For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.

Videos: YouTube

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The ant and the feather

This feather, about 2 inches long was moving on the stairs without a scrape of breeze being in the air. On closer inspection, I saw this little ant tugging it along. What he expected to do with it is anyones guess?? :)
Here I have circled him for you so you can get a good idea of the size difference.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mystery Monday - Part 11

This is an easy one today with a cute story attached tomorrow.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Montecasino - Bird Show - Part 1

They have a couple of shows per day during which they tell you a bit about the birds and see them performing some tricks.

The Ground Hornbill: At present Southern Ground Hornbills are considered ‘vulnerable’ but their numbers are still declining.
There are probably only 1500 birds in South Africa—half of which are in the protected areas of the Kruger National Park.
Groups consist of 2—9 birds, of which there is only 1 breeding female.
From which an average of only 1 chick is raised to adulthood every 9 years.
One of their natural sources of food is snakes which they take and shake vigorously before eating. After this one demonstrated his skill with a rubber one, he went over to his trainer to get his reward.
Blue Cranes are the national bird of South Africa. One of the smaller crane species, the Blue Cranes plumage is silvery bluish gray becoming darker on the upper neck and the lower half of the head and nape.
Jackal Buzzard - (Please see Philips fantastic photograph and more information.) They nest between May and October in by building a bulky pile of sticks on a cliff ledge or sometimes in trees especially pines. The bowl is lined with leaves and usually two eggs are laid which are chalky white splotched with red-brown.
They hunt by stooping from flight or gliding from a perch, taking small mammals up to the size of a dassie(hyrax), birds up to the size of a francolin, reptiles, insects, road-kills and carrion.

During the demonstration it was mentioned that if the female is not satisfied with her male she will kick him out and find a new one. :) How true this is I do not know, but I love the thought. LOL!! (Sorry guys, but its a girl thing!!) :)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Odds and ends - Part 4

The Tsama Melon mostly grows in the desert where it is sometimes the only source of water for the animals. It does not have much taste but smells a bit like ordinary watermelon. They are fairly small, about the same size of a Honeydew or Musk Melon. The outer skin is extrememly hard and it does not break easily.
Social Weavers build their nest by the hundreds on telephone poles and trees. The branches get so heavy that they often break off.
These are favorite places for snakes and certain raptors to come looking for food, especially in the breeding season.
A lovely snail in its shell was being attacked by ants.
Fungi can be very colorful and this was growing out of an old rotten tree.
I found this on a leaf. I am almost certain it is the larva of a cricket or grasshopper, but once again, I will look to Ted to correct me on this.
It was about an inch or maybe a bit less in length.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Metalic Beetle

I unfortunately only got one shot of this metalic beetle before he took off and it is not a very good one, sorry. However it does show his bright metalic colrs which atracted my attention to him. I cannot find a name for it but think it might be one of the Darkling Beetles.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A tiny mantis

Like yesterdays beetle, I only got one shot of this mantis too but at least it was a better shot. This one is so small that I thought it as a medium size ant at first. I have never seen such colors in a mantis before and think it might be one of the Flower Mantid species. I wish I could have caught him and brought him home to see what he would turn into but he was too fast for me and it was in very thick bush.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Robber Fly

Most Robber Flies ( Asilidae) are predators and catch their prey in flight.
They vary in length from 3-40mm in length but the one in the photograhs below is small, maybe 15-20mm.
I have an idea it might be a leptogaster but I cannot confirm the identification.
This one likes to rest on grass stalks and I wonder that he does not get tired of holding his body at that angle all the time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mudskippers

Mudskippers (Periopthalmus koelreuteri), also known as mudhoppers, are small, maybe 3 inches in length at most.

Photographed in a mangrove swamp on the coastline, mudskippers exist along the edges of muddy puddles and lagoons within mangrove environments or other intertidal zones.
These creatures are adapted to survive in water and on land. They breathe through gills under water and breathe air on land through blood-rich membranes at the back of the mouth and throat.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Montecasino - Bird park - Part 4

Black-necked Swan, Cygnus melancoryphus is the largest waterfowl native to South America. Males are 115-140 cm (45-55 in) and 4.5-6.7 kg (10-14.8 lbs); females are 102-124 cm (40-49 in) and 3.5-4.4 kg (7.7-9.7 lbs). The wingspan is about 177 cm (70 in).

The Black-necked Swan, like its nearest relatives the Black and Mute Swan is relatively silent. Also, unlike most wildfowl, both parents regularly carry the cygnets on their backs. The female lays four to six eggs in a nest of vegetation mound. The diet consists mainly of vegetation, insects and fish spawn.This is one of the species og Gaint Platted Lizards we have here. Their diet includes: flowers, leaves, figs and other soft fruit, but will also eat small lizards; even baby tortoises.
It is considered one of the bare-faced tamarins because of the lack of facial hair. Its lower canine teeth are longer than its incisors, so it seems as if it has small tusks. It is about the size of a squirrel and weighs 10-18 ounces. The Cottontop Tamarin is most active between sunrise and sunset (diurnal), it spends a large portion of its activity time foraging for animal prey, searching through leaves and along branches, and peering and reaching into holes and crevices in branches and tree trunks.
This bat is about 6 inches in body length, one of the biggest I have seen.
The Banded Mongoose litters average 2.6 young per female. Within a pack, litters are produced in synchrony after a gestation period of eight to nine weeks. Collective nursing of offspring takes place. Breeding is normally restricted to the rainy season, and during her life time a female average 1.4 litters per year.
Suricates spend a lot of their time on guard, looking out for predators. (Meerkat is a South African Dutch word meaning 'lake cat' since Meerkats are often found near stretches of water.) Suricate (Meerkats) are diurnal. They live in colonies of up to 30. The groups consist of 2-3 family units comprising a male, a female and their 2-5 young. They usually inhabit the burrows of ground squirrels, which they enlarge by digging with their sharp claws. When emerging from their burrows in the early morning, they tend to sunbathe before spending the day foraging for small prey.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The mother of all storms

