24 September 2011 – Hangklip gets herped
Taking advantage of the “prime time” for reptiles and frogs, a group of friends decided to head out to the Hangklip area for some herping. We joined Rob Leslie, Henco Nienaber, Cliff and Suretha Dorse and Faansie and Ronel Peacock for the adventure – some of us decided that it was going to be a long day (and night), so we booked into the Hangklip Hotel for the evening (ourselves, Faansie, Ronel and Rob). Situated near the point at Hangklip, the hotel makes a great base to explore the area from. It is relatively inexpensive and basic, yet comfortable, and the food on offer at the small restaurant there is very acceptable. All integral factors in adding to an enjoyable weekend away…
The group met up early this morning just outside the hotel and, after a cup of coffee, headed out on to some private property that we had managed to get permission to access. Our first order of business was to work our way along a line of low rocky ridges turning over any suitable rocks that we could find in the hope of locating some exciting critters. Initially, it was a little slow, but as soon as the first reptile, a Marbled Leaf-toed Gecko, was located, things began to move along. The best find early on was a stunning Spotted Rock Snake, a species that can be incredibly difficult to find locally. We spent quite some time photographing it before moving on.
As we moved along, we began to pick up more and more species – a tiny Marsh Terrapin hiding under a rock in the smallest of water pools, a Spotted Skaapsteker, a few Southern Rock Agamas, a gorgeous and large Cape Crag Lizard and a very feisty Herald Snake. With Trevor handling the snake so that some of the others could photograph it, it was certainly not in the best of moods. At one point, it struck out at his hand, missing it by not very much at all (only due to the fact that he jerked it out of the way as quickly as he could…).
A walk around the vlei area there turned up a few more Marsh Terrapins, a Common Brown Water Snake, some Clicking Stream Frogs and a Flat Caco – the list was starting to move along nicely now. A tiny Angulate Tortoise also created a bit of a distraction and was yet another reptile for the list.
Lunchtime and we headed back to the hotel for a bite to eat, not before encountering a large and very “awake” Puffadder. This is one of the most feared snake species in the province and one has to show them a lot of respect – you really don’t want to get bitten by one of these…
After lunch, we headed out to another area to start searching again. More Marbled Leaf-toed Geckos and Southern Rock Agamas (including one incredibly friendly individual that was only too happy to pose for all and sundry) and also quite a few Cape Girdled Lizards were found. Despite several hours of searching the area, turning over lots of rocks and combing the beach area, the only snake we were able to find was a single small Common Brown Water Snake.
At this stage, Cliff and Suretha had to leave as they had to get back to another commitment for the evening, so the rest of us wandered off to another area. Our first Banded Stream Frogs of the trip were added along with more Clicking Stream Frogs and Flat Cacos as well as a couple of Red-sided Skinks and some more Southern Rock Agamas, but for the rest, it was pretty quiet.
We decided to head back to the hotel for an early dinner. It was good to just be able to sit around a table and relax and chat for a while and a good social time was enjoyed by all. It also gave us a chance to download some of our photos from the day and clear the CF cards for the evening session. After dinner, we donned our wellington boots and headed off to the vlei for a spot of frogging. Before we had even reached the vlei, we found an enormous Cape River Frog crossing the road.
As we neared the vlei, the chorus of frog calls got louder and louder – we could hear several different species calling. As soon as we “hit the water”, we started finding frogs – Clicking Stream Frogs, Flat Cacos, our first Cape Sand Frogs for the challenge, Common Platanna and, of course, the most gorgeous of all the local species, the Arum Lily Frogs. We spent the next couple of hours wandering around, even finding a Herald Snake swimming around looking for dinner. We heard Rattling Frog several times but despite the whole group triangulating on the call, we could not find the bugger! It will have to remain one that we still need to get for the challenge…
Eventually, the weariness started to creep in and we headed back to the hotel and collapsed into bed for a well deserved night’s rest!