Spot the beast

Spot the beast 81

Winter is not the best season to spot beasts at our farm in Salta, Argentina. Today was, however, an exception and we came across this beast that I would like you to spot and then I will give you more details about it.

To find the beast above is very difficult so I put a close-up to help you seeing it better:

I am quite sure that you have now find it. it is a Rococo toad (Rhinella schneideri) [1] that Mabel unearthed while shifting a pile of sand to build a carport at our farm. Luckily it was alive and unharmed but amazingly flaccid, clearly hibernating.

A cleaner toad for you to see better.
“Side B” of the toad.

This rococo had buried itself at the start of the winter, probably in mid May as the winter started early this year and it will resurface when the warmer temperatures arrive in September/October. We re-buried it as well as we could and marked the site so that we can watch it emerging when the first warm days arrive.

The following short videos give more details of the find and the condition of the toad.

These are the pictures of an active toad found in the back patio of our farmhouse earlier this year that I used to illustrate my earlier post on this animal (see [1]). Apart from its rather impressive size, I find its clear eyes truly amazing.

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[1] See: https://bushsnob.com/2019/03/04/rococo/ for more info.

Spot the beast 80

A rather special “beast” found in the morning. I am sure that you will see it rather easily.

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A delicate white moth that I am sure was not designed by Nature to use its colour to appear invisible on a white wall!

Spot the beast 78

By chance I bumped into this beast yesterday. I wonder if you can identify it.

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It is a very dark immature mantis, as usual looking rather fierce. Below a few more pictures of the beast for you to enjoy.

Spot the beast 76

A different “Spot” provided by my son. The find took place while he was SCUBA diving in Tenerife. See if you can spot it.

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The video clearly shows that it is a sole that lost its nerve and swam away rather fast. A nice sight.

Spot the beast 75

The advent of the rains in our farm in Salta brings, like every year, an explosion of life. Today’s beast is not very common but rather spectacular (if you can find it…). At the bottom I include more pictures and videos of it for you to appreciate its beauty.

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It was an Imperial moth (Eacles imperialis) first described by Drury in 1773, clearly being too obvious to be missed!

This moth is one of the largest and most stunning of the Imperial moths. It is found from Canada to Argentina. Both larvae and adults are highly variable in coloration. They have a wingspan ranging from of 80 to 174 mm, the females being larger than the males.

Their immature instars feed on pines, oaks, maples, sweetgam and sassafras trees. Adults emerge before sunrise and mate after midnight and the females lay eggs singly or in small groups on both sides of leaves. Both sexes do not feed and are short-lived.

Some more pictures and videos below:

I found these moths a couple of years back and observed that they responded in this way to the touch. I filmed them as I found the behaviour interesting. I imagine that this behaviour could be useful the moths to survive while mating and laying eggs?

Spot the beast 74

Checking my files I found this beast, one of my favourites. I am sure you will find as it is rather obvious.

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This “Spot” was just an excuse to show you how well this beautiful Greater Kudu male blended in the extremely dry environment of Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe.

Spot the beast 73

While working on my next Ethiopian post that I promise will be interesting, I present you with this beast to see if you can find it. I must confess that it was difficult even for me to see it a few days after taking the shot!

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More pictures to give you a better idea of this moth:

Spot the beast 72

On the road and without time to write the few final posts on Ethiopia, I present you with my last contribution for 2020 (although for some of you may be already the first of 2021) with my best wishes for the New Year during which I expect we will all avoid Covid!

Anyway, I found this at the garden and here it is. It seems straight forward but…

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Clearly, the ladybird was too obvious and a distraction! The real hidden beast is this small bluish-gren moth, a real delicate creature, well camouflaged among the leaves.

Spot the beast 71

Finally, after nine months at the farm, Covid 19 cases have decreased in Salta Province (Argentina) and travel restrictions were lifted, although still maintaining the usual precautions.

For a change of scene, we headed for the “Valles Calchaquíes” a string of valleys that go through Catamarca, Tucumán, Jujuy and Salta Provinces. Although I will probably expand on this in future posts, we are now at a place called Payogasta and in the garden of the hotel Mabel found this beast while checking the identity of some of the plants there. So, if it is a tricky “spot”, it is not my fault this time as she found it and took the pictures!

To the left of the yellow flower, there is a toad that was busy catching flies, its whitish mouth gives it away. It is raining in Payogasta, a very dry area. Because of this, a lot of animals usually not seen are now active, including the toads.

Spot the beast 70

To change a bit, I offer you a rather different “spot” today.

One of the main attractions of Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe (apart from the river, the light, the various campsites, the wild dogs, the elephants, the lions and I stop there naming just a few!) is to be able to walk through the park despite it holding the Big 4 (sadly the rhino is no longer there).

While walking is a great way to explore the park you must be careful as, often, you do not see the animals until you are too close for comfort and you need to be prepared to respond appropriately. This is one of the cases that seems incredible until it happens to you.

Imagine that you are walking there now, what can you see?

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What look like tree trunks, suddenly become legs and they start moving!

You had just disturbed the siesta of a large elephant and it is coming your way!

You realized that it is a bull elephant but the most important thing at that time is to back down slowly and start taking pictures through a zoom lens!