If you think the storm I showed you a while back was bad, "you aint seen nuthing yet". :) A couple of weeks ago we had a cloud burst which lasted for 5 hours!! In order to go to the bathroom, I have to go up these stairs and by the time I got to the top, my clothes were wet above my knees.
On the corner, there is a beautiful house with a small hill behind it.
There USED to be a 10 feet high wall across here where I put in the red box to show you.
This burst with the weight of the water........
...and carried the bricks three blocks down the road.

Some blocks of about 12-14 bricks lay 50 yards away.
A look down the street. Needless to say the house at the end was badly flooded and the cars had to zig zag through this mess. My cottage is to the left of this car but fortunately on higher ground so just a little water went into my garage.
In all my life I have never seen something like this and the water continued to run down for the next 4 days.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bark Stink Bug (pentatomidae)

This is the nymph of the Bark Stink Bug (coenomorpha), a medium size bug.
There is not much know about them except that they are herbivorous. The stink glands open on top of the abdomen.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Strange Flies

I found these two interesting "flies" and have no clue as to what there really are. I am hoping my good friend Ted will come to my rescue again and help me with an identification. They are probably going to turn out to be moths or something. LOL!!

Update: Although Ted has identified this "fly" as a type of Seed Bug, I have not been able to dig up more information on it. Please read his comments and do check out his blog, the link is below.
Update: Once again with Ted from Beetles in the Bush's fantastic help, I have been able to get some more information on the picture below. It is an Assasin Bug (457 species) as he said, acanthaspis obscure, of which there are 13 similar species in the genus. Thanks Ted!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Jewel Beetle - 1

We have many species of Jewel Beetles (buprestidae) here, and they vary in length from 2-50mm. There eyes are very large and adults feed on nectar, pollen and foliage. Females lay their eggs in bark crevices.
Larvae excavates oval tunnels in wood or the stems of herbaceous plants. Adults are relatively short lived, but immatures can take up to 35 years to complete their developement, longer than any other insect.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Black Eagle

This was much too easy for all you clever people . Well of course TWO people were wrong again as usual. I just dont know what to do with the two of them. They are going to have to come to Africa and see some live animals and birds for themselves. LOL!! Everyone guessed it was a bird of some kind. :) Thanks for playing everyone.

The Black Eagle is one of the largest eagle species we have here.
Eagle pairs spend approximately 95% of the daytime together. They will perch, fly and hunt together, should the female fly to the nest site the male will follow and usually hops onto the surrounding rocks. After eggs are laid and when there is a young chick on the nest paired black eagles spend very little time together. During nest building 77% of their time is spent together but this decreases dramatically to 6% during incubation. As the young eaglet grows the time spent together by black eagle pairs gradually increases again.
The female black eagle is in charge of the nest site and can spend up to 94%-97% of her time alone on the nest, whereas the male will only spend 1%-5%. The eagles have had to adapt their prey base to include guinea fowl, francolin, red rock rabbit and in desperation the easiest prey –chickens, although this does not happen very often. The female may solicit mating by walking towards, or facing her mate bending forward, the male will mount her with much wing flapping. Copulation has been timed from a few seconds up to 12 seconds only. Mating can occur many times in one day.

They are very easily distinguished by the white V on their backs.
Two creamy white eggs are laid four days apart followed by a 44/45 day incubation period, both eagles sharing the incubation (approx 70% female 30% male - this varies from season to season), the fluffy white chicks are hatched 4 days apart. During incubation the adult birds will eat away from the nest so as not to damage the eggs.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mystery Monday - Part 9

No, it is not my shoe, but then again, it might be. :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Montecasino - Bird Park - Part 3

It was a lovely day to spend outdoors. After so much rain, it was cloudy but no rain fell so it was ideal for photography.
They also have reptiles at the Bird Park. This is the Sungazer lizard which is large and can grow up to about 30cm (1 foot) in length. Their name comes from their habit of burrowing a hole and laying in it with their faces outwards and towards the sun.
The Spider Tortoise gets its name from the yellow web-like lines on its shell. They are one of the smallest of the species in the world and come from Madagascar, an island off the African coast.
The Golden Lion Tamarin or Marmoset as got to be one of the most spectacular animals around. They are small orange-yellow monkeys, weighing 500 to 600 grams. They live in the heavily populated coastal region of Brazil, where less than two percent of the forest remains.
They are endangered because their habitat has been fragmented into small, unconnected areas, each area only capable of supporting a small number of groups. Without intervention by the National Zoo, other zoos, organizations, and the Brazilian government, inbreeding would soon lead to the local extinction of many of these small populations of tamarins, and eventually of the entire species.
The Madagascar Plated lizard are normall found in the waters of tropical rain forests. They grow to the length of 70 cm (about 24 inches). Their flanks have a reddish or sometimes a yellowish tint.
The very rare Geomatric Tortoise is found in only a few surviving fynbos (fine leafed - a specific habitat in SA) areas and is regarded as the world's second rarest tortoise.