The unexpected visitors

Living by the coast has it’s drawbacks sometimes – the seasonal wind and sea fret can impact the hardiest of coastal dwellers.  Just when we thought spring had settled a couple of low frontal weather systems had us scurrying to get out the winter layers again.  On the Atlantic side the seas were huge, and one of the unexpected visitors to our rocky beach was an exhausted young Cape fur seal. It hauled out of the water and spent the day on the rocks recuperating.  Seal pups are only weaned when they are about nine months old.  Baleful eyes warily watched as I attempted to remain discreetly hidden.

Rough seas at Scarborough
A young Cape fur seal.

Generally the dassie (Rock hyrax) colony commands rights over the rocks and sandbathing facilities, little seal was the first intruder and then up popped a Cape clawless otter.

The otter stayed for a nap, sandbath and returned to eat lunch after hunting down a pyjama shark.

It was all action for this photographer, as the next to appear (out at sea) were Southern right whales.  Their sheer size and tonnage have us entranced and the trick is to figure what is happening out there by trying to piece together the body parts which randomly appear – a ventral fin, the size of the flukes –  is it adult or newly born?  Or perhaps the cavorting of mating rituals?

The Southern right whales come to calve and mate  in the bay from June to November.

Further along the road at the penguin colony the chicks are looking quite bedraggled in various stages of growth:

African penguin chicks losing their fine fluff and showing their “blue” coats.

 

A juvenile African penguin accompanied by an adult.

Looking sleek and probably almost ready to fledge and make off on it’s own, this juvenile’s plumage will soon change to adult colouration.

False Bay is sometimes referred to as the “Serengeti of the seas” for it’s rich marine life and influx of seasonal species. Though there is the fear that many species are decreasing in numbers and little is being done to protect the resources.

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Winter seas in False Bay

It’s calmer on the False Bay side when the nor’westerly Atlantic swells push onto the coast; though the wave height may not be as high as along the western edge of the Cape Peninsula there is still power in the break.   We watch with great anxiety for the otters and penguins as they exit the surging waters.    Fortunately the Boulders’ penguin colony is sited in a sheltered sandy cove, with a defence of boulders breaking up the force of the water.  Still these sturdy little creatures risk being tumbled in the surf.   Once on land they head for shelter from the strong winds.   Interesting to see the Cape cormorants happily hunkered down amongst the penguins. (Note the little penguin with the missing foot.)

Close by the Cape clawless otters (Aonyx capensis) maintain secret holts on land where they can hole up out of the rough seas.  We’ve been fortunate to observe a pair which have returned to the area near our garden since the vegetation has regenerated after the devastating fires.  Unlike the penguins’ sandy beach landing, the otters negotiate a rocky shore and often suffer from  injuries.  Pyjama shark is the catch of the day. If you’d like to read more details about the otters Wilf Nussey’s enthralling stories are here.

 

 

Animals at play

Playful, exuberant and just plain fun, featured here are three of my favourite animal species playing.    So why do they engage in these exuberant displays – what do they gain or do they do it just because it feels good?  All the scenes exude good humour – a relaxed sense of just goofing around.   It was a delight to watch all their antics.  Play benefits healthy development of young animals both physically and mentally – helping them to get to grips with their spacial environment and building up dexterity and strength.

For more entertainment head over to WPC:Fun!

March: Wildlife in the garden

A sunny spot in the late afternoon.
Enjoying a sunny spot in the late afternoon just over the edge of the garden is a Cape Clawless otter.

This month I’ve joined Jude’s photography challenge.  The subject is wildlife in the garden, which is ‘right up my street’.   The urban/wildlife interface here between mountain and sea is pretty active with a range of wildlife visitors – from the smallest of critters such as baby field mice to baboon, otter and porcupine … dassies, mongoose, genet.