During our recent road trip to the Cape we chanced upon some lovely plants and birds. The images below were taken in Cape Town, Betty’S Bay and Knysna. Enjoy….
The first three images, Black Oystercatcher, Betty’s Bay
I have never quite known what a collection of frogs are called…a croak, a pond, a flurry? Who knows, anyway I recently came accross a beautiful young Natal Tree Frog (Leptopelis natalensis) and it allowed me to photograph it. Here are a load of uncaptioned photographs, enjoy..(all taken with the Canon, 100mm f2.8 macro and 430EX Speedlight)
I have recently been breeding a number of butterflies and been able to either get macro images of the larvae or of the adult. This first photograph is of Charaxes candiope, the Green Veined Charaxes, third instar larva. The head shield is approximately 5mm accross. This was shot with the MPE 65 @ 2x
These next two photographs are head shots of Junonia oenone, the Blue Pansy. I bred a number of these recently and was able to take a number of photographs of the head of the butterfly as this one was drying its wings. These two were taken with the MPE 65 3x
This final photograh is a robber fly, not the classic full frontal that I wanted but still OK. This was also taken with the MP65 at 2x
I have, for a long while, been asked to photograph more Scarabs. The problem has been finding specimens to photograph. After much searching I found these. This post is extremely short. I just want feedback on the very simple “draft” photos of these four insects. Please ignore the imperfections.
Goliathus albosignathus, the Goliath Scarab. One of the largest Scarab beetles on earth and found from Limpopo up into Central Africa.
Eudicella smithi, Smiths Scarab. Another interesting insect from Burundi, Central Africa.
Ranzania burtolinii, Burtolini’s Scarab, male from Tanzania, East Africa
Ranzania burtolinii, Burtolini’s Scarab, female, from Tanzania, East Africa.
There has been silence from my side as we all dashed off for Christmas at my parents home in the Hogsback in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. As usual with my visit to Hogsback the trip would involve time on the bicycle and as much butterflying as possible. The main focus butterfly wise was to find a number of endemics, some of which had neve been photographed. These included Penningtons Opal (Chrysoritis penningtoni), Dicksons Copper (Aloeides dicksoni) and the Gaika Sylph (Metisella syrinx). Added to the list was as many photographs of the Amakosa rocksitter (Durbania amakosa amakosa) as possible to compare with our local insect as well as the one that I discussed in my last post, from the Bushmans Neck area.
The drive to Hogsback was long and hard. As we approached we were greated by a massive thunder storm that was followed by a day of soft rain and cabin fever (me on holiday needing exercise, Tracey wanting to get out and three little girls). It was good though as it gave us time to spend time with my folks, sister Leonie from Cape Town, other sister Nikki and her husband Rod and their little ones over from Kansas. On day two we sis see sunshine for a few hours and I dashed out to a local wetland to look for Satyrids.
On arrival I found a few specimens of Serradinga clarki, they are very difficult to photograph as they flit around all over the place rarely landing and when they do it is in a clump of grass making taking a photograph very difficult. After a few unsuccessful attempts I decided to wonder up a rocky ridge and to my supprise saw a skipper flitting around the rocks. After a few minutes of following it around I was able to get a few photographs. There were a number of the little beauties flying around enguaging in aerial battles.
I was a little confused with the ID of the skippers however Ernest Pringle and Torben Larsen both agreed that they were Tsitana tsita.
Shortly after seeing the skippers I noted a small dark butterfly flit onto a rock. Immediately I knew that it would be a rocksitter and there it waqs, a small male, a bit ropey but I was chuffed to find that they were in the area and immadiately started looking for more. After an hour I had photographed approximately 10 males and a female. They are smaller than the Drakenberg and Natal subspecies and lack the orange dital markings on the other two. Compare the photographs below to those from Bushmans Neck (previous post)
Durbania amakoza amakoza male (The Amakoza Rocksitter)
Durbania amakoza amakoza female (The Natal Rocksitter)
The next two days were wet and one was Christmas so we spent a very over indulgent day at Coombe Dingle. The 27th December was to be a good day, or so all the weather web pages said, so we planned an assault on Gaikas Kop to try to get the rareties. We woke up early to a breezy, overcast and chilly day. I knew that the Chrysoritis colony that we were to visit was on the protected slopes so was fairly confident that we would be out of the wind and that we should be successful if the clouds broke. The climb is short and pretty hard but the flowers over December are wonderful. Various species of Watsonia (in particular W pillansii with the odd white form popping up in the patches or red) and the robust Kniphofia northyi were to be seen. It was very strange that the Proteas, once so abundant on top and on the slopes, were in a very bad way with huge patches having died. I climbed with Tracey (my wife), sisters Leonie and Nikki and brother in law, Rod and they were most shocked when, upon reaching the top I told them to walk half way down the other side to the colony. Gaikas Kop is an amazing place. It is flat on top and obviously collects a lot of water as whenever I have visited the sides of the hill seep water all over the place. On the way down to the colony I saw a small Lyceanid butterfly flitting around. It turned out to be Orachrysops nasutus nasutus, a fairly widespread cousin of the rare O niobe and O ariadne (I posted about this butterfly a few posts back). It was a female and I was able to get a few photos, one is attached.
