An exciting weekend in the valley; good sightings, plants to identify and maybe even a new species discovered!
The eggs – ?? – brought some guessing! I asked vegetable or animal? No-one knew. Fish eggs, with a water mongoose being the predator? Berries? Frog eggs? Crab eggs? Eel? Turns out Ingrid D’eathe had found them on the edge of her pond. Then Suncana posted a lovely flap-necked chameleon picture and she looked nice and chubby so I asked chameleon eggs?
Meanwhile on iNaturalist experts looked at them: Tony Rebelo thought regurgitated seeds? Wynand Uys thought eggs, reptilian or amphibian; Marion karoopixie said angazi; Johan Marais said not herp, maybe SNAIL; The mystery continues . . . So much we don’t know.
And the spider might be a new one provisionally dubbed The Red Widow; no ID yet; It (or one that looks very much like it) has recently been newly discovered on Table Mountain in Cape Town. Suncana has it on iNaturalist as a Cobweb SpidersFamily Theridiidae. She’ll soon get comments and support, I’m sure.
For years before 1989 I wanted to see a Bufftail – a Buff-spotted Flufftail. I heard plenty, but saw none. First at Hella Hella; Then in 1989 we moved into our first home in Westville and there was one in our yard! We heard him all the time!
But still I didn’t see him. It grew into an obsession. Seeing this little day-old-chick-sized bird was a real desire. I stalked around the garden, lying still for ages as he stopped calling whenever he detected my presence. I lay at the nearest window with a searchlight, bufftail calling within metres. All in vain; the bird’s caution and patience far exceeding mine.
I’ve written about my quest before. We stayed in River Drive for fifteen years and have been in Elston Place for thirteen. Here we also hear a flufftail but not as often nor as closeby.
And now a friend moves in to a new home and – less than two years after moving in – films this from his balcony:
Aargh! Rob Davey!
Here’s the Bufftail hoot again – from xeno-canto.org – sharing bird sounds from around the world:
. . and here’s one to show how small they are – thanks, birdlifetrogons.blogspot.com
*** I haydid – is a Friderichs-ism. Bobby – from ‘Slunnin – used to say ‘I haydid!’ in mock displeasure when things went skew-wiff. Eg: ‘I haydid when my fridge gets carried out the back door!’ – another divorce . .
It’s been a long time since I last heard the plaintive, mournful-sounding hoot of the Buff-spotted Flufftail, Sarothrura elegans. But the last few nights he has been hooting gently outside my window in Westville above the Palmiet River:
Hope they stay awhile . . .
I heard it for years at 7 River Drive on the Mkombaan River in Westville, but although I searched and stalked and lay in wait at all hours, the only one I saw was one the bloody next door cat killed! Something like this:
And then at last I saw one of Crispin Hemson’s tame*** flufftails at Pigeon Valley in Durban. One lone male. And just for a few seconds before he ducked into the undergrowth. I was pleased to see one of Crispin’s pictures has been used in wikipedia.
*** not really tame – just on his famous patch!
List of Birds of 7 River Drive – my patch
Mkombaan River valley, Westville – Jan 1989 – Dec 2003
Breeds – Y means we have seen a nest or young being fed here
Seen three separate winter-times in 15 years
Three times in 15 years, once stayed a week
Nests in a bank in Deon’s yard next door (no. 5)
Olive Bush-shrike (ruddy form
Once – stayed about a week. Lovely song
Heard quite often, seen about three times
Raises a chick here most years
Raises a chick here most years
Flying & calling overhead
Flying & calling overhead
Resident King of the woods
Lesser Striped Swallow
Once, flying overhead, then circled and landed in the Mkombaan River!
Perched on a garage roof at top of our valley!
One winter, stayed ten days
Arrives every summer from frosty England
Rudd’s Apalis !!?
Unlikely, yet seen close-up by Trish and I on potplant on the driveway! Nov 2003; Needs verification!
On 2014/06/23 Crispin Hemson – Pigeon Valley Patriarch and Monarch – wrote: Conditions in Pigeon Valley are very dry, giving great visibility into the undergrowth. We are suddenly seeing Buff-spotted Flufftails on the main track, or just next to it. Yesterday I saw two adults and a sub-adult. These are very unobtrusive birds, so do not expect rustling. I suspect that while in summer the undergrowth is dim and the main track bright, the Flufftails stay under cover. In winter the undergrowth is as bright as the area just outside it, so the pressure to stay there is less. Spotted Ground-Thrushes are also very visible, often just on the edge of the main track, digging into leaf litter that accumulates there. There are more than I originally thought – I saw them in four places up the track yesterday.
I have heard a thousand bufftails – particularly at Hella Hella where we weekend-ed monthly for ten to fifteen years, and on the Mkombaan river in Westville where we lived for fifteen years; and although I searched and stalked and lay in wait, and saw two dead ones – next-door-cat-got-it in River Drive, and flew-into-plate-glass at Hella Hella – a sighting has evaded me till now. One would hoot right outside my bedroom window, metres away, but I never caught a glimpse.
Thanks to Pigeon Valley’s tireless champion, Crispin Hemson reporting on his birding regularly, I went on Sunday to Pigeon Valley and saw a spotted thrush at the entrance, and then that flufftail up at the fence line along King George V avenue. At last! Two seconds after forty years!
A male bird, who ducked into low dense thicket just outside the fence.
This was a big bogey bird as far as a sighting goes! Must be close to forty years of thinking “soon I’ll see one”.
Can a pitta in my garden be far behind?
Here’s a Sheryl Halstead Spotted Ground Thrush pic