Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Graeme Dunlop, Brett Fried, Erika Hentsch, Lisa Myslicki, Barbara Charlton and Pricilla Lai.

The first big expedition of the year with an majority Canadian team and Graeme from the UK.
Red-footed Falcon, 2nd yr female

Heading south to the Amur Falcon roost in Newcastle, we got a Steppe Buzzard out of 4 dropped for.
The roost as always did not disappoint, Rina Pretorius has been ringing Amur Falcons here for some 15 years and as such it is the largest roost in the southern hemisphere.
We got a total of 10 Amur's including a bonus Red-footed Falcon! The latter a rare occurrence in the roost.

Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler
We were based high up at a farm house on the KZN Freestate border where the Ncandu Forest lays in an interesting proximity to the greatly diverse and threatened highveld grassland biome. In the garden we got to catch a few very nice species including the endemic Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler and Forest Canary, Southern and Greater Double-collared Sunbirds, along with Ground-scraper Thrush and Golden-breasted Bunting, Cape White-eyes and a Common Fiscal.

moulting and scruffy Olive-tree warbler
Road-trapping in the region produced 2 Steppe Buzzards and a re-trap Jackal Buzzard which had been ringed in the same spot last February. What was really cool about the catch was that it started out as a dot up in the sky, then it locked up and in seconds was on the trap, what we call a sky catch!

Heading north to the Lowveld, we got a second Jackal Buzzard, a 3rd year bird as well as Juvenile Lizard Buzzard. The Lowveld was as always great. we were at a bush lodge right next to the Kruger, so we heard lions roaring each night!

Barratt's Warbler
Ringing in the garden was good, with some nice Palearctic migrants in the form of Olive-tree Warblers, Red-backed Shrikes and a bonus birds were a black morph Jacobin Cuckoo and 2 Magpie Mannikins, very out of range for them here. Road trapping produced a couple of Rock Kestrels.
Dark-capped Yellow Warbler

Next we climbed up into the mountains and into the mist-belt first escarpment. Set up a few nets and were soon producing some very cool birds. Endemics consisted of Barratt's Warbler, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Forest Canary, Southern Double-collared Sunbird and Drakensberg Prinia. Also Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Golden Weaver and African Stonechat.

Next we continued north and en route, managed to catch and adult and juvenile Lanner Falcon! This was thanks to the masses of Red-billed Quelea breeding in the area, where the Lanners were picking them off, using a quelea as a lure worked like a charm, in fact we had to wait whilst the juv Lanner bolted a quelea it had just caught, before nailing out trap!

We lost a couple of days to rain, but then headed north up into the Limpopo Valley and on the way, got a total of 10 raptors! another Lanner, 2 Steppe Buzzards, 4 Pale-chanting Goshawks, an African Hawk Eagle, a Black-chested Snake Eagle and Greater Kestrel, as well as a retrap Pale-chanting Goshawk and a Purple Roller coming into base!

At base, we set a few nets round the pool and got a few Cinnamon Breasted Buntings, Familiar Chat, White-bellied Sunbird and Long-billed Crombec but the wind got up so we went road trapping. Got a second African Hawk Eagle, a big adult female at 1.7kg's and a Juvenile Shikra.
Night time dazzling got us European, Rufous-cheeked and Fiery-necked Nightjars but with a rising moon, struggled to get Bronze-winged Courser and Spotted Thick-knee.

Graeme with a juvenile Af Hawk Eagle
The next leg of our trip took us south west and en route got 2 Brown Snake Eagles, an adult male at 1.9kg's and another adult a bit later at 2.1kg's.

At next camp on the Limpopo River, we set nets and got Woodland Kingfishers including a 4 year old retrap! also caught Red-backed Shrikes, Meve's Starlings, Yellow-bellied Greenbul among others.

Heading south now, we road trapped to the next site getting a juv male African Hawk Eagle, juv female Gabar Goshawk, Lizard Buzzard, 2 Steppe Buzzards and an adult Black-chested Snake Eagle.
We also got an interesting Dark / Pale-chanting Goshawk! I think a hybrid, this is the second individual I have caught like this, showing dark secondaries, but with a white rump, allover quite dark, but large in size.
Our next and final camp we set some owl nets and soon had call back, Pearl-spotted Owlet and Spotted Eagle Owl, but no luck.
Next day we got an adult and juv Black-chested Snake-eagle and getting into farm land now we got an adult female Lesser Kestrel and finally a Black-shouldered Kite.

All up, we caught 49 raptors of 17 species and 127 mist-netted birds of 62 species.

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