inviting for forest birds. Two days later I saw a Bush Blackcap in the Buddleja next to the sitting room window. Both were first time sightings here.

Sunday 13

Gaudy Commodore, Junonia Octavia

Pelargonium luridum

Aristea woodii

A small bee species on Aristea woodii

Albuca setosa (=pachychlamys)

Common Sandman, Spialia diomus ferax

Agapanthus campanulatus buds

A delightful hairy caterpillar

Hirpicium armerioides

Xysmalobium involucrum

Indigofera hilaris and Aristea woodii

Senecio isatideus

Alepidea natalensis

Aspidonepsis diploglossa

Hypericum lalandii

A myriad of tiny creatures in the Eucomis autumnalis flowers

Koppie Foam Grasshopper, Dictyophorus spumans

A striking black and orange Grasshopper

Haemanthus humilis

Asclepias albens

Aster bakerianus

A bee-mimic fly, Phytomia incisa

One of the most perfect Orthochilus foliosus orchids I’ve seen

The top view of a Schizocarphus nervosa (=Scilla nervosa)

Ornithogalum graminifolium

Monday 14

It is always so exciting for me to find this glorious moth

Wounded Emperor, Neobunaeopsis Arabella

After a stormy afternoon the sun reappeared before setting

A double rainbow to the east refracted in the last of the rain showers

Tuesday 15

Family Mantidae, Common mantids

This amazing, Family Ascalaphidae, Owl Fly,  was perched on the veggie garden gate

Friday 18

Bladder Grasshopper, Pneumora inanis

Saturday 19

A Carpet Bell flower, Craterocapsa tarsodes, that I usually associate with Sani Top

Fern, Ophioglossum vulgatum subsp. africanum

Mammatus, meaning mammary cloud, is a cellular pattern of pouches hanging underneath the base of a cloud

Wednesday 23

Handmaiden moth, Family Ctenuchidae

I discovered this hatched Fork-tailed Drongo eggshell beneath the Japanese Maple in the garden.
  1. A collection of marvels. Owl Fly? first for me.

  2. What a lovely and varied collection – you have some stunning shots here and such interesting sightings. Curiously, the only time I have ever photographed and owl fly, it was also on a wooden fence post in the garden. We haven’t been on a grassland walk for many months, and it was lovely to see some of the familiar flowers plus of course those I am not so familiar with.

    • Thank you Carol! This last December was really amazing after the good rain, the flowers have been stunning. If you’d like to walk in grassland, you’re welcome to contact me. xxx

      • The spring rains were latish as I recall but the abundant – good to know the flowers responded so well.
        Thank you for the invitation re a walk in grassland. I would love to contact you about that – however, will postpone doing that until our infection rates decline enough for the hospitals not to be overwhelmed. We are keeping mostly at home during this awful surge. Once things are less fraught, I will be in contact. Thanks again. (We no longer have permission to walk where we used to due to the pandemic.)

  3. Understand completely! xxx

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