March 2012

Welcome to the first issue of the new Raptor!
A big 'thank you' to everyone for all the great photos and reports received! Unfortunately here isn't space for everything in this first issue so some are being held over for the next one, but please do keep sending all the sightings and information through - The Raptor is what YOU make it.

In line with current eco-trends and aiming for a 'greener' lifestyle this is an e-newsletter - it does not conform to traditional page sizes and is not designed to be printed.

In This Issue
Michael Brooke A farewell to the outgoing editor.
Byron Wright Officially the Estate Manager!
Book Review Field Guide to Raptorís View and the Kruger to Canyon Biosphere Region.
Wild Dogs Recent Sightings on the Estate.
Woodland Kingfisher A mating display!
Caracal This creature has been spotted several times.
Aardvark Always a special sighting!
Jackal Notes on both species of Jackal.
Flowers Some Species on the Estate.
Around the Birdbath Some great photos from the Estate.
Mystery Bird Can you Identify this Raptor?
Meet our Water Repair Man! Erle Alsworthy-Elvey
Derek & Sarah Solomon Meet the editors of The Raptor.
A Final Word From the Office.

On behalf of all Raptor's View owners we would like to thank Michael Brooke for his sterling efforts in producing The Raptor for many years. Michael is pictured here with his son Christopher who was Byron's assistant last year.
Congratulations to Byron Wright on his appointment as Estate Manager for Raptorís View. This position is very well deserved and we wish him every success for the future.

Book Review
Raptorís resident Rael Loon has just released a new field and information guide ďRaptorís View and the Kruger to Canyon Biosphere RegionĒ. It is an invaluable guide for all Raptorís View residents that covers the geology, vegetation and wildlife of Raptorís View and the surrounding Kruger to Canyon region.

The book, published by Jacana Media, includes excellent illustrations and photographs as well as information on the typical habitats in the region plus descriptions on a number of conspicuous species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and plants that occur on the estate. The second part of the book covers the human history and Kruger National Park history as well as useful information on places to visit and things to do in the region.

Copies are available @ R100 ea from the Raptor's View office (cash only) or directly from Rael on 015 793 0919, 084 811 4314,

Wild Dogs
The Wild Dogs have been moving in and out of the estate on a regular basis since the floods. On the 6th February, Ron & Geoff Strike photographed the two dogs with an impala kill below their house RV112 just after 06.00. As soon as the dogs had finished feeding White-backed Vultures arrived and a few hours later there was nothing left apart from a few bones.

Just before Christmas David Golightly, RV275 found the dogs rolling in a muddy pool on Black Harrier Rd opposite the pump house and Debbie Maas, RV44, reported a sighting of 1 Wild Dog crossing Tawny Eagle near # 38 on 25 February @ 08:10. Byron Wright has seen a pack of 9 including 2 adults and 7 well-grown pups but they have now apparently moved on.

Woodland Kingfisher
Jackie & Hugh Preston, RV288 were treated to a wonderful mating display from this Woodland Kingfisher in early December. "The female was sitting in the tree above - hopefully suitably impressed!"

Ron & Geoff Strike, RV112 saw these 2 caracal below their house crossing the river into Raptor's View @ 09.00 just after the floods on 21 January. Petro de Jager, RV330, has also reported several sightings on 2nd & 10th March; "A caracal has been very busy on our block, the attraction must be the guineafowl & month old chicks. Unfortunately my camera was in the house but I will be on the alert from now on!"

Hopefully Petra manages to get a photo next time but in the meantime we have included a photo of a young Caracal taken last year on Khaya Ndhlovu - Ed.

Did You Know?
The Caracal is often erroneously called a lynx because of its tufted ears and short tail, but genetic analysis has shown that it is unrelated to the lynxes. Its closest relative is in fact the forest-dwelling African Golden Cat Profelis aurata of West Africa and selected forests in Uganda. The Caracal is widely distributed in Africa as well as Israel where it is common, and in Turkey, Palestine eastwards to India where it is on the verge of extinction.

Its common prey items include hares, hyraxes (dassies) and small rodents as well as birds, but it is capable of taking larger prey like medium-sized antelope or livestock if the opportunity arises. (If anyone has observations of prey items on Raptorís View we would be grateful if you would report them to us - Ed).

The caracal is predominantly nocturnal but sometimes extends its activities into the early morning. It is solitary and sightings of 2-4 animals together are probably mating pairs or females with their large young.
Derek Solomon, RV254

Louis and Lee-Ann Rautenbach, RV108 spotted an Aardvark in their driveway @ 22.00, at the end of November 2011. "Unfortunately we were unable to get a photograph of it, but have been keeping a lookout ever since, for the chance of getting a photo of this beautiful animal."

Aardvarks are very active on the estate, one only has to take a walk along the Aardvark Trail or around your plot to see the regular scrapings made by this amazing creature while searching for ants and termites. They are predominately nocturnal, so Pat Fulton's (RV53) photo taken from her deck in the middle of the afternoon is a very special sighting -Ed.

Thanks to Hugh & Julie Marshall, RV243 for the following note on both species of jackal.
"The resident pair of Black-backed Jackals at the Bateleur Road pumphouse managed to produce a litter of 6 pups. We frequently saw them as youngsters, particularly early in the mornings, and until they were sub adults but are not sure how many survived into adulthood. We believe it is really unusual for a litter of 6 to survive."

"In January 2012, a first time sighting for us here at Raptor's, was a pair of Side-striped Jackals trotting along the Khaya Ndlovu side of the fence at the southern traverse gate entrance. This pair was much shyer than the Black-backed and upon seeing us bolted into the bush."

Photos are from our personal library - not taken on Raptor's View - Ed.

Some Raptorís Flowers
Following the floods there was a profusion of flowers on the estate, some truly spectacular. We were able to photograph 23 species over one weekend! Here are a few of our favourites. Derek & Sarah Solomon, RV254
Commelina africana Yellow Wandering Jew. The young shoots and leaves can be boiled to make a spinach, preferably mixed with groundnuts. Clerodendrum ternatum Dwarf Catís Whiskers. This is a member of the Verbena family.

Hermannia glanduligera No common name. The flowers of  this family hang down and are often overlooked. It belongs to the same family as the Star Chestnut, a tree that occurs on Raptors View. Gnidia rubescens No common name. The Gnidia family has many medicinal uses but must be used with care as it is known to be fairly toxic to both humans and livestock.

Around the Birdbath
We are lucky to live in the environment that we do and birdbaths on the estate give residents hours of entertainment and pleasure. Here are the first few of a great selection of photos received from estate birdbaths.
Giraffe - Johan de Villiers, RV260 Python - Johan de Villiers, RV260

We asked Professor Bill Branch, Curator Emeritus - Herpetology, Bayworld, Port Elizabeth, to comment on Johan's photo: "Pythons are fond cooling off in water, particularly when shedding skin, but are also attracted to prey coming to waterholes Ė in that sense they are no different from big cats!" Ed.

Shikra (Little banded Goshawk) - David Golightly, RV275 Aardvark - Caryn Bowie, RV274

Very wet Barred Owl - Derek & Sarah Solomon, RV254 Banded Mongoose, David Golightly, RV275

Mystery Bird Erle Alsworthy-Elvey
This photo was taken by Peter Hartley, RV296 in December. Any ideas on the ID of the bird (or snake)? Please send your thoughts through to us and we'll publish them in the next issue.

We think the 'mystery bird' is a great addition to The Raptor and would like to keep it as a regular feature so please submit photos of any species (not only birds) you are unsure of - it's a great way for us all to improve our knowledge.
Many of you will have seen Erle on his bright orange machine connecting up the water pipes across the causeway. All of us on this side' of the causeway are always happy to see him there solving our lack of water woes!
Huge thanks to Erle for working particularly hard to regain our water supply after the floods.

Unfortunately he can do nothing about Hoedspruit's current interesting municipal water but is always working on possible solutions!

Editors of The Raptor
Derek & Sarah Solomon

A little background - we are originally from Zimbabwe, and have been running special interest safaris in southern Africa for the past 25years. In 2003, due to the deteriorating political situation in Zimbabwe, we moved to Zambia's South Luangwa National Park before relocating to Raptor's View in 2008.
Please get in touch with articles, photos and comments for The Raptor.
Email or call 015-793 0997 / 076 800 7408

A Final Word from the Office
Please would all owners use their stand number as their payment reference.
Invoice numbers and names do not help as Roz then has to do a search to establish which invoice number or name belongs to which site before she can allocate the payment correctly.