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Archive for January, 2011

Made a quick trip to Du Toit’s Kloof Pass last week in pursuit of Holmes’ Skolly Thestor holmesi. Special thanks to Andrew for the directions! I was towards the end of their flight season though Andrew has found worn specimens in mid-February. I found a total of 6 specimens in 90 minutes – some were very worn though some were quite fresh. They were reasonably cooperative for photos though no open wing shots (I never even saw one open its wings except to fly).

Nice fresh specimen.

A slightly worn specimen – see the scales missing on the hind wing.

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I went back to the braunsi spot on the Boesmanskloof Trail with a friend last week. The braunsi were still there though it was clearly nearing the end of their season. I didn’t take many photos of the braunsi as I had good shots from the last trip; I spent quite a lot of time following this mating pair of Long-tailed Blues Lampides boeticus:

The other interesting observation was two Yellow Pansies Junonia hierta cebrene which are not very common this far south in the Western Cape.

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Last week  I went to Greyton in pursuit of three Thestor species: T. stepheni, T. kaplani, & T. braunsi. It turned out to be an extremely hot day – 37C? or so – and was a tough hike back. I saw a number of common species on the way:
Fynbos Blue Tarucus thespis
Meadow White Pontia helice
Cupreous Blue Eichochrysops messapus
Geranium Bronze Cacreus marshalli
Citrus Swallowtail Papilio demodocus
Cape Brown Cassionympha detecta

There were a lot of Mountain Sandmen Spialia spio flying on the track also:

I only found one Thestor – T. braunsi which is a species I’ve found before though I did not have decent photographs. I found a nice active colony and was able to get some good photographs:

One final interesting find was a few specimens of Grass Jewel Blue Chilades trochylus feeding. This may be a westerly range expansion for the species.

Here is the view back over the trail from about 5km in – the farthest I went:

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Back in July I took a family holiday in the Hluhluwe area. An earlier post on butterflying around Malala Lodge is here. We visited the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (It was until recently known as the St Liucia Wetland Park.). The Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and “consists of thirteen contiguous protected areas with a total size of 234,566 hectares. The site is the largest estuarine system in Africa and includes the southernmost extension of coral reefs on the continent. The site contains a combination of on-going fluvial, marine and aeolian processes that have resulted in a variety of landforms and ecosystems. Features include wide submarine canyons, sandy beaches, forested dune cordon and a mosaic of wetlands, grasslands, forests, lakes and savanna. The variety of morphology as well as major flood and storm events contribute to ongoing evolutionary processes in the area. Natural phenomena include: shifts from low to hyper-saline states in the Park’s lakes; large numbers of nesting turtles on the beaches; the migration of whales, dolphins and whale-sharks off-shore; and huge numbers of waterfowl including large breeding colonies of pelicans, storks, herons and terns. The Park’s location between sub-tropical and tropical Africa as well as its coastal setting has resulted in exceptional biodiversity including some 521 bird species.” (Quoted from the UNESCO site here.)

In the morning we went on an estuary cruise which focuses on hippos and crocodiles as well as the larger birds. It was a very enjoyable trip and we saw plenty of crocodiles and hippos and quite a few birds – though nothing new for me.

Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius

Nile Crocodile Crocodylus niloticus

Waterbuck Kobus ellipsiprymnus

White-faced Duck Dendrocygna viduata with a Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

Great views of a Goliath Heron Ardea goliath

Up close and personal with an African Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer

After the cruise we spent some time around St Lucia village – I went for a short walk on the Gwalagwala trail. We saw a group of Vervet Monkeys Cercopithecus aethiops:

On the Gwalagwala walk I also saw a Woodward’s Batis Batis fratrum which was a new bird for my life list.

Later on in the village we had fantastic views of a large group of Banded Mongooses Mungos mungo, though they moved so quickly I did not get photographs. I did get a photo of a female Trumpeter Hornbill Bycanistes bucinator:

In the afternoon we drove into the park and saw more Waterbuck as well as Warthogs Phacochoerus africanus. I found another new bird, the Eastern Nicator Nicator gularis.

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