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.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cycads 2

The cycads were very pretty this year and always remind me of someone very special. When the seed pod starts to develope it seems to be protected by the small shoots around it.
The pods of this particular species are low on the ground and surrounded by leaves.
It gets to be a tall pod and at the bottom of each seed are what look like spores. Maybe someone knows and can tell me what they actually are.
At first I thought they might be bug eggs but I watched them carefully and never saw anything crawling on them.
The summer progressed and the pods became dry and eventaully died off. I have taken a few home to see if I can cultivate them.
For more information on cycads, please click on this link.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cheetah

They are the only member of the cat family whose claws are not retractable after the age of three months. This has led to the misconception that cheetah belong to the dog family.
Cheetah do not stalk their prey as do lion and leopard, instead, they rely on their exceptional speed, which is 80kmph (48 mph) on average, but some people maintain can be as high as 112kmph (67mph).

Their name is derived from and Indian word “chita” which means “spotted one.”
The tail of these beautiful creatures is moved from right to left like rudders to facilitate their changing direction when in high speed pursuit of an intended victim.

An open environment is preferred by them, for, by lying on top of a raises raised piece of ground or anthill, they are able to spot their prey quite a distance away.
Cheetahs are easily distinguished. Even at a distance, the muscular shoulders sloping down to their hind quarters, stream-lined belly and small head can be seen.
Females will breed only after the current litter reaches the age of about two years. They are found in small family groups of two to five.

Impala and other medium sized antelope make up most of their diet, but they also eat hares, guinea fowl, ostrich, warthog and any other game which might be available.

Males will urinate on the boundaries of their territory and, as this smell lasts for about twenty four hours, they will need to do this fairly regularly to ensure that other cheetah males do not come into their area.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pilansberg - Wild flowers - Part 7


I was there just after the rain and this means the ticks are out in full force, especially this little red ones. Needless to say, I did not do much walking that day.
He was clinging for dear life onto this grass stalk.


It seems it was the time when all the dragonflies were eager to have their photograhs taken too.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Meerkats (Suricats)

They are about 50cm (16-18 inches) tall with a thin tapering tails roughly three quarters of body their length.

Meerkats are diurnal, and will only be seen after the first rays of sun start to show over the horizon.
Mostly they eat insects which they dig for or find by looking under stones, but their diet includes worms, larvae, mice and small snakes.

They female has one litter per year, giving birth to two to five young.
The young are very playful, but there are always sentries on duty watching for predators and they scatter into burrows at the first alarm grunt.
Males help guarding young.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Giraffe

This cheeky fellow was begging for food from everyone. I am glad I do not have a tongue like that!! LOL!!
Many people do not know that giraffes can sit down like this.
They have the second longest gestation period, 15 months after which a single calf is born.
Great caution is taken before bending down to drink if they are in an area where predators are around.
There are 7 bones in their necks. The same as humans and sparrows.
Giraffe, Blue Wildebeest, Impala and Zebra are mostly found in mixed herds. Each species eats a different kind of food so are not competition for one another.
The pigmentation of their skin is the same as our, some have lighter skins than others.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ostrich (Struthio Camelus)

The ostrich is a large, flightless bird - the largest living bird on earth. When fully grown it weighs over 120kg (200+ pounds).

Life expectancy: They can live to be 40 years old or more.
Predators: The chicks have many predators including vulture, hyena and jackal.

One ostrich egg equals 24 chicken eggs.

In breeding season, the lower front of his legs go a bright red.
Ostriches have great vision and because of their strong legs can run at 70 km (40 miles) per hour.

Ostriches are mainly vegetarian, eating grass, succulents berries and seeds, though they will also eat insects. They swallow large numbers of pebbles which help grind the harder food in the gizzard and aid digestion.
Territorial males compete for flocks of 3 to 5 hens. Mating includes elaborate displays of hisses and dancing. Once divided into mating groups, ostriches in some areas use communal nests to hold anywhere from 14 to 60 eggs. The nest is a hole scraped in bare ground about 1 to 2 feet deep. The average egg is 6 inches in length, 5 inches in width, weighs about 3 pounds, and is shiny and whitish in color. Eggs take approximately 35 - 40 days to hatch. The male, which has mostly black feathers, sits on the eggs at night, and the drab, brown female who lays up to 20 eggs, covers them during the day. Only 15 percent of chicks make it to their first birthday, despite having protection from their parents.
Ostriches were almost wiped out in the 18th century due to hunting for feathers. By the middle of the 19th century, due to the extensive practice of ostrich farming the ostrich population increased. The movement changed to domesticating and plucking ostriches, instead of hunting. Ostriches have been successfully domesticated and are now farmed throughout the world, particularly in South Africa, for meat, feathers and leather. The leather goes through a tanning process and is then manufactured into fashion accessories such as boots and bags.

Pilansberg - Wild flowers - Part 6

This one is very pretty when in full bloom as the centre unfolds as the orange flower opens.


I could not resist taking pictures of this lovely dragonfly as it posed for me.
What a face!!
I have never seen a spider like this with each half of him a different color. He was tiny about the size of the head of a cigarette.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Small Spotted Genet

I am sorry but this is the only picture I have ever been able to get of this lovely cat.

The small spotted genet, or common genet, is a small cat-like mammal. From head to tail, the small spotted genet is approximately 40 in (100cm) in length, and weighs around 2-7 lbs (1-3 kg.). The medium to short length coat can be found in shades from tan to gray. The coat is spotted with small black spots formed in rows. These spots may be located close together and form what looks like solid lines. Each genet has a unique pattern. The tail is ringed, and makes up approximately half of the total body length. The face of Genetta genetta is slightly elongated. The muzzle is black, ringed with white around mouth and eye area. The eyes are large and round and face forward. They have short stout legs and large ears. When frightened or excited, small spotted genets are able to erect a mane of hair along their neck and back. Genets have 5 digits per foot and the soles of each foot is furred. Like a cat’s the claws are retractile. Like all Viverids, small spotted genets have anal scent glands used for marking and as a predator deterrent.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My first Hummingbird/Sunbird!!

...and WAS I pleased with myself!! LOL!! These small, beautiful Whiltebellied Sunbirds - we dont call them Humming birds here- come and drink the nectar out of the flowers but they are so elusive I never seem to be able to get puctures. As you know I am not a birder, but I wanted to show you this one. Unfortunately the breeding season is over so the male has lost most of its color but the bright, metalic spot you can see on its shoulder is what the whole of the top of his head lookes like in summer.
But hey, beggars can't be choosers and I am happy that I at least got SOME shots of it. :)
They are usually solitary or in pairs amd found in most parks and gardens where they mostly feed on the abundant Aloes to be found growing.
They are very vocal and will chase other Sunbirds away from their food source. This one below is almost a good picture of it taking off.