Female Orachrysops nasutus nasutus, the Nosy Blue
We got to the Chrysoritis colony, it was shielded from the wind and the clouds did break up giving us windows of opportunity to look for the illusive little butterfly. I found them at the spot way back in 1993 and, since then, have visited on a number of occations either on my own or with Alan Heath and Harald Selb. Every time that I have visited I have seen them. Even my father, Bruce (not a butterfly person), has been up there on his own and collected a specimen for DNA analysis at the Museum of Comparative Zoology (Harvard). The 27th was different. I did not see a single specimen. Sad but that it how things go and I will have to return to photograph them. I did however find a lovely fresh female Serradinga clarki whose wings were still floppy. I got some great photos of her before we left.
Serradinga clarki (Clarks Widow) female
The walk down is through Thamnocallamis bamboo, a bamboo endemic to the higher slopes of the Southern Drakensberg and the Amatolas. This bamboo is the foodplant of Metisella syrinx (the Gaika or Bamboo Sylph). As soon as we got into the bamboo we saw the butterfly. It is a beast to get close to and photograph as the hillside is steep and strewn with boulders and the higher bits of the bamboo very difficult to access. After unsuccessfully chasing a few I finally got one to play the game and sit for a short period, shot enough to get two shots but to short to get an upperside. One of the two is attached.
Metisella syrinx (The Banboo or Gaika Sylph)
A few weeks ago I sent an email out to my friends inviting them to join me on a dash up Bushmans Neck to photograph Chrysoritis orientalis. A lot of interest and very little commitment was shown as the hill is very steep. Eventually two of us went. My old mate Clive Curtis, a professional hunter who can walk for a week before he starts panting and myself. I collected Clive at 05h30 from his house and we headed to Bushmans Neck. After a very misty drive we signed in at the Ezemvelo Gate and started the walk.
The path to the colony goes straight up the main ridge above the hotel, it is very steep and in some places precipitous on either side. On the way up we came across a small colony of Aloeides oreas. One particulary fresh male allowed us time to photograph him.
Clive has started a stock video company (linked to his hunting video business http://www.safari-vision.com/) and was able to get a lot of footage of this little chap. From here (about half was up) we dashed to the top. It took spot on an hour from the car park to the colony. I have visited the colony on a number of occations. Some on my own, once with Clive (where we had to sprint off the hill to avoid the huge lightning storm that appeared from Lesotho) and also once with Alan Heath where I found the larvae and Alan was able to breed the insect. Needless to say we walked the colony flat. We saw one very ropey female and nothing else. I suggest that we were far to late for the brood and should head up there again in October and November next year. That said we found two colonies of rocksitters on top. The species amakosa of the genus Durbania has been split into a number of subspecies. I collected a number of specimens from this locality 16 years ago and showed them to Steve Woodhall. They were nothing like our local insect, Durbania amakosa natalensis. I thought they were closer to the nominate amakosa however the red/orange patterning on the wings was far more extensive. Since then we have bred them from three localities and I am fairly sure now that they deserve subspecific status. Anyway, here are two males found in the upper colonies.
Again Clive got loads of footage of these. We then set off down the hill to see what we could find in the Proteas. Not long after entering the Protea stand we cam accross a male Capys alpheas, a butterfly whose larvae feed on the flower heads of Proteas. In the Proteas we also found more rocksitters. Further down the hill we came across a number of skippers. Spialia skippers have always confused me and here we had two of the 10 odd species. Anyway, I got home and IDed them (with confirmation from Steve Woodhall and skipper guru Johan Greyling). We found two, Spialia mafa and S asteroidia. I got a number of photos and Clive some video footage.
And finally a few candid shots of Clive photograhing the Spialia int he photograph above and on the walk home.
We got to the bottom absolutely famished and Clive treated me to lunch preceded by a iced lolly, one of those lollies where the packet should read “defrost and add 5l of water”, it was sweet but exactly what we needed. The usual conversation on the way home was a little less enthusiastic than usual as we were both rather tired. It is a hard climb and my cycling legs struggled!!
Things have been pretty wild for the last few weeks getting the Agric Hall going anf people have been asking me whats happening for December. Well December is here and the first person who will be in for the period Dec/Jan is Steve Bailey. Steve is an award winning Eastern Cape based photographer. A brief bio follows as do a number of photographs but please visit Steve site www.stevebailey.co.za for more information.
This December we hope to see Allen Hallett return to the Kiln after a very successful exhibition in Gaborone.
An now a brief bio :
“Steve Bailey was born in Liverpool, England and moved to Southern Africa when he was 10.
He has always had a passion for Photography – eventually studying Graphics/Photography, obtaining a City and Guilds Diploma in Graphic Reproduction.
He spent 25 years in Zimbabwe before moving to Cape Town, South Africa. He is now resident in Bedford in the Eastern Cape”, and a few photographs…..