30 November 2009

Caracal Surprise

I was looking forward to check up on my cameras this morning. I managed to leave them alone for most of last week and I was hoping for some nice pictures.

I moved the Moultrie camera last time because I wasn't getting any pictures in the area it was in, and I'm very pleased with the results from the new location!

Caracal (Rooikat)

This picture was taken on 26 November 2009 at 11:36 AM. Caracals are mostly nocturnal, but they are also sometimes active during the day. This one was out and about during the heat of the day. This picture shows its eyes nicely. The Caracal is the top predator on Table Mountain and this one seems to be in a very good condition.

Some other visitors to the same area were an Olive Thrush and a Lemon Dove.

Olive Thrush (Olyflyster)

Lemon Dove (Kaneelduifie)

23 November 2009

Unexpected guests for lunch

Still no shrew, but some unexpected guests made their appearance under the boulder in the ravine. I set out some bait as a desperate attempt to lure the shrew, but no luck (yet). I'm happy with the results from the camera under the boulder and think I will leave it there a bit longer, but I've given up on baiting the shrew (for now)... I will be moving the other camera tomorrow to a better spot. I have had very bad luck with it this month.

The first visitor after the bait was put out was a Cape Robin-Chat:

Cape Robin-Chat (Gewone Janfrederik)

The second visitor was a Small Grey Mongoose. It spent about 8 minutes picking through the leaves for morsels of food (11:59 am - 12:97 pm). The videos are in grey because the light under the boulder isn't good enough to enable the camera to take photographs in colour. It switches to the infra red flash and lens to deal with the low light conditions.

Small Grey Mongoose (Kleingrysmuishond)

These guys seem to be very active and always on the move. Even here underneath the boulder this one kept on moving about. They are active during the day. Their main food are rodents, also insects and other small animals. They also scavenge and eat wild fruits.

Their total length is around 55-69 cm, of witch about 20-34 cm is taken up by their tail and they weigh 0.5-1.0 kg. The tail is carried horizontally along the ground.

They have a wide habitat tolerance, from open shrub to forests. This is my first time recording them in a forest area around Kirstenbosch. I usually find them in the more fynbos-like areas.

References: Chris & Tilde Stuart (2008). Veldgids tot Soogdiere van Suider-Afrika. Kaapstad: Struik Uitgewers. 149-150.

18 November 2009

The elusive shrew: still elusive...

I remember setting the camera to video mode with high hopes. Well, the "shrew" struck again... When I finally managed to get back to the camera I found it flat on its side. "No problem" I thought, "surely it didn't happen on the first day, and surely even if it had I will still get some really nice pictures of the culprit in action". Well, below is the highlights of that fateful evening, 12 November 2009... You be the judge.

The most excitement after that was this...

The rest of the memory card was filled up the next day with videos of blowing tree tops and clouds hurling down the mountain (63 videos in total and 1.65 GB in total - the 2 GB card had some old photos still on it).

I'm getting a little tired of playing nice with this shrew, so I've decided to take the gloves off and bring out the big guns :) Tomorrow I will deploying all sorts of baits and lures to try and get a clean shot at the little guy (or girl). Usually I prefer not to use scents or baits, but when the going gets tough the tough gets going ;) Lets hope for some better luck this weekend!

(Regardless of the outcome it always stays fun, and the challenge to get a picture just makes you what the picture more. Its also a great excuse to spend some time reading up about nature and spending time in it. Trying to get your city eyes to read the signs in nature.)

11 November 2009

Playing Cat and Mouse in the Ravine

I made a dash for my cameras during a break in the terrible weather we have been having lately. It seems like the shrew is playing games with me... I'm sure he must be around, but I only get unclear images of possible shrews. I got this mugshot of somebody looking at the camera... Its difficult to be sure, but I think its the shrew toying with my emotions...

I set the camera to video mode in the hope of maybe getting a better picture of whether the shrew is still hanging around or not.

I did get some other interesting images. In the spirit of the shrew playing games with me a cat and mouse also made their appearance.

Verreaux's Mouse was seen under the boulder early one evening.

Then a Large-Spotted Genet was seen later the same evening... It might be coincidence, or maybe not... Maybe the Genet was just looking for shelter from the rain, or maybe it was looking for dinner?

The other camera is keeping an eye on an interesting trail close by, but no luck. The rain is not helping either.

03 November 2009

October Highlights - Cheeky Porcupine

While checking the pictures from last month I felt rather insulted by one of the porcupines! This fellow, below, came walking down the trail and noticed camera. He then spent about 2 minutes checking out the camera, during witch I'm sure he tried to insult my poor attempt at hiding the camera and disrespecting his privacy by shaking has but in the camera's lens! And he even has the cheek of looking over his shoulder to rub it in!

I must admit his mind games worked. I moved my camera to a new spot with hopefully more polite Forest Shrews...

The same porcupine above presented me with an interesting side profile. Look at the long spiky tail.

Unfortunately this camera also over exposes the images if the flash goes of while the animal is to close... I will have to cover a part of the flash each time I plan on taking closeup pictures.

The other camera was starting to run a bit low on battery power, so I decided to squeeze out the last bit of power from them at a location very close to my office so that I can check up on it daily. The problem with flat batteries are that the camera gets very slow to trigger (charging up the flash, etc takes longer) and it might not start up again after a flash.

This family of three was photographed passing the camera at the same time each day (3 days in total). The parents are always in front and behind with the youngster in the middle.

I also had the Bushnell camera for one day at the rock where I got the Caracal video, just to test it out. I got this shot of a Small Grey Mongoose in action. These guys travel quite fast and usually don't seem to hang around long. It was nowhere to be seen 5 seconds later when the second picture was taken. (The camera is set to take 3 picture each time something triggers it.)