Saturday, May 23, 2015

Eclectic mix of Critters

While on holiday in Zululand last week, I managed to cajole Rina to go for a walk early one morning. 

All week we'd seen men riding red bicycles with the Coco-cola logo on several parts of the bike. I forgot to ask around about these bikes...
 Coco Cola bicycle 

We'd been hearing the Red-capped Robin-chat's distinctive call all week. But being an elusive bird, we never managed to catch it sitting quietly so that I could photograph it. Walking down the farm road along the banana plantations, Rina suddenly pointed to a branch above us.

The Robin-chat we'd been looking for! 
Red-capped Robin-chat
These birds often skulk in the dark shadow of trees and shrubs making it difficult to see them

This is the only Robin-chat with an orange face and light grey-blue wings and back. It 's a common resident in coastal, lowland, riverine and sand forests. It occurs in wooded suburban gardens, hence the fact that we heard it constantly in Brenda's lush, heavily tree-d garden. Its contact call is a two-syllable see-saw (like a creaking ship!). The song is loud and rich with impressive repertoire that includes mimicry of many bird calls and local sounds including yapping dogs! 

Walking along the main sandy road through Monzi, we'd no sooner started up the slight incline when we heard the sound of galloping approaching us from the front. Two buck had come around the corner and were headed in our direction! 
I had my camera ready and if you click on the image you may see the two buck which had turned at the sight of two humans in their path and headed back up the road! 

Bushbuck are most vulnerable to predators such as leopard, lions, hyenas and cheetah when on the run; yet,  if cornered, the male will fight bravely and if attacked may even become a dangerous foe. Even though baboons sometimes eat the young, bushbuck continue to associate closely with them at times, picking up fallen fruit and other foods that foraging baboons drop. (Google)

Rina was very worried that the buck could attack us but I managed a photo of them heading away from us... (I haven't showed her the Google description above! LOL!)
The bushbuck racing up the road again! 

I managed to coax Rina to walk further. I mean, the buck had run off into the bushes so what harm could we come to? We stood under a copse of trees while I tried to photograph a small bird which just would not sit still for long enough. Finally I gave up and focused on an interesting snail shell. 
A snail shell lying on the fallen leaves under the trees

Later that morning, we got into the car and drove to to nearby St Luci. We have to cross a bridge over the Estuary. Rina said she'd seen a hippo up-river so we stopped, parked the car and walked onto the bridge. I took several photos but to me it looked like a rock. When we returned from town and crossed the bridge again about an hour later, Rina said the "rock" had to be a hippo as it had now disappeared. Still, I wasn't convinced. I told her that the tide had pushed up into the Estuary and the rock would now be underwater. Mmm...

When I downloaded the photos, I saw that the "rock" had two distinctive eyes and a long snout. I called Rina to show her and after I'd apologized to her, we had a good laugh! 
The rock which turned out to be a hippo wallowing in the St Lucia Estuary
You can even see the happy lines on the back of the "rock" Definitely a hippo!

A few days before this we'd also stopped, parked the car and walked onto the bridge to take photos. (I have several bird images which I'll show in Wednesday's bird post) I spotted the crocodile swimming languidly upriver.
By the length of this reptile in the photo you can see how big it is. To think that our children swam in waters close by when we lived in the area! 

We visited a wetlands park nearby on our penultimate day of holiday. More about this in a future post! 

While traveling through the reserve and looking for animals (I must admit,  I was more interested in spotting birds), Rina called for me to stop. We'd been seeing large piles of dung and speculated whether the rhino (whom we suspected dropped these piles) were nearby. We never saw rhino but Rina had noticed the shiny bits on the dung and we stopped to take photos. 
Fresh pile of large animal dung...
...with beetles feeding on it
A lone younger beetle just beyond the dinner table of dung! 

Dung beetles are fascinating critters and you can read more about them here (If you're not familiar with dung beetles, please  do take a look at the link. It's very interesting and most informative!)

When we finally closed the passenger side door and drove further along the game reserve road, Rina and I chuckled at our quirky habits. We couldn't imagine that a man would stop and look at a pile of dung crawling with critters. Could you?

I'm linking my post today to Saturday Critters with Eileen here 

Happy Saturday to you all!


  1. glad the bushbuck retreated. yes, i'd be stopping to look at the dung beetles, too. :)

  2. I really liked our stay near St Lucia, so much to see. Ha, I take photos of dung all the time and Joan laughs at me. Sounds like a great day.

  3. A great adventure with Rina and I am glad you finally got a shot of the Red capped Robin- Chat bird. Lovey variety of critters in this post. And yes I would stop at the dung also. The link was fascinating. Have a lovely weekend.

  4. Hello Jo, I love the pretty Robin-chat. And the Bushback have horns that could hurt, I am glad they retreated. The hippo is an awesome sighting.. The crocodile is creepy, I could not imagine swimming there. The Dung beetle is neat. Great critter post. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

  5. Great pics...Love the action shot of the Bushbucks!

  6. You always share the most interesting animals and birds! Loved the robin-chat and the bushbucks! They were on the move! You see hippos and crocodiles and give us all a shivver down our spines! :-) And I just cracked up over that comment of the man watching the dung beetles!

  7. Such great batches of critters, large and small! gotta love a dung beetle.

  8. Your children swam there once? Scary....
    Great shots Jo!
    Love the "rock"...

  9. you have so many different intersting critters today. I would have been afraid the bucks would run me down, but would be so happy to see them. and would die of joy if i saw a hippo and die of fear from the crocodile... loved all your critters

  10. I have just written on another blog that I need to find a way to get back to Africa (I have been in the north for a week!) and this makes me even keener.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  11. Critters I probably would never see here !


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