May 2015

The Raptor is what YOU make it so please do keep sending all the sightings and information through.
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
Leopard Capture & Release A successful relocation
Listening for your Lunch Fascinating Bird Feeding Behaviour
The Mating Game Autumn brings renewed vigour
April RV River Braai An excellent afternoon
Interesting Sightings Observations from our residents
Photo Gallery Great results from our photographers
A Final Word It's all about the bulls...

Leopard Capture and Release on RV
As many residents know, over the past few months a very chilled young female leopard has been observed on the estate, particularly around the causeway and more so in the school grounds. Excited learners were able to find tracks and scat on various occasions close to the classrooms, and on a few occasions the animal was even seen walking casually past the College classrooms.

Due to concern by many parents that one day a young child might get too close and be injured, it was decided that the leopard should be captured and removed from the area around the school. Fred Berrange of the Leopard Conservation Project together with Byron Wright set up a trap in the school grounds and after a few nights the leopard was caught and removed to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre for several days before coming back to be collared and finally released at the opposite end of the estate.

leopard leopard
Investigating the trap

in trap cooling down
In the trap
Loaded up and being sprayed to cool down
On Wednesday 29 April all the children were given a remarkable learning opportunity to observe the tranquilizing and collaring of the leopard in the Earth Circle. Dr. Peter Rogers and Fred Berrange talked the learners through the whole process from start to finish providing them with a phenomenal opportunity to learn about leopard behavior and anatomy.


leopard leopard
A close look at the teeth

After placing the satellite collar on the animal she was placed back into the crate and taken to the release site. The feeling among the experts is that due to the capture and subsequent handling over several days, that the leopard would prefer to avoid human contact and will keep well away from the school. Byron and his team will continue to monitor the situation.

Listening for your Lunch - Southern Black Tit Feeding Behaviour
Derek Solomon, RV254

This is a common species on the estate, easily identified by its glossy black plumage and clear white markings on the wings. The harsh, grating call immediately attracts one’s attention when a pair or small family party moves through the garden. It searches for food in cracks and crevices in the branches of the trees and also feeds on fruits such as figs and mistletoes. But one very special method of finding food was discovered by ornithologist Dr. Warwick Tarboton when he observed birds checking seedpods of bushwillows (Combretum spp), and listening to hear movement of larvae living in some of the pods and then breaking them open to extract the tasty morsel. He identified the larvae as those of chalcid wasps (Eurytomidae) that also infest Acacia spp trees (Roberts Birds of Southern Africa VII). tit feeding

The Mating Game
Autumn has arrived - along with the start of the noisy impala rut (breeding season). The males are now staking out their territories and fighting amongst dominant males is starting to take place - to hold onto those territories and the resident females. It seems, with the submitted photos by residents that it is not only this species with procreation on their minds.

millipede tortoise
Mating Millipedes - Don Priest, RV165
A large female tortoise pursued by 2 smaller males
Don Priest, RV165

moth moth moth
Mating Emperor Moths - Richard Braun, RV255

bushbabies chinspot
Although not mating - these 2 bushbabies got no sleep last week as they were fully occupied watching the antics of the squirrels with a female in oestrus being chased up and down the trees by two ardent males!
Sarah Solomon, RV254
Again not technically mating - but breeding!
A female Chinspot Batis on the nest.
Sarah Solomon, RV254

The RV April River Braai
braai braai braai

Another excellent river braai - where a good time was had by all. Many thanks to Byron, Roz and the team for a job well done!

Interesting Sightings on the Estate
A walk along the Sandspruit in mid-March.
We took a walk along the Sandspruit River in the eastern extremity of Raptor's View - the photos of our sightings are courtesy of our son-in-law Jason Ma.
Dave & Hilna Berry, RV65
terrapin millipede golden orb
Terrapin catching minnows
Golden Orb Spider
Catfish Catfish close-up
Catfish close-up

Wild Cats
In the early evening in mid December we saw what we were convinced was an African Wild Cat; we saw it again a few weeks later and then it was conspicuous by its absence until late February when it reappeared. This time the camera was on hand to capture the evidence.
Steve & Julie Benbow, RV266

wild cat wild cat

Photo Gallery
Golden Orb fungus
Golden Orb - Simone Braun, RV255
Fungus - Don Priest, RV165

cuckoo shrike bush shrike
Female Black Cuckoo Shrike
Derek Solomon, RV254
Orange-breasted Bush Shrike - Derek Solomon, RV254

cricket Spotted Joker
King Cricket - Simone Braun, RV255
Spotted Joker - Derek Solomon, RV254

mongoose plover
Dwarf Mongoose at play - Derek Solomon, RV254

Three-banded Plover at Osprey Dam
Derek Solomon, RV254

A Final Word - It's all about the bulls... (from the office)

Sometimes, I have to admit that I must have one of the best jobs in town... when Byron can see I'm going stir-crazy in the office he'll take me along when he is checking the fenceline, monitoring the bush clearing progress or just on a "rond loop". To that end, I now keep a pair of flip-flops stashed in the cupboard so that at a moment's notice it is off with the heels and on with the flatties. Last week "a woman's opinion" was called for and I went to inspect the river braai site.

In that short half hour drive we had lovely views of nyala, kudu and waterbuck bulls.
Roz Saverton, RVHOA office
nyala kudu waterbuck