14 July 2010

A Grysbok During The Day

One of the antelope species seen less frequently at Tygerberg is the Cape Grysbok. These dainty little antelope are mostly nocturnal, but are sometimes also active during the day (dawn/dusk/cold weather).

The Cape Grysbok (Kaapse Grysbok - Raphicerus melanotis) gets its name from the grey ("grys" in Afrikaans) speckles on its body

I've only manage to photograph them in one section of the nature reserve (near the pond). I'm sure there must be more of them and I'm hoping to find them when I start focusing a bit more on other areas in the reserve.

A regular at most of the cameras sets is the Cape Francolin (Kaapse Fisant - Pternistes capensis)

The Cape Francolin and Helmeted Guineafowl try their best to keep my camera trapping in check and make sure that everything is "legal". They make their presence felt by trying to be on as many photos as possible at as many different locations as they can manage in as little time as possible each day while spending as much time as possible at each camera.

I try to think of them as my most loyal subjects :)

06 July 2010

Many Marvalous Mice

I've been wanting to point a camera at some rodent burrows, but couldn't get myself to "sacrifice" my old Bushnell Trophy Cam until I got my new cameras last month. So, off I went in search of what I would consider a homely and camera trap friendly burrow. Not long after starting the search I found one.

Camera keeping the burrow under 24/7 surveillance

So who's burrow is this? As far as I can tell the owner is a Cape Gerbil. There where one (sometimes two) Cape Gerbils in 60% (30) of the video clips and were seen using the entrance frequently.

Video: The Cape Gerbil (Kaapse Springmuis - Tatera afra) seemed interested in the sudden appearance of a strange object that glows red when he moves (the infrared flash glows red)

Video: Cape Gerbil foraging around the burrow

So who else uses the burrow? The second most frequent visitor was a Four-Striped Grass Mouse. It seems to use the burrow as a quick escape from predators and was seen in 26% (13) of the video clips.

Video: A Four-Striped Grass Mouse (Streepmuis - Rhabdomys pumilio) showing off some fancy footwork

Video: A Four-Striped Grass Mouse having a snack and then relaxing in the morning sun

You might have noticed that the two main users of the burrow are active during different times of the day/night. However, there are some visitors that don't keep to such orderly arrangements. The Vlei Rat visited the area mostly at night, but also showed his face in the neighbourhood during the day and was present in 12% (6) of the videos.

Video: Vlei Rat (Vleirot - Otomys irroratus) looking for a snack

Video: Vlei Rat hogging the entrance

With all these rodents around, surely there has to be somebody willing to reduce their numbers? And indeed there are, many. I moved the camera to a different (close by) burrow and switched to photo-mode last week. A Caracal graced us with it's presence while looking for a mouthful-o-mice.

Caracal (Rooikat - Caracal caracal) checking out the burrow

Naturally death doesn't only come from the ground, but it can also come from the air. I was walking up a hill recently when a Rock Kestrel flew past me carrying a mouse it just caught. It landed on some concrete nearby to have a peaceful meal.

The Rock Kestrel (Kransvalk - Falco rupicolis) however managed to drop the mouse into the concrete-thing and spent a moment trying to fish it back out

Aha, got it back!

Learning from his mistake he decides to settle down on the edge to finish his meal

Much better!

Lastly, if you are interested in seeing some truly remarkable camera trap photos of a Dusky-footed Woodrat (from America) check out Randomtruth's blog entry over here.

03 July 2010

Tygerberg Travelers

It has been a while since I last posted a photograph of a Porcupine. The Cuddeback trail camera is in a good location and got this photograph of one passing by in the morning just before the sun comes up. During the winter the sun sets much earlier and comes up much later down here in Cape Town than in the rest of the country.

Porcupine (Ystervark - Hystrix africaeaustralis) racing past the camera

I also got a good shot of another Caracal. I just noticed that I seem to post a lot of Caracal photographs... It is not as if they are one of my favourite animals or anything, so I wonder why... I mean, I do like them, but not really any more than most other creatures living at Tygerberg...

This Caracal (Rooikat - Caracal caracal) seems to be in great condition and quite muscular (I guess going up and down the slopes all the time keeps them fit - The collar she used to carry couldn't have been light either)

I sent the above photograph to the people at Tygerberg. They believe that it is most likely "Cara". This is the same one I photographed a while ago. The collar was supposed to have come off months ago, but it malfunctioned. They then tried to recapture her, but without any luck. Luckily the collar finally fell off by itself recently and everybody is glad to see (a once again "burden" free) Cara patrolling the slopes for mice, etc.