Kenilworth Racecourse Nature Reserve
23 and 30 August 2023 – Leader Fayruz Prins (KRCA Intern).
Frogging Outings at Kenilworth Racecourse, 23rd and 30th August 2023.
There was such a positive response to last year’s junior outing to Kenilworth Racecourse, that we decided to open it up to the whole club. Fayruz Prins (the Assistant Conservation Officer at Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area) kindly organized two dedicated CBC outings for us this year. We had approximately 30 attendees on both evenings.
Thank you to Fayruz, Lindile and Jarred for their assistance and to Mike Buckham for co-ordinating the two outings.
Report by Penny Dichmont.
Frogging Fun on 23 August 2023.
As an avid frogging enthusiast, I didn’t hesitate in signing Andrew and myself up for the second of the two outings offered in August on Wednesday 30th in the Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area. I knew that if we were fortunate enough to secure two of the sought-after places, I would then have to negotiate with my dance class to give me the night off from teaching, but it was something I was willing to tackle. After all, once in a blue moon it is fun to put on your wellies and sploosh through puddles with like-minded friends.
After the briefing and reminder of the teeny, tiny size of the Micro Frog we set out armed with our torches, nets, and enthusiasm. We split into two groups which were ably led by Lindile Masinyana and Jarred Vaughan.
Our group arrived at the first pond to a chorus of Micro frogs and Sand frogs. We could see some of the Micro frogs sitting on the floating vegetation, but it required wading in to get closer or to even attempt to catch them in our nets.
Over the years Andrew and I have adopted a pattern of me being the frog finder and catcher and he the photographer. One of the reasons for this is that my Wellington boots are longer than his and I can wade out into slightly deeper water without inundation. Every time we are out frogging, we think we should draw a line on my boot at the height of his so that he knows if I am in over the line, he may not have sufficient freeboard to proceed. However, I am not sure how beneficial this would be as there is a widely accepted principle of frogging that gumboots are always too short.
In his book, Better Living Through Birding, Christian Cooper counts himself as one of the multi-obsessed, passionate not just about birding, and he shares the following which resonates with us: “Once you tune in to one aspect of nature, you eventually become aware of the whole connected network of life around us”.
On the way to the second set of pools we momentarily switched to botanizing as we are also ‘obsessed’ with fynbos flowers. We stopped to smell the Pelargonium triste which is commonly referred to as the Night-scented Pelargonium, as we were curious as to what fragrance the flowers may have in the evening. We can report that it has a strong cinnamon scent which is apparently attractive to long-tongued moths which are perfectly designed to pollinate the long tubular flowers.
It was wonderful to have views of so many differently marked individuals of the rare, endangered fynbos endemic Micro Frog including one with yellow spots. During the evening we heard, saw, and photographed four species of frogs: Micro Frog (Micrabatrachella capensis), Clicking Stream Frog (Strongylopus grayii), Cape Sand Frog (Tomopterna delalandii), and Flat Caco (Cacosternum platys) also known as Flat Dainty Frog.
We have uploaded the photos that Andrew and I took to iNaturalist. Here’s the link: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?order=asc&order_by=observed_on&place_id=any&q=2023-08-30%20CBC%20Frogging&search_on=tags
Arachnophobes be warned there are a few shots of the Fish-eating Spiders and a Wolf Spider with her egg sac that we saw included in the album.
For several reasons this Cape Bird Club outing reminded me of the following quote by Nicolette Sowder: “No barefooted, tree climbing, frog holding, mud pie baking, cloud spotting, puddle stomping, bird calling, wild foraging, moon gazing, firefly chasing, fort building, creek following, rock hunting moment with Mother Nature is ever wasted.”
I am looking forward to my next moments in nature, thanks to all involved in the organization.
Photographs by Andrew, Heather Hodgson and Mike Buckham.
Report by Heather Hodgson .
Frogging with the CBC on 30 August 2023.
It is only a serious wildlife enthusiast’s idea of excitement to go splashing through some muddy and slightly smelly ponds on a cool late winter’s night on Wednesday 30 August, 2023!
Well, you didn’t have to finish the sentence, “Frogging outing” to get us interested!
Once we got there, we were given the low-down, rules and stuff, and soon we were on our way.
The first pond we visited was the most frog-filled, with our loot as follows:
At least 10 Micro Frogs (who would’ve guessed they were so endangered!) which we could identify by how they sat in water; they did sort of “splits” move like gymnasts do! They looked very similar to the Flat Caco; though the Micro Frogs had webbing between their toes.
1 or 2 Flat Cacos. The first frog that we found was a Flat Caco, caught by my younger brother, Luke. They did not have webbing and sat normally in the observation container.
1 or 2 Clicking Stream Frogs, which were slightly harder to catch, as they made a loud clicking call (hence the name), but when one got near they stopped calling and moved to a different spot, far away from the place you were standing, and started calling again! But they were well worth the effort, as they were nice and big and had pretty black and greige (a greyish beige) pattern down their abdomens.
1 Cape Sand Frog. They were quite hard to find in the ponds, even though they were half the size of a Bullfrog! As the name suggests, the best place to look for them is the side of the road, in the sand. Luke caught one on the path a bit later.
Loads of tadpoles. There were way more tadpoles than there frogs, as winter was only just ending, and the breeding season was still finishing.
Frogs in the reeds were especially hard to find, as it was darkening and the reeds were thick so we couldn’t really see the tops of the reeds. The second pond we went to only had a few Micro Frogs, but that was about it.
I did hear some African Snipes calling in the midst of the frog calls, but I only saw them once. There was a Black shouldered Kite flying over when the walk started. I think I saw a Fiery-necked Nightjar flying out of a bush on the way back, but the sun was long gone and I could just make out the silhouette.
Blacksmith Lapwings dominated the fields on the sides of the path. Otherwise, there were a few Egyptian Geese at the first pond we went to, but they are common as muck and made some loud honks, so I didn’t pay much attention to them. That was about it for birds, though.
Our best frog-finder was definitely Luke, my brother. He caught six frogs and I only caught three! He could see the frogs in the water, swimming around!
My favourite moment was when we found the Clicking Stream Frog, as I’d never seen one before, but always heard them.
It was a wonderful and enchanting experience. I’d like to do that again. Definitely.
Photographs by Claire Draper.
Report by by Ben Draper (10 years old).