Locust housing

…And The Struggle Of Suburban Garden Wildlife Identification (but that wouldn’t fit in the title box).

This thing was in our garden last night. Probably about 90mm in length, sitting first of all on a one of the chairs that we never use, and then hopping/jumping/flying onto some nearby agapanthusesagapanthaeagapanthasueses… plants.

You can see more of it here.

I’m not sure what sort of grasshopper or locust it is, and the information out on the internet about this sort of thing is limited, fragmented and altogether sketchy.  I put it on iSpot, and someone (apparently well-respected and versed in invertebrate identification) suggested it might be a Acanthacris ruficornis subsp. ruficornis, and who am I to disagree?

Acanthacris ruficornis subsp. ruficornis is the Garden Locust, and since this was a locust and it was found in our garden, I’m very willing to take this as a likely ID.

And then this morning, while checking on my March Lily (more of this at a later date) (in March, obvs), a new bird in the back garden (new to me, at least). Too small to be hunting Acanthacris ruficornis subsp. ruficornis, so I don’t think that’s what brought it here, but because I have no idea what sort of bird it was, I don’t know exactly why it was with us.

Sadly, I’m not great at identifying LBJs, and my bird book, which makes me better at identifying LBJs, is down in Agulhas. The bird book app on my phone is better than carrying the bird book around, but is no good for browsing LBJs, which is my standard method of LBJ identification.

And with no photo (yet, at least), I’m just going to have to keep a mental image of this chaffinch-sized, slightly speckled, brown feathered thing until I get back down to my happy place and have chance to look it up.

Unless any of you guys want to hazard a guess, based on my detailed description above? (My current best guess is an African Dusky Flycatcher (Muscicapa adusta)).


It was an amazing weekend. Wild and windy, but full of spring sunshine, and Cape Agulhas really showed off.

Sure, there was the whale, but that was dead and anyway, we’d already seen snakes and tortoises and the infamous Pengueagle (or Eaguin?) (more on that another time) before we saw her.

And then a walk on the beach this morning yielded Plovers, Kingfishers, a Curlew, some Caspian Terns (Sterna caspia):

…some very dramatic waves, photobombed by a Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus):

…and the highlight of my weekend, a Cape Clawless Otter (Aonyx capenensis), showing off his catch of (I think) a Carpenter (Argyrozona argyrozona):

We disturbed him as we walked along the beach, but he was as interested in us (and the beagle) as we were in him. He floated a few metres out in the bay with his fish in his mouth before transferring it to his (clawless) paws so he could give us a proper grin.

It was a reminder how lucky we are to have the cottage and how much our kids can learn from visits there. If we’d been in Cape Town this weekend, it would have been all iPads and crap on TV (although less windy, admittedly). Instead it was fresh air (albeit moving rather fast) and some amazing experiences. All in just over 24 hours.

More photos to follow, but I feel like catching up on the footy now.


One of my favourite things about going down to Cape Agulhas – aside from the friendly people, the beautiful beaches, the peace, the solitude, the braais and the stunning views – is the wildlife.
This visit, it started before we even got there, with Mrs 6000’s sighting of a Spotted Eagle Owl (Bubo africanus) on a balcony of a house in Struisbaai.
Obviously, we pulled over and shot it to death (camera style).
Then, later on the weekend, we were visited by a Pine Emperor Moth (Imbrasia cytherea). “Meh – moth schmoth” I hear you saying, but this was better than an average moth – it had a 15cm wingspan. That are a lot of moth.
(Their larvae are pretty cool, too.)

Anyway, a bit of croppage later, I came up with these strikingly similar images:

eyes2   eyes2
OK, so they’re not that strikingly similar. And one of them isn’t eyes at all, but still, orangey yellow and black circles.

Just for the record, the Great Grey Owl is the world’s biggest owl and the Hercules Moth is the world’s largest moth. Both of them are almost twice the size of the ones we saw this weekend.

But size isn’t everything.

More weekend photos here.

Fair warning

Back from an amazing long weekend in the Karoo and I have (about) a billion photos to bore you with.
Stuff like this:

The process will begin tomorrow.

I’ll see you then.

Poorly timed giraffe danger warning

I’m going to look at some wildlife this weekend. I hope, anyway. Wildlife is exactly that: wild, and sometimes it doesn’t want to be looked at. Mostly, when it doesn’t want to be looked at, wildlife hides away, but sometimes, wildlife fights back and even the most unlikely of wildlife can be deadly.

I’m not talking about lions, hippos, rhinos or elephants here – you look at them and you think DANGER! Teeths, tusks, horns, speed, weight, bulk. DANGER!
But tall isn’t scary. When you look at a giraffe, you just see bewilderingly puny looking legs and neck. Giraffes don’t look dangerous. They look like one of those string and wood toys that you push the base on and they collapse. You let giraffes play with your kids’ cuddly toys:

No. Giraffes aren’t dangerous. Or are they? Because here’s what was waiting for me on the pisspoor TimesLive site this morning:

Cyclist trampled to death by giraffe

The giraffe probably got irritated by some typically arrogant RLJ’ing behaviour.

A Sunday afternoon cycle ride for Braan Bosse of Nigel, on the Far East Rand, ended in his death when he was attacked by a giraffe at the Thaba Monata Game Lodge, in Bela Bela, Limpopo.
Lodge owner Marily Abatemarco believes Bosse, 46, was trampled to death.

Rather unusual, though, right? I thought so too.
But then, somewhere deep in my memory, I found this:

Seventy-year-old Schalk Hagen died without telling anyone exactly what happened to him. Now the prime suspect in his death is a giraffe.

I was quite ready to cower away from the lions and the elephants this weekend. Now it seems that I have to hide from the bloody giraffes as well. Seriously?
You don’t get this sort of danger in the UK – sure, you might come across a vaguely irritated badger or a mildly disgruntled fox, but they’re not going to smash your skull in, eat you or jump up and down all over your rapidly spatchcocked corpse just because they’re anxious to be seen to be living up to their “wildlife” moniker. I didn’t move here for this – if I’d wanted constant animal-related danger, I would have chosen Australia. (Spoiler: No, I wouldn’t – it’s full of Australians.)

Anyway, my new plan is to stay in the short scrub, where there is limited danger of unforeseen giraffe attack (aside, of course, from the extremely sneaky limbo giraffe) (but fortunately they’re pretty rare in the Western Cape).