Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Raptor Run, Springbok Flats 2nd December 2012
Bruce and Grant Williamson
Bruce picked me up at 0430hrs with Grant and we set off for the Springbok flats, an area of farmland and bush.
With the recent rains I was hoping for some interesting birds to be present in good numbers. Our first bit of action was finding several hundred Amur Falcon and Lesser Kestrels all perched on the trackside in trees. We got a small trap down and watched several Amurs and Lessers come in and hover over the mouse in the trap, and eventually got a lovely male Lesser Kestrel.
We tried all the usual good routes and were wondering where all the birds had gone when we hit a hotspot and found several Steppe Buzzards on poles. We managed to bas two birds, both sub adults and in good shape at 770 and 820 grams.
We were going along one section when we came across a large eagle which had me perplexed for a while. At first I thought it was a Wahlberg’s Eagle, unusual for here but on closer inspection discovered it to be a Lesser-spotted Eagle, very unusual!!
We got a trap down for the bird and waited, when a Black-chested Snake Eagle came over very high up and started dropping!
It came down in ‘stages’ until it was right over the trap when all of a sudden the Lesser Spotted Eagle took off and chased the Black-chested away! The Lesser-spot returned to its perch and the Black-chested disappeared!! Bugger! We spent an hour trying to coax the LS, to no avail as it looked to be feeding on termites in the field.
Our next customer was a Brown Snake Eagle on a pole along a little used track. We got the trap down and in no time the bird was on! We dashed in and I got hold of the bird, quite a beast at 2150kg and an adult. I would so love to know where this bird originated from, oh to put a satellite harness on such a bird. Very few nest records in SA.
One of the birds we were really hoping for was a Lanner. Michael Parker spent the day up here last Saturday and was very unlucky not to have caught a couple and had no less the 5 birds react to his trap. But not a Lanner in sight!
We managed to get one more Steppe Buzzard, a juv and then called it a day and made tracks back to the big smoke.
 We got one more bird, a Pear-spotted Owlet, sitting on a traa in the afternoon, probably a bit cold and hungry given the way it attacked the trap!
 6 birds was not bad and we could have caught a few Black-shouldered Kites, but rather wanted to spend time going for Palearctic migrants and Eagles.