November 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 4 Fiery-necked and Square-tailed nightjars
Spring Flowers Some Species Recently in Bloom on Raptor's View
Raptor's Tree ID, Part 6 2 of our Currently Flowering Species
Antlion Life Cycle
Interesting Sightings Observations from our residents
Photo Gallery Great results from our photographers!
A Final Word Litter!

Rain - at Last!
River Flow

The recent rain was VERY welcome and even got some of our small dry steams briefly flowing again.
Thanks to A Cavill-Taylor, RV301 for the evidence!

Night Birds, Part 4 - Derek Solomon, RV254
The Fiery-necked is the most common nightjar in Raptor's View and shows a broad rufous collar on the back of the neck. When it flies it shows white spots in the wings (but not as extensive as those in the Square-tailed Nightjar) and white tips to the outer tail feathers (the Square-tailed Nightjar has the whole of the outer tail feather white whereas the Fiery-necked only has half of the outer tail feathers white).

The female on the other hand has buff-coloured spots on both wings and tail. It feeds on night-flying insects such as beetles and moths and will hunt mainly from a perch in a tree or bush.

Its call is the best way to identify it, a quavering song that sounds something like ‘Good Lord, deliver us’.

The Square-tailed Nightjar is usually seen perched on the roads in the estate at night. It is very similar to the Fiery-necked Nightjar but does not have a clear rufous collar. When it flies the extensive white barring in the wing and the all-white outer tail feathers are good identification characters.

Remember that the female has buff-coloured bars and outer tail feathers. It also feeds on night-flying insects.

The call is a continuous churring that varies up and down in pitch rather like a two-stroke engine; and often includes a whoop sound as part of the song.

Fiery-necked Nightjar

Square-tailed Nightjar

Fiery-necked Nightjar Square-tailed Nightjar
Fiery-necked Nightjar
photo - Lee Gutteridge, RV164
Square-tailed Nightjar
photo - D & S Solomon, RV254

Spring Flowers
It seems our bush does not need rain to signal the arrival of spring! Before any rain fell our dry, brown bush was brightened by the vivid greenery of Knobthorns and others; and several flowers emerged.

Star Chestnut Tree Wisteria
Star Chestnut - Hugh Preston, RV288
Tree Wisteria - Hugh Preston, RV288

Ipomoea Comretum Grewia
Pink Morning Glory
D&S Solomon, RV254
Knobbly Combretum
D&S Solomon, RV254
Raisin Bush
D&S Solomon, RV254

Trees of Raptor's View, Part 6 - Lee Gutteridge, RV164
Bushveld Albizia and Knobbly Climbing Combretum

Bushveld Albizia
Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised by the bush. When you brush against a typical tree, with tiny twice-compound leaflets, you usually expect to be hooked by thorns…well not so with the Albizia harveyi. This tree is known colloquially as a false-thorn, as it really looks like one of the Acacia species we so often see, but is completely thornless! The pretty flower is also acacia-like, with a white, fluffy catkin. The bark is dark and fissured, and these can grow into very large trees. They are flowering now, (in October) along the Zandspruit River.

bark leaves flower
Albizia Bark
Albizia Leaves
Albizia Flowers

Knobbly Climbing Combretum
If you take a walk around Osprey Dam at this time of year, you may see the beautiful white flowers of the Combretum mossambicense, which forms large thickets along watercourses in the dry bushveld. The fruit usually has five wings, instead of the typical four. This creeping plant has long branches and stems, with curved spines. This shrubby bush provides a wonderful, protected nesting place for birds, and is also planted as an ornamental shrub in gardens.

seeds leaves buds
Combretum Seeds
Combretum Flower & Leaf
Combretum Buds & Spines

Antlion Cycle - Derek Solomon, RV254

burrow larva adult
Antlion Pit
Antlion Larva
Antlion Adult
(Not necessarily the same species as the larva shown.)

Maybe I wasn't observant enough before, but lately there seem to be many more antlion pits along the Aardvark and Lion trails. Perhaps the current dry, sandy conditions (before the latest rain) are of benefit to these very specialised predators. Antlions belong to the lacewing family and there are 125 species in the country and not all of them are the pit-building species we know so well. It is the tiny larva that makes these little pitfall traps, waiting patiently at the bottom until an unsuspecting victim comes past and starts to slide down the loose sides of the pit, often helped down by the larva flicking sand at it. The adult, on the other hand, is a striking creature that looks rather like a dragonfly or damselfly.

Interesting Sightings on the Estate
leopard honeybadger
Leopard caught at 1.20am, 20/10/13.
Keith Hartshorne, RV298

Thrilled to 'catch' a Honey Badger @ 2.25am, 12/9/13!
Michelle Severin, RV240

mongoose moth
Marsh Mongoose Track at Osprey Dam - this mongoose is seldom seen so the track is a great addition to the estate mammal list.
(Thanks to Lee Gutteridge for track ID.)
Derek Solomon, RV254
Lichenopteryx despecta, Despised Monkey Moth. Kindly ID'd by Bart Wursten from 'SA Butterflies’, Bugs, Bees & other small things'.
Simone Braun, RV255

cuckoo We first heard the Red Chested Cuckoo's call this spring in the early hours of Thursday 26th September. The bird's arrival is a day or two earlier than it arrived in the past few years when we used to live near Dullstroom.
Jeremy and Jill Brown, RV192

Photo - Lee Gutteridge, RV164

Photo Gallery
zebra sunbird
There were 8 Zebra and this little foal at the front of our house this morning - 25 October.
Jackie Preston, RV288
Marico Sunbird on our Weeping Boer-Bean (schotia brachypetala).
Keith Hartshorne, RV298

Hog Heaven - Lawrence Morgan, RV283

porcupine giraffe
Early evening porcupine and 3am giraffe kneecaps! - Michelle Severin, RV240

Comatose warthog and oxpeckers - Lawrence Morgan, RV283

sparrowhawk giraffe
Little Sparrowhawk at our bird bath. It was a 'lifer' for me and only took flight when a few Guineafowl headed for it.
Glenda Sparkes, RV195
  Giraffe Necking.
  Anthony Cavill-Taylor, RV301

Duiker owl
Common Duiker.
Derek Solomon, RV254
Pearl-spotted Owl - with a damaged eye.
Lawrence Morgan, RV283

oxpeckers doormouse
Red-billed Oxpeckers.
David Golightly, RV275
Prone Woodland Doormouse.
David Golightly, RV275

Dwarf Mongoose Kudu
Sentry Dwarf Mongoose.
David Golightly, RV275
Kudu Pair.
Lawrence Morgan, RV283

A Final Word - Litter!

There is a surprisingly amount of litter scattered across our estate. Whilst some can be explained away by wind re-distribution on rubbish collection days, it does not account for the beer cans at Osprey Dam!
On the day that this disenchanted editor was collecting said cans and other refuse at Osprey Dam the RV staff were busy with the same task. This is a call to all residents to please secure their rubbish bags and to pick up any litter seen and of course to NOT discard anything on the estate.