Fauna and Flora Friday: 9 April 2021

Blacksmith Lapwing, Vanellus armatus

It is not difficult to recognize a Blacksmith Lapwing. Their plumage is boldly marked in black, white, and grey, and they are unlikely to be mistaken for other species. They have grey and black wings, while the rest of the body and the head are boldly patterned in white and black – also the underparts. They also have red eyes. Females are bigger than males, but both sexes generally look alike.

They typically live where their needs are best met, or environmental conditions are most suitable for them to live. If nothing tempts them to stay, they will merely pass through on their way elsewhere. Blacksmith Lapwings prefer areas of short open grassland with plenty of water. Such as mudflats around dams, open gardens, parks, sports fields, sewage pans, rivers, lakes, and estuaries.

They look for food on foot when they run around, scanning the area for small aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates to eat. This includes insects, worms, dragonfly nymphs, larvae, beetles, ants, mollusks, crustaceans, and occasionally some plant material.  

During the breeding season, the species often react aggressively to other lapwings that may enter its wetland habitat. Nests are shallow depressions on bare ground or short grass, close to water, and tend to be spaced at least 400 m apart. The blacksmith lapwing breeds in spring, but its choice of nesting site and timing may be opportunistic. The young separate gradually from their parents and do not return to natal areas afterward.

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ~Frank Lloyd Write

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post. I hope you also learned something new today.

Have a fabulous day. Till next time, please stay safe and healthy.

Coreen

Fauna and Flora Friday: 26 March 2021

Cattle Egret, Bubulcus ibis

The Cattle Egret is a stocky heron with an 88–96 cm wingspan; it is 46–56 cm long and weighs 270–512 g. It has a relatively short, thick neck, a sturdy bill, and a hunched posture. The nonbreeding adult has mainly white plumage, a yellow bill, and greyish-yellow legs. During the breeding season, adults of the nominate western subspecies develop orange-buff plumes on the back, breast, and crown, bill, legs, and irises become bright red for a brief period before pairing. The sexes are similar, but the male is marginally larger and has slightly longer breeding plumes than the female; juvenile birds lack colored plumes and have a black bill. 

The adult cattle egret has few predators, but birds or mammals may raid its nests, and chicks may be lost to starvation, calcium deficiency, or disturbance from other large birds. This species maintains a special relationship with cattle, which extends to other large grazing mammals; wider human farming is believed to be a major cause of their suddenly expanded range. The cattle egret removes ticks and flies from cattle and consumes them. This benefits both species, but it has been implicated in the spread of tick-borne animal diseases. Their feeding habitats include seasonally inundated grasslands, pastures, farmlands, wetlands, and rice paddies. They often accompany cattle or other large mammals, catching insects and small vertebrate prey disturbed by these animals. Some populations are migratory and others show post-breeding dispersal.

It is a white bird adorned with buff plumes in the breeding season. It nests in colonies, usually near bodies of water and often with other wading birds. The nest is a platform of sticks in trees or shrubs. Cattle egrets exploit drier and open habitats more than other heron species.

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ~Frank Lloyd Write

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post. I hope you also learned something new today.

Have a fabulous day. Till next time, please stay safe and healthy.

Coreen

Fauna and Flora Friday: 12 March 2021

Babiana nana, Bobbejaantjie

It is a genus of flowering plants in the family Iridaceae composed of about 80 recognized species. The majority of these species are endemic to the Cape Provinces of South Africa, especially Namaqualand, as well Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

Cormous perennials, often with hairy stems. Leaves sword- or wedge-shaped, pleated, and usually hairy. Flowers in a 2- ranked or spiral spike, subtended by green, usually hairy bracts with dry tips (rarely dry and papery), often blue, less commonly white, yellow, pink, or red, bowl-shaped or 2-lipped, the tepals united into a short or long tube; the stamens either arched together or symmetrically arranged, the style dividing into three short branches. Southern Africa, mainly winter-rainfall parts. The corms are favored by baboons and porcupines, hence the allusion in the vernacular name bobbejaantjie.

