Here is the list of sightings in H7:
First, 5 Burchell’s Zebras and 2 Impalas. No pictures taken. Time on our ankles and already too many zebras for one day…. Yes, they are never too many… but worried about time as we were.
In Nsemani Dam:
3 Hippos, 1 Egyptian Goose, 1 Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea
), 1 Southern Pochard (Netta erythrophthalma
), 2 Blacksmith Lapwings (Plovers).
Back in the road:
1 Swainson’s Spurfowl (Francolin), 1 Magpie (African Longtailed) Shrike, 1 Cape Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia capicola
), 1 Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis
), 1 Grey Go-Away Bird (Lourie), 1 European Roller, 1 Brown-Snake Eagle (Circaetus cinereus
), 1 Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis
), 4 Burchell’s Zebras + 4 Waterbucks, 1 Hadada Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash
), 1 Leopard Tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis
), 1 Dung Beetle, 4 African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus
), 6 (African) White-Backed Vultures (Gyps africanus
), 2 Tawny Eagles (Aquila rapax
), Four groups of male Impalas, 8 Warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus
), and just before Orpen, seeming to be residents, 32 Blue Wildebeests + 3 Burchell’s Zebra + Impalas, in a mixed herd, and just some minutes later, another mixed herd, just by the entrance of the camp, with Burchell’s Zebras, Blue Wildebeests, and Africa Buffalos.
This was our second Grey Heron in the trip, since we had seen one in Shitlhave Dam, so far away that no good pictures could be taken. This time, in Nsemani Dam, the heron was closer, and some reasonable pics were possible. Here is one.
This heron is classified as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List, even though its population trend is unknown. One of the reasons for the classification is its large distribution: http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=106003715
We can find it in Oceania, Asia, Europe, and Africa. In Africa we have non breeding populations. The same is true of Spain, where I saw just two months ago a lot of Grey Herons, even more than in KNP. North of the equator, it is a migratory bird, due to climate reasons, but in southern Africa, it is resident, moving only occasionally in response to changes in habitat.
This is one of the lucky animals that benefit from our interventions to the environment and, thus, may survive the environmental crisis. It greatly benefited from the construction of artificial water bodies, as we can see in KNP and I just saw in Andalucia, in Spain.
But believe me, I can never get tired of them. They are gorgeous and impressive birds! But I am a suspect, because I love herons in general.
You can listen to their noisy calls here: http://www.xeno-canto.org/browse.php?sp ... grey+heron
Many recordings, almost all from Europe.
As a heron, it generally favors shallow water bodies, such as estuaries, lagoons, rivers, lakes, the intertidal zone, marshes and dams.
Its feeding techniques are a highlight for this bird. It mainly eats fish and uses three different hunting techniques in order to catch them: (1) to wait at one spot for prey to come within striking distance; (2) to walk carefully through shallow water before ambushing prey – that’s what the heron we saw was doing, moving back and forth in the dam; (3) to drop into the water from the air.
This is a monogamous and usually colonial bird, often breeding in mixed-species colonies, although it may also nest alone or in small groups. There are a number of different displays used by the male in courtship, including one in which it calls from a prominent perch before throwing its head upward and giving a loud yelp.
For the first time, we found a Southern Pochard in the trip in KNP.
In Xenocanto, we find three recordings of Southern Pochard, all from Brazil, in fact two from the state where I live: http://www.xeno-canto.org/browse.php?sp ... n+Pochard+
Here is the distribution of Southern Pochard: http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=100600471
This pochard is found in Southern and East Africa, in the Northeast of Brazil, and in some regions of other South American countries, such as Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, and Equador. It is a common bird in Southern Africa. It is found in wetlands with deep, clear water and emergent vegetation.
Southern Pochards ringed in the North-West Province have been found in northern Namibia, and even Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya, more than 3000 km away! Thus, they can really move long distances.
The species is classified as Least Concern, with decreasing population, in the IUCN Red List. The main threats come from the expansion of agriculture, from hunting, and from natural system modifications introduced by us.
It feeds mainly on seeds and leaves of aquatic plants. Very small amounts of invertebrates complete its diet. It usually forages by diving, sometimes travelling 18 m. It also dabbles and can forages on waterside vegetation, but only rarely.
It is a monogamous, solitary nester, with the nest built by the female using leaves and stems. The nest is placed on embankments surrounded by dense vegetation.
This was an incredible tree. Altogether, 1 Cape Turtle-Doves, 1 Swainson’s Spurfowl (Francolin) and 1 Magpie (African Longtailed) Shrike, and, it is incredible, but I just saw now, a bird I still did not identify. I took for granted it was a dove too, without magnifying the picture. But it is not. It is a Laughing Dove. Great diversity for one single dry tree!
Cape-Turtle Doves are not threatened. On the contrary, Least Concern in the IUCN Red List with increasing population, even though they are hunted for sport and food. Indeed, they are very common in KNP. We saw hundreds… This is their distribution: http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=106002506
They are found in Central, Southern, and East Africa.
There are several recordings of their calls in Xenocanto, under another common name, Ring-Necked Dove (quite adequate): http://www.xeno-canto.org/browse.php?sp ... a+capicola
This dove mainly eats seeds, but also feeds on fruits, nectar, leaves and invertebrates. It usually forages on the ground, looking for seeds and fallen fruits.
All the other birds in that tree were already discussed in the TR. So, let’s move on.
A nice raptor to find is the Steppe Eagle. It was not close…
And here is an attempt to get close to her
which began to scream for some reason
The Steppe Eagle, unfortunately, shows now decreasing populations, even though still classified as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List. The reason for this classification lies in the extremely large range of distribution, as you can see here: http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=106003533
Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline does not seem rapid enough to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it does not seem to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). The global population is estimated to number more than 10,000 individuals.
This eagle is frequently electrocuted on power lines. Interestingly for conservation thinking, the number of migrants in Israel has halved since 1975. This is thought to have been largely caused by radioactive fallout from Chernobyl.
The populations found in South Africa are non breeding. They generally prefer savanna, open woodland and grassland. This is a raptor we only see in KNP in the summer. It is a palearctic breeding migrant, arriving in southern Africa in the period from October-November, moving nomadically in search of termite alate emergences (their main food), and then departing in the period from March to April.
The species has been regionally extinct in Moldava and Romania.
Two short recordings of their calls can be found in http://www.xeno-canto.org/browse.php?sp ... eppe+eagle
So, we were there, going down H7 and stop over and over again… The risk of not getting to Orpen in time was mounting… Wait for the next scenes… With a great encounter with an animal we read to be not so often seen….