Friday, June 9, 2017

With Bruce, Hylton and Jaco

We set off from Johannesburg at 0500hrs, getting into the Springbok Flats at 0630 and began trapping. Our aim was to target eagles and not so much of the more common raptors such as Black-shouldered Kites and Pale-chanting Goshawk, and as such were prepared to take quality rather than quantity, as so many of the more common species are ringed and we would rather concentrate on more lesser known species.
We were lucky to see a pair of Secretarybirds first off, but seeing few raptors other than a distant Black-chested Snake Eagle.

Hylton with the Brown
Eventually we found a Brown Snake-eagle which we dropped for and caught, 2kg's, probably a male. Some local farmers stopped to see what we were doing and were very interested. Sometimes, passing locals don't even slow down, so it was nice to be able to tell them what we were doing and why.

A bit later we tried for a Black-chested Snake-eagle, but it was not having any of it! Saw another Brown Snake-eagle but too far off.
Wahlberg's Eagle

Next day we set off first thing and came across a few Steppe Buzzards. These birds can be difficult to catch to say the least, or extremely easy, depending on time of year and stage they are at pre or post migration. We had a trap down for one of these birds which had flown over the trap to have a look, when, i spotted a Wahlberg's Eagle, way up in the sky, that had wandered over, having spotted the movement of the Buzzard. Wahlberg's Eagles are notorious 'pirates' often barging into steal another birds prey. We waited and watched the eagle cautiously approach the scene and land on a post. Eventually the eagle landed in the road and after 30 minutes of warily circling the trap, sometime grabbing at it, we caught the bird! An adult, probably male at 1.15kg's Cool looking bird.
Gabar Goshawk
Bruce with Wally, his first!

Next up we came across a pair of African Hawk Eagles, usually these birds are keen to come into trap, but for some reason they didn't react, i could even see they weren't ringed. It happens!

Moving on we saw BCSE and a huge Tawny Eagle, close, but just do difficult an angle and not sighted well enough.
Later back in camp we got to see a pair of displaying White-backed Night Herons in the daylight! Such an amazing sight, i have never seen this before, calling like a Bullfrog! and raising its crest and back feathers to reveal a red-chestnut patch underneath.

the long and winding....
Next day, we set off on a long circuit back to JHB and first off had a Steppe Buzzard react, came in bashed the trap and then disappeared! We then got an immature male Gabar Goshawk which came into a Zebra Finch / mouse combo!
Adult Black-chested Snake-eagle

A bit later we finally got a Black-chested Snake-eagle off of a huge pylon, it was a fantastic drop, all of 6-700m away, came in in parachute mode and not trap. It was of average weight at 1.38kgs and an adult. Not 40 mins later we got another, this time another adult of 1.44kgs, also an adult.

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