27 February 2010

Grey Rhebok At The Pond

I decided to start moving my cameras away from the pond. The Moultrie's batteries where dead so I decided to bring it home for a little cleaning. It has been in the field for a long time now and it can do with some TLC. The Bushnell is still close to the pond, but I think I'll move it this weekend. One of the things I like about the Bushnell is the great battery live (and the batteries are cheaper).

Grey Rhebok (Vaalribbok) coming for a drink at the pond

These Grey Rhebok were photographed on 11 February 2010. There is a short article mentioning the release of two females to join the (back then very lonely) male during 2005 over here.

Female Grey Rhebok posing for the camera, it's a pity about the background 

I walk into them every now and again while I'm checking up on my cameras and I usually see 3-4 animals together
The male showing of his fluffy tail

23 February 2010

Evidence of Localized Space-Time Fluctuations

The strangest thing happened. Today I realized that the date on my Bushnell Trophy Cam is wrong. Now that might be normal if I accidentally reset it or maybe changed the batteries or something. I decided to check some of my previous pictures to see when this might have happened. After a few minutes of scanning through images I found the moment that will forever change the way we look at physics and, in fact, the world as a whole!

Before: The date was 14 Feb 2010

I notice that it happened on Valentines day... Can that have something to do with it? Whatever it was it could not have lasted much more than a minute...

After the event: The date was 28 July 2008

How this happened I don't know. Maybe the heat triggered something in the electronics? The poor camera has been spending some long hours in the sun. Or maybe some weird software issue? Might be solar flares also. I'm sure it's not aliens, because the only ones that visit South Africa are stuck in Jo'burg...

My conclusion: Must be some sort of localized space-time fluctuation quantum physics hocus pocus.

19 February 2010

Appreciating the Elderly

Tortoise checking the camera out

There are a lot of tortoises at Tygerberg. I've run into some pretty big ones, such as the one above. I even photographed one coming for a drink and enjoying the green grass at the pond.

Tortoise having a drink

Digging in

Heading back - feeling fresh and full of youthful energy

I also saw this one while on my way to check up on my cameras and snaped a photo with my digital camera.

I like the interesting green color (and orange/yellow/red/brown/black)

Unfortunately I can't identify these tortoises because I don't have a good tortoise field guide, yet. I think I'll keep my eyes open for one next time I'm in a book store. None the less it is still nice to see them stumbling along.

16 February 2010

Bontebok Abound

Bontebok (Bontebok) are one of the more easily seen antelope at Tygerberg

I have been photographing a lot of Bontebok (Bontebok) recently and thought it's about time to look at them a little closer.

In the past Bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) and Blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi) were considered to be two separate species, but today both are considered subspecies of the same species (Damaliscus pygargus). In South Africa the two subspecies have been entrenched so deeply in our culture that they are often mentioned separately as Bontebok and Blesbok in literature and field guides (which usually only deal with species in detail).

The subspecies differ based on both color patterns and behavior. The color patterns alone are sufficient for identification in the field, if you know what to look for. Below is a summary of the differences between Bontebok and Blesbok:
  • Color:
    • Bontebok
      • Body is a rich dark brown with a purple gloss.
    • Blesbok
      • Body is a reddish color with no purple gloss.
  • Buttocks:
    • Bontebok
      • The area at the buttocks is pure white.
    • Blesbok
      • The area at the buttocks is generally not white but paler than the body.
  • Limbs:
    • Bontebok
      • The limbs are white from the knee downwards, except for the brown stripes on the front of the forelimbs and sometimes a brown patch on the front of the hind limbs just above the hooves.
    • Blesbok
      • On the outer surface the forelimbs and hind limbs are dark brown.
  • Horns:
    • Bontebok
      • The horns are usually black on the upper surface of the rings.
    • Blesbok
      • The horns are usually straw-colored on the upper surface of the rings.

The small herd arriving at the pond for a drink

It is commonly believed that the brown band separating the blaze (for Blesbok) on the face can be used for identification, but this is not 100% accurate and should rather not be used as the only means of identification. The pure white on the rump of the Bontebok is probably the best characteristic for distinguishing it from the Blesbok in the wild. In general the Bontebok appears to have more striking colors: it has a lot more white, the light areas are lighter and the dark areas are darker when compared with the Blesbok. The Bontebok also has a more noticeable "saddle" on its shoulders.

Hybridization can take place between the two subspecies and poses a genetic threat to both subspecies. The natural populations never lived in the same area and were separated by about 320km by the time of early settlement. Due to recent inbreeding and relocations both subspecies can be found outside their natural distribution ranges.

Chilling out...

The Bontebok is a medium sized antelope with a shoulder height of 90cm, weighing about 61kg. The white blaze on its face extends from the base of the horns to the nose, narrowing just above the eyes. Females are slightly smaller than males, but also have horns. Female horns are more slender and don’t thicken much at the base. The color of the males might be a little darker compared to the females. The fawns have a different color when they are young.

