November 2012

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
The First Rains Some very welcome weather.
The Game Count Some interesting results.
Raptor's Tree ID Part 1 - Hairy Caterpillar Pod.
Kudu Relocation A successful capture and removal.
Red Driver Ants Fire ants on the move!
Python swallows Guineafowl! A great photo essay.
Mozambique Spitting Cobra Too close for comfort!
Photo Gallery Great results from our photographers!
A Final Word Tribute to Jack Clarke.

Rain & the Birds are Back in Town!
We're not the only ones celebrating the arrival of the very welcome rains. The Red-headed Weavers are furiously nest building, the Retz's Helmet Shrikes already have young and any day now we should hear the distinctive call of the Woodland Kingfisher.

weaver helmet shrikes kingfisher

The Game Count
Many of you will remember the helicopter flying over head in late September conducting our annual game count. The results from Byron are below as well as a great photo of Byron in action from Brian Denton, RV225 "The Germans had their RED BARON - but we have our own Raptors ROOI BYRON!".
Game Count Byron in the air

Trees of Raptor's View, Part 1 - Lee Gutteridge, RV164
We are in a very diverse region as far as our tree fauna is concerned, and this series will focus on some of the less well known trees on the estate.
Hairy Caterpillar Pod, Ormocarpum trichocarpum

This small tree or large shrub, of up to 5 metres, is common on Raptors view. According to my reference material it prefers brackish areas on rocky, lowveld hillsides. Flowering occurs during October, right through to February, with a beautiful purple or mauve pea-flower-like inflorescence, which may be found singly or in small clusters. Pea and bean family flowers often have a wing and keel structure as is found on this tree. The petals will fall off soon after fertilisation.

flower flower

The leaf is a compound structure, with 3 to 7 pinna, or leaflets. While we are busy with technical terms, the particular compound structure we see on this tree is known as imparipinnate. This means the structure of the leaf is pairs of pinna or opposite leaflets which end in one individual end leaflet. This is the impaired or imparipinnate part. If it ended in two leaflets, this would be called paripinnate, or paired pinna.

The bark is thick and corky and the tree is usually single stemmed. The seed pods are about 5cm long, and are hairy, much like a caterpillar.

bark fruit

The tree is found as far north as Rwanda, and is used medicinally by the Zuluís as a treatment against suspected poisoning, which apparently involves the bark. Another use from Venda, in which the roots are used, is that of a protective charm.
Reference: Trees and shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park (Schmidt, LŲtter, McCleland)

Kudu Relocation - Byron Wright
We have all seen kudu at some point in our lives, especially living here on Raptorís View. Some of us have hunted them for trophies and meat, some of us enjoy a piece of kudu biltong but most of us just enjoy watching this magnificent creature browsing, moving from tree to tree.

Although not allowed residents will often put feed out to attract animals closer to their houses. This was the case with one specific male kudu on Raptorís View. Most probably, at least initially, due to the winter feeding program in the past, this male kudu had become habituated to humans and had associated houses with a source of food. He showed aggression toward people and farm management decided he had to go before somebody was injured.

It was decided to attempt to capture the kudu rather than destroy it. A local game capture company was contacted and they had a client interested in purchasing the animal. Thanks to the help of residents, the kuduís location was known at all times. The biggest challenge was to coordinate the availability of the capture company and Dr Rogers with the location of the kudu. On the 6th September 2012 the whole plan came together. The kudu was spotted late morning and two of our staff members were charged with keeping him in sight. The capture company arrived with their equipment and Dr Rogers arrived with his team. The kudu was darted at RV 44 and upon closer inspection Dr Rogers noticed he was blind in one eye, thus possibly explaining the animalís aggressive nature. The Kudu was moved to the capture trailer, loaded and sent off to his new home.

kudu kudu
kudu kudu
kudu kudu

We recently (@ mid September) had a writhing mass of what looks like Red Driver Ants Dorylus helvolus emerging from a crack in our wall. The large wasp-like insects are the males of the species, they seemed to be struggling out of the crowd of worker ants before flying off. The whole colony disappeared overnight and then re-emerged the next evening. We observed a small gecko hanging around and one morning there were 2 barbets and a starling trying to land nearby, presumably to eat the juicy males.
Robyn Keene-Young & Adrian Bailey, RV259
ants more ants

Python Swallows Guineafowl - Wiltrud Peter, RV285
Here are some of the photos I took at about 16.00 on Saturday afternoon (20 October 2012) when I watched a python kill a guineafowl in front of my deck. What an experience!
python python

python python

Mozambique Spitting Cobra - Lawrence Morgan, RV283
This juvenile Mozambique Spitting Cobra spat at my wife Ly as she stepped onto the side deck. It had somehow gotten its tail wedged into a crack in the deck, so was unable to coil up and spread its hood, and fired away at her from ground level, fortunately missing her eyes. He then slithered away just ten minutes before Donald from the reptile park showed up... We've seen him once more since then in a crevice beneath a boulder just across from our boma/braai area.
cobra cobra cobra

Photo Gallery

plated lizard locust
This Giant Plated Lizard swims in our birdbath! He climbs up, has a long drink, then slides most of his body in, holding onto the rim of the dish with his hind legs and the weight of his tail, doggy paddling with his front legs! Once he's cooled off he basks on the adjacent log.
Lawrence & Ly Morgan, RV283
This great photo is of a colourful Milkweed Locust.
Lawrence Morgan, RV283
(and kindly identified by Lee Gutteridge, RV164)

ardvaark rock monitors
We saw this lovely creature on the Lion Trail on 23 July
at around 17h30.
Maryke & Gerhard Redecker, RV100

2 mating rock monitors seen on Snake Eagle in the afternoon of 18 September!
Mirjam Elbertse, RV206
Although not a great image (taken on a cell phone) - the sighting is so special we had to include it! - Editors

python waterbuck
3m Python, Warren Cary, RV287 Male Waterbuck, Lawrence Morgan, RV283

birdhide rock monitor
The Southern Cross pre-school children were
delighted to discover the new bridge at the Bird
Hide during their bush lore lesson.
Les Blandy, Southern Cross School
This baby Rock Monitor took up residence in our house and although reluctant to leave was very docile when handled!
Sarah Solomon, RV254

A Final Word - Tribute to Jack Clarke by Byron Wright
Jack Clarke It's a sad, sad world without you, Master Jack.
You taught me all I know and I never look back.
It's a sad, sad world without you, Master Jack.

With a castle in the hand and a twinkle in your eye,
You gave me advice as the years went by.
Square up your shoulder and lift your chin like a man.
I believe in you, so you know you can.

Tuesdays and Thursdays after golf, before home I went
Were the quality times with you I got to spend.
I thank you very much you know you've been very kind.
Forever and more you will be remembered in my mind

You have shown me the way the world should be,
Patience, understanding, fair with a hint of empathy.
As long as I remember to look at the world through your eyes, there will never be any real good byes.

Thank you for the friendship, support and legacy you have left behind, Jack.
It's a sad, sad world without you, Master Jack.