domingo, 01 de enero de 2023


As at 31.12.2022

2020: 98 obs of 79 species
2021: 601 obs of 250 species
2022: 902 obs of 472 species
Total to date: 1659 obs of 472 species

I remember seeing and photographing my first jumping spider (actually a pair). Now I have 90 observations of 14 species.

CRAB SPIDERS (Thomisidae)
I remember as well the first flower crab spider I saw in the garden. It was so exciting to see it and photograph it and then to video it making a kill. Now I have 18 observations of 6 species.

Publicado el domingo, 01 de enero de 2023 a las 07:10 AM por doug263 doug263 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

domingo, 04 de diciembre de 2022


Slime Moulds and Fungi.

During the winter of 2022 I became aware of slime moulds. I don't recall exactly where; perhaps on Facebook. I took some time to learn what I could and then waited for the summer rains to arrive so that I could look for these organisms in the garden. Well the rains came and I went looking.

The first one I found was in leaf litter after extensive rain. To be more accurate it was the fruiting bodies of the slime mould that I saw and photographed. This was identified as Genus Didymium on iNat.

The second I found growing on the underside of a stick I had mounted on my pool fence as a bird perch. It was identified as Genus Arcyria on iNat.

The third was a fairly common one, identified as Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa and known by the common name of Common Coral Slime.
I had seen this in the garden in 2021 without appreciating it for what is is.

I loaded a few more observations onto iNat of what I think are fruiting bodies of slime moulds but have yet to get any sort of confirmation ID. These were growing on an old dead and rotting sick:

These slime mould fruiting bodies are very small; maybe 1-2mm tall and about 0.5mm wide. My standard camera/lens combinations are really not sophisticated enough to capture their true beauty but some amazing photography can be found on iNat, Facebook, Youtube and on internet sites.

While looking for slime moulds I came across a number of interesting fungi as well. I think they are all fungi as I am yet to get identifications on any of these: :

It will be great to get feedback on these observations and I look forward to find more during this 2022 summer rainy season.

Publicado el domingo, 04 de diciembre de 2022 a las 10:15 AM por doug263 doug263 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario


My Bee Hotel.

The usual collection of critters were loaded in November but in this post I would like to document a new area of interest, viz. my Bee Hotel.

In March 2022 my daughters gave me a Bee Hotel for my birthday. I spent the winter reading up and looking for a suitable place to position it. Not being able to find a suitable place in the garden, I decided on my patio table.

In order to protect the Bee Hotel from the weather I took an old wooden wine box and gave it three coats of a clear varnish. This I positioned on the patio table facing East. I weighed it down with some stones so that it would not be shifted by wind during a storm. I then placed the Bee Hotel inside the box. I numbered the holes from 1 to 19 starting at the top, adding L (left), M (middle) and R (right) in order to be specific. I thought this position would be good as the patio gets morning sun and is under cover. The table height is also convenient for observation and photography.

The first visitor was a Leafcutter Bee; Genus Megachile.
It spent some time exploring the different sized holes and then settled down to nesting. I watched it come and go, sometimes with pollen, sometimes with bits of leaf. I also watched it clearing out holes as if to make them more comfortable or usable. She would enter head-first and then after a time would emerge, turn around and re-enter the hole tail-first. I also noticed that she spent a night in hole 7R. I haven't seen her for a few days now so maybe her work is done.
As at 2/12/2022:
8R used and closed with leaf pieces.
7M used but not closed.
6R and 9R were also used.
9M was used and closed.

The second bee to visit was a Masked Bee; Genus Hylaeus.
This bee also explored several holes before settling on 2L to nest. This hole has now been closed with the "cellophane-like" material referred to in the literature. Both 2M and 12R have been used but not yet closed. Of course I cannot know if it is the same individual or if multiple bees are using the hotel.

On 18.10.2022 I noted a wasp (Genus Chalcididae) at hole 2L.
Being parasitic, maybe it was looking for a victim. I have only noted one visit by this wasp.

A second wasp (Genus Trypoxylon) arrived at the hotel on 1.12.2022 and started nesting.
It explored several hole then used 11M and 12M both of which are now closed with what looks like mud. This wasp parasitises spiders but does nest in cavities.

Summary as at 3.12.2022
Megachile Bee: 8R; closed with leaf.
Hylaeus Bee: 2L, 9R and 9M closed with "cellophane"; 2M and 12R still in use.
Trypoxylon Wasp: 11M and 12M as well as 7M and 8M now closed with mud.

Seeing the activity at the Bee Hotel I decided to look in the garden for other potential solitary bee nesting places. There is a dead tree stump about 1.0-1.5m high in the garden. I noted in excess of 30 holes in this and decided to watch. I loaded several observations onto iNat.

