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.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A visit to the zoo - Part 6

A member of the dwarf antelope group, Steenbok (Raphicerus campestris) are petite, weighing 7-16 kg and measuring 70-95 cm in length. Unlike the crouched stance of forest duikers, steenbok carry their heads high and have long legs, with a shoulder height between 45 and 60 cm. The hind quarters and lower parts/belly are pure white. The male Steenbok have upright, slender horns projecting above the eyes. Conspicuous black, facial glands are situated in front of the large, dark brown eyes. These pre-orbital glands are noticeable in both sexes.
The Bat-Eared Fox (Otocyon megalotis)has a silver-gray fluffy coat, a black-tipped bushy tail with a black stripe on top. An outstanding feature is the enormous ears, which are black on the outside and white inside. The long, sharp muzzle is black on top and white underneath. These smallish creatures are 300 mm high at the shoulders and have a length of 800 mm. Mass is about 3-5 kg. They have tiny teeth restricting their diet to insects, small rodents and fruit. The main food source is harvester termites.
Spotted Hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta) weigh up to 70kg, but average between 45-55kg with the females being slightly larger than the males. Their shoulder height measures between 80 and 90 cm. Their coats are sandy or greyish brown and short with a spotted pattern. They have a very strong build with a thick neck and powerful jaws and have long front legs and short back legs causing their backs to slope. The males and females have very similar genitalia, which can make identification extremely difficult. The Spotted Hyaena has a rough coat, a reddish brown or tan colour with black spots, which gradually lightens with age.
The black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas) are slender creatures, weighing 5 to 10 kg. They are cunning creatures. Their senses are extremely acute and well-developed, especially their senses of hearing and smell. If startled, a jackal will retreat a certain distance and then circle back in a wide arc in order to interpret the scent of the disturbance.
Young female cheetah usually occupy the same range as their mother although ALL females are solitary except when they have a litter. Average female home ranges extend to 833 square kilometers (322 square miles). A female raises her cubs alone since adult male and female cheetahs mix only to mate. The average life span of wild radio-collared female cheetahs is 6.9 years which compares to 11.7 years for females in captivity.
The gardens of the zoo are very colorful and there geraniums around the tree make a pretty sight.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday's walk around the nursery - Part 2

The most important criteria for success with growing Cyclamen are temperature, fresh air, and moisture.

Cyclamen will rarely succeed if the temperature goes above sixty-five degrees during the day and fifty degrees at night. Cyclamen said should be watered daily to keep the soil moist.
Ideally, they should be kept on top of a pebble fill tray of water. Never pour the water over the crown of the plant, as this will cause the corm to rot.
Because they prefer a humid atmosphere, misting is beneficial. Keep them out of drafts! They come in many beautiful colors.
In early fall the potted corm can be again moved into the house, where it should be kept in a window where it will receive a few hours of morning sun each day.
Many varieties of kale are referred to as "flowering kales" and are grown mainly for their ornamental leaves, which are brilliant white, red, pink, lavender, blue or violet in the interior or the rosette. Most plants sold as "ornamental cabbage" are in fact kales.
Ornamental kale is as edible as any other variety, provided it has not been treated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals.
When uncooked, standard Kale is a popular garnish.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reflection - Part 1

Sometimes it is good to sit back and look at the days and years gone by. Reflections can echo the peace and tranquility of it or the stormy, bumpy times.
In each of us, there is the longing back for “the good old days’ and we compare the quality of today’s standard of living with then. But were they so good? Is it just the memory of them which makes them seem better? Are today’s so bad?
Today’s technology makes our live much easier in many ways. For example, as a young child we had a toilet which was outside. Now this was not a bad thing in summer, but it sure was hell in the winter.
Today we go out and buy a kettle or a toaster, but it only seems to last until the day after the guarantee expires whereas before it lasted for 20 years.
When we went to visit relations who lived in the next town, you could not go for the day as just getting there would take half of it and you had to take a picnic basket to eat along the way.
Now, in the same amount of time I can fly half way around the world and not need to worry about the picnic or getting a flat tire or even the possibility of hitting a cow on the road.
Speak to any older person and they will tell you times were tough back then and guess what, times are tough now too!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A visit to the zoo - Part 5

This is such a beautiful cat (Felis Caracal), I thought I would do a post just on it. It is a distant cousin to the Lynx.