Babiana nana, Bobbejaantjie, Postberg, West Coast National Park
Babiana nana, Bobbejaantjie, Postberg, West Coast National Park
Babiana nana, Bobbejaantjie, Postberg, West Coast National Park
Babiana nana, Bobbejaantjie, Postberg, West Coast National Park

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ~Frank Lloyd Write

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post. I hope you also learned something new today.

Have a fabulous day. Till next time, please stay safe and healthy.

Coreen

Fauna and Flora Friday: 5 March 2021

Helmeted Guineafowl, Tarentaal, Numida meleagris

The Helmeted Guineafowl is a large bird 53 to 58 centimeters with a round body and a small head weighing about 1.3 kilograms. Their plumage is gray-black spangled with white. It has no feathers on its head. They are decorated with a dull yellow or reddish bony knob, bare skin with red, blue, or black hues. The wings are short and rounded, and the tail is short. Various sub-species are proposed, differences in appearance being mostly a variation in shape, size, and color of the casque and facial wattles.

Helmeted Guineafowl, Sonstraaldam, Durbanville

This is a gregarious species, forming flocks of about 25 birds outside the breeding season that also roost communally. Guineafowl is particularly well-suited to consuming massive quantities of ticks, which might otherwise spread Lyme disease. They are terrestrial and prone to run rather than fly when alarmed. Like most gallinaceous birds, they have a short-lived explosive flight and rely on gliding to cover extended distances. Helmeted Guineafowl can walk 10 km and more in a day.

Their diet consists of a variety of animal and plant food. During the non-breeding season, they consume corns, tubers, seeds, agricultural weeds, and various crop spillage. During the breeding season, more than 80% of their diet consists of beetles. Guineafowl is equipped with strong claws and scratches in loose soil for food, like domestic chickens, although they seldom uproot growing plants in so doing. They may live for up to 12 years in the wild.

Males often show aggression towards each other and will partake in aggressive fighting. They will attempt to make themselves look more fearsome by raising their wings upwards from their sides and bristling their feathers across the length of the body. They may also rush towards their opponent with a gaping beak.

The nest is well-hidden in long grass or under a bush. They lay 6 to 19 light yellowing-brown eggs. Only the female incubates for 26 to 28 days. It has been noted that domesticated Guineafowl hens are not the best mothers and will often abandon their nests. They are seasonal breeders.

Helmeted Guineafowl, Sonstraaldam, Durbanville
Helmeted Guineafowl, Sonstraaldam, Durbanville
Helmeted Guineafowl, Sonstraaldam, Durbanville
Helmeted Guineafowl, Sonstraaldam, Durbanville
Helmeted Guineafowl, Sonstraaldam, Durbanville
Helmeted Guineafowl, Sonstraaldam, Durbanville
Helmeted Guineafowl, Sonstraaldam, Durbanville

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ~Frank Lloyd Write

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post. I hope you also learned something new today.

Have a fabulous day. Till next time, please stay safe and healthy.

Coreen

Fauna and Flora Friday: 26 February 2021

Cullumia squarrosa, Snake Thistle, Steekhaarbos

Spiny shrubs, often sprawling, sometimes cobwebby. Leaves alternate, overlapping, small, with spiny or bristly margins and often spine-tipped. Flowerheads solitary and sessile, radiate, with 4 rows of stiff, hairless, often recurved involucre bracts with spiny margins, joined at the base. Ray florets sterile, 4-toothed, yellow. Disc florets fertile, deeply 5-lobbed; fruits oblong or ellipsoid, smooth, without a pappus. Coastal Bush in the extreme southwestern Cape.

Cullumia squarrosa, Snake Thistle, Steekhaarbos,Durbanville Nature Reserve
Cullumia squarrosa, Snake Thistle, Steekhaarbos,Durbanville Nature Reserve
Cullumia squarrosa, Snake Thistle, Steekhaarbos,Durbanville Nature Reserve
Cullumia squarrosa, Snake Thistle, Steekhaarbos,Durbanville Nature Reserve
Cullumia squarrosa, Snake Thistle, Steekhaarbos,Durbanville Nature Reserve
Cullumia squarrosa, Snake Thistle, Steekhaarbos,Durbanville Nature Reserve

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ~Frank Lloyd Write

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post. I hope you also learned something new today.

Have a fabulous day. Till next time, please stay safe and healthy.

