28 April 2011

Balls And Bucks

One of the strangest things I've encountered at Tygerberg must be the golf balls...

A clutch of 15 golf balls I picked up at Tygerberg Nature Reserve

This weekend I picked up 7 balls while doing my camera trapping rounds! I'm starting to think that maybe they are some sort of disguised tortoise eggs? Maybe the tortoises have started to naturalize to the urban environment and found that mimicking golf balls some how increased the survival rate of their eggs... Now, at first that might sound ridiculous, but if you think about it... Golfers often carry many excess balls in their bag. The bag makes an excellent incubator. A golfer will usually select the best ball in the bag when they need one. Now say the egg looks enough like a ball to fool the golfer, but does not look appealing enough to justify actually using the ball? Mmmm... Maybe I should try incubating one of them and see what hatches...

I have a few slightly more extravagant theories, but maybe I should take a sharp U-turn and bring the discussion back to reality: And what better way than talking about Death.

A little snake that didn't survive the fire

I stumbled upon this casualty of the veld fire while looking for camera trap locations about a month ago. It is a little snake that could not escape because it was stuck under the stone. This is the only fire casualty I could find, except for a couple of fried eggs.

OK... before I cock to many eyebrows... The reason for this post: a Cape Grysbok.

A male Cape Grysbok (Kaapse Grysbok - Raphicerus melanotis) sneaking along

This is a pretty nice photograph I got from the Cuddeback. The first week the camera only got Bontebok and Porcupine pictures, but I decided to leave it out a little longer in the hopes of getting the resident Grysbok. I've photographed Grysbok in the same area before, but a large section of this part of the reserve was burnt.It is good to know that it is still around after the burn.

You can clearly see the white/grey speckles that gives the animal it's name, I guess it is because it looks like it is turning grey. Grysbok translates to Grey Buck. Only the males carry horns.

The Cape Grysbok is more or less endemic to the Fynbos region. There aren't really any other medium-large mammal species that are endemic to this region, making the Cape Grysbok somewhat special.


  1. y of them here. I believe that's the tree-root snake. Nice to see your small ungulates. How about making a nest of golf balls and seeing who the camera trap records incubating them? Or eating them?

  2. Poor snake.....

    Cool grysbok shot!

  3. The larger North American Corvids are fairly obsessed with golf balls. Presumably they think they are eggs so you are not too far off. They will carry them for some distance at time, but the game is always the same. Drop it from the air and swoop down to eat the broken egg on the ground. When they discover their "egg" bounced and did not break they will often pick it up, fly 30-40 feet back up in the air and drop it again. I used to work at a golf course and they would steal balls from the driving range all the time. I even found balls in a friends field from the same course over a mile away and no one would admit to using the field as practice so I assume they must have been carried there by the crows who were stealing my range golf balls.

  4. Haha, yes the snake looks a lot like a tree root. The poor thing's head got the worst of it...

    The biggest "missing" ungulate species is the Duiker. They keep on telling me they are around, but I still need to find one or see hard evidence to prove it.

  5. Wow, JK, you might be onto something. There are plenty of crows around and this area is apparently known for its golf courses and driving ranges... I'm going to keep and eye (and ear) open . Thanks for the info.

  6. Seems to me you scored a couple of birdies! Or perhaps eagles! (Apologies to non-golfers)

  7. That,s a very nicely composed picture of a very sweet looking deer......

  8. I find golf balls a mile or more from the nearest roads in the densest woods and even scrub. I deduced birds were the culprits, but thanks for the corvid id, JK.