A small Carpenter Bee (Genus Allodapula):

A Square-headed Wasp (Family Crabronidae):

A Slender Ant (Complex Tetraponera natalensis):

On 22.10.2022 I observed Big-headed Ants trying to gain access to a nest hole occupied by a bee. They were very persistent but the bee blocked the hole with her abdomen ensuring no entry was possible for the ants. Eventually they gave up.

Of the holes that I could inspect closely 8 are occupied.

In my back garden I have two old wooden fence poles. They were left standing after my new neighbour took down the wooden fence and replaced it with an 8 foot pre-fab concrete monstrosity. During winter I drilled some holes of varying size (using the Bee Hotel as a guide) on the east-facing sides of the poles. I was interested to see if any wasps or bees would use these for nesting. However I realised that the poles had been chemically treated, albeit a long time ago, and gave up on that idea as I thought the treatment would repel any would be nesters.

To my surprise I noticed one morning white material stuffed into three of the holes. These appeared to be flower petals and after a day or two they had turned brown. Seven of the holes have been used and closed; 3 with the petals and the other 4 with a white material.

Next to one of the poles is an old rotting section of tree branch. I noticed that this also attracted the attention of a Megachile Bee.

It is going to be interesting to watch what develops further through the summer.

Publicado el domingo, 04 de diciembre de 2022 a las 08:55 AM por doug263 doug263 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

viernes, 01 de julio de 2022


Just a list of firsts for 2022 as the seasons change.

First sighting in the garden of a Southern Masked Weaver (Ploceus velatus) male in breeding plumage.

First Southern Masked Weaver nest noticed. Building possibly started yesterday.

First Jasmin flowers appearing.

First flowers of the Buddleja salvifolia open.

First Brown-hooded Kingfisher heard calling.

First Brown-hooded Kingfisher (Halcyon albiventris) sighting since January 2022.

First buds and green flush seen on the Celtis africana.

First new bud on my Celtis africana bonsai.

First new buds on the Acacia galpinii (Monkey Thorn) bonsai.

First new shoots on the African Pom-pom Tree.

First dragonfly seen. A blue one flying quickly through the garden; no photo possible.

First mosquito seen. In the bathroom. No rain though yet.

First rain in the garden this summer. Just a few drops; not enough to register in the gauge. But I believe there were big storms in the southern suburbs of Johannesburg, e.g. Alberton causing floods and hail.

First flowers seen on the Pom-pom Tree.

First Woodland Kingfisher (Halcyon senegaloides) heard calling. No view.

Publicado el viernes, 01 de julio de 2022 a las 10:52 AM por doug263 doug263 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario


A list of observations without evidence:

Southern Masked Weaver. First male seen for this season in breeding plumage.

Black-backed Puffback (Dryoscopus Cubla). First heard then seen, maybe even with a prey item. No photo possible.

African Sacred Ibis flying overhead. No photo.

Declivitata hamata pygmaea (Humbug Lady Beetle).
I'm sure I saw this on the outside wall hear the back kitchen window. Through stupidity I failed to get a photo. I'll keep looking. Not loaded onto iNat.

Southern Boubou (Laniarius ferruginous) heard and seen. Not loaded onto iNat.

Black-backed Puffback (Dryoscopus Cuba) heard in the garden but not seen.

Black/blue Swallowtail butterfly seen passing through the garden before I could grab the camera. Possibly the Narrow Green-banded Swallowtail (Papilio nireus lyaeus).

Red-chested Cuckoo or Piet-my-vrou (Cuculus solitarius) heard calling close by. Not seen.

Publicado el viernes, 01 de julio de 2022 a las 10:51 AM por doug263 doug263 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

domingo, 05 de junio de 2022

domingo, 20 de marzo de 2022



The highlight of this past week has to be the emergence of "my" Citrus Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio demodocus) from its chrysalis.
Basic data as follows:
5.02.2022: The tiny (5X2mm) brown caterpillar was found on a leaf of my lemon tree and brought in for rearing.
22.02.2022: By now the caterpillar had developed into its green form and had grown large.
2.03.2022: It pupated. Biodiversity Explorer gave the pupal period as 2-3 weeks so I was expecting emergence from 16.03.2022.
17.03.2022: It emerged at about 14:00. So that was 15 days after pupating. It then remained quite motionless until 16:15 when it flew a short distance into an area at the base of shrubs where it battled to find a perch on a stem. The day was chilly, overcast and breezy with the temperature at 21 degrees centigrade.

It was a magical experience; my first butterfly raised from the larval stage. I had previously raised two moths with quite a few failures. I currently have five moth pupa that over-wintered in 2021. No further development has occurred and now we are slipping slowly out of summer into autumn. I don't know what to expect but am just being patient.

My data and photos were e-mailed to the Lepidopterist Society with my reference of DC14. Of course everything was loaded as casual observations on iNaturalist.