Coreen

Fauna and Flora Friday: 19 February 2021

Egyptian Goose, Kolgans, Alopachen aegyptiaca

The Egyptian goose – also known as the Nil goose – is named after its origin, The Nile Valley in Africa. It is a large, very distinctive waterbird with conspicuous eye patches of dark chocolate-brown. The female resembles the male, though smaller, often with darker markings on her beak. The genders can also be told apart by their calls, as the male makes a hoarse hissing noise, while the female produces a harsh, trumpeting quack. Young Egyptian geese have a duller color and have a gray tinge on their forewings, and their crown and neck are darker, with yellowish legs and beak. They are approximately 63-73 cm, and their wings 34-41 cm.

Egyptian Goose, Kolgans, Alopachen aegyptiaca
Egyptian Goose Chick, Kolgans, Alopachen aegyptiaca
Egyptian Goose, Kolgans, Alopachen aegyptiaca

Egyptian geese are widespread throughout Africa except in deserts and dense forests.
Egyptian geese remain together in small flocks during the year, primarily for protection. During the breeding season, they pair up and stay with the group. They are mostly non-migratory and will generally move about only if the water in their area is in short supply. They are good swimmers but spent most of their time on land. They may wander away from the water searching for food, but at night always return. Both genders are aggressively territorial with their species during breeding and often pursue intruders in flight, attacking them in “dogfights” in the air.

Egyptian Goose, Kolgans, Alopachen aegyptiaca
Egyptian Goose, Kolgans, Alopachen aegyptiaca
Egyptian Goose, Kolgans, Alopachen aegyptiaca
Egyptian Goose, Kolgans, Alopachen aegyptiaca

They are primarily herbivores, feeding on grass, seeds, stems, leaves from various plants, grains, potatoes, and other types of vegetables.
They are monogamous, and a pair stays together for their whole life. Males are quite aggressive during mating. Each male performs an elaborate and noisy courtship display, producing loud honking noises to attract a female. These geese breed in spring or when the dry season ends. They nest on their own on the ground, sheltered by vegetation. Females lay 5 to 11 creamy-white eggs. Incubation is by the female only and lasts for around 28 to 30 days. Births are synchronized. The male and the female take care and feed the chicks. The chicks reach maturity when they are two years old.

Egyptian Goose Chick, Kolgans, Alopachen aegyptiaca
Egyptian Goose Chick, Kolgans, Alopachen aegyptiaca
Egyptian Goose Chick, Kolgans, Alopachen aegyptiaca
Egyptian Goose, Kolgans, Alopachen aegyptiaca
Egyptian Goose, Kolgans, Alopachen aegyptiaca
Egyptian Goose, Kolgans, Alopachen aegyptiaca

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ~Frank Lloyd Write

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post. I hope you also learned something new today.

Have a fabulous day. Till next time, please stay safe and healthy.

Coreen

Fauna and Flora Friday: 12 February 2021

Indigofera procumbens, Indigo, Lewertjie (Little Liver)

It is a trailing or spreading perennial reaching 10 cm in height. It may spread from underground stems.

The leaves are digitately trifoliolate, the leaflets obovate with entire margins. The blades are hairless or sparsely hairy, folded slightly along their midribs, sometimes with a tiny mucro at the tip.

The orange, copper, rose or purple flowers grow in racemes on fleshy stalks. Flowering happens between June and October.

It can be found in the Western Cape long the West Coast and inland to Clanwilliam and Worcester. It is a coastal fynbos and low-lying Renosterveld.

I took these photos in August 2015 and August 2020 in Postberg Private Nature Reserve in the West Coast National Park.

Indigofera procumbens, Indigo, Lewertjie, Postberg, West Coast National Park (2015)
Indigofera procumbens, Indigo, Lewertjie, Postberg, West Coast National Park (2015)
Indigofera procumbens, Indigo, Lewertjie, Postberg, West Coast National Park (2015)
Indigofera procumbens, Indigo, Lewertjie, Postberg, West Coast National Park (2015)
Indigofera procumbens, Indigo, Lewertjie, Postberg, West Coast National Park (2020)
Indigofera procumbens, Indigo, Lewertjie, Postberg, West Coast National Park (2020)
Indigofera procumbens, Indigo, Lewertjie, Postberg, West Coast National Park (2020)
Indigofera procumbens, Indigo, Lewertjie, Postberg, West Coast National Park (2020)
Indigofera procumbens, Indigo, Lewertjie, Postberg, West Coast National Park (2020)

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ~Frank Lloyd Write

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post. I hope you also learned something new today.

