May 2018

In line with current eco-trends and aiming for a 'greener' lifestyle The Raptor is an e-newsletter - it does not conform to traditional page sizes and is not designed to be printed. The Raptor is what YOU make it so please do keep sending all the sightings and information through.

In This Issue
What Raptor is that? Bird Identification course
Veld Flowers Wild flowers blooming on the estate
Mistletoe and Tinkerbirds A symbiotic relationship
Interesting Sightings Observations from our residents

What Raptor is that?
raptor A morning workshop on raptor identification.

Raptors, both large and small, are notoriously difficult to identify in the field. So many are very similar in appearance, most have variable adult and juvenile plumages, some have different colour forms - all of which create identification problems in the field.

This two part audio/visual workshop will cover the large birds of prey found in the Greater Kruger area before the break, and then focus on the small raptors such as goshawks and sparrowhawks in the second half. It will cater for all levels of expertise and children over 12 years of age are welcome.

Saturday 16 June
Southern Cross Schools Resource Centre
Presenter - Derek Solomon
Contact - Glenda Sparkes at the Bushveld Bird Club for more information.

raptor raptor raptor
Photos deliberately not identified here - if you don't know what they are and would like to we'll see you on 16 June!

Flowers in bloom on the estate
The recent rains have encouraged many flowers on the estate to blossom - here are a selection from our residents.
veld violet poison apple
Carpet Flower or Veld Violet, Aptosimum lineare
Jof McLean, RV163
Poison or Bitter Apple, Solanum panduriforme
Jof McLean, RV163

flower flower
A tiny but very pretty member of the Euphorbia family - Euphorbia neopolycnemoides, the Klein bont Euphorbia. It has both white and red flowers on the same plant. Bernie & Dave Spencer, RV276

flower flower
Crabbea velutina (common name unknown)
JoŽl Roerig RV142
Leucas sexdentata - Bushveld Tumbleweed
JoŽl Roerig RV142

flower flower
On the Buffalo Trail, Cyathula lanceolata, the Stekelbossie. Bernie & Dave Spencer, RV276

flower flower
Pterodiscus ngamicus (common name unknown)
Jof McLean, RV163
Gnidia rubescens - Ruby Gnidia
Jof McLean, RV163

Mistletoes and Tinkerbirds - Derek Solomon, RV254
mistletoe tinkerbird
Mistletoe - Plicosephalis kalachariensis Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird

The sticky fruits of mistletoe plants are an important food source for tinkerbirds and the Acacia Pied Barbet. The tiny Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird is a common resident in Raptor's View and over the past few months has been calling throughout the day around our house. The call is a monotonous pop-pop-pop that can continue for several minutes at a time.

Mistletoes are hemiparasitic plants that belong to, amongst others, the families Loranthaceae and Viscaceae. The tinkerbirds and Acacia Pied Barbets feed extensively on the sticky fruit known as drupes. The seeds are swallowed whole and the soft part is broken down very rapidly and the seed, coated in a sticky substance called viscin, is either excreted in the droppings or regurgitated from the crop - with the seed being stuck to the bill and then wiped onto a branch by the bird. As soon as it touches a branch, it sticks and attaches itself to its future host via a haustorium, a structure that both anchors the mistletoe and taps into the host plant tissue to draw nutrients such as water and minerals from it. Photosynthesis is carried out independently - hence the term hemiparasite.

The attractive flowers of the mistletoe are important suppliers of nectar for sunbirds and white-eyes. The mistletoe in the photo above is called Plicosephalis kalachariensis and is growing on a large knobthorn outside our house and a male Marico Sunbird is collecting nectar from the flowers.

Two species of mistletoe, Pedistylis galpinii and Erianthemum dregii produce large flower-like outgrowths from the host tissue that are known as woodroses. These outgrowths are particularly common on marula and jackalberry trees and are very popular curio items particularly amongst florists.

Interesting Sightings on the Estate

bug catepillar
Our mystery bug from the last issue has been identified as a jewel bug or metallic shield bug.
Family Scutelleridae genus Chrysocoris
Thanks to Jaco Becker & Chris Hines for the identification.
The caterpillar of the Death's-head Hawkmoth
Joan Arnestad - taken at RV263

mamba bushbaby
Whilst staying at RV283 a Black Mamba cruised through the foliage to investigate the nest box home of a resident family of bush babies. I was relieved to to reassure the owner that they escaped unscathed and the snake missed a meal!
Els-Katrien Mahieu, RV195

Our now very large resident rock monitor relaxing and happily posing for this photo shoot. Lovelle Henderson, RV213

fungus warthog
A very impressive Bushveld bolete seen on the western fence just south of the Zandspruit in March.
Karl Eschberger RV84
Feeling rather proud to share our estate with such an enormous warthog boar with rather impressive tusks!
Jenny Lombard, RV115

This spotted Bush Snake's eyes were definitely bigger than his stomach as he tried to devour my hapless resident foam nest frog. He eventually gave up but it was, of course, too late for the frog. Photo by visiting friend Trudi Johannsen.
Monika Golightly, RV275

Ants moving their egg cases to another nest site. Simone Braun, RV255

Please send your notes and photos to the editors (Derek & Sarah Solomon) on