Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Limpopo trip 19th February to 4th of March 2017

Limpopo to KZN Raptor trip

Nigel and Courtney Shaw, Charlotte England, Jim and Lynda Mackiewicz and Garth Baker.

This trip was primarily a raptor trapping one, and as such we had a good and keen team of raptorphiles! It was Nigel's 3rd and Charlottes 4th trip out to SA.

We set off North this time, rain in the air, but mostly overcast, good trapping weather.

Charlotte with her Euro Roller
Courtney with a Brown Snake -eagle
On our way up to the main area we explore the Springbok Flats, a vast area, one covered in Springbok, Cheetah and many other long gone wildlife. We did get our first raptors, a Steppe Buzzard and not long after our first eagle, an adult Black-chested Snake-eagle followed by a 2nd year Brown Snake-eagle. Also here a Pale-chanting Goshawk and Black-shouldered Kite. Dropped traps for a few more BCSE's but no luck. We did get a European Roller and that night we got a Pearl-spotted Owlet.

Nigel with the first of 6 Wahlberg's Eagles
1st of 5 Lanners
Nearer the Limpopo river, we caught one of the target birds, a Barn Owl! This was a new one for Nigel Shaw and the next day our luck continued by catching 2 Wahlberg's Eagles, also a first for Nigel Shaw, not often he gets a raptor tick! Also Charlottes long awaited Lanner! an adult male.
Other birds caught were a juv female Gabar Goshawk, another tick for Charlotte! 

Heading north east, we carried on catching, and between two sites, we managed to catch 12 raptors! 3 Dark-chanting and 2 Pale-chanting Goshawks, another Black-chested SE, Gabar Goshawk, Shikra, and a pair of African Hawk Eagles, one of which had already been ringed previously by my friend John Robson in December 2002, some 15 years ago! 
juv Gabar Goshawk
Jim left with the female and Nigel with the retrap male
Around noon, we spotted an adult Martial Eagle! This was No1 target for Nigel, and we got a trap down and it was on! With baited breath we waited for the huge bird to get caught, when suddenly a vehicle came in the opposite direction and flushed the bird before it was caught!!!

Red-crested Korhaan
Next morning we went into Mpangubwe National Park and got our 2nd Lanner, a 2nd year male, which Courtney ringed. Further on I suddenly spotted a Leopard sitting in among the rocks, not 100m away! We watched it get up and walk off, way cool! Just after this we got a juv male African Hawk Eagle and then back for breakfast!
Jim and Garth with a pair of DCG's

Spotted Thick-knee
Netting round the pool produced a flock of White-crowned Helmet-shrikes and a Levaillant's Cuckoo #100 for Charlottes SA list! In the afternoon we got a Brown Snake Eagle and another Eropean Roller. After supper, we went out dazzling and got 2 Spotted Thick-knees, a Sabota Lark and a tick for me, Red-crested Korhaan!!! 
juv female Tawny Eagle

Heading south now, we arrived at our next bush camp and game reserve to find a massive breeding colony of Red-billed Quelea! This was ideal, as in attendance were several Lesser-spotted and Steppe Eagles. We drove in and managed to drop for a Lesser Spot, it cam in, but it was too wary. Further on, we came across a huge juvenile Tawny Eagle, this was Charlottes No1 target bird, we got a trap down and after some 30 minutes, it came in and we got it!! 2.7kg's!! what a lovely bird.

Lynda with a juv f AH Eagle
Later that afternoon, we got 2 Lanners a juv male and female, then at dusk, got a juv female African Hawk Eagle!! We set the owl nets and were not disappointed. In no time we caught another 2 Barn Owls, a Southern White-faced Scops Owl and a Pearl-spotted Owlet!! Going for a night drive, we went into the quelea colony to see how incredibly packed it was, thousands, and thousands of birds, all roosting side by site, breaking branches with their weight.

Bewildered SWF Scops Owl
Heading on again from here, we got another Steppe Buzzard, juv m Lanner, an adult Wahlberg's Eagle and a 3rd year Black-chested Snake-eagle. Then we got into the mountains to drop down the escarpment, but the roads were so bad, we couldn't go for the raptors in the mountains we had intended too, such as Long-crested Eagle and Jackal Buzzard.
Lizard Buzzard

Dropping down into the Lowveld we got a Juv and Adult Lizard Buzzard, ticks for NS and CE. We then continued with our big cat luck by coming across a Cheetah that had killed an adult and calf Impala! We watched this amazing sight and her nervously watching for any other predators which may have robbed her of her kills.

a dark Wahlberg's Eagle
At the next bush lodge, adjacent to the Kruger, we  set nets and got a few birds, but were seriously bothered by 000's of quelea filling up nets, so we abandoned this, but not before getting Olive-tree Warbler and another Levaillant's Cuckoo. Road trapping here produced 2 more Wahlberg's Eagles.
2nd year Jackal Buzzard

Lynda with a very grumpy Spotted Eagle Owl!
Back up onto the Highveld now, and south, some 500km to the Amur Falcon roost. Here we got 7 over both nights, of these lovely little migrants which have flown a round trip of 32,000 km excluding what they would have flown on their breeding and wintering grounds! One night, heading back to the farm house, we managed to catch a Spotted Eagle Owl, which Lynda ringed. 

Total Raptors caught; 68 of 20 species. A record species haul for one trip!

mr & mrs Barn Owl
Males and female Amur Falcons

No comments: