29 September 2012 – a cracking day of herps…
With Margaret having some other commitments today, I joined Barrie Rose and Cliff and Suretha Dorse for a day in the West Coast National Park. We arrived in the park just after 8am and met up with Lourance Klose and Dave Maguire there. A quick visit at the Abrahamskraal bird hide didn’t really turn up too much, so we decided to hit the veld to see what we could find.
We selected a patch of veld that had lots of molehills in it and began working through these soon finding Gronovi’s and Silvery Dwarf Burrowing Skinks as well as a couple of Namaqua Rain Frogs. It was overcast and cool, probably ideal conditions for fossorial animals to be near the surface, so we continued searching.
A Red-sided Skink and few more of the other species were added before Dave Maguire hit gold and found a Blouwberg Dwarf Burrowing Skink! Major excitement as this is a species that was only described to science for the first time in 2003 and, since then, only 11 animals have ever been found! We all admired this little beauty knowing that this was a particularly rare find before carrying on with the searching. Not 5 minutes later, I struck gold too finding another one, this time a slightly younger individual with more orange on the tail. How lucky can one group get?! We then set about photographing all of the animals, battling to wipe the smile off my face with this awesome lifer reptile!
Further searching in the area eventually turned up a single Cuvier’s Blind Legless Skink as well as a lovely young Puffadder.
We then decided to move off to another area to try our luck there. Careful searching eventually bagged several new species for the day including Ocellated Thick-toed and Striped Dwarf Leaf-toed Geckos, Spotted Skaapsteker, Herald Snake and a gorgeous Spotted Harlequin Snake, a new species for the challenge list. Things were looking up – it was still early and, already, there were 2 additions to the challenge list including a lifer!
We then moved across to another area where we lucked out in finding a Cape Worm Snake, yet another new species for the challenge – things were going well!
Once again, the group relocated to a different area and the additional species just didn’t stop coming. Karoo and Cross-marked Sand Snakes, Delalande’s Beaked Blind Snake, Cape and Variegated Skinks and Large-scaled Girdled Lizard were all added to the day’s list and I even managed to get myself bitten by one of the Karoo Sand Snakes on my knuckles! Fortunately, the bite was not too bad, not that they are really harmful to humans at all, but it’s always just irritating getting bitten…:)
This site also delivered another great addition to the challenge list, a cracking little Lesser Dwarf Shrew which posed reasonably well for us. In fact, at one stage, it came running straight towards me as I was lying on the ground and, somehow, managed to get into my sleeve and ran all the way up it! I eventually had to take my top off to get it out and, by way of thanking me, it bit me as well! It’s amazing how much pain a little creature like that can deliver.
One last stop at another site did not really add too much more and, by then, it was time to head back home after another great day with friends out in the park.