October 2019

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
RV Road Names Getting to know the raptors!
First Flowers Look out for these blooms.
Kingfishers Woodland & Brown-hooded
Through the office window Daily distractions
Interesting Sightings Observations from our residents
Photo Gallery Great results from our photographers

We're back!
Apparently our editorial sabbatical is over. Our thanks to the beleaguered stand-in team of one...
Please remember it's impossible to produce The Raptor without input from residents...
So please send sightings and photos through.
Many thanks, as always, to our regular contributors.

Road Names in Raptor's View - Derek Solomon
Tawny Eagle Following up on a great idea from our stand-in editor...“please tell us a little more about the raptors used to name our roads”. We are often asked what the term raptor means and the simple answer is 'a bird of prey' and it is derived from 'rapere', a Latin word which means to seize or capture.

So, the first road as we enter the estate is Tawny Eagle. The scientific name of this eagle is Aquila rapax. Aquila is Latin for eagle, rapax (also Latin) means grasping, or being rapacious, and this certainly describes this magnificent eagle. One of the largest eagles recorded on Raptor's View with a body length of 70cm and a wingspan of 182cm. Like many raptors, the female is larger and heavier (males up to 1.9kg, females 1.5-3.1kg).

It is generally described as a stocky, reddish-brown eagle but this can be a little misleading as the plumage is fairly variable, ranging from dark brown to pale buff (often described as a ‘blond' form), and all of this age is related as well (but too much for this short note). Time to get your field guides out.

It is resident throughout the lowveld and breeds mainly between April and July building a stick platform on the top of a tall tree, mainly Knobthorn. It either hunts from a perch in a tree or on the wing taking a wide range of mammals, birds and reptiles (particularly Monitor Lizards).

Blond tawny
'Blond' Tawny Eagle
Tawny on the nest

But there are other sides to Tawny feeding behaviour. It is an avid scavenger and together with the Bateleur, is often the first bird coming down to a carcass in the veld or at a roadkill. It will feed on insects such as locusts fleeing grass fires, take chicks from quelea nests during their breeding season and feed on stranded fish. It is also a kleptoparasite, regularly stealing prey from other raptors including Bateleur, as well as Ground Hornbill.

Tawny Tawny
with Egret kill
with very full crop

So, lots to think about when you next see one. As far as we know, it is not often seen on Raptor's View, but we look forward to hearing about your sightings and hope to publish them in a future edition, even better if you can include a photo as well!

First Flowers - Dave & Bernie Spencer
Even before the first rains some trees have produced their flowers. Aside from their beauty these early flowers provide a valuable supplement to the diet of animals, birds and insects after the long dry months. Here are 4 early bloomers to look out for on RV.
Tree-wisteria (Bolusanthus speciosus) is easy to identify with its purple pea-like flowers usually produced before the leaves. A slender tree with a bright green, drooping canopy and contrasting dark fissured bark it is one of the first to come into flower and leaf and is distributed across the estate.
A smaller but attractive bush and common on RV is the Dwarf Bush-cherry (Maerua parvifolia). This is a species of the arid bushveld often close to termite mounds, and may be found along the Lion Trail. The small leaves give the shrub its specific name and are regularly browsed by antelope.
tree wisteria
bush cherry
Tree-wisteria (Bolusanthus speciosus)
Dwarf Bush-cherry (Maerua parvifolia)

Our second white flower belongs to Worm-cure Albizia (Albizia anthelmintica). The pincushion like flowers are sweetly scented. Look out for this species close to the bird hide. As the name suggests the bark may be used to treat worm infestations in both man and animal.
Few on Raptor's View will fail to recognize Knob Thorn Acacia (Senegalia nigrescens). Flowering begins in August and the creamy-white blooms are always a welcome sight to suggest Spring is close at hand.

ablizia knobthorn
Worm-cure Albizia (Albizia anthelmintica)
Knob Thorn Acacia (Senegalia nigrescens)

Kingfishers - Steve Benbow
Woodland Kingfisher Brown-hooded Kingfisher
Woodland Kingfisher
(Bosveldvisvanger - Afrikaans)
When we first arrived in RV, we were surprised at how much affection is held for the Woodland Kingfisher. It is a summer migrant and 'signals' the arrival of better weather, the Festive season and hopefully good rains. Coming from the Northern Hemisphere, our 'Christmas bird' is the diminutive red-breasted European Robin so this was quite a leap for us!

