19 February 2024

The Holy Grail of SA Moth's

05 December 2023 - AlMega Caravan Park; Dinokeng - Day 3

My wife had gone to the ablution block and on return told me there was a big green insect near the door (she wasnt wearing her glasses). I went to check and imagine my astonishment when I discovered it was an African Moon Moth - this to me is the Africa Pitta of the Moth world as it is mystical and magical. As a young boy, I collected butterflies, but I had always wanted to find a Lunar Moth, as I knew the pictures didnt do it justice. So, here I am many decades and travels later and my wife finds one for me! It is the Holy Grail of South African moths for me and I was elated, to say the least...

African Moon Moth (Argema mimosae)

Since I was up, I had a quick walk around the perimeter of the camp, finding an obliging Crested Francolin that was claiming it's territory

Crested Francolin (Ortygornis sephaena)

Then a pair of Tree Squirrel's showing some affection in the early morning sun

Tree Squirrel (Paraxerus cepapi)

Later a couple of Magpie Shrike's

Magpie Shrike (Urolestes melanoleucus)

I then heard yet another Red-chested Cuckoo calling, but this one was calling on the wing and I was perfectly positioned as it flew by in front of me - my best images of this Cuckoo ever

Red-chested Cuckoo (Cuculus solitarius)

On the overhead line, a Neddicky called

Neddicky (Cisticola fulvicapilla)

Followed by a Crimson-breasted Shrike preening in the open

Crimson-breasted Shrike (Laniarius atrococcineus)

At the entrance gate, a Red-billed Buffalo Weaver had a nest and was very skittish. Every time someone got too close, it would disappear into it's nest

Red-billed Buffalo Weaver (Bubalornis niger)

At reception, Southern Grey-headed Sparrows warmed up in the sun

Southern Grey-headed Sparrow (Passer diffusus)

Back at our camp, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and the Groundscraper Thrush that was feeding nearby on the lawn

Groundscraper Thrush (Turdus litsitsirupa)

The Levaillant's was still flying around the camp

Levaillant's Cuckoo (Clamator levaillantii)

And a Marico Fly warmed up in the sun

Marico Flycatcher (Melaenornis mariquensis)

There were many Millipede's on the lawn


and my wife picked up a Southern Tree Agama in the tree next to our tent

Southern Tree Agama (Acanthocercus atricollis)

What a pleasant way to spend our morning before having to pack up and return to Midrand. We loved this campsite and will certainly be back in the new year.

AlMega camp birds

04 November 2023 - AlMega Caravan Park, Dinokeng - Day 2

AlMega is a small and well maintained caravan site with spacious stands and a walk around the perimeter is not strenuous at all. I had an early morning walk while the family had a lie in and enjoyed many of the bushveld species in the grounds.

I tried for Yellow-bellied Eremomela and was tricked by a White-browed Scrub Robin imitating it's call - but still a good bird to see, as it was displaying while it was calling.

White-browed Scrub Robin (Cercotrichas leucophrys)

So many Millipedes on the sand roads


Willow Warbler's were calling in many areas along the fringes, but it does take some perseverance getting half decent views

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

Red-chested Cuckoo's were really vocal, but another really tricky species to get any good views at all - well, at least for me

Red-chested Cuckoo (Cuculus solitarius)

I was detracted by a Gabar Goshawk against the grey sky chasing down a potential breakfast, but without success

Gabar Goshawk (Micronisus gabar)

I expected to find Groundscraper Thrush and eventually I did

Groundscraper Thrush (Turdus litsitsirupa)

Long-billed Crombec were quite common

Long-billed Crombec (Sylvietta rufescens)

I heard Crimson-breasted Shrike calling and tracked one down in a tree between two campsites. I was thrilled when it suddenly popped out and continued calling - Red on/in Green - magic!

Crimson-breasted Shrike (Laniarius atrococcineus)

Red in Green

In the adjacent tree, a Marico Flycatcher seemed disturbed by the Shrike's presence

Marico Flycatcher (Melaenornis mariquensis)

Around 10am, my son and I did the guided Electric Scooter tour around the reserve which was a great experience and a lot of fun - certainly recommended

Back at our site, it was already getting warm and other species started appearing - Burchell's Starling

Burchell's Starling (Lamprotornis australis)

Aside from Red-chested, there were also a a few Levaillant's Cuckoo's around camp - another tough species to get clear views of, in general

Levaillant's Cuckoo (Clamator levaillantii)

Near the main gate, I had great views of a single Southern Pied Babbler - the bushveld snowball!

Southern Pied Babbler (Turdoides bicolor)

This is a Zebra White, one of the few butterflies I photographed today

Zebra White (Pinacopteryx e. eriphia)

Late afternoon, we bought firewood (you cant bring your own in) and started preparing for our early evening braai in this tranquil setting

Migrants and invisible Ele's

09 January 2024 - Mabula; Day 3 Only the boys opted for this morning's drive and were entertained with these two Dung Beetle's tryin...