Weekends are the best part of any week.
Friday afternoon was dragging, come 15:30 I was ready to close my MacBook and head for the
hills coastal forests. By the time I had left work the rain was coming down in sheets. Cars aquaplaning all over the highway and at points I was having to drive at 6o km/h at some stage – not ideal. Would I even make it through to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park began to be a real question.
I was meeting Courtney who’d been down from Johannesburg for a few weeks and was eager to tick a few of the Zululand “megas” on his list. He arrived in St Lucia earlier that day and got our accommodation for the weekend sorted and checked in.
I arrived in in town sometime after 19:30, we caught up made a quickfire, some dinner and discussed our plan of action – during which we turned up a few Setaro’s Dwarf Chameleons in the surrounding vegetation a common sight in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
We headed out for our cruise and soon learned we were in for one hell of a good few hours of froggings, the rain began to come down and come down hard! Eventually, we couldn’t actually see anything on the road – that’s a good thing of course. We collected a few species within the first 30 mins of so, then we returned to our accommodation to wait off the rain. Over the next few hours, we saw several hundred frogs and 17 species in total. A great start to the weekend including two species which got subdued Courtney screaming like he’d just won the amphibian lottery!
A really secretive species which seldom comes to the surface except during heavy rains, it was the first time I’d seen this species at this location but as the evening went on we heard many more calling from the grass and reed beds.
Shortly after I noticed a tiny frog hopping across the road and I didn’t recognise the species from the car at first, Courtney made fast work of securing it and it happened to be a Golden Leaf Folding Frog. Not a species I had often seen in the area either so a great record for our list.
Welcome to iSimangaliso’s amphibian diversity.
Afrixalus aureus – Golden Leaf Folding Frog.
We managed to rack up the follow species during the cruise:
– Chiromantis xerampelina
– Hyperolius pusillus
– Hyperolius tuberilinguis
– Leptopelis mossambicus
– Ptychadena anchietae
– Ptychadena mossambica
– Ptychadena oxyrhynchus
– Schismaderma carens
– Sclerophrys garmani
– Sclerophrys gutturalis
– Strongylopus fasciatus
– Tomopterna natalensis
– Xenopus laevis
Chiromantis xerampelina – Foam Nest Frog
Hyperolius tuberilinguis – Tinker reed Frog.
Schismaderma carens – Red Toad
Sclerophrys garmani – Eastern Olive Toad
Frogs are great but Courtney and I both knew were really wanted to see a few snakes and eventually we did, although snake activity was very quiet on the roads due to the massive amounts of rain we saw two species. When we drove just out of St Lucia and towards another are we often frequent.
This was the first East African Shovel Snout I’ve ever seen in the area so a welcome suprise, as I got out the car to pick it off the road at a glance I thought it was a Common Wolf Snake but was much more excited it be the former.
Then, of course, what would a trip be without chameleons?
We went to another spot where we have found larger numbers of Setaro’s Dwarf Chameleon before and before long turned up 7/8 animals before we got back into the car rather than becoming hippo food.
Whilst in Cape Vidal I noticed a typical slow-moving rock in the road…
Another new animal in the area for me were these Shovel footed Squeakers that Courtney found whilst scratching around for Scelotes vestigifer . Although once Courtney tuned one up it lost its tail so we didn’t bother photographing it.
A really late addition to our list was this Worm Lizard which we searched long and hard for and ended up finding about 15m from our room.
Until next time don’t forget your rain coat.