The birds, the bees and other inhabitants of the Bergwater Lodge area

This is not intended to be a complete compendium of the insects, birds, animals and plants at Bergwater Lodge.  It is far to small a collection to pretend to be anything even remotely like that. These are photos taken during the course of the recent Deepsky event presented at Bergwater Lodge.

A panoramic view across Pietersfontein dam from Bergwater Lodge on a rainy day. Southeast is on the extreme left and Northwest on the extreme right..
Mouse trails like this one crossing the road, are everywhere in the veld marking their main foraging trails.
The white fluffy stuff is a fungus growing on the plant and it apparently secretes a sweetish substance which the ants then collect.
After the first showers of rain these termites sent their new queens and the males out to undertake their nuptial flights and start new colonies
Three South African Shelducks (Tadorana cana & Afr. kopereend) touching down on the dam.
African Shelducks skiing to a stop after touching down
A Southern Red Bishop (Euplectes orix, Afr. Suidelike Rooivink) resplendent in his breeding plumage
Equally hansom is the Southern Masked Weaver (Ploceus velatus, Afr. Swartkeelgeelvink)
The impressive folding of the mountains on the far side of the dam bear silent testimony to the unimaginable forces that shaped the present day landscapes millions of years ago.
Nest of a pair of Rock Martins Ptyonoprogne fuligula, Afr. Kransswael)
The Rock Martins (Ptyonoprogne fuligula) attending their chicks.
Castor oil Plant or Castor Bean (Ricinus communis, Afr. Kasteroliboom). The plant originates from the Mediterranean region and its seeds are extremely toxic and one crushed seed will kill a child. The name Ricinus is a Latin word for tick; probably so named because the seed has markings and a bump at the end that resemble certain ticks. The common name “castor oil” probably comes from its use as a replacement for castoreum, a perfume base made from the dried perineal glands of the beaver (castor in Latin). Its other common name is palm of Christ, or Palma Christi, given because castor oil was reputedly able to heal wounds and cure certain ailments.
The seedpods of the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis)
This scruffy looking individual is a Pied Starling (Lamprotomis bicolor, Afr. Witgatspreeu) and he is every bit as shifty as he looks.
These brightly coloured insects are Millipede Assassin bug nymphs (could be Ectrichodia crux) and here they are typically feeding in a group on a large millipede.
A friendly Cape Wagtail (Montacilla capensis, Afr. Gewone Kwikkie) patroling for insects.
Nest of a Common Hous-martin (Delichon urbicum, Afr. Huisswael). If you look very carefully the tip of a chick’s beak can just be seen peeking over the edge to the right of the white mark on the nest.
One of the parent Common House-Martins.
The Common House-Martin nest again, but this time with three beaks peeking over the edge.
A luxurious Sweet Thorn (Vachellia karroo, afr. Afr. Soetdoring) of which there are several stands along the banks of the dam
Yellow inflorescence and thorns of the Sweet Thorn. As you can see getting tangled up in one of these will not be a “sweet” experience.
A Ten-spotted Ground Beetle (Termophilum decemguttatum, Afr. Kooipister or Oogpister). They are able to squirt concentrated acetic acid which, if it gets into the eyes of either humans or pets, can blind them if very prompt action is not taken.
Female Southern Double-collared Sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus, Afr. Klein Rooibandsuikerbekkie). The male was terribly camera shy.
Marianne Delport says she thinks this is a young Verreaux’s Eagle (Witkruisarend), so I’ll stick with that until corrected. Marianne has Facebook page “Cape Eco-Tours”, go and have look
A large bee, probably a Carpenter Bee, visiting Lavender flowers
A Cape honey bee (Apis mellifera subsp. capensis) hard at work.
One of the many Aloe-species (Aloe microstigma) in the area.
This gecko lives in the kitchen. Officially named Bibron’s Thick-toed Gecko (Pachydactylus affinis, Afr. Bontgeitjie or Skurwegeitjie) he is very agile and also ultra-cautious so it took a great deal of patience getting it to “pose” for the picture.
Onece again thanks to Marianne Delport this is apparently a Jangroentjie (Malachite Sunbird, Vectannia famosa) in its “eclipse plumage.

Egg-Laying Mammals

Scientists believed, up until now, that the western long-beaked echidna, one of the world’s five egg-laying species of mammal, became extinct in Australia thousands of years ago. This assumption has, however, now possibly been turned on it’s head. While examining collections in the Natural History Museum in London scientists have found a much more recent specimen. It was in the collection made by the naturalist John T. Tunney in the West Kimberly region of Western Australia during 1901. This suggests that not only did these animals survive in Australia until the very recent past, but that they may very well still exist in the wild in northwestern Australia today.  The rest of the article can be read on ScienceDaily.