18 September 2011 – “Challenging” the west coast…

We thought the weather was going to be great this morning and only turn sour a bit later. We were wrong! The whole day was overcast with rain spitting every now and then. Well, even though we were not going to get brilliant photos, at least we could hunt down a few things for our challenge…

So we left a bit later than planned because Trevor couldn’t separate himself from Facebook (!!!), but we eventually made our way to our first stop, Silwerstroomstrand, in the hope of finding Cape Clapper Lark. Initially, it was very quiet, but eventually one bird showed itself briefly and at a distance. Not great, but another challenge bird ticked.

Cape Clapper Lark

Then it was off to Langebaan to an open field to try and find Austen’s Thick-toed Gecko, but luck was not on our side. We found a few other things to make up for it which included Karoo Sand Snake, Cape and Variegated Skinks, Large-scaled Girdled Lizard and Striped Dwarf Leaf –toed Gecko, but despite a lot of scratching around, not our main target. We were also fortunate to get photos of two more bird species for the first time during the challenge – Red-faced Mousebird and Long-billed Crombec. Unplanned, but very welcome. Today would have been a great day if we were interested in caterpillars! So many of them and some even pretty – we subsequently found out that one of them was the caterpillar of a Slug Moth – very cool!

Karoo Sand Snake

Large-scaled Girdled Lizard

Striped Dwarf Leaf-toed Gecko

Long-billed Crombec

Slug Moth caterpillar

We eventually dragged ourselves away from the field to try for another challenge bird – Cape Long-billed Lark. In the farmlands between Vredenburg and Paternoster area, we had success and we were even honoured with a pose or two (although the light was just terrible!). It took a while to actually find it in amongst all the other LBJ’s there – Large-billed and Red-capped Larks, African Pipits and, for a spot of colour, Cape Longclaws.

Cape Long-billed Lark

African Pipit

Cape Longclaw

Now for the tough one… Friends of ours had recently found a Namaqua Rain Frog in the West Coast National Park. These can be incredibly tough animals to connect with and, in fact, we had never seen one before despite a lot of searching… We could only try (again!!) and, as we approached the park, it even started to rain a bit. Maybe the gods were with us. We looked around scratching through numerous mole-rat hills (Isn’t that just the most obvious place one would start looking for a frog…?!) and, finally, we struck gold! A Namaqua Rain Frog (Breviceps namaquensis) of about 25mm in length. Too cute and a full lifer to boot!! This little animal also became the 500th species we had seen in the province since we started the challenge at the beginning of 2010 (out of a possible total of 888 species – all the birds, mammals, reptiles and frogs recorded in the province). Once again, pictures from every possible angle and then we let him go watching him dig himself back into the sand and into safety. We scratched around and found a few other goodies – a few scorpions, Striped Dwarf Leaf-toed Geckos and a Karoo Girdled Lizard, but nothing quite to match the frog. The flowers are also still in full bloom and, had there been some sun today, we’re sure most of Cape Town would have been there too. Thank goodness for small mercies… A reasonably successful day despite the weather!

Namaqua Rain Frog

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~ by hardakerwildlife on September 22, 2011.

3 Responses to “18 September 2011 – “Challenging” the west coast…”

  1. Well done on your 500th challenge species! And a lifer too… fabulous. Can you tell me if you take any precautions when searching under logs, rocks and in ant hills, against snake bites and scorpions? I am always too afraid to go actively searching in case I do it wrong and get bitten.

  2. Thanks Robyn! The only precaution we really take is just to be as careful as we possibly can when turning over things and also to know what the various possibilities are that we may encounter, so that if something does go wrong (hopefully, it won’t!), we know what has bitten or stung us. As long as one has respect for the bush and the animals that live in it, you should be alright most of the time…

  3. Congratulations on the lifer of the Namaqua Rain Frog Well Done!

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