This kingfisher usually arrives around the middle to end of November and we recorded our fist sighting in 2018 on 27th November. A striking bird that is much more often heard with its piercing call than seen; there is not much chance of mistaking it for anything else on the estate with the possible exception of the Brown-hooded Kingfisher (or the Striped Kingfisher which is much smaller). Distinguishing features for the Woodland Kingfisher are its red and black bill and blue head. Being a kingfisher of bushveld and wooded areas, it mainly has an insectivorous diet but it will also prey on lizards, frogs, small snakes and even small birds.
Listen out for this harbinger of summer in the coming weeks.
Brown-hooded Kingfisher
(Bruinkopvisvanger - Afrikaans)
Looking a little like the Woodland Kingfisher, the Brown-hooded Kingfisher is present on RV all through the year and can be distinguished from the previous species by its brown hood (which often looks a dirty grey) and its all red bill (with slight darkening at the tip). It also has less blue on its body and wings and in flight it has a cinnamon underwing.
Competing with the Woodland for food, it also preys on insects but will also take small lizards and snakes along with small rodents. Whereas the Woodland Kingfisher nests in tree holes, the Brown-hooded will excavate a horizontal tunnel into a vertical bank and lays between 2 and 5 eggs.
Look out for the Brown-hooded Kingfisher dipping into your swimming pool for a drink and to cool-off on hot days.

Through the Office Window - Derek & Sarah Solomon
mongoose We are lucky to have one of the best 'through the office window' views we know; and are constantly distracted by the comings and goings of our local wildlife.

These entertaining, and usually lively & vocal, Banded Mongoose have been regular daily visitors of late; here they are stretched out quietly relaxing and cooling down on the shaded concrete apron.

Interesting Sightings on the Estate
wattled starling New addition to the RV bird list - Derek Solomon Recently (early October) several Wattled Starlings (in non-breeding plumage; very distinctive breeding plumage usually coincides with the rains December-March.) have visited our birdbath with flocks of Cape Glossy Starlings. Since then we've learnt of another recent RV record. Others must have recorded the bird over the past months, and we would love to hear more about these sightings.
It is described as an irruptive nomad, some years present in very large numbers and in others absent. We will soon be adding the bird to the RV bird checklist that is available as a downloadable PDF from the RV website www.raptorsview.co.za

Non-breeding adult Wattled Starling pictured here.

snake giraffe
Spotted Bush Snake, 20/10/19, Simone Braun
RV road block, Esme Potgieter

wild dog jackal
badger porcupine
Wild Dog have been on and off the estate over the last few months - resulting in some interesting visitors on the camera trap after an impala kill. Esme & Thinus Potgieter

blue waxbill blue waxbill
blue waxbill blue waxbill
We were delighted to watch the nest building (in the edge of our thatch) and successful rearing (2 chicks) and fledging of a Blue Waxbill family in March. This was just one of several breeding pairs of Blue Waxbills; the nest was then taken over by Cut-throat Finches who also had a positive nesting outcome. As did the Crested Barbets in our sisal nest box - so a really good season earlier in the year. Mark Lotwis

Giraffe Capture
As we know live capture is complicated business with many moving parts that need to line up perfectly - having the capture team available on the ground, the state vet on hand, the pilots in the air (+ airspace permission) so many planned captures do not work out. Here is a successful one! Thanks to Jof McLean for the photo.

Spotted Eagle Owl The Spotted Eagle Owls are back! Keith Hartshorne

This is the fourth breeding attempt in the same spot - a perfect bowl in the trunk of a large Schotia (Weeping Boerbean). The first was about 15 years ago and the chick successfully hatched but after 10 days it sadly got consumed by a black mamba. The second was four years ago but an early rain storm filled the bowl in the Schotia and she abandoned the egg there. Then finally last year she hatched, carefully tended the chick until it was fully grown and fledged. A lovely 3 month process that we were privileged to follow daily!

She’s been sitting since 15th September and produced her chick 19th October. We’re so hoping for another successful fledging this year! An update to follow in the next issue...

scorpion scorpion
Uroplectes triangulifer
Parabuthus transvaalicus
Scorpions are out and about! So please aware & take care, being stung is painful, to say the least, as a few residents have unfortunately recently experienced. Photos - Mark Lotwis

starlings bushbaby
Lovely to see an influx of Cape Glossy Starling this season. Simone Braun Lesser Bushbaby making him/herself at home in our bird nesting box! Esme & Thinus Potgieter

Photo Gallery
jumping spider
A stunning Jumping Spider - Esme & Thinus Potgieter

A beautiful & dramatic lightening storm, March 2019 - Mark Lotwis

Red-faced Mousebird - Mark Lotwis

Black-headed Oriole - Mark Lotwis