01 September 2012 – a lifer to start off Spring
Margaret had to run some errands this morning, so after a fairly late start, I decided to join up with friends Barrie Rose, John Graham, Dennis Cope and Dominic Rollinson at Cape Point for some herping. Recent endeavours in the field had not produced a lot of finds, so I was really hoping that, with the onset of Spring, things might have improved.
I arrived at the reserve gates at around 09h30 and made my way across to the Circular Drive area. All the others were still busy finishing up a seawatch at the Point itself, so I let them know that I was now in the reserve and then set off to see what I could find. I stopped at a likely looking area and started scratching around. There were quite a few Cape Peninsula Moss Frogs and Cape Mountain Rain Frogs calling, but I didn’t really spend too much time trying to dig them out. Turning over a few rocks didn’t produce too much to start with except a few Black Girdled Lizards which were still extremely cold and immobile, but eventually, I found a nice large rock which looked promising. It must also be said that field herping definitely reminds you of just how old you are getting and one can definitely feel when a rock is just a little too heavy for your old creaking body…:)
Anyway, I eventually managed to get my hands under it properly and turned it over and there, curled up nicely in a hollow, was a gorgeous Yellow-bellied House Snake! This is an incredibly rare snake and was actually a lifer for me! What an awesome find – I had spent many years turning over rocks in likely areas, but had never had success with this species. Major smile on my face! I quickly phoned the others and they cut short whatever they were doing and raced over to come and enjoy the snake with me. We spent quite a bit of time photographing the animal before putting it back where it had come from.
From here, we took a drive across to Olifantsbos and stopped at a good looking area. A small pan next to the road had quite a few Cape Platanna tadpoles in it, but we couldn’t find any adults. We then moved off deeper into the bush to an area with small wetlands and rocky ridges and began working the area in earnest. Over the next couple of hours, we found and photographed quite a few species. On the frog front, we found Cape Sand Frog and Flat Cacos. Rumour has it that the Flat Cacos that occur at Cape Point are actually a different species to the ones in the rest of the Cape, so hopefully, that might become an armchair tick at some stage in the future…
Reptile-wise, our finds included Knox’s Desert Lizard, Marbled Leaf-toed Gecko, Cape Legless Skink, Delalande’s Beaked Blind Snake, Brown Water Snake and Olive Ground Snake. Herp activity had definitely improved and it was great to have such a productive morning for a change – can’t wait for the season to get into full swing! By lunch time, we called it a day and all headed back home after a great morning out in the field. And I went home with a lifer to boot – it is never a bad day in the field when you come away with a lifer!