Thursday, July 30, 2015

Limpopo Brown Snake-eagle expedition July 2015
Pear-spotted Owlet
Over the years we have been seeing an influx of Brown Snake Eagles into a particular area of Limpopo Province just south of the Soutpansberg Mountains, so we decided to see if we could get a few.
Michael Parker and I set off form Johannesburg at 0500 and set off north up the N1.
Brown Snake-eagle
On the way we saw some good raptors, adult Black-chested Snake Eagle, African Hawk Eagle and oddly, a pair of Long-crested Eagles near the Nyl Floodplain. Plenty of Black-shouldered Kites and Greater Kestrels around, but we are not after them this trip!
First customer was a BSE on a pylon, straight in, nothing like hungry winter birds to react to a trap! It was a big bird, in good condition at 2.48kg.
Lizard Buzzard

 We got 2 Lizard Buzzards in quick succession in the shadows of the Soutpansberg Mountains and almost had a 2nd BSE, but a vehicle flushed it from the trap.

Tried for an adult African Hawk Eagle near camp, but it had a full crop and was too wary of our vehicle. That night we got a Pearl-spotted Owlet in the net.

Day 2, we were 5 mins out of camp when we spotted, and caught, a juvenile Black-chested Snake Eagle sitting in a thorn tree. Please with its weight of 1.42kg, a good weight for a winter youngster.
Juv Black-chested Snake-eagle
We made a big run for the Limpopo River and Mpangubwe National Park, but all was very quiet. We got our 3rd BSE on the way back to camp and another which got off the trap before we got to it. It was nice to see a Kori Bustard near the camp and the land owner said they had 6 young this year for the first time!
We headed west today for the Woodbush Forest, region of Afro-montane mist-belt forest. On the way we found 3 BSE in one area, and after a bit of manoeuvring, we got our 4th BSE! There were a pair of adult Lanner here which we dropped a trap for with a Zebra Finch lure. Birds did react, bombing the trap several times, but the required ‘flush and chase’ never happened for the two falcons.

Woodbush Forest
Once into the mountains, we saw a couple of Jackal Buzzards and 2 Forest Buzzards, our target here. Last July I spent 2 days here with Charlotte England where we caught 4 of these endemic and local migrants, seemingly arriving in this region at this time of year.
We dropped for one Forest Buzzard which was a peach of a drop, but in the exact spot we had caught one last year. The bird was not at all interested, so I assumed it was very likely the same bird!
Over the next couple of hours we dropped for no less than 6! Long-crested Eagles!!, and catching 2 with one getting off trap. This was quite possibly also a movement up into this region from the lowveld.

All in all a good trip with 9 good raptors ringed and 4 target birds.

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