In hunting, the Caracal is mainly nocturnal, but will also use the twilight hours to search out its prey. Diurnal activity has also been observed, specially in the hunting of bird.
For its size the Caracal is strong and fast, and as well as taking smaller prey such as Jerboas, Sand Rat, Ground Squirrel and Rock Hyrax, it can also bring down the larger Reedbuck and Duiker.This Cat is able, from a sitting position, to launch 4-5 metres in the air by using its strong hind quarters and limbs. They do this to pluck flying bird prey from the air.
The Caracal moves with grace and a sense of confident power. It is an expert climber and regularly takes refuge in trees.

(The picture below is not the best I have taken as it happened so quickly but I thought I would include it anyway.)
In most parts of its range the Caracal has no set breeding period and a female may often mate with up to three males. The litter size varies between 1-6 kittens, which are born after a gestation period of approximately 78 days. The kittens have a daily weight gain of approximately 21g per day and although they reach maturity at about 16-18 months of age they are often independent from about 12 months.
Mostly nocturnal, secretive, solitary, and an aggressive animal. Due to being hunted as a problem animal by farmers, Caracal became even more elusive and thus a sighting of one is very difficult.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A visit to the zoo - Part 4

Next to the aquarium is the reptile park This crocodile was basking in the sun trying to warm himself. For more information on crocodiles click here.
We have two types of large monitor lizards here and they are called the Water and Rock Leguan respectively. They vary very little from each other besides their preference of habitat and can grow up to 2 metres (6 foot) in ength. They eat eggs, chicks and almost anything which comes in their path. They are preyed upon by our Martial Eagle.
A painted turtle.
A boomslang, Dispholidus typus is a large, venomous colubrid snake native to sub-Saharan Africa. Its name means "tree snake" in Afrikaans and Dutch.It's long and slender build makes it well adapted for an arboreal life stile where it spends most of it's time among the bushes and trees as the name so clearly indicates. A length of 1.5 metres is about the average for a male but 2 metres has been recorded. The female lays between 8 to 23 eggs and the young measure about 330 mm. Unlike with other snakes that mate on the ground the boomslang mates in trees. A different anti-venom is required than for other snake bites. The venom creates blood clotting in the patient and a blood transfusion might be needed. Symptoms can take up to 24-28 hours to develop but seeing that the boomslang is not a aggressive snake but rather flees when approached.
Arizona Mountain Kingsnake.
A beautiful Rock Python.
Prehensile-tailed skink. Large, about 2'6"
Carpet Pythons come from Australia and is one of the smaller python species.
Despite their name, Green iguanas can come in different colors. In southern countries of their range, such as Peru, green iguanas appear bluish in color with bold black markings. Iguanas have well developed dewlaps which helps regulate their body temperature. It is also used in courtships and displays.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pilansberg Game Reserve - Part 3

Even a weed can be beautiful.
When it was time to leave and come back home, I found this bug in my car...maybe he wanted to go home with me, but I wasn't having no hitch hikers in my car. LOL!!
The elephants were have a dust bath in a dry dam. This helps them get rid of ticks and fleas.
There are many kinds of dung beetles and they come in various colors. Their eggs are in the centre of this ball and they roll it to a place and bury it using their hind legs. When the eggs hatch, they have food available to them.
I came across this female rhino with her young calf. I have never seen such a long horn before.
Springbuck are our national animal. They were first seen by the earlier settlers in this country and are plentiful in certain areas.
This little foal stuck close to his mothers side. When young, the stripes are more brown than black.
The wings on this beautiful butterfly are transparent.
The hippo were catching some sun on the banks of the dam. A few weeks later when I went back, the water was overflowing the wall at the back of the picture.
In the summer, butterflies come in all shades and patterns.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A visit to the zoo - Part 3

More pictures from the aquarium: A Long-horn Cowfish
Moon Jellyfish: This common jellyfish is found in coastal waters throughout the world. Strange as it may seem, jellyfish are free-living relatives of sea anemones and corals. They have a very simple body sructure and are very fragile.

Angel Fish
Clown Fish
Unpside-down Jellyfish: Although this has stinging cells and can catch plankton food, it relies mainly on nutrients from algae which live in its tissue. Through photosynthesis these algae convert sunlight into food which they share with their host.
Coral reef: