July 2013

Thank you to everyone who has submitted articles, photos and comments for this edition.
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
Night Birds, Part 2 Verreaux’s & Spotted Eagle Owls
Raptor's Tree ID Part 5 - Purple Pod Cluster Leaf
Camera Trap Images Revealed! Warthog Carcass Visitors
Interesting Sightings Observations from our residents
Photo Gallery Great results from our photographers!
A Final Word Raptor’s View Wildlife Checklist

Night Birds, Part 2 - Derek Solomon, RV254
Two very large owls occur on Raptors View – Verreaux’s Eagle Owl (previously called Giant Eagle Owl) and Spotted Eagle Owl.

Verreaux’s is the largest owl in Africa (60-65cm). It is grey in colour with very fine barring on the front. The eyes are dark brown and there are two black half-moons on the edges of the pale face. A very distinctive character is the pink eyelids. When seen together the female is considerably larger than the male.

The smaller (between 43-50cm) Spotted Eagle Owl on the other hand has heavy barring on the pale underparts and the eyes are bright yellow. Both species have distinctive ear tufts.

The calls are quite different. Verreaux’s Eagle Owl gives a series of deep, loud grunts whereas the Spotted Eagle Owl gives a softer series of hoots that differ between the sexes. The male usually gives a double-note “Hu-hoo” whereas the female gives a deeper 3-note hooting call. It is not unusual to hear Verreaux’s Eagle Owl calling by day.
Verreaux’s Eagle Owl

Spotted Eagle Owl

Both species hunt predominantly by night although Verreaux’s is sometimes found with prey by day (see photos with guineafowl & hedgehog prey, both taken late morning). In areas where hedgehogs are common they form an important part of this species' food. Guineafowl and francolin are another food item of Verreaux’s Eagle Owl and there are records of it feeding on Vervet Monkeys and even young Warthog piglets. Other prey items include a variety of insects, other birds, reptiles and frogs.

The Spotted Eagle Owl also has a very varied diet with over 60 food items being recorded. These include beetles and other insects, small mammals and birds, lizards, frogs, snakes and even dead fish. Most of its hunting is done at night and it is often seen hunting for prey on the flat ground at the edge of roadsides and this has resulted in many owls being killed by passing motorists.

Giant Eagle Owl Giant Eagle Owl Giant Eagle Owl
Verreaux's Eagle Owl showing pink eyelids
with hedgehog
with guineafowl

Spotted Eagle Owl Spotted Eagle Owl
Spotted Eagle Owl
with chick - photo Keith Hartshorne, RV298

Trees of Raptor's View, Part 5 - Lee Gutteridge, RV164
Purple-pod cluster-leaf – Terminalia prunioides
This species is very common indeed and is also known as a Lowveld cluster-leaf.

This tree is very easily identified when the seeds are present - and fortunately they persist for much of the year. They are flat disks, with a seed in the centre, which are typically a beautiful purple or reddish colour. When they are in full fruit they hang like Christmas decorations along the branch.

The flower is another story altogether though. They appear quite pretty, with small yellowish-white inflorescences clustered along a stalk, but your opinion of these flowers will change one you get a whiff of them! They smell something like a cross between old sweaty socks and a block of cheese forgotten in the cooler-box! They are specifically designed to attract flies and wasps, which visit this plant in profusion when it is in flower.

The leaves are small and narrow, and as the name would imply, clustered in groups along the branches. I do not know of any medicinal uses, but as with the other trees in this genus, the wood is hardy and used in building and for tool and implement handles.
Reference: Trees and Shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park (Schmidt, Lötter, McCleland)

pods pods flower leaf
Typical Fruits
Close-up of the fruit

Camera Trap Images Revealed! - Byron Wright
A little earlier in the year a dead warthog was reported under a deck at one of the houses on the estate. On investigation we found the warthog had a puncture wound in its belly, presumably from an altercation with another warthog, where after it crawled under the deck for safety.
We moved the carcass to the wilderness area and set up a camera trap to see what creatures would visit the remains. It always amazes me what animals come to a dead carcass - whether for utilisation or just for a look.

The civet and jackal came just about every night in the two weeks the camera trap was up. The Bateleur was special to see and also the first owl we have on the camera traps - possibly Giant or Spotted Eagle Owl.

camera trap camera trap camera trap

camera trap camera trap

camera trap camera trap

Interesting Sightings on the Estate
This giraffe spent over 3 hours chewing on an impala skull. At one point he dropped it and I went over to inspect it more closely, he retreated about ten meters but then came back and picked it up again once I returned to the house. David Fitzhugh, RV154
Ed's Note: This behaviour is known as osteophagia and the giraffes chew the bones to supplement their high calcium requirements.

bone bone bone bone

In mid June Georg and I came across this kill on the Aardvark trail. We saw a Martial Eagle fly out of the bush and upon further investigation saw lots of feathers lying around and followed their trail to find the Brown Snake Eagle lying gutted under a tree.
Erika Schwaeble, RV180

eagle kill eagle kill

Photo Gallery

genet genet
A very relaxed Large Spotted Genet seen at home earlier in June. Jackie Preston, RV288

mongoose mongoose
mongoose mongoose
Mostly Banded Mongoose portraits, and last, but not least, a Slender Mongoose. Lawrence Morgan, RV283

eagle sunbird
Bateleur & juvenile Scarlet-chested Sunbird. David Fitzhugh, RV154

Owl Woodhoopoe
Barred Owlet & Green Woodhoopoes feeding on the flowers of Aloe marlothii. Lawrence Morgan, RV283

Giant Owl Giant Owl
Verreaux's (Giant) Eagle Owl, with guineafowl prey in first photo. Elise Cavill-Taylor, RV301

giraffe giraffe
giraffe giraffe
giraffe giraffe
A giraffe fest! Lawrence Morgan, RV283

A Final Word - Raptor's View Wildlife Checklist

checklist checklist A reminder that Raptor’s View now has a wildlife checklist covering the estate’s known mammals, birds, reptiles & amphibians on sale in the RV office.

It is a pocket size booklet where you can mark off species seen – a great way to create your personal list of what you see on the estate!

Cost @ R10 ea