09 September 2012 – another target eventually challenged…

We had tried numerous times, unsuccessfully, to locate Sand Rain Frog for our challenge list over the last few months and were getting to close to giving up on this species. They tend to sit in the base of the most inhospitable vegetation and are generally quite tough to find. Waking up this morning to bucketing rainfall, we decided that we would head out to the Blaauwberg Conservation Area to give it one more go. While most “normal” people were either still tucked away in bed or at least cosy inside their warm houses, we donned our wet weather gear and headed out into the field.

The patch of coastal strandveld that we were walking through was absolutely alive with the calls of these enigmatic little frogs and a slight sense of confidence descended on us that we were in with a good chance here. Initially working independently to try and find them, we had little success, but eventually we decided to work together and try and triangulate where one was calling from. After a long process of some 15-20 minutes of waiting and listening, we were pretty sure that we had isolated the bush that a particular individual was calling from and even the part of the bush. We decided to start scratching around at the base of the bush and, after about 10 minutes of slow and detailed searching, we could not find a single thing. How depressing is that…?!

We gave up and walked away from the bush and started working on triangulating another individual. Not 5 minutes later, a frog started calling from the exact bush that we had just so carefully worked through! I couldn’t believe my ears, but raced back to the bush and started digging around again. I spotted a slight movement in amongst the mass of stems at the base and wormed my fingers in there until I felt something. I wrapped my fingers around it and pulled it out and was faced with the most glorious little male Sand Rain Frog in my hand. I let out a little shriek of delight and Margaret, realizing I had now found something, came bounding over towards me. What a relief to finally find this little guy and be able to put it on our challenge list…:)

male Sand Rain Frog

We spent the next little while trying to get some semi-decent photos of it before eventually putting it back where I had originally found it. It wasn’t 5 minutes after we had released it when I received a phone call from my friend, Mike Buckham, who was up at the West Coast National Park at the time, asking what we were up to and what we had found. He instantly picked up on all the frogs calling in the background and asked if we had found one yet. When I told him that we had just released it, he sounded rather depressed as he was quite keen to see one himself and would’ve come through straight away had we still had it. Anyway, there was no way that we were going to try and find that thing again, so we left it at that and said our good-byes…

We then continued to work through the patch of veld looking through the molehills to see if we could find anything exciting. We located several Silvery Dwarf Burrowing Skinks, but not much else. It was still raining lightly and we were about to call it a day when I got lucky and found a female Sand Rain Frog walking out in the open towards a calling male. I quickly picked her up and gave her to Margaret to hold while I phoned Mike to ask where he was. They were already on their way back and were just over 15 minutes away from us, so I suggested that they might want to swing by where we were, not telling him what we had found. He sounded excited and said that they were on their way and we must please wait for them.

Silvery Dwarf Burrowing Skink

female Sand Rain Frog

Knowing that Mike, his son Tommy, and friend Dave Winter had all developed a newfound interest in frogs and reptiles, I thought I would head back out into the rain and see what else I could find before they arrived. It didn’t take too long to find another Silvery Dwarf Burrowing Skink and, a few molehills later, I found a Cuvier’s Blind Legless Skink as well. This was a lifer for Margaret as well, so a very welcome find. I only found a single piece of discarded plastic sheet in the veld and turned it over to find a small Spotted Skaapsteker under it. By this time, Mike, Tommy and Dave had arrived and were all admiring the frog that Margaret was holding, so I kept the other finds back and waited for them to finish enjoying and photographing the frog (which I also got involved in as well). After that, it was like a process of opening up Christmas presents for them as I, slowly one by one, introduced them to the other finds I had, giving a few minutes with each of them for photographs before showing the next one. Nasty I know, but it was great to see the delight on their faces as they kept being introduced to new species every few minutes…:)

Cuvier’s Blind Legless Skink

Spotted Skaapsteker

After eventually running out of new species to show them and everyone having had their fill of photos, we put all the animals back where they had come from and then headed back home after a wonderful, albeit very wet, morning in the veld and a successful challenge chase under the belt. Thanks to Mike for the photo below…

Trevor getting the models to pose for the photographers

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~ by hardakerwildlife on October 11, 2012.

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