Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Nimule road birds, insects and a giant mite

This post predates the one below.  On 18 August, Andrew and I went about 15 kms along the Nimule road - which is now tarmac all the way to Uganda.  Now that we are deep into the rainy season, birding is far from easy.  The road is rather busy and there are hardly any tracks off it.  The one we eventually found was quite overgrown.  Nevertheless, we did manage to find a selection of the characteristic birds of this habitat, which has less acacia than the Terekeka road and more combretum. We found Brown Babblers, Brown-rumped Bunting, Sun and Flappet Larks, Foxy Cisticolas and Yellow-billed Shrikes, species that are mostly absent or else less common along the Terekeka road.

Brown-rumped Bunting

Sun Lark

This Sun Lark was giving a quiet, unexceptional song from the ground, whilst overhead we could hear the "brrrrrr" wing-clapping of Flappet Larks.  The Sun Larks were on disturbed open, gravelly ground where we also saw about 10 African Quail-Finches, a species that is to be expected here, though I'd previously seen them only at Nyamlel, Northern Bahr el Ghazal.

There were some attractive butterflies and other noteworthy creatures.  Andrew identified these and took all the photos apart from the first three.

Male African Monarch Danaus chrysippus

Andrew commented about the African Monarch that: 'the fourth large circular spot on the wing is actually a scent gland that releases pheromones. The butterfly is poisonous or distasteful to birds - the larvae feed on Calotropis procera and various of the Asclepidaceae and sequester the poisons.'

Colotis spp.

Long-tailed Pasha or related species

Crimson tip Butterfly Colotis danae

Unidentified Acraea spp butterfly

Pair of unidentified mating skippers (family Hesperidae)

Giant red velvet mite Trombidium grandissimum

Andrew noted that 'the giant red velvet mite......is believed in some parts of India to have aphrodisiac properties - from the red oil squeezed from their bodies......Trombidium grandissimum is the largest mite in the world and predates termites'.

Robber fly (family Asilidae) with prey, a pentatomid plant bug

So a fascinating trip.  Many thanks to Andrew for his identifications and other information.

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