Have a fabulous day. Till next time, please stay safe and healthy.

Coreen

Fauna and Flora Friday: 29 January 2021

Red-Knobbed Coot, Fulica cristata

The red-knobbed coot has all black plumage with a white bill and frontal shield. 2 Red knobs are found on the head, at the top. It has grey legs and red eyes. These red knobs are more conspicuous during the breeding season. As a swimming bird, its toes are partially webbed.

Red-Knobbed Coot, Sonstraaldam
Red-Knobbed Coot, Sonstraaldam
Red-Knobbed Coot, Sonstraaldam
Red-Knobbed Coot, Sonstraaldam

The female is around the size of a small chicken, 39 cm long. The male is larger.
They feed mainly on plant matter but will occasionally eat insects.

Red-Knobbed Coot, Abrahamskraal, West Coast National Park
Red-Knobbed Coot, Abrahamskraal, West Coast National Park

The coot is a highly territorial species and will try and bully any intruders, even geese up to twice their size. Sometimes it seems they are running across the water without flying.

Red-Knobbed Coot, Abrahamskraal, West Coast National Park
Red-Knobbed Coot, Abrahamskraal, West Coast National Park
Red-Knobbed Coot, Abrahamskraal, West Coast National Park

Monogamous, the red-knobbed coot builds a floating nest on a mound of vegetation and lay up to 8 eggs at a time.

Red-Knobbed Coot, Abrahamskraal, West Coast National Park
Red-Knobbed Coot, Abrahamskraal, West Coast National Park

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ~Frank Lloyd Write

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post. I hope you also learned something new today.

Have a fabulous day. Till next time, please stay safe and healthy.

Coreen

Fauna and Flora Friday: 22 January 2021

Lampranthus aureus, Golden Vygie

Lampranthus aureus is a neatly rounded, erect, small shrub that grows up to about 400 x 500 mm.

The leaves are paired, free or slightly fused at the base, dark green, and grow to 50 mm. The most attractive aspect of the plant is its unbelievably bright orange flowers. The shiny orange flowers in clusters on short stalks are 60 mm in diameter and appear from August. Yellow forms also occur. After flowering, a woody fruit capsule that has five locules follow.

Lampranthus aureus is best suited for winter rainfall areas and hot summers. The plants do not thrive where they are subject to prolonged periods of frost. They can withstand extreme dry conditions and do not need much care.

They are pollinated by insects when flowers are fully open.

The swollen leaves ensure the survival of it during long, hot, and dry spells. Brightly colored flowers invite pollinators and ensure seed production. Another adaptation for survival is an abundance of seeds produced. The more seeds there are, the better the chances of germination and survival.

According to the current Red List, Lampranthus aureus is Vulnerable. 

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ~Frank Lloyd Write

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post. I hope you also learned something new today.

Have a fabulous day. Till next time, please stay safe and healthy.

Coreen

Fauna and Flora Friday: 15 January 2021

Common Greenshank

The common greenshank can appear very like a marsh sandpiper when wading, but the bill on the greenshank has an upturned appearance and the body is heavier and less slender in appearance. Greenshanks have long green legs and a long bill with a grey base.

When not breeding, the plumage is grey to brown above and a pale white below. During breeding season, the upper body becomes heavily streaked and marked, a bold black chevron type marking becomes visible on the chest.

The common greenshank feeds on insects, crustaceans and small fish. They are surface feeders and feed along the shoreline. They will feed both nocturnally and diurnally.

The common greenshank is found in fresh and saltwater areas, in marshes, mudflats, lakeshores and lagoons. The common greenshank is found throughout South Africa, except in the very arid areas. They are a summer visitor to South Africa.

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ~Frank Lloyd Write

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post. I hope you also learned something new today.

Have a fabulous day. Till next time, please stay safe and healthy.

Coreen