Tuesday, November 3, 2015

2 July – 23 August

Uroplectes chubbi

The near two-month period at Medike in the Sand River Gorge was a long and productive stretch for the SCBC. There were some interesting developments and a good number of new species for the SCBC lists: three new mammals, a new scorpion (a first for the Soutpansberg) a new reptile and two new bird species.

Amblyodipsas microphthalma nigra, Soutpansberg Purple-Glossed Snake
Winter in the Soutpansberg is characterised by warm days and cold nights. It is an extremely dry time of year – and the dryness was exacerbated by the past El Nino event. Deep in the winter months, most animals and plants exhibit some or other form of dormancy, waiting for the warmth and the rains to return. Mammal sightings increase – at night it is very easy to see bush babies and rodents moving about.

Stripe-bellied Sandsnake,  Psammophis subtaeniatus, arguably the most common snake in Limpopo.
Paradoxically winter can be a good time of year to find reptiles – especially fossorial species as they tend to bask under sun-warmed rocks. An afternoon of looking under suitable rocks can often reveal more reptiles than one would commonly encounter on a typical summers day. The reptilian highlights for me this winter were seeing how common Sunduvall’s Writhing Skinks (Mochlus sundevallii sundevallii) and Soutpansberg Worm Lizards (Chirindia langi occidentalis) are on the property. Finally managing to see and photograph the Soutpansberg Purple-Glossed Snake (Amblyodipsas microphthalma nigra) and a very relaxed encounter with an African Rock Python (Python natalensis) made the winter successful for our reptile work.

Southern African Python, Python natalensis
Lifting rocks during this period also provided another surprise – two Uroplectes chubby found in the Sand River. According to scorpion fundi, Ian Engelbrecht, these are good records for the area – the closest records before these are from Northern Kruger National Park to the east and to the west on the Mogolakwena River system.

Since scorpions in Southern Africa are so under samples we have begun to include these fascinating invertebrates in our search for biodiversity. Already we have ten species on the Medike property. This list is bound to grow as we extend our search to surrounding areas.

Dark Opistophthalmus glabrifrons.
In terms of birding the winter was a good and produced two new species for the SCBC lists. A young female Saddle-billed Stork was seen in the Sand River and a Cape Bunting was spotted one afternoon along the railway track.

Our conservational activities during the winter saw a continued opposition to the illegal sand mining that has been going on in the river to the South of Medike. Two representatives from the Department of Minerals and Energy visited the site and we are hoping that with this new development we see a stop to this on-going and intrusive environmental degradation in the area.

Sunduvall's Writhing Skink (Mochlus sundevallii sundevallii,)

