15 May 2011

Birds On The Road

A flower (possibly Ploegtydblommetjie - Empodium plicatum) at Tygerberg Nature Reserve in Cape Town

I don't get many photographs of birds at night, so I was surprised to find a pair of Spotted Thick-Knee frequenting the one Bushnell camera trap at Tygerberg.

A Spotted Thick-Knee (Dikkop - Burhinus capensis) pair keeping the camera company

If you think of nocturnal birds you usually think of owls. However, these birds are pretty much nocturnal. They hunt insects and other small animals at night. You can see their bright eyes reflecting the flash.

Just standing there...

Apparently they hunt by rushing forwards in short bursts and stopping to grab food. This might explain why I got many empty photographs at night. The birds must be rushing past, not stopping in front of the camera. In the images I did get of them, they were standing dead still.

I also got a nice photograph of a Bokmakierie at the same locations.

Bokmakierie (Bokmakierie - Telophorus zeylonus) calling or feeling the heat?

The camera is next to a dirt road and I photographed a couple of people walking past. It is slightly concerning because there is a no access sign up the road... Thus far I've been lucky with people walking past the cameras, but who knows...

A very interesting thing happened while I was setting up this camera. It was a very pleasant day, after some rainy whether. It was nice and warm, but not hot, and there was almost no wind (which is rare for this part of the world, especially Tygerberg itself).

As it turns out the local ant colonies decided it is the perfect day to mate. And they were at it by the thousands. Everywhere I went there were swarms of them mating, luckily usually just above head height.

A mating swarm

As it turned out a rather big swarm was busy doing their thing right above the place I wanted to put my camera.

There were many of them...

They crashed into me and I into them, but it went pretty smooth (under the circumstances).
I'm not sure what species they are, but I think they are some kind of ant.

One of the ants on my finger

One of the things I really enjoy about camera trapping is that it "forces" me to get out into nature more often and enable me to have such enjoyable experiences. Tygerberg might be only 5 minutes from my home and almost surrounded by houses, but there is still plenty of nature to be found, even here.


  1. Great Spotted Thick-knee photos. A few months ago, we watched thick-knees at night on the road in Uganda. We saw four species altogether, Spotted, Water, Senegal. and Eurasian Thick-knees. What a treat.