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.

22 March 2011


Porcupine (Ystervark - Hystrix africaeaustralis) in a foresty area of Tygerberg Nature Reserve in the Western Cape

I've been a bit busy with other things and haven't had time to write a post or do much camera trapping. Only two of my cameras are currently in the field, but I'm hoping to change that this weekend.

Recently I acquired a ScoutGaurd SG565 Flash model, resulting in the picture above. I'm sure I'll give some more feedback when I've used the camera more.

My Bushnell Trophy Cam XLT 2010 that gave me a lot of trouble finally broke down, but luckily it was still under warranty and the dealer replaced it for me. I'm hoping the new one is better behaved.

Leaf no footprints behind...

I've been trying out a more forested area and as expected I'm getting a lot of Porcupine pictures. However, nature has a way of surprising you time and again.

Small-Spotted Genet (Kleinkolmuskeljaatkat - Genetta genetta) sleeping in the tree

I was fortunate enough to encounter the above Genet while checking my Cuddeback camera. (Yes, I seem to like using different models - I've owned about 6 different models by now.)

As I approached the camera I heard some birds making a big noise just above my head, but they weren't cursing at me. They were harassing a sleeping Small-Spotted Genet. The Genet hardly payed any attention to the birds and enjoyed its snooze in the gently swaying branches.

This is only the second sighting of a Small-Spotted Genet I've recorded at Tygerberg. The previous one was with the Bushnell back in June 2010.

12 March 2011

Skinny Caracal

Recently I got a few images of Caracal looking, to my eye, a little on the skinny side.

Maybe it is just my imagination, but this Caracal (Rooikat - Caracal caracal) looks a little slender

Last year part of the reserve was burnt (fire management plan). A large portion of the burned area was grassy vegetation that swarmed with mice. After the burn the mouse numbers took a sharp drop. I'm only now starting to notice a slight increase again in mouse activity.

Before the burn two female Caracal each raised a youngster in this area. From the scats and the behaviour of the animals I assume that rodents form an important part of their diet.

My theory is that the reduced number of mice and increased number of Caracal are making life slightly more difficult than usual for some of the animals, especially the young ones.

Recently one of the Grey Rhebok got killed by a Caracal, something that hasn't happened in a while. An interesting side note is that Grey Rhebok meat is believed to be not very good and is often heavily invested with parasites.

Ghostly image of a Caracal at the pond

I'm hoping the Caracal will finally turn their attention more to the Guineafowl at Tygerberg Nature Reserve.