Youngster on his knees... I think he might be getting a little old for this kind of nonsense

The Bontebok is endemic to the Fynbos Biome and were historically confined to coastal plains with Renosterveld vegetation.

The Bontebok is active during the day and lives in groups. As with many animals the greatest activity is in early mornings and late afternoon. During the hottest part of the day they rest in the open, but will use shade if it is available. Bontebok and Blesbok both tend to stand in groups on hot days and face the sun with their heads held low.

The pond is close to the fence, and although they are used to the houses sometimes somethings draw their attention

Male territory holders defecate on dung sites in their territory about 85% of the time and usually choose one when lying down. Bachelors and females defecate randomly. Serious fighting is rare and never results in injury.

They are almost exclusively a grazing subspecies and prefer short grass. They favor burnt areas and firebreaks for feeding. Access to water is essential.

Digging into some suculent green grass at the pond (It is the dry season at Tygerberg, because of the mostely Mediterranean climate of the Fynbos Biome)

There is a lot to be said about the conservation of the Bontebok. It was saved from extinction by a hand full of farming families. The Van Der Byl family set aside a portion of their farm near Bredasdorp in 1837 as a reserve for 27 Bonteboks. Other farmers (Van Breda and Albertyn) on neighboring farms followed this example and by 1931 the first Bontebok National Park was formed. The park was too small and a new bigger and more suitable park was established and stocked with 84 animals in 1960. By 1981 there were more than 300 animals and since then the surplus animals have been sold. Currently there are more than 2300 animals in South Africa many of which are on private land.

John D. Skinner & Christian T. Chimimba (2005). The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion. Cape Town: Cambridge University Press. 653-655.

12 February 2010

Heron Can't Open Lunchbox

Juvenile Grey Heron (Bloureier) basking in the late morning sun

One of the regulars at the camera set at the pond was this Grey Heron (Bloureier). He frequently walked past the camera. He can also frequently be see wading through the water in the background. Something interesting happened at the pond on Sunday afternoon. The heron managed to catch a turtle.

Heron holding a turtle in his mouth

But, lucky for the turtle, the heron did not appear to know what to do with it and it managed to make a hasty retreat.

Turtle scampering for the water and heron looking on, a little confused

I wonder whether a more experienced heron might be able to eat a turtle that size? I'm pretty sure he can't swallow it whole, so I guess he will have to eat it piece by piece somehow...

10 February 2010

Secret Police Back On The Job

They are on to me again! I have managed to evade them since the Porcupine Incident, but it seems that they have picked up my trail again...

Assessing the situation

I don't know who it was this time that informed them, but I suspect it might have been the Bontebok. They where close by when I was setting up the cameras. After a while they seemed to be getting a little tired of me and eventually one or two gave an insulting snort in my direction. I got the message and swiftly left the scene of the crime. Unfortunately it seems like they informed the Secret Police of my presence.

Evidence of a Bontebok (Bontebok) and some Helmeted Guineafowl (Tarentaal) at the scene of the crime

They must have been after the reward money. Those tags in their ears can't be cheap!

The latest trend at Tygerberg is to get tagged

Regardless of who informed them, the result was the same.

A relentless onslaught

And they even brought in the new recruits for some on the job training.

 Young officers learning the finer intrecasies of camera trap stakeouts

The senior officers where drilling the slackers hard. They gave it their all and I must admit they did a good job at keeping my camera under constant watch.

The classic "I'm not looking" act does not fool me anymore

The other camera didn't slip by them either.

Always on the lookout (or on an important secret mission) 

The result? They managed to fill up the memory card in no time and where on 93% of the 846 images (with animals on). I can't think of any way of evading the law, so I will just have to take this police brutality like a man while I'm at the pond. Maybe I'll be able to shake them off when I move to a new location...

07 February 2010

WildLog v1.6

A new version of WildLog is available. It contains some bug fixes and a few new features.

You can go here (use the link at the top of the blog for the latest version) to download the application (and source code).

06 February 2010

Slow Week...

This pictures shows the Moultrie MD40 "backstage on location"

The camera was at this location for about a week. Unfortunately didn't capture anything passing except for a pair of Cape Francolin (Kaapse Fisant).

Cape Francolin (Kaapse Fisant) fluffing his feathers

There was one other visitor. One evening a strange creature passed by the camera around 11:00pm, but I have no idea what it might be...

Some people I have asked think it might be a duck, others think it might be a small buck or even a rabbit...

02 February 2010

Passing Heron

Image of Tygerberg Nature Reserve

This Black-headed Heron (Swartkopreier) passed the camera on 25 Jan 2010 at 7 pm. It is a juvenile bird and does net yet have its adult colours.

Notice how the head of the heron stays at exactly the same position even though its body position changes so much

Another image of Tygerberg Nature Reserve