At about 09:00 the next day I went outside and the first thing that I saw was a Citrus Swallowtail butterfly flying about. I could not help but wonder if it was not "my" butterfly that had just got going after a chilly night.

It's a common butterfly and I know others have raised many, many species from the larval stage but for me it was a wonderful experience.

Publicado el domingo, 20 de marzo de 2022 a las 03:51 PM por doug263 doug263 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

sábado, 19 de marzo de 2022


iNat Stats:


Maps of selected species:, YYYYYY

iNat Milestones:

Grasshoppers, Locusts ans Allies of South Africa
Frogs of South Africa
Birds of South Africa
Arthropods of South Africa
Fungi of Southern Africa
South Africa:

A checklist of South African Mayflies can be found here:

If you’re just talking about images, you can use any image with a URL by embedding it

To get the image address of one of your old observations, go to it and click on “open image in new tab” (or the equivalent on your browser) and use that address.


Comments Page


I’m not aware of an automated way of downloading all your photos, but you can get your observation data out as a spreadsheet here:

Filtering observations without media:


Want to see a taxonomically ordered list of all the organisms for a project? This fun little search string from the iNaturalist forum (and from bouteloua via dianastuder) gives you an ordered list of all the organisms in a particular project (in this case, for my yard):

Your question has already been answered by @thebeachcomber but it’s worth further mentioning that it’s also possible to search for search for a taxon with a certain sub-taxon excluded. Between them, these make up a powerful and useful feature that I use quite often. For instance, it means you can do a single search for paraphyletic groups like moths (= lepidoptera without butterflies) or fish (= Agnatha + Actinopterygii + Dipnoi + Actinistia).

The syntax for doing an exclusion is: 2

Fulgoridae Africa

List of own observations least observed on iNat

Accessing Comments to own observations

Publicado el sábado, 19 de marzo de 2022 a las 05:50 AM por doug263 doug263 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

lunes, 28 de febrero de 2022

My Olivedale Garden

Reflecting on the week Monday 21.02.2022 to Sunday 27.02.2022

I measured 60.7 mm of rain in the garden. However I can feel summer slipping away with cooler morning temperatures and later sunrises.

I posted 21 observations comprising 19 species.

I saw a new, for me, moth: a Siccia caffra (Speckled Grey Footman).

Then I happened to see a raptor overhead being harassed by 3 Pied Crows. I took a few shots even though it was at quite an altitude. I thought Yellow-billed Kite but could not make out yellow feet or bill. It was kindly IDed for me as a juvenile African Harrier-Hawk. This makes sense as I have quite often seen adults overhead.

Interesting to me was 2 sightings of wasps with prey.

In the first case I watched a small black wasp moving rapidly over the brick paving of my patio. The next time I saw it it had captured what looked like a young cricket. It dragged the cricket over to a hole. It then backed into the hole dragging the cricket in with it. It was IDed as Genus Liris in the Subfamily Crabroninae.

In the second case I noticed a wasp dragging a spider up my patio wall. It appeared as if the spiders legs had been removed. It was much larger than the wasp. Eventually the wasp carried it out of sight onto the roof of the patio. It was IDed as a Mud-nesting Spider Wasp; Tribe Ageniellini.

On the 5th of Feb I saw a Citrus Swallowtail (Papilio demodocus) caterpillar on a leaf of a lemon tree; very small and in its brown form.
I brought it in to raise.
It is now many times larger and in its green form. I'm now waiting for it to pupate.

Publicado el lunes, 28 de febrero de 2022 a las 06:29 AM por doug263 doug263 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

domingo, 13 de febrero de 2022

My Olivedale Garden


The most interesting thing I saw in the garden this past week was a Bagworm Moth. Instead of making a shelter from tiny sticks, this one appeared to use two pieces of dead leaf; one above and one below its body. In order to move it would extend its body out of the enclosure and then pull the enclosure back over itself. Then this was repeated, etc. Very interesting to watch.

This morning I took a walk through Norscot Koppies Reserve. The paths had just been cut making them passable. Many years ago this was a granite quarry that fell into disuse and was donated to the Johannesburg municipality for the use of the people. Information (and the history) can be found on their website, It's a quiet spot surrounded by townhouse complexes in the heart of suburbia but worth a two hour walk.

Litter can be a bit of a problem and I forgot to take a bag with me to clean up as I walked. Most annoying, though, was the amount of bush cutter cord left on the paths by the guys who did the cutting. Every 50m, or so, a 0.5m length would be seen on the path with its bright artificial colour. Unnecessary.

Of interest was this insect, a Cotton Stainer Bug (Genus Dysdercus), identified for me on iNat.

Publicado el domingo, 13 de febrero de 2022 a las 02:10 PM por doug263 doug263 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario