Saturday, November 11, 2017

long weekend up to Mpungubwe National park and the Magoebaskloof mountain forests.
4-6th of August
With Hylton Graeme and the 4 kids

We started trapping in one of my thorn scrub sites just south of the Soutpansberg mountains, not much about at all and managed to get a pair of Pale-chanting Goshawks on the one trap!

Only other bird we saw was an African Hawk Eagle that flew before we could get to it.

The Big Girl!
Next morning we drove though one of my most favourite roads, elephant, Eland, Impala and Zebra were everywhere! And we almost missed a huge bird sitting on a pole some 300m up the track. MARTIAL EAGLE!!
The kids were told in no uncertain terms that one squeak out of them would result in a painful and slow death!
serious ornitholets!
We got a trap down some 200m from the bird and backed off, no room to pass here in case we flushed it. The bird immediately saw the movement and turned round, only then did we see how massive the bird was! After a few seconds, it launched itself off the pole, out and down, low over the ground to land right next to the trap. There was a collective gathering of hearts in mouths, as we watched this enormous eagle work the trap. Martials are quite calm and not given to excitable grabbing in these situations, which makes for an even harder catch. The getting caught process can take an hour or so, I know, I have done it a few times!
very chuffed girl!
Cave art girls!

But then, some 800m further up the road, 2 vehicles were approaching from the opposite direction!! Nightmare! The bird would flush and we could do nothing about it!! I waited until the vehicles were the same distance from the bird that we were, and then went for it. The bird was caught! It took the trap a good 20m where i caught up to it in a full length dive, grabbing the bird and breaking a (my) rib in the process!
Wow, what a beast. The other vehicles had stopped and were looking out like a bunch of hungry goldfish at the side of a tank! I explained to them what we were doing and asked if they would like to watch. They were a big family from Sweden on their last day of holiday!!
Kara and the JB

The bird was obviously a female and a 2nd year, it weighed in at 5kg's and my eldest daughter Gracie, did the honours and ringed it. Not many 12 year old girls have ringed Africa's largest eagle.
After releasing the bird, the Swedes were quite emotional (as we were!) and said that this was the best experience they had had on their holiday!!!

Well after that, what else was there???!!!

Well, we caught no more raptors and spent a calming hour looking at the cave rock art made by the Bushmen 16,000 years ago!

Then it was back to Magoebskloof where we got a single adult Jackal Buzzard outside Hearnetzberg.

So that was it, 3 days, 4 birds, but the one big one more than made up for it!!!

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