06 December 2011

Backyard Wildlife

I still haven't had much time recently to do any serious camera trapping. I'm looking forward to doing a short stint over Christmas when we visit the family.

In the meantime I thought I'll treat you to some interesting critter from my garden here in Cape Town. It is incredible what amazing creatures live right next to us. This is just a small selection I threw together.

I just couldn't resist including a picture of Mushu, our Dachshund-cross

There is an amazing variety of bees (and other insects) that pollinate the flowers in our garden. I haven't managed to photograph even half them all. Below are two bees I recently snapped a picture off.

This is most likely Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa caffra), or similar

There are many smaller bees, such as the one above, to be found in our garden

Below is a very interesting pollinator, a fly. These flies parasitize on spiders in their larval form. The adults have short lives. Some species sip nectar with their long tongues.

At first glance the Psilodera fasciata (or similar) looks very much like another white bee, but they are in fact flies

Naturally there are also butterflies and skippers around to be found.

A little skipper taking a rest

When we first moved down to Cape Town we lived in the southern suburbs. The yard contained a small pond that was home to some frogs. I tried to photograph all of them to determine how many there were. I could identify at least 8.

I recorded each frog's unique markings and only identified it if I could confirm it on more than one photograph/occasion

Up close and personal with Cape River Frog (Kaapse Rivierpadda - Amietia fuscigula)

A year later we moved to the northern suburbs and I introduced some tadpoles to our new pond, but the walls are to high and when the small frogs emerged they jumped out of the pond and couldn't get back in.

However our neighbours told us that the little frogs found their way to their pond and seem to be doing pretty well over there.

These guys had the most delightful call

I might have a healthy fear of spiders, but this little fellow was so intriguing that I just had to take a picture. It reminds me of the spider (Shelob) from The Lord of the Rings films.

No idea what species this is, but it seems to have plenty of character to share

Last, but by far not the least, is the inspiration behind this post. This weekend my wife spotted a Cape Dwarf Chameleon living in our garden! These guys are just to cool and pretty for words.

Cape Dwarf Chameleon (Kaapse Dwerg-verkleurmannetjie - Bradypodion pumilum) on  my wife's hand

"Ah man ... how did they see me?"

I managed to take a short video clip for everybody's enjoyment. (It's not very good since I don't like to disturb the animals to much for the sake of a great photograph. I'm happy with mostly "for the record" stuff.)

Video of the little guy making his desperate escape

And if you were wondering whether he managed to climb up the trunk to safety? He did.

Fed up with the landlord harassing him, he took the straightest path he could find back into the tree for some peace and quiet

The moral of the story: always keep your eyes open, you never know what you can find, even in your own back yard.

(Hopefully I'll have some camera trap images for you after Christmas.)


  1. Thats a great post, something different too. I always keep a look out for chameleons whenever I am on the Cape but have yet to find one, you are lucky.

  2. This makes me want to move to Cape Town just so I can have chameleons in my yard. It's good to finally see a new post from you.

  3. Some fantastic shots in there...I especially liked the first bee. What a mouthpiece on that thing.

  4. What great backyard buddies you have. Agree with the others - having chameleons alone might be reason to emigrate.