Lockdown Cape Town's Journal

April 15, 2020

Attracting Goggos to Your Garden

Posted on April 15, 2020 13:57 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 31, 2020

Its Breeding Time

Posted on March 31, 2020 11:47 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 30, 2020

Bioblitzing your Home and Garden

We tend to think of birds and bees when we think of visitors to our gardens, and of ants and cockroaches as unwelcome visitors in our houses.

But there is a lot more out there than one realizes. However, you need to either attract them or go out and look for them.

Bird Feeders

Most obvious of all it to put out bird feeders. Nectar for Sunbirds, fruit for fruitfeeders and seed for finches and doves. Or sometimes specials such as cheese or mealworms. A bird bath is also a major hit with birds. Carefully placed feeders and birdbaths can provide hours of endless enjoyment, as well as providing an opportunity to observe behaviour, interactions and get lovely photographs.

Moths

Similarly, moths can be attracted by leaving an outside light on next to a pale wall. Alternatively a bright light shining on a white sheet works very well. Once attracted moths tend to sit and wait to be photographed: the diversity of shapes, colours and patterns is truely amazing, and different species will be attracted depending on the moon's phase and weather conditions. There is also often bycatch: leafhoppers, praying mantises, antlions and even geckos and bats may also be attracted. Snap them! Remember to switch off the light when you are finished: dont create a deathtrap.

Rain Spider

But you will be suprized by what inhabits your garden at night. Wait until it is dark and take a bright torch and go night hunting! You may see toads that you had no idea lived with you. Certainly you should see slugs, snails, caterpillars and other critters that just love your vegetables and garden plants. Look for eye-shine and you should see spiders and geckos and other animals adapted to living in the dark. And look out for white chameleons (at night they go to the branch tips to escape snakes: during the day they go into bushes to escape the Fiscal Shrikes).
Dont forget your magnifying glass and cellphone to take pictures.
The best time is early in the evening when it is still warm. And dont be scared of a little rain - earthworms and other wildlife just love the moist conditions: dont forget a raincoat and hat!

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

But to really see and record what is happening in your garden, you will need stealth. The reason why you dont notice the bees, butterflies, dragonflies, flies and other animals (including lizards) in your garden is that they move off if you casually approach: each species has a "flight distance" and flees away from you if you come too close. Similarly, perching insects and even chameleons and squirrels, quietly move to the back of the branch and sneak around out of sight as you move past. To observe these critters you will need to move very slowly, or use a hide (and also "hide" your eyes - you will be surprized how active critters can be when you are looking the other way). With stealth you can observe and photograph pollinators, predators and denizens in your garden. And the more you practice the more you will see - and the better the photographs you will be able to take. Don't expect to see it all in a morning :it will take many days and hours of practice to observe everything. Make a picnic of it: if you are going to be observing, plan accordingly with food and drink.
And dont forget the magnifying glass. Your cell phone can become a macro lens if you have a good magnifying glass in front. And then the world of ant "farms", with "cow" aphids and scales, and predatory ladybeetles and parasitic wasps becomes visible.

Please be aware that you may not be alone. It is quite likely that you are being watched - so keep an eye open for Jannie (Fiscal Shrike) and other predatory animals: you dont want your favourite chameleon to become a menu item.
Happy hunting.

Dove & Squirrel

Why not join some of our other projects:


Remember that one picture is never enough. You will need several nice pictures for an identification from different angles. And zoom in and take closeups! Dont forget the magnifying glass.
And no selfies or pets please: we want wild animals and plants from your garden!

To participate, upload the "iNaturalist" app onto your cellphone. Set the settings in the app and your phone to make sure that your pictures upload on the wifi and not using your data, and go for it. Who has the richest gardens? What goggos are there at night? What birds use the nectar feeders? What animals do ants milk like cows? Your garden has secrets waiting for you to discover! Go and record and share them with all of us ...

Posted on March 30, 2020 12:05 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 2 comments | Leave a comment

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