Red chandelier lily
Red chandelier lily
Fragrant candelabra lily
Fragrant candelabra in bud
Description: In order to check that the seeds we used in our earlier test on Technomyrmex were viable myrmecochores, we presented some Mimetes capitulatus seeds to Anoplolepis steingroeveri [small pugnacious ants] in the Silvermine reserve. Contact was instantaneous and the first ant at the scene [see pic one] started moving the seed at once. Both seeds were buried within five minutes, despite difficulties the ants had with the rather persistent styles on the seeds -- these are not a problem on other Mimetes so we wondered why this plant has them. The fatty elaiosomes running down the side of the seed are clearly visible. There are now two M capitulatus planted at Silvermine, but before we get horrified cries of 'Frankenflora!', the chances of this rare, high-altitude seepage-area species surviving in hot xeric Silvermine fynbos are zero. If they do appear after the next fire [due soon, by the way] they are right next to the road and we promise to uproot them.
The ants were busy with a dead grasshopper when we dropped the seeds. Within 30 secs or so the grasshopper was abandoned in favour of the seeds.
Got home to find that the Technomyrmex are still eating the elaiosomes off the seeds on the bathroom windowsill, and they have not moved them even 1 mm.
Dark reddish brown with darker gasters, 2 - 5 mm with minors, majors and infinite intermediates; slightly refractive hairs on gasters; very fast, highly active and aggressive; ground nesting
Tested two Mimetes capitulatus seeds on invasive white-footed ants [Technomyrmex albipes]. Their behaviour was the same as observed 30 years ago on Linepithema humile [Argentine ants]. After 12 hours they were still eating the elaiosomes off the seeds in situ, and making no attempt to remove the seeds to their nests. This obs is a 'first' for iSpot and confirms our fears that at least one other invasive ant species would disrupt myrmecochory and the successful regeneration of thousands of fynbos species if this ant successfully establishes itself in the veld.
Ants <2mm, shiny black with pale legs, feet and antennae; mandibles rufous; foul-smelling when crushed [subfamily Dolichoderinae or Smelly ants]; invasives probably from Indonesia and prefer nesting in old wood; at this stage only found in human dwellings and gardens as far as we know. The species is in dispute; some hold that it is T. pallipes, the pale-footed ant.
Groenberg mimetes (Mimetes capitulatus)
The Mimetes is a grafted plant in my garden, at least 50km as the crow flies from the nearest natural population and at least 10km from the nearest Mimetes hirtus, with which it is known to hybridize. No pollinators such as sunbirds noticed in my garden during this flowering cycle. Yesterday one flowerhead produced one seed, this morning another produced four 'good' seeds and one abort. The relevant inflorescences adjoined each other on the same branch. All flowers produced many months after the plant came from the nursery [inflorescences extant at that time produced no seeds]. The seeds must be the result of self-pollinating. I shall use them to test for myrmecochory on the invasive Technomyrmex, Pheidole and Lepisiota in my neighbourhood.
Typical oblong seeds of the tube Mimetes, very similar to those produced by M hirtus and M pauciflorus, with a double-ridge elaisome down one side inviting the grasp of Camponotus ants such as C niveosetosus; in this respect the seed shape and elaiosome structure differs from all other Mimetes, Orothamnus and Leucospermum.
My observation of Leptogenys intermedia (Common razor-jaw ant) raiding a nest of Axinidris lignicola (Grandfather’s wood ant) at Grootvadersbosch has been queried because I posted drawings, not photos. Unfortunately I am no Alex Wild or Wynand Uys so please forgive the fuzzy photos. The main one shows the razor-jaw stinging the smaller ant; in the others they’re chasing them
The starling was gathering twigs for its nest
Wild dogs were something we had been hoping to see throughout our previous three months in South Africa. On this particular morning, ten of us went out for a morning game drive. While we were on a dirt road, we saw a group of animals running down the road towards us. For a moment, I thought they were hyenas, but then I thought they looked like wild dogs. I didn't say anything at first in case I was wrong, but the animals approached, and sure enough, a pack of 12 wild dogs ran past us. They mostly kept to the road, so we were able to follow them quite easily. Fortunately, our driver was able to phone the other staff members, who roused the remaining people on our program. I'm told they were out of bed and in the vehicles in less than two minutes. We were able to follow the dogs for over an hour as they ran down the road, investigated some construction equipment, and laid down to rest right at the side of the road. Eventually, other cars started joining us, including the remaining people on our program. I really could not have asked for a better wild dog sighting.
