To be or not to be… a bird with a cricket.

My morning stroll took me close to where I had photo’d the Purple Rollers. The calls told me they were still in the same area. Could they have a nest here?

This species seems to be an opportunist breeder, possibly linked to rains, as its breeding season varies from place to place. It nests in natural hollows in trees or uses old woodpecker holes, usually laying 3 white eggs. The young are fed and incubated by both parents.

I spotted the one being chased by the Forked Tailed Drongo, in fact by two of them. As they are both similar in feeding habits, it was not unusual to see the one being chased off. They both spend long periods perched at the top of thorn trees or poles, watching for food items such as insects, spiders, scorpions and small lizards on the ground.

The other had caught a meal and was sitting with it in its beak… could I get a shot of that? Yes………….

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and what was that in its mouth??? Acanthoplus discoidalis (armoured ground cricket, armoured bush cricket, corn cricket, setotojane or koringkrieke) is a species of katydid that is native to Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa Zimbabwe. They are wide-bodied, flightless and can grow to around 5 cm. Their thorax is covered in sharp spines and they have a pair of strong biting jaws. They are able to defend themselves against predators in an unusual manner by squirting haemolymph (insect blood) out of their bodies. Their populations peak in autumn and their bodies often litter roads during this time. When deprived of protein and salt they can become cannibalistic.

Here’s a photo of one, a horrible cricket to have crawl over you at night…..


But this one was to be a meal for the bird, or was it? The Roller did not eat this catch yet sat calling its mate and I waited for at least ten minutes…. I think this was to be a meal for the young and it was not prepared to show me where the nest was… Well I got good photos again and that made it all worth the walk…

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69 thoughts on “To be or not to be… a bird with a cricket.

  1. My skin is crawling just looking at that cricket! Must admit to being a tad-bit freaked out about big insects. 🙂 Great images Bulldog, and not even back to full speed yet. 😉

  2. I am so glad I did not see this before going to sleep last night. Not a bug person at all. I am glad my little man around the house does not mind getting rid of them for me. That one, would make me pass out! In my defense, though, I have gotten better since photographing them. 🙂 Amazing shots, as always, Bulldog. I will make sure to show “D” so he can be happy he does not have to catch those around here.

    • They are the most horrendous creepy I know… I will jump on them but not pick em up to move them… insecticides have little to no effect on them so its spray them with Q20 or jump on them…

  3. You have your own amazing “catch” here with this photo, Rob. It’s very special. The cricket is the largest I’ve ever seen, and I wonder if I’d be as willing to catch it and throw it outside to live another day, as I do for our small ones that manage to find a spot indoors! The bird is really beautiful with the long fine “gloss” of white that makes the other feathers just shimmer. Your patience with the camera really paid off!

    • Thank you Debra,. it is such a beautiful bird that eats such an ugly cricket… I’m sure you would not be rescuing this cricket… people here “cricket proof” their doors and windows to keep this critter out…

  4. Eeuw @ that koringkriek! I used to have a cat that would bring them inside to play with after heavy rains. Those things are nasty! You can empty a whole can of Doom on one and set it on fire and it still won’t die. One squirt of Q20 though, and they’re tickets. I have had one crawl over me…very traumatic…I thought it was a giant spider and started running! Thank goodness I misplaced the house keys, or who knows where I would have ended up.

    • I had a few decide to walk up my leg when I was stalking through the bush in the Kalahari… needless to say, (can’t remember what it was I was stalking) I jumped about noisily enough to warn anything within a kilometer of where I was ….

  5. Oh my…I used to like crickets…not scared of them a bit…as I gaze into this one’s ugly eyes I can’t help but think he’s a bit creepy looking. You know the Chinese keep them as pets and consider them to be good luck. Maybe they are…the roller seemed to have gotten a bit lucky with his catch. 🙂

  6. Okay…now I’m going to have nightmares! I don’t know how you could bear to have that awful bug on your hand (was it yours?). I despise crickets. If insects were the only thing left to eat I wouldn’t last two minutes…haha 😉 Still, great photos as always..

  7. And I thought the scorpions we have here in the desert Southwest were nasty. Your crickets take the cake! And Bravoooooo! for the bird. Great shots, my friend.

  8. When I saw the first cricket picture I felt sorry for it and thought “what must it be like to be caught in a bird’s beak, still alive, and knowing you were going to be a meal?” but then I scrolled down and read what you said about it and I did an about-face in my opinion. See how easily swayed I am?! We have big ten-striped beetles that fly everywhere in the summer evenings. I’m afraid to go out at night. These crickets would keep me inside forever.

    • I can assure you I’m a little afraid of these bugs.. and normally none frighten me… but this one has been known to bite people in their sleep and when there are a whole lot you’re not sure which to kill first… their cannibalism I’ve witnessed myself… kill one and the others stop to eat it… can’t stand the damn things…

  9. He looks like he was just posing and showing off his catch, knowing your had your camera with you. The creepy cricket you can keep in Africa.

    • I hate these creepy crickets and wish these birds could get down to eating more of them… ugly critters that charge you at night when you make a noise… the first one put a smile on my face

  10. Il grillo è proprio bruttino poveretto, le tue foto invece sono stupende 🙂
    Furbo l’uccello a non farti vedere dove ha il nido, mica si lascia incantare hihihi
    Ciao, un caro saluto. Pat

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