So now it has been WILD , WINDY and FIERY for what seems like a month but even this weather has brought GREAT sightings and happenings - "our" leopard Scott has shown up in "our" cave during the day, a pair of African Pipits were in the sand dunes near The Point and the Mute Swan has returned.
1. Four pairs of African Oystercatchers seen by Sandra "Not a good pic, by any means, but this a 'sandwich' of Oystercatchers having a spat. Not quite sure what is going on but two are being seen off by two adults with, presumably, a youngster left with another adult to forage quietly."
2. A yellow-billed Kite was seen circling over Rooi Els on 16.1.16 (last seen Feb. 2014)
3. From Ian in Rocklands Road - "On the day we left heard a red wing starling commotion and saw them giving what I thought a chestnut coloured kestrel an extended hard time. Didn't get a strong sighting but presume we do get (rock or lesser?) kestrels in area? Ed: There is a red-winged Starlings nest at the Blakes so the parents were seeing off the Rock Kestrel which would take their nestlings and/or eggs.
4. From Evette - She observed that five white-necked Ravens were pecking and harrying a small seal cub on the rocks in sight of her house. She checked out the young seal but it had been bitten by probably a shark but CLEVERLY it hid its face into the rocks whenever they were about so that they did not peck its eyes out ! The seal after four days disappeared (hopefully on the recent full moon high tides !)
5. From Lynne – "her" Paradise Flycatchers have arrived back with a female being seen on 24.1.16. " Ed: The records show that they can arrive any time from November although last year Lynne reported them only again in January through to April. "She stayed in her garden in her bird bath arriving at approx 7.00 and was there on and off all morning. Also, 2 sets of Cape Francolins, one with 4 chicks and the 1 legged Francolin with 5, who is a marvellous mother and when startled they gather under her rather than just scattering."
6. A pair of African Pipits 24.1.16 on the sand dunes near the "shipwreck" – another first for Rooi Els now up to 202 birds on our list dating from 1986.
7. 7 White-necked Ravens looking for food on the morning of 24.1.16 – horribly worrying !
8. Mute Swan seen again by Don with an Egyptian Goose keeping “an eye” on it which probably means that they have another nest in the area. (photo JPG). Comment from Duncan "By the way, I also saw the Mute Swan, but as I was coming back from a windy swim, I did not have a camera to capture it. Glad to know that you set the Queen's mind at rest ! "
9. The Fiscal Flycatcher chick which was blown out of one of June's trees in the wind has survived and it is now almost fully grown.
10. From the family Hendersons - "We have been seeing streams of Cormorants for the last five days (from 20.1.16) in front of our house, arriving early in the morning and then gorging and feasting themselves on silver blue fish some with orange on backbone and black dots on fins. So many that the sea appears to be boiling" (4545) Ed: on investigation these are juvenile maasbanker (horse mackerel) which when dried are bokkems. Also, these skeins of hundreds of Cape Cormorants with about 50% of them being juveniles then streamed back to the area from the slipway east (4548) of an evening.
11. The Greater-striped Swallows are rebuilding again after our 5mm of rain. There were only a couple of puddles - with the one in Rocklands Road having to be supplemented with buckets of rainwater for them to continue building. Please do not report any water leaks at the corner of Gazania and Rocklands Road !
1. From Duncan "You will recall that when we went to the Leopard cave in June last year, we found a large scat on the camera. Now that it is totally dry, Wolfgang has dissected it, and found an almost complete skeleton, albeit in kit form. Here are some photos of the skull, which measured 35 ox 20 mm. I looked up rodent skulls but found myself completely out of my depth as far as looking for the distinguishing features. My best stab turned out to be a Venezuelan Swamp Beaver, except for the size. Any more likely thoughts as to the original owner of the skull? "
Ed. reply: What exciting times. Alison and I, on looking independently feel that it is a Cape Mole Rat. Check the incisors and the shape of the skull.
2. Go to the Camera pages for a selection of images that we captured during December. What is interesting is that previously all of the visits were nocturnal. This time there were some crepuscular ones and even a mid-morning visit!
3. Striped mouse, Rhabdomys pumilio enjoying seed for the birds and a common sight in our gardens
"Illegal" collection of seaweed on our beaches
Ed: email to Anuta (Chairperson of REC) "Just to mention and after speaking to Evette - there is a LARGE pile of collected seaweed at "the Point". We thought that this was no longer allowed to be collected here. Is there someone to contact about this ?"
Reply: ...the bottom line is that the permit is issued by central government. Both province and local government are dead set against it. Last year, under Janette’s guidance, amongst others, there was a meeting with the permit holder, Mr Roos, and they offered that he rather collect already gathered kelp from CT beaches where they are cleaned. The trade off was that he would leave our beaches alone. He was happy, even saying that he would rather work with communities and keep them happy. Dave Muirhead from Pringle Bay reports that Roos is collecting from their beach and also their dunes under rehab. They were seen actually pulling dry kelp out of the dunes. We are all upset that he has not kept to his undertaking, but legally there is nothing we can do. We have to wait for the Coastal Management Plan to be signed off and then they can include exclusion zones, much like overlays, to protect specific areas from specific activities. But, that’s still a long wait. Janette reported to Neville Green who is also unhappy about it.
Ed: If, there is anyone out there who can help with more names of higher authority then please let Anuta know !!
And finally - I am not getting a lot of “feedback” from you botanists (or would be ones) out there. Come on even the photographs are easy – plants do not move !!
Rooi Els is going to be VERY fortunate because there are several interested, keen and knowledgeable aves, flora and fauna households moving here “more” permanently - bring it on............... !
Soooooooooooooo, to end this exciting report. I hope that you have noticed that we are now being serenaded at dusk by mole crickets instead of cicadas who seem to have "moved off" in this cooler weather.
ENJOY, ENJOY and keep ALL sightings coming preferably with a photograph. happy sightings etc.
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