26 November 2016

Lizards Of The Pearly Mountain

I recently started camera trapping at Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve. The reserve is situated a short distance outside Cape Town, on the border of the town (of similar name) Paarl.

Like most of the small nature reserves I've been camera trapping at it borders partially on urban development and partially on rural / farming development. This nature reserve is unfenced, which is somewhat problematic (as I'll try to touch upon in future blog posts).

Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve in the Western Cape province of South Africa

When visiting the reserve you are bound to see many Southern Rock Agama basking on the boulders scattered over the landscape.

Southern Rock Agama (Suidelikke Rotskoggelmander - Agama atra) soaking up the rays

Their body color usually match very well with the rocks they live on, but when ready to mate they can become brightly colored. The males are larger than the females and develop a much brighter blue head and a yellow band on the sides of the body. They also usually have a white band running along the spine. These Agama lizards can also quickly change their body color, similar to chameleons (but not as dramatically). They can use this ability to subdue their bright mating colors when a predator is around.

I have a camera trap placed in a small natural shelter formed by the boulders. Like most boulders on the reserve it is home to some of these lizards.

Bushnell camera trap monitoring a grotto at Paarl Mountain

Having reptiles trigger a camera trap is very uncommon. In the past I've mostly managed to camera trap the odd tortoise walking past a camera trap. There have also been a few flukes when a lizard stopped in front of a camera trap, but this is the first spot where I'm getting a lizard repeatedly triggering the camera trap using its own body heat.

Southern Rock Agama triggering the camera trap in the grotto

The lizard usually triggers the camera trap in the afternoon. By then it must surely be hot enough from all the sunbathing.

The photos are in gray because the camera switches to IR flash mode, even during the day, due to the low light available in the shelter.

Southern Rock Agama running up a boulder

If all goes well I'll be camera trapping at Paarl Mountain for the next few months, so stay tuned for more about the wildlife at this nature reserve.

Three lizards basking in the sun

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