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Archive for the ‘Reptiles’ Category

Recently I accompanied a friend to du Toit’s Kloof Pass. I had been there back in January in pursuit of Holmes’ Skolly Thestor holmesi. It is too early for that butterfly and this time we were hunting a scarce butterfly called Irene’s Opal Chrysoritis irene.

Our first animal sighting was something completely unexpected, a Cape Grass Lizard Chamaesaura anguina. This was a herpetological lifer for me. These lizards are not easily seen as they usually inhabit montane grasslands where their serpentine body, reduced limbs, and rough, keeled scales, help them “swim” through thick grass.

Moving up the mountain we encountered several species of butterfly, there were plenty of common species like Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui), Citrus Swallowtail (Demodocus papilio), and Western Hillside Browns (Stygionympha vigilans).

Climbing to the top of the hill we encountered Penninsula Blues Lepidochrysops oreas junae:

At the base of the cliff face we then encountered our target species, Irene’s Opal Chrysoritis irene. I was able to get shots of both a male and a female:

There were many beautiful flowers in bloom, including this Beautiful Gladiolus Gladiolus pulcherrimus:

There were plenty of other insect life too, many beetles including this Common Metallic Longhorn Beetle Promeces longipes:

and this spectacularly coloured Slug Moth caterpillar (Family Limacodidae) found by Andrew:

We then moved to a lower elevation and found more species. Freshly hatched were lots of the common but beautifully photogenic Aranda Coppers Aloides aranda:

I also photographed these Mouse Blues Lepidochrysops puncticilia:

This female is ovipositing.

All in all a fantastic day of chasing butterflies in the beautiful Cape mountains.

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Yesterday I ditched work and an office full of marking headed out to Shaw’s Pass and Riviersonderend with Len. We had some success though didn’t find all that we were looking for.
At Shaw’s Pass we found numerous Aranda Coppers Aloides aranda:

We also found a few specimens of what I think is Robertson’s Blue Lepidochrysops robertsoni. A small group of what I think were males were hilltopping around a small rocky outcrop. They did not pause or rest and were impossible to photograph. I found another specimen which I think was a female & I followed her for some time for this not so great photo:

I also found this wonderfully camouflaged grasshopper. It is most likely a Betiscoides sp. and is superbly camouflaged on the restio stem:

There were other animals about also, including this colourful Southern Rock Agama Agama atra. This is a male in breeding colouration:

We then headed north to Riviersonderend where we had been told there was a spot for the Almeida Copper Aloides almeida.

These were quite common on an overgrown track in the hillside fynbos. They were even more variable than the Aranda Coppers we found earlier:

 

Len is collecting monkey Beetles and we managed to find a few including this very pale species which is as yet unidentified. It was unusual in that all specimens were found clinging to the outside of these white paper daisies. usually monkey beetles are found feeding on pollen in the centre of flowers.

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Way back in April we travelled to the Karoo NP for Araminta’s first camping trip. The Karoo NP is (aptly enough!) situated in the Karoo close to the town of Beaufort West.

It is a place of spectacular scenery:

I took the opportunity to complete a pentad for the Southern Africa Bird Atlas Project. I managed 43 species with 2 lifers – Yellow-bellied Eromela (Eromela icteropygialis) and Karoo Long-billed Lark (Certhilauda subcoronata). I did not find either of my two target species- Ground Woodpecker (Geocalaptes olivaceus) or Short-toed Rock Thrush (Monticola brevipes). I did see some nice birds however, including:

Rufous-eared Warbler Malcorus pectoralis.

Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk Melierax metabates.

Karoo Long-billed Lark Certhilauda subcoronata.

Verreaux’s Eagles Aquila verreauxii sunning themselves.

There were plenty of mammals also, including:

Rock Hyrax (Dassie) Procavia capensis.

Red Hartebeest Alcelaphus buselaphus.

Cape Mountain Zebra Equus zebra zebra.

Greater Kudu Tragelaphus strepsicoros.

Springbok Antidorcas marsupialis.

We went on a night drive where the best sighting was a glimpse of two Aardwolf (Proteles cristatus).

I saw a few reptiles including this Leopard Tortoise Stigmochelys pardalis:

There were some interesting invertebrates as well, including:

Koppie Foam Grasshopper Dictyophorus spumans.

Scorpion Opistophthalmus karrooensis.

I spotted a number of butterflies which have been submitted to the Southern African Butterfly Conservation Assessment’s Virtual Museum:

As yet unidentified Lycaenidae Butterfly.

Painted Lady Butterfly Cynthia cardui.

As yet unidentified butterfly (Colotis sp.).

Another still to be identified Butterfly (probably an Opal Chrysoritis sp.).

Yellow Pansy Butterfly Junonia hierta.

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Some months ago I visited Citrusdal for the Easter long weekend, staying at the Koedoeskop Farm. The weather turned out to be very hot but we still had an enjoyable & relaxing time. I did a bit of birding–including a Pentad for the Southern African Bird Atlas Project 2 (SABAP2), spotted a few reptiles, and also photographed some Butterflies for the South African Butterfly Conservation Assessment (SABCA).

Red-sided Skink (Trachylepis homalocephala) at Koedoeskop Farm.

Agama lizards–probably Southern Rock Agamas (Agama atra) at Koedoeskop Farm.

As well as completing the local pentad centered on Koedoeskop farm, on our final morning I traveled out to Kransvleipoort with a friend chasing the Protea Seedeater (Crithagra leucoptera) & Layard’s Tit-babbler (Parisoma layardi). We were fortunate to get good looks at both species. I also got to tick a Cardinal Woodpecker (Dendropicos fuscescens)–making 3 lifers for the trip.

Verreaux’s Eagle (Aquila verreauxii) catching the early morning sun at Kransvleipoort.

The rocky slopes above the farm were home to the spectacular Paintbrush Lily (Haemanthus coccineus) in full bloom.


Female Red-veined Dropwing Trithemis pluvialis at Koedoeskop Farm, Citrusdal, South Africa.

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