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.
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.
photo - Lee Gutteridge, RV164
photo - D & S Solomon, RV254
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 - Hugh Preston, RV288
Tree Wisteria - Hugh Preston, RV288
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
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.
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.
Combretum Flower & Leaf
Combretum Buds & Spines
Antlion Cycle - Derek Solomon, RV254
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 caught at 1.20am, 20/10/13. Keith Hartshorne, RV298
Thrilled to 'catch' a Honey Badger @ 2.25am, 12/9/13!
Michelle Severin, RV240
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
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
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).
Hog Heaven - Lawrence Morgan, RV283
Early evening porcupine and 3am giraffe kneecaps! - Michelle Severin, RV240
Comatose warthog and oxpeckers - Lawrence Morgan, RV283
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
Anthony Cavill-Taylor, RV301
Common Duiker. Derek Solomon, RV254
Pearl-spotted Owl - with a damaged eye. Lawrence Morgan, RV283
Red-billed Oxpeckers. David Golightly, RV275
Prone Woodland Doormouse. David Golightly, RV275
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.