In our three months in South Africa, none of us had yet seen a cheetah. We had been hoping to see one the entire time, and we kept up our optimism in spite of the growing realization that we only had another week left in the country. We had brunch at Lower Sabie Camp, and as we were leaving, we ran into a man who gave us very specific directions to where he had seen two cheetahs. Ecstatic, we all jumped in the vehicles and raced off, even blitzing past a rhino. Someone in a passing car told us that the cheetahs were just ahead. We came upon a couple of parked cars, and there, off to the left, were two cheetahs resting under a bush. We were able to watch them for quite a while. The one on the left stood up at one point, but neither left. Content, we returned to where we were staying in Skukuza.
A friend of mine had set his backpack down on the beach while he went swimming in the ocean. Those of us still on the beach saw a huge baboon walking towards us (http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/1198219). We all took a few steps back, but the monkey went straight for the backpack and started rustling through its contents. One of my professors through his flip-flops at it, but the baboon did not leave. Eventually, it dragged the pack up to the top of the sand dune. None of us were sure what to do to recover the bag. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an ostrich came running straight at the baboon. The baboon took off running down the beach, and the ostrich simply turned around and walked away.
A friend of mine had set his backpack down on the beach while he went swimming in the ocean. Those of us still on the beach saw a huge baboon walking towards us. We all took a few steps back, but the monkey went straight for the backpack and started rustling through its contents. One of my professors through his flip-flops at it, but the baboon did not leave. Eventually, it dragged the pack up to the top of the sand dune. None of us were sure what to do to recover the bag. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an ostrich came running straight at the baboon (http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/1198222). The baboon took off running down the beach, and the ostrich simply turned around and walked away.
Saw perched on a tall blade of grass
We were all sitting in a lecture about South African history when our lecturer pointed out that there were baboons outside the window behind us. We all rushed over to see several baboons walking around in the open area outside of the building.
For our day off, we drove to the Sagole Baobab, also known simply as the Big Tree. It was a lot of fun the climb on, and so huge that it easily fit everyone on our program.
I had just exited the Skukuza Tourist Shop. To the right of the exit, hanging from the rafters, were maybe a dozen bats. Return visits showed that this is a common place for them to rest during the day, and that some were even mothers with infants tucked under their wings. I looked them up in the mammal guide in the shop, but I could not distinguish whether the bats were Wahlberg's epauletted fruit bats (Epomophorus wahlbergi) or Gambian epauletted fruit bats (E. gambianus). I know it's unlikely, but if anyone can tell based on the distribution or picture, I would be interested to find out.
We parked at Boulders Beach and walked along the boardwalk. To the right-hand side, there were quite a few penguins in the bushes along the way, many in some stage of moulting.
Yellow bird that needs to be identified
Four male impala
Female Greater Kudu
Blue Stingrays (Dasyatis chrysonota) are coming every spring in October into the Knysna Lagoon. They can be best viewed at the Knysna Waterfront when the tide is coming in. Then they usually gather under the little jetty close to the Knysna harbour. Sometimes there are groups of up to 50 stingrays.
Previously this species was confused with Dasyatis pastinaca and Dasyatis marmorata, which do not occur in the area. Dasyatis chrysonata occur from Angola to at least St. Lucia, Natal, South Africa, possibly extending to Mozambique and beyond up to about 100 m depth.
The Knysna Lourie are common residents here in Littlewood Garden and we enjoy them so much. This one just came out of our little stream after his morning bath.
Woodpecker was perched in a tree.
Seen walking across a gravel/dirt road
Flew by along with 4 or 5 other hoopoes.
After reaching the top of Table Mountain, I started heading in the direction of the tourist shop in order to find some much needed drinking water. I saw some people looking over the wall to the left, and I looked over. Just as I was hoping, there was a hyrax. I actually saw a few in that area.
As we were driving to Pullen Farm, I caught a brief glimpse of a male ostrich just off the left side of the road.