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Archive for the ‘SABCA’ Category

A previous outing to Strandfontein was in search of Barber’s Ranger Kedestes barberae bunta. (Post here). The larva of another ranger, the Unique Ranger Kedestes lenis lenis, uses the same grass – Cottonwool Grass Imperata cylindrica to feed:

This ranger begins flying a month alter in October. This week I grabbed a few hours to see if I could find and photograph this butterfly. As it turned out, there were a lot of specimens active which was great to see.

There were a few other butterfly species active also: Common Opal Chrysoritis thysbe, Silver Arrowhead Phasis thero, and another new species for me, the Silver-bottom Brown Pseudeonympha magus:

I found some Monkey Beetles for my friend Len:

This mantid was eating a bug:

It has been a while since I’ve seen a Cape Chameleon Bradypodium pumilum but I was fortunate to find this gorgeous specimen:

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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 CoppersĀ 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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A few weeks back I accompanied Steve & Andrew to a recently discovered colony of a subspecies of Barber’s Ranger Kedestes barberae bunta in Strandfontein. This subspecies is rare due to habitat loss & occurs only in a few locations in coastal fynbos in the Cape Penninsula & Cape Flats areas. It is currently listed in the Red Data Book of threatened species. The larvae feed on Cottonwool Grass Imperata cylindrica.
It was fantastic to find a small but apparently thriving colony of these butterflies. The grass was growing right beside a busy road in a quite degraded area where there are currently no protection measures in place.

Barber’s Ranger Kedestes barberae bunta

I also spotted a Silver Arrowhead Phasis Thero (no pics), as well as a lovely specimen of the Geranium Bronze Cacyreus marshalli and a Common Opal Chrysoritis thysbe thysbe.

Geranium Bronze Cacyreus marshalli (I messed up a very nice shot by not allowing for the shadow cast by a leaf.)

Common Opal Chrysoritis thysbe thysbe

All except the Geranium Bronze were lifers for me.

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Monday to Wednesday this week I had a work conference in Montagu staying at the Avalon Springs Hotel & Spa Resort. I had most of the afternoons of Monday & Tuesday free & spent a few hours chasing butterflies on the 440m hill behind the resort. Monday afternoon was breezy, cloudy, & cool & not much was flying. Tuesday was sunny, clear & much warmer & a lot more species were active.
On Monday I saw a Painted Lady Vanessa cardui as well as this Chrysoritis species. I didn’t get a photo with its wings open, nor did I really see the upper surface, but I think its a Burnished Opal Chrysoritis chrysaor.

On Tuesday I had a lot more success:

Meadow White Pontia helice.

The best find was another Chrysoritis species, a lifer for me. It took a lot of chasing but I got pretty good photographs of them:


Plutus Opal Chrysoritis plutus.

There were a number of specimens of a tiny Blue flying:



Pretty sure these are Dwarf Blue Oraidium barberae.

There were a few Browns flying, but they were very difficult to photograph. I managed to get decent photographs of one specimen:

Spring Widow Tarsocera cassus. This was another lifer.

I collected another Brown later to discover that it was a different species, the Western Hillside Brown Stygionympha vigilans; also a lifer – though alas, no photographs.


Painted Lady Vanessa cardui. These were quite common, but I find them quite difficult to photograph.

Finally, I took this horrible photo of small blue- any ideas as to its ID?

Observed but not photographed were:
Protea Scarlet Capys alphaeus
Citrus Swallowtail Papilio demodocus
Cape Black-eye Leptomyrina lara
Western Hillside Brown Stygionypha vigilans
Common Hairtail Anthene definita

All in all, a very enjoyable few hours with 3 lifers.

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I made a return trip to Het Kruis with Andrew & Kevin on on July 24. (See the 2009 trip report here.) We wanted to see what was active at this time of year. Het Kruis is particularly known as a good location for the King Copper Butterfly Tylopedia sardonyx peringeui.
We had a very successful trip that resulted in an extension of the flight times for a number of species.

King Copper Tylopedia sardonyx peringeui

King Copper Tylopedia sardonyx peringeui – dorsal surface. Getting a clear shot of the dorsal surface can be very difficult in some species.

The Warrior Silver-spotted Copper Argyraspodes argyraspis was our second target species. I had much better views of it than in 2009.

There were a number of other butterflies around as well:

Boeland Brown Melampias huebneri

Cape Black-eye Leptomyrina lara

Dwarf Blue Oraidium barberae. This tiny butterfly is the second smallest butterfly in Southern Africa and was a new species for me.

We then moved localities slightly to a flatter sandy area on the other side of the road. Here we also saw one specimen of the King Copper Tylopedia sardonyx peringeui. There were a number of Osteospermum (Chrysanthemoides) incana plants in flower – the food plant of the Donkey Daisy Copper Chrysoritis zonarius and we found a few specimens of this species — again earlier than has previously been recorded. This was also a new species for me.

There were plenty of flowers out as well:

Babiana sp.

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Spring is the beginning of butterfly season here in the Western Cape. There are however a few species that fly a little earlier – especially if the weather warms up. With a hot weekend predicted recently, Andrew & I headed to Het Kreis in pursuit of a few specials. we also wanted to cover some empty pentads for the South African Butterfly Conservation Assessment.

The surveyed locality:

We were in particularly in pursuit of a subspecies of the quite spectacular King Copper – Tylopedia sardonyx peringueyi:

The most abundant butterfly around was the Boland Brown Melampias huebneri:

We also saw a few specimens of the fast-moving Warrior Silver-spotted Copper Argyraspodes argyraspis:

As well as specimens of the Common Blue Leptotes pirithous:

We also found numerous specimens of a caterpillar that I later identified as belonging to a very attractive moth, the Cherry Spot Moth Diaphone eumela:

In our initial location, unphotographed sightings included the Painted Lady Vanessa cardui, and the Donkey Daisy Copper Chrysoritis zonarius.

A second flatter sandier spot produced a specimen of the Pan Copper Chrysoritis pan.

There were a lot of wildflowers in bloom also:

Babiana sp.


Lessertia sp.


Tritonia undulata.

All in all, a very good start to the butterflying year.

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Back in March we went camping at Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve near Swellendam. The reserve contains the most noteworthy example of indigenous forest in the southwestern Cape. It is home to a number of birds including the most westerly population of the Narina Trogon. See birding information on the Cape Birding Route website. We did not have great weather, however I did manage to see two new species: the beautiful Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher (Trochocercus cyanomelas)and the less beautiful but interesting Terrestrial Brownbul (Phyllastrephus terrestris).
There were a few butterflies about – Grootvadersbosch is home to a subspecies of the Forest King Emperor butterfly Charaxes xiphares occidentalis. It was a little late in the season however & I only had a very brief glimpse of a single specimen & no luck attracting them to baits of rotting fruit. I did see numerous specimens of the Rainforest Brown Cassionympha cassius and the Cape Autumn Widow Dira clytus.

We also spotted a Rhombic Night Adder (Causus rhombeatus) crossing the path late one afternoon.

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