26 March 2011

The Tiny Tunnel

I was exploring new locations for camera traps at Tygerberg when I came across a small tunnel amongst some think scrubs. This wasn't Cape Gerbil country and the entrance was too small. I decided to set the Sony up and threw a hand full of sunflower seeds in front of the camera to entice the owner to stick around.

However, the keen eyes of the local Yellow Bishop noticed the seeds, shortly after I left, and it gorged itself on them.

Yellow Bishop (Kaapse Flap - Euplectes capensis) devouring the seeds

I think this is a female. The yellow splash on the shoulder wasn't high enough and only on the one side. It went away when she ruffled her features. The males have clear yellow shoulder pads. The Western Cape birds aren't breeding now so the males aren't in their black and yellow breeding colours.

Back for more

The next afternoon the home owner made its appearance. The tunnel is owned by a Four-Striped Grass Mouse.

Four-Striped Grass Mouse (Streepmuis - Rhabdomys pumilio) posing for the camera

These mice will excavate their own burrows, but will also use those dug by other species.

Heading towards the tunnel

The mice are smaller than the Yellow Bishop in the pictures above. The mice are about 18-20 cm long in total. Their body length is about 10-11 cm. The bird in turn is about 15 cm long. But the mouse is heavier, weighing in at 30-80 grams, compared to the bird's 15-45 grams.

Making the best of the feast while it lasts

This bunch of youngsters appeared on the scene later in the afternoon to finish off any seeds that where still left.


  1. Those grass mice are cute little buggers, aren't they?

  2. They sure are!

    Being active during the day and abundant it makes it easy to stop and stand for a while to watch them doing their thing. MUCH more entertaining than watching lions sleep in my opinion :)

  3. Great use of the homebrew to get those close focal lengths. Very fun to see rodents from across the world.

  4. HA!

    True...they also can't kill you if you catch their attention and they express interest!

    Like JK said, homebrews really work great for the small stuff! I've tried to get the little critters on my commercial cams and they just can't get that tyype of focus!

    Cool pics you got.