Crazy Journey

You’d think that driving part-way across the Eastern Cape in the middle of the night would be a pretty crazy journey, and you’d be right.

But then I did a bit more of it during the day yesterday and it was even crazier.

Part of my journey from the town of Addo to the town of Fort Beaufort took me along the bottom edge of the local National Park. And alongside the road there, there were such things as these:

*warning: unedited photos alert*

And this:

I mean, seriously?

Some people in the UK still ask me if there are lions roaming the streets here, and there clearly aren’t. But there clearly are elephants and warthogs (and kudu and zebras) right next to (some of) the streets in the Eastern Cape.

Of course, I had to stop and shoot. So there are several (or more) pics available. But I don’t have editing time right now: I’ll get to that should I survive my flight back into severely stormy Cape Town this evening.
It could be a crazy journey.

But it would take a bit to beat this one…

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)).

Wildlife

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.

Eyes

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:

image
The process will begin tomorrow.

I’ll see you then.