The Bushveld Has Its Own Time
Updated: Sep 26
This blog was written by Bradley Blouw, Bushwise Professional Field Guide student, during their week as camp manager.
Read time: 3 min.
A freak cold front passed over the Lowveld this week; apparently it is extremely rare for temperatures to reach below 10° C. I had thought that I’d escaped the harsh Free State winters only to find myself wearing three layers in the Lowveld anyways! The cold front moved through and brought rain, making for one miserable week. However, the homely food by the resident chef, Delight Mpofu, instantly warmed everyone up again.
From Dwarf Mongooses to Cane Rats
Every morning we take a stroll through the Southern African Wildlife College, and the short 8-minute walk is always filled with all sorts of little creatures. Thus far, the cutest sighting has been a band of dwarf mongoose; I often stop and just watch them scurrying about.
Other daily sightings include francolins, magpie bush shrikes, southern red- and yellow-billed hornbill birds, grey go-away-birds, a resident blue-headed tree agama who lives just outside the classroom and the huuuuuge cane rats that live near our tents. You can often hear rustling through the grass but seldomly see as they are nocturnal rodents.
And let me not forget about the birds. You’ll also often catch one of the students gazing out the window admiring one of the many many birds we have to get to know for this course.
Meet Simon, the Colorful Foam-Nest Tree Frog
The closest thing we have to pets out here would be the fauna that decided to make our tents their tents too. There is a foam-nest tree frog that has made itself very comfortable on our porch; we promptly decided to name him Simon.
An interesting fact about Simon is that he is able to change his body colour, although it is nothing like the mechanism found in chameleons. When Simon is active and hunting at night, he is a bright green and black colour, but when he comes back to rest during the day, he is a pale white colour.
This phenomenon is called thermoregulation by colour change. As the name implies, it helps with the regulation of body temperature, and amphibians rely on the environment to help them regulate their body temperature.
We always get nervous when Simon leaves the safe confines of our tent to go hunting at night, only to be relieved when we spot him back on his little perch above the porch.
Anticipating Spring in the Lowveld
After the rains that fell about a week and a half ago, there are already signs of new growth on the trees and the scorched grasses. With the temperatures steadily increasing again, we have already had a brown house snake removal on campus and – with the aid of UV lights – a few scorpion sightings at night, which are all signs that spring is well on its way. With the changing of the seasons upon us, I am nervously excited to see what spring has to offer in the Lowveld.
Sounds like an epic experience? Join a Bushwise course and you could find yourself waking up to the Bushveld each day, too!
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