21 July, 2014

Dung beetles to flamingoes in the West Coast National Park

- gardening for biodiversity

The years slip busily by. It was 2010 when we went to the West Coast National Park on a hiking trail thru the spring flowers. We are tied to selling our house, but maybe we can return to the flowers in August or September?!

Removing invasive alien trees in Bergrivier

When we tried to cross the Berg River in 2007 this whole swathe was under water. Glad that they are working at removing invasive alien trees.

Chersina angulata Bowsprit tortoise?

We stop for tortoises. The recently graded sandy road left a sharp sheer wall, trapping tortoises. We rescued two. With traffic flying along, the tortoise’s defence is to duck down and pray for travelling mercies.

Rhombic egg eater (snake)

Almost perfect, except for a small damp patch at the snake's head … where someone had stamped on it. A rhombic egg eater. Harmless to people. They eat bird's eggs, which they swallow whole. Toothless and defenceless, they will hiss and 'strike'.    

Puff adder
Cape cobra

In the National Park we saw less road kill. The fat stripy one is a puff adder Bitis arietans, with the Ungardener’s hip so you can see how close we were. Being heavy-bodied and sluggish it relies on immobility and cryptic camouflage. Another reason why we are warned to LOOK, before stepping over a rock or fallen log. They will hiss in warning. This common snake, basking in the sun – is the cause of most serious snake bites in Africa. That bite is not fatal, but nasty.

The slender elegant one is a Cape cobra Naja nivea (with a hood). Usually nocturnal so we were glad to see it. This one is dangerous; you need prompt treatment if bitten. The prey of the mongoose. And the snake in turn hunts gerbils and three striped mice. While we walked along, we saw a mole snake Pseudapsis cana. A powerful constrictor, which will hiss and bite if cornered. Because it is useful to farmers, it was one of the first snakes to be protected in the Cape.

West Coast National Park in September 2010

We walked down the sandy path, thru dense vegetation to one of the bird hides. Remember the dung beetles at Addo. Here we could get a better picture, since we were not leaning out of the car window, dodging elephants!

Dung beetle

The West Coast Park is on the Langebaan lagoon.

Boardwalk in the West Coast National Park

Salt marsh, sand dune, lagoon, sand bar. Postberg peninsula and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance. Postberg is military land, but it is open in August and September for the flowers. This quieter section we had almost to ourselves.

The marsh and Langebaan lagoon in the West Coast National Park

On the sand bar, one good tern deserves another. A pair of Caspian terns sits a little apart from the other birds. In the breeding season he wears a black cap. The largest of the terns has a red beak. Despite the name, they are resident on our coast.

Caspian terns

He captured the flamingoes, just as a flock of gulls flew past. Probably Greater flamingoes, since the wings were scarlet, when they flew in turn.

Greater flamingoes

2010 spring flowers are in Have-you-seen-this-iris?

Pictures by Diana and Jurg Studer of  Elephant's Eye
(in Porterville, near Cape Town in South Africa)

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Photographs and Copyright

Photographs are from Diana Studer or Jurg Studer.
His Panasonic Lumix FZ100 (info from Panasonic)
My Canon PowerShot A490 (info from Canon)

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Midnight in Darkest Africa

Midnight in Darkest Africa
For real time, click on the map.