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, 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!!) :)

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.

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.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Flap-necked Chameleon

This is the largest chameleon (genuses Chamaeleo) I have ever seen and took pictures of it on my hand so you can get an idea of its size. When I first picked it up, it hissed at me and turned itself black in order to scare me off, but did it? No, not until I got my pictures. LOL!! Although not considered endangered, chameleons are a highly threatened group - particularly the flap-neck chameleon which inhabits populated and agricultural areas. They have many natural predators which include arboreal snakes, larger shrikes and certain raptors. Like most birds and reptiles, there is only about a two percent probability of survival to adult breeding age. The chances of successful breeding are even less.
The greatest threat to their survival comes from human activities. Destruction of habitat for development and chemical control of their (insect) food species severely restricts their range. Traditional, cultural ‘taboo’ results in unjustified persecution. Veld (grass) fires are probably the greatest killer, from which they have no escape. Their natural instinct is to climb up from danger, which takes them into the hottest part of flames. There is very likely 100 percent destruction of chameleons in a hot burn. I put it into my fishtank to crawl about and out popped this cricket to hitch a ride on its tail. :) Would you look at those claws!! A good thing he is not larger than he was or he would most likely have dug a hole in my hand with those nail. (And I thought mine were bad!! LOL!!) They are very pre-historic looking but here he was hanging on to my finger for dear life. After a while he calmed down and slowly got used to me handling him and started turning back to his natural colour. These larger chameleons lay their eggs in the soft sand soil while the dwarf (about 14 species) give birth to live young.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Lizard mating dance

These two little lizards were doing their mating dance....at least, he was.
He kept the tip of his tail in an upright position the whole time.
The female would keep on turning around while he circled her.
This kept on for at least half an hour until something scared them off and they both disappeared under some old equipment we have in the yard.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Serval (Leptailarus serval)

The serval has extraordinarily long legs for its body size which can be up to 3 feet in length, whilst standing up to 20 inches in shoulder height.
The bulk of its diet constitutes rodents, especially vlei rats. Birds, frogs, insects, small reptiles and even fish are taken to compliment the diet.
Kittens, in litters of three to four, are born in thick grass cover or underbrush. The gestation period is 68-72 days. Births often occur at the end of summer.
Elusive and shy, servals are for the most part nocturnal, hunting by sight and sound more than scent. This makes them extremely difficult to photograph. All these pictures were taken at the zoo except for the one below.
When the cubs are large enough to hunt, the mother will drive the males away from the family first. Females will stay together with the mother until they become sexually mature. Then they will be driven away by the mother so they can establish their own territories.
Solitary in habits, except when mating or when a female is accompanied by her young. Serval scent mark their large home ranges of 15 - 30 square km. Home ranges are not exclusive, but occupants avoid contact. Scent marking is conducted with urine and faeces.