Dassies, Rock rabbits, Rock hyrax, Cape hyrax or Klipdas.

Rock hyrax (Procavia capensis).

Now here is a dilemma for you… according to the experts and all the books, the closest living relative of the Dassie is the .. wait for it… ELEPHANT…

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Do they even look alike.? One is 4 kg in weight and the other up to 6000 kg. A big Dassie may reach 0.3 of a metre in height and the other 4 metres…

But seeing as the experts say it is I wont argue… they are found all over South Africa and almost over all of Africa south of the Sahara… A few interesting facts….

  • The forage and feed off grass and leaves. (Vegetarians)
  • They have been known to eat insects and grubs. (Not so vegetarians)
  • They will forage up to 50 metres from their homes.
  • They climb trees, and have been found eating fruit from trees.
  • They have a sentry system and when warned hurry quickly back to their refuge.
  • They even have a toilet, where the whole herd will do their business. That herd can be as big as 80 individuals.
  • And they will even take up residence next to the sea, and that is where I photographed this herd, catching a tan. (some one should tell them they need to undress to catch a tan..

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Burchell’s Coucal… Beauty and Beast..

Burchell’s Coucal (Centropus burchellii)

A coucal is one of about 30 species of birds in the cuckoo family. All of them belong in the subfamily Centropodinae and the genus Centropus. Now that should give you a hint as to the Beast side of the bird…

This bird is so beautiful, shy and yet such a beast when it comes to it’s eating habits. It is well known for its haunting call, that once begun by one, is joined by all in the area    Click here to get a quick version of the call.

It has a chestnut-brown back and similar wing feathers and a long tail that flops along as though it has no control over it, with marked bands in its upper parts. with a flattish head that it often pulls back as though to hide itself.

Unlike many cuckoos, coucals are not brood parasites. On the other hand they do have their own reproductive peculiarity: all members of the genus are to varying degrees sex-role reversed so that the smaller male provides most of the parental care. Typical “henpecked male syndrome”.

The  Burchell’s Coucal eats any prey smaller than itself, and it’s not small, (40 cm long and approx. 180 grams) it has a particular liking for young nestlings and the eggs of other birds. It will seek out and eat off the nest whatever it can find, and for this reason I call it a beast… but then I suppose this is nature in the raw…..

The first two photos I played with, I wanted to get something which a friend of mine is going to try and paint… what do you think..??

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African Barred Owlet.. Little Guy.

African Barred Owlet (Glaucidium capense).

The species is frequently found in woodlands and forests. It may also occur in more open savannah and along rivers. It is partly active during the day making it a little easier to see. It feeds on insects, and small rodents and birds may also be eaten.

Now I’ve just discovered more than that I don’t know… I cant tell you even what size they get to… they kept flying away when I alighted with my measuring tape… so all I can tell you is they are small…. maybe that’s why the name Owlet…. Their call is nothing special and can be heard by clicking here

So here are some photos…. (and these didn’t even talk to me… just gave me the beady eye..)…

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Crowned Plover, or Crowned Lapwing.

Crowned Lapwing (Vanellus coronatus), or Crowned Plover.

Crowned Lapwings prefer short dry grassland which may be overgrazed or burnt, but avoid mountains. But one thing they don’t like is when a small green grass snake passes by too close… they raise their wings and peer closely at it, I suppose to intimidate it.. but it does add a certain enjoyment for me as I get to photograph the antics and wing displays, some of which I have to share with you…

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