Cederberg Camping and Bird-watching at Gecko Creek

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Gecko Creek Wilderness Lodge is a perfect destination to combine both camping in the Cederberg and bird-watching. Over 165 species of birds have been identified at Gecko Creek and guests camping enjoy waking to the sounds of hundreds of birds surrounding their tents.

 

Earlier this summer, we were fortunate to have two baby Cape Buntings hatch just outside the main house from their nest in a hanging plant. These two buntings now visit our guests who are self-catering in the lapa each meal. Here is a photo of Linton feeding one of the buntings some bread crumbs out of his hand. They are so tame they have become just like family!

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Some fast facts about the Cape Bunting from the Wikipedia website:

There are a dozen subspecies, differing in plumage, but all have the distinctive head pattern and rufous in the wings.

The Cape Bunting is 16 cm long. The adult has a black crown, white supercilium and black-bordered white ear coverts. The upperparts are grey brown with some dark streaks, and the wing coverts are chestnut. The tail is darker chestnut, and the underparts are grey with a pale throat. The sexes are very similar, but females may have a buff tone to the white head markings. Young birds have duller chestnut wings, a less distinct head pattern, and heavier streaking extending on to the breast and flanks. The call is an ascending zzoo-zeh-zee-zee. The song is a loud chirping chup chup chup chup chee chhep chu.

The Cape Bunting occurs in southern Africa from southwestern Angola, eastern Zambia, Zimbabwe and southern Tanzania to the Cape. Its habitat is rocky slopes and dry weedy scrub, mainly in mountains in the north of its range. It previously utilized stony arid areas with some short grass, but much of this has been lost to ploughing.

The Cape Bunting is not gregarious, and is normally seen alone, in pairs or family groups. It feeds on the ground on seeds, insects and spiders. Its lined cup nest is built low in a shrub or tussock. The 2-4 eggs are cream and marked with red-brown and lilac.

 

 

 

The Leopard Tortoise – One of the “Little Five”

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From Big Five to Little Five

 

- article courtesy of http://www.southafrica.info/about/animals/little-five.htm

Visitors to South Africa are always keen to catch a glimpse and a photo of the country’s celebrated Big Five: elephant, lion, rhinoceros, buffalo and leopard.While the big game is magnificent – and includes other giants such as giraffe, hippo, whale and dolphin – there’s much more to South Africa’s wildlife. The country has some of the world’s richest biodiversity hotspots, with remarkable birdlife, abundant buck, small game and bizarre insects.To promote these, some clever people came up with another must-see list: the Little Five. They are (and don’t laugh) the elephant shrew, ant lion, rhinoceros beetle, buffalo weaver and leopard tortoise.Here’s the lowdown on some of Africa’s finest little creatures.

 

Ant lion

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The ant lion (Myrmeleontidae) is an odd yet familiar feature of the bushveld, digging conical depressions in dry, soft sand with which to trap its prey – ants. In advanced stages this larvae-like creature has wings and sometimes resembles a dragonfly, although it’s not well-adapted for flight.

 

Buffalo weaver

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Red-billed buffalo weavers (Bubarlornis niger) are social birds that build their nests in the forked branches of tall trees. They nest in open colonies and are a rather noisy and busy lot. The weavers’ nests can be recognised by their rather bedraggled state, made from coarse grasses and with untidy twig structures.

 

Rhinoceros beetle

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The rhinoceros beetle (Scarabaeinae dynastinae) is one of the largest beetles in southern Africa, with horns on its head much like those of its larger namesake. Both males and females are horned, but only the males are known for aggressive behaviour, using the horns to fight rivals. The horns are also used to dig, climb and mate.

 

Leopard tortoise

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The leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis) is a striking feature of the bushveld landscape, getting its name from its black and yellow spotted shell. The animal is one of the largest breeds of tortoise in this part of the world; a mature leopard tortoise can weigh over 23 kilograms, with a shell circumference of up to one metre. The males are larger than the females.Younger tortoises have dark brown patterns, while adult shells take on shades of yellow with somewhat smaller spots. Leopard tortoises live in savannah and grassland areas, close to water.

 

Elephant shrew

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This tiny insectivore lives in arid lowlands, rocky outcrops and savannah grasslands, getting its name from its elongated snout. Elephant shrews (Elephantulus myurus) are found all over South Africa, and only grow to a length of 250mm, with an average weight of 60 grams. They feed on insects, fruit, seeds and nuts.They in turn are food for snakes and raptors, making them extremely shy and wary. The chances of spotting them are slim indeed, so if you manage to see an elephant shrew before an actual elephant, you can count your safari a real success!SAinfo reporterThe Little Five is based on the “Small 5005″ concept developed by South African wildlife author and scientist Rael Loon. For more information, visit Hidden Wonders: Southern Africa’s Small 5005Read more: http://www.southafrica.info/about/animals/little-five.htm#.UuuWDX2xXMI#ixzz2ryiptV2Z

Cederberg Wildlife

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One of our many resident agamas searching for his morning meal at Gecko Creek. Found the following descriptive from the website Scarce:

Biology The southern Rock Agama is probably the most well-known lizard in South Africa . This is because of its extensive range and the conspicuousness of the brightly coloured males perching on rocks and fence poles along roads. It is diurnal and mainly rock-dwelling. It may form dense colonies and both males and females maintain territories, but those of males are larger and may contain those of several females. It has a polygynous mating system and a dominant male will mate with several females within its territory. Females will mate with any male that gains access. A dominant male normally perches on the highest point in its territory and does a characteristic pushup display and head nodding when intruders come too close. When danger threatens it hugs the rock and its bright colours fade quickly so that it becomes camouflaged against the lichen-covered rocks. It can run at great speed over the rocks and also jump from rock to rock.Many people believe that it is highly poisonous. A farmer in the Kamiesberg once told us that the Rock Agama is responsible for many deaths among his cattle, particularly calves. According to him the lizard will jump on the back of the calve from a rock and then bite the calve in the neck region. The calf will die within minutes. There are of course no poisonous lizards in southern Africa, in fact there are only two poisonous species in the world, occurring in North and South America. It is, however, true that the rock agama can inflict a painful bite, drawing blood, because it has two fang-like teeth in the upper jaw.Its diet consists mainly of ants and termites, but it will also eat other invertebrates. It is oviparous and two clutches of 7-18 oval, soft-shelled eggs are laid in a shallow hole dug in damp soil, the first clutch during October-November and the second in January-February. Incubation takes 2-3 months.Agamas are closely related to chameleons, as is obvious from their ability to change their body colour and from the way they use the tongue in feeding. The tongue is, however, much shorter than that of chameleons.

 

Havin’ a Hoot in the Cederberg

Cape Eagle Owl photographed at Gecko Creek Wilderness Lodge

Emielke captured this photo of a Cape Eagle Owl inside Leopard Rock at Gecko Creek Wilderness Lodge.