Saturday, October 25, 2014

This week's critters

As always, when we bird, we also see critters. Shortly after the recent rains, we drove around the mine and then into the bush. 

Immediately I asked Grant to stop, as I'd seen a long black line across the road. Ants! I know I've posted about ants recently, but when I zoomed in to get a closer look at the ants, I noticed that these looked different to what we'd seen before.
A column of ants across the road and stretching into the distance
When I looked on the led screen, I saw that these were no ordinary ants
Some of the ants looked like large ants; others were also large but seemed to have a cylindrical tube under their forelegs

I sent the photos off to Jez, who asked Neil and Liz (Dar birders) their opinion. Their verdict was "These are Ndebeles megaponera: they move in small tight columns and raid termite nests. When disturbed, they all emit a high pitched noise. And.. they bite!"  I stayed far away from these critters. We moved on... 

Around the next corner we spotted something much more gentle.
 A dik-dik

Of course, we saw many birds, mostly familiar ones, which I'll post about on Wednesday. On Sunday, Marita phoned me about something, and although I answered her, I cannot remember now what it was. LOL! At the time, I was standing on the veranda and I saw a bird fly into a tree in the garden. I grabbed my camera, and opening the door, I managed to get two good photos.
African Grey Hornbill

Now, I'm racking my brains to remember what Marita had phoned me about. Perhaps she asked me to do something! Mmm.

On Tuesday when I went to town on company business for Grant, I found a beautiful kaftan to wear to Kwet's farewell. This was held on Wednesday night and I'll post about it in the new week. I took the kaftan and kitenga/shawl over to Mr Cheddy, our tailor to have it made smaller. On the way there, I spotted something flying quite low to the ground. It had bright red, hard-looking wings. It landed on the ground, I lifted my camera (which is always around my neck when I go outside) and snapped. 
A brightly-colored grasshopper  

Returning across the towns sqaure with Dr Wiliamson's statue presiding, Mataluma, popped through the hedge and called me. He said he wanted to show me a bird. Mataluma, who is a gardener at the Guest House, was the same man who showed me the African Scops Owl in a tree down the road from our house. 

He pointed to a Hamerkop on the ground nearby As we watched the Hamerkop picked up a small branch and flew off over the road. Mataluma pointed to a tree and said the bird was building a nest. 

Mataluma often calls me to see a new bird or bird activity in the vicinity!
The Hamerkop pair is still carrying twigs and small branches to build the nest and will do so until their humble abode will ends up as a mansion! 

Yesterday the pups were 37 days old. 

Joshua, who stands in as askari on Michael's Friday off, was ecstatic to help me let the pups out of the enclosure and onto the lawn. 
Here Princess checks up on one pup, while the others cavort on the lawn and Joshua waves his arms around

Joshua was very excited and the more I'd say to him he should sit down on the lawn,
 the more he'd hurtle after the pups to play with them

At one stage he grabbed Princess' collar and it slipped off. He was mortified but I told him, no problem, just slip it over a pup's head.
Wearing mama's pretty necklace!
 The pup ran up to me and climbed onto my lap!

How about I give you five bucks for the necklace, huh?
 I'm taking my necklace to a safe place!
To my left, Joshua was talking to several pups; see how attentively they're listening to him!
On my right, Bibi had hold of my readers...
...while Princess watches over all these things with such a happy and contented look on her face! 

When it was time to go back into the enclosure, Joshua and I walked ahead, Princess at my side and the pups following behind. They sleep extremely well at night these days, much to Zachariah's delight! He has a peaceful watch with the pups in the hut and Princess sleeping at the side of his chair. 

I'm linking my post to Eileen's Saturday Critter's Party meme which you can access by clicking here

I trust you're all having a great Saturday. 


  1. great to see the bird nesting near! i found a colorful grasshopper here this afternoon - not one of our normal (million) others. :)

    love to see those pups grow and joshua having fun with them, too.

  2. What a great post Jo! I'm curious about Kwet's farewell as I wasn't quite sure what that meant. I will wait to see in a future post. I do love how the pups seem so content and well behaved. You are blessed and the pups/Princess too, to have such great men working with you and taking care of them. Big hugs. xx

  3. That ant line is amazing and seems so unusual with whatever they were carrying. Will be fun to watch the Hammerkop nest grow. The one's I've seen are huge. All the askari seem totally taken with the pups.

  4. That Ant trail is amazing. Pups are gorgeous and lovely to see being so playful. Now I will expect photos of hammerkop chick later on!! I have seen one of their huge nests in a friends garden in Africa. Have a great weekend

  5. those ants gives me the creeps. :)

    Loved to see the hammerkopf and the puppies having fun. :)

    Mine is here welcome:

  6. Hello JO, the ants are amazing, great captures. And I love the cute Dik-dik. Cool sighting of the Hornbill. Wow, it will be cool to see the Hamerkop nest making progress and to see a baby Hamperkop.. The pups and Princess are always a treat to see. They look like they are having so much fun on the lawn.. Great critter post and photos. Thank you for linking up, have a happy weekend!

  7. Hello Jo,
    Very nice shots!!
    Funny all that little dogs. The big ants and other insects makes me scared...hihi..!!

    Kind regards,

  8. I always adore the puppy updates and photos of them. Precious.

    Those ants look nasty...but if they eat termites, they can't be all that bad I guess.

    That hornbill is neat..such a colossal beak.

  9. What a lot of birds and ants and puppies. Lovely post Jo but how will you be able to give those puppies away???

  10. The neclace steeling pup was entertaining. I thought we had a lot of bugs here...yikes.

  11. i always leave here feelin g happier than when I came. yours birds fascinate me, the dik dik i just love and of course those puppies you already know.. that grasshopper i amazing to.. never know what i will find here.

  12. The puppies are growing nicely and it's obvious that Joshua loves playing with them. Glad you stayed away from those biting ants!

  13. Gosh no wonder you are always wearing your camera, you have an incredible diversity and I'm hoping a super zoom I wouldn't like to get too close to the screaming ants! Those puppy dogs are adorable.
    Wren x

  14. You have great help with your pups, and also eyes alert for finding new critters! That's awesome! Those ants are downright scary! I loved the hornbill and the dikdik!

  15. What an intereresting birding adventure. I love the ants, but glad you stayed well away from them! The pups look like a lot of fun.

  16. Such a wonderful variety of animals! I'm loving the birds a lot but the puppies are, of course, adorable.

  17. Fantastic line of ants. I guess some of them are carrying the termite eggs/larvae from a raid. The Hamerkop is an unusual looking bird. How neat to have one nesting nearby. I always enjoy news of the puppies. Princess has a right to be proud of her beautiful litter.


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo