Jessie Rescue Act

Once again Jessie rescued some creatures, this time frogs from the pool. Bush squeakers Arthroleptis wahlbergi, a small one and a tiny one. Why they didn’t hop onto or cling to my rafts I have in the pool I don’t know. I assume quite a few creatures do use the rescue rafts and then hop out without us seeing them. Hope so.

Bush Squeaker Arthroleptis wahlbergi (1)

The small one was about tip-of-my-pinky size – adult size for this squeaker – the tiny one about 9mm from tip of nose to tail. The bottom middle pic in the collage is the only one of the tiny chap.

The intrepid rescuer with her friend Lydia from London:

Hluhlu with Lydia 19May2018 (4).jpg

Arthroleptis wahlbergii, the bush squeaker

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forest, subtropical or tropical moist shrubland, plantation edges, rural gardens, urban areas, and heavily degraded former forest. It is found mostly in leaf-litter and rotting vegetation.

The eggs are laid in damp leaf-litter where the young hatch as miniature frogs. The call is a high-pitched squeak, usually emitted during wet weather, which is often mistaken for the calls of crickets.

It is threatened by habitat loss, so please don’t mow your lawns right to the edge and please don’t rake up your leaf-litter! Leave as much of your garden wild and undisturbed as you can. Please.

Durban Nightlife

Nightjars are fascinating birds.

One night in my first own home, Whittington Court in Marriott Road on Durban’s Berea, I heard a strange sound. It was like a small dog barking, but not quite that and I remembered from all my reading and re-reading of Roberts and Newmans bird books: Nightjar!

Aitch! I shouted, a nightjar! Luckily she knew I was weird so she joined me and we peered out from our first floor window and a nightjar flitted past. I was over the moon with excitement and discovery. A Freckled Nightjar right outside my flat!

Freckled Nightjar
Thanks stellenboschbirds.com – Chris Krog

Investigation revealed it to be a well-known one, roosting on the roof of the residential hotel nearby. Eden Gardens, now a retirement home. It had been discovered by Philip Clancey, famous birder and splitter and Durban Natural Science Museum ornithologist, who lived in the hotel.They usually roost on rocks and the roof was a good substitute. Their camouflage is impressive:

Freckled Nightjar_africanbirdclub
africanbirdclub.com

A previous “discovery” of a nightjar also had me hugely excited.

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Durban museum ornithologist Philip Clancey took numerous expeditions into Zululand and Mozambique, discovering several new subspecies as well as one new species to science, the Lemon-breasted Canary in 1961. Clancey was a prodigious publisher of papers and books including “Birds of Natal and Zululand”, all lavishly illustrated with his excellent and distinctive bird paintings.

Mini Migration

This morning on my stoep there was a bewilderbeast migration across the plains. In miniature.20180304_070449[1].jpg

As time passed they grew in numbers. They trudged across the barren surface seeking water and new grazing. I decided to follow the migration.

Soon they found grazing and drink in the form of dog food and spilt cooldrink, Sambucca and the teenagers being their generous suppliers.

I flew low over the cooldrink waterhole.

Mini_Bewilderbeasts[1].jpg

In these waterholes lurk mini-crocodiles, ready to pounce and have them some mini-wildebeast beef. Probably. I’m guessing.

Maybe I should set up a webcam?

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stoep – veranda; patio

Sambucca – fierce guard-Labrador; part greyhound for a brief minute once a day when I get home; Here seen on her way to the gallows (or a hairbrush and de-ticking)

Sambucca to the gallows (3)

Needs

Hey guys, I’m at the shops. Anything you need?

Jess: Buy me a chocolate please.

Tom: Ja! I’ll send you a list.

Tom's Needs

Ignorance is Bliss

snake for nick ID (2)

Found this tiny snake in my pool weir. Immediately set off to find my net – I have a dark little net they often just crawl into for refuge, making catching them easy. I very seldom handle a snake. Besides caution I really don’t want to injure them. Also I suspected this one may have been injured. Dropped into the pool by a kingfisher maybe, I was thinking.

But frustration and disorganisation – I couldn’t find my net or anything else to scoop it up with, and the bowl I wanted to use to take pictures in didn’t fit into the weir. So – convinced it was some kind of worm snake – I reached in and lifted it gently and placed it in the bowl.

Took pics and sent them to Nick Evans, Westville’s herpetologist extraordinaire.

Nick_and_Stiletto[1]

Ooh!  Confession time: Actually Nick, I did handle it!

So then he sent this:

Nick_n_Stiletto_bite[1]Weirdly, I had read up on the stiletto snake this very week and noted that “This snake cannot be held safely and you will, in all likelihood, get bitten if you attempt to hold one.”

But at average length 40cm and the fact that the stiletto “is an irascible snake that bites readily” and my little snake was so docile, I “knew” my snake was harmless!

Lesson learnt!

Stiletto snake Marais

Here can be seen how the stiletto snake can bend its neck and how a tiny side-swipe could allow a fang to prick you. Thanks Johan Marais (see his site).

Stiletto snake Marais_fangs
thanks Johan Marais

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postscript: When Tommy read this he said, grinning: “Very caucasian to be handling a venomous snake, Dad, very caucasian”.

Steve Reed:

That oke is a hoot!  Sensahuma second to none.

Surviving Off The Grid – The Essentials

So we have no electricity and its getting dark and the kids are all over me, outraged!

Dad! There’s no electricity!

Yes, I say, I can see that.

Why!? they ask.

Uh, mumble mumble, payment mumble, I mumble.

Soon I have to confess: I paid late and we got cut off. Now there’s a re-connection fee I have to pay and a delay. I’m thinking fridge, freezer, supper tonight but they have far more urgent and greater disasters and catastrophes in mind:

“THERE’S NO WIFI!!” they scream in unison.

Now they’re ganging up on me. “In unison” and “Jess & Tom” are not usually linked phrases.

Well, I’m walking to the shops, I say, thinking charcoal, firelighter, matches, candles. Do you need anything? Their voices go up two octaves as they shout as one:

“AIRTIME!!”

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Lasted four days. It was cool. Very instructive. Gas cooker and candles. Cleared out the fridge and deep freeze. AND – they survived!

(I had paid on the due date but had ignored this little instruction “Rx is due immediately, the rest can be paid on the due date”).