Bird List

Freckled Nightjar

Natal Spurfowl; Crested Francolin; Crested Guineafowl; Eqyptian Goose; Lesser Honeyguide; Golden-tailed Woodpecker; Cardinal Woodpecker; Bearded Woodpecker; Black-collared Barbet; Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird; Acacia Pied Barbet; Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill; African Grey Hornbill; African Hoopoe; Malachite Kingfisher; Brown-hooded Kingfisher; Giant Kingfisher; Pied Kingfisher; Little Bee-eater; Red-faced Mousebird; Speckled Mousebird; Burchell's Coucal; Alpine Swift; Little Swift; Purple-crested Turaco; Barn Owl; African Wood Owl; Fiery-necked Nightjar; Freckled Nightjar; Speckled Pigeon; Laughing Dove; Red-eyed Dove; Emerald-spotted Wood-dove; Tambourine Dove; Black Crake; Three-banded Plover; African Fish Eagle; Cape Vulture; Brown Snake Eagle; Little Sparrowhawk; African Goshawk; African Harrier-Hawk; Verreaux's Eagle; African Hawk Eagle; Rock Kestrel; Grey Heron; Green-backed Heron; Hammerkop; Hadeda Ibis; Black Stork; Saddle-billed Stork; Black-headed Oriole; Fork-tailed Drongo; Brown-crowned Tchagra; Black-back Puffback; Southern Boubou; Tropical Boubou; Orange-breasted Bushshrike; Gorgeous Bushshrike; Grey-headed Bushshrike; Retz's Helmet-shrike; Cape Batis; Chinspot Batis; Pied Crow; White-breasted Cuckooshrike; Black Cuckooshrike; Southern Black Tit; Lesser-striped Swallow; Wire-tailed Swallow; Rock Martin; Dark-capped Bulbul; Eastern Nicator; Terrestrial Brownbul; Sombre Greenbul; Yellow-bellied Greenbul; Long-billed Crombec; Cape White-eye; Rattling Cisticola; Tawny-flanked Prinia; Bar-throated Apalis; Yellow-throated Apalis; Grey-backed Cameroptera; Kurrichane Thrush; Ashy Flycatcher; Grey Tit-Flycatcher; White-throated Robin-chat; White-browed Robin-chat; Bearded Scrub-robin; White-browed Scrub-robin;
Familiar Chat; Mocking Cliff-chat; Red-winged Starling; Collared Sunbird; Greater Double-collared Sunbird; White-bellied Sunbird; Spectacled Weaver; Red-billed Quelea; Swee Waxbill; Common Waxbill; Blue Waxbill; Jameson's Firefinch; African Pied Wagtail; Cape Wagtail; Striped Pipit; Yellow-fronted Canary; Cinnamon-breasted Bunting; Golden-breasted Bunting; Cape Bunting

Crested Guineafowl


Eastern Rock Sengi
Thick-tailed Bushbaby
Lesser Bushbaby
Chacma Baboon
Vervet Monkey
Jameson's Red Rock Rabbit
Cape Porcupine
Tree Squirrel
Tree Mouse
Namaqua Rock Mouse
Bushveld Gerbil
Brown Hyeana
Cape Clawless Otter
Slender Mongoose
Dwarf Mongoose
Water Mongoose
Large-spotted Genet
African Civet
Yellow-spotted Hyrax
Rock Hyrax
Bush Pig
Sharpe's Grysbok
Red Duiker
Bush Buck


Pelusios sinuatus, Serrated Hinged Terrapin
Afroedura pienaari, Pienaar’s Flat Gecko
Chondrodactylus turneri, Turner’s Gecko
Hemidactylus mabouia, Common Tropical House Gecko
Homopholis wahlbergii, Wahlberg’s Velvet Gecko
Lygodactylus capensis capensis, Common Dwarf Gecko
Pachydactylus vansoni,  Van Son’s Gecko
Chirindia langi occidentalis, Soutpansberg Worm Lizard
Vhembelacerta rupicola, Soutpansberg Rock Lizard
Smaug warreni depressus, Flat Dragon Lizard
Platysaurus relictus, Soutpansberg Flat Lizard
Afroablepharus maculicollis, Spotted-Necked Snake-Eyed Skink
Mochlus sundevallii sundevallii, Sundevall’s Writhing Skink
Scelotes limpopoensis limpopoensis, Limpopo Dwarf Burrowing Skink
Trachylepis margaritifer, Rainbow Skink
Trachylepis varia, Variable Skink
Varanus albigularis albigularis, Southern Rock Monitor
Varanus niloticus, Nile Monitor
Agama armata, Northern Ground Agama
Python natalensis , Southern African Python
Aparallactus capensis, Black-headed Centipede-Eater
Amblyodipsas microphthalma nigra, Soutpansberg Purple-Glossed Snake
Psammophis subtaeniatus, Stripe-bellied Sand Snake
Dendroaspis polylepis, Black Mamba
Afrotyphlops bibronii, Bibron’s Blind Snake
Myriopholis longicauda, Long-tailed Thread Snake
Leptotyphlops scutifrons scutifrons,  Peter's Thread Snake

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