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 Post subject: Re: Report of our first trip to Kruger - 3-14 January 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu May 09, 2013 4:51 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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I agree Charbel!

The planning and the Trip Report makes the fun last so much longer!

You must be burning of excitement for you upcoming trip!

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 Post subject: Re: Report of our first trip to Kruger - 3-14 January 2011
Unread postPosted: Fri May 10, 2013 2:54 pm 
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Baboons do provide so many hours of fun!

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 Post subject: Re: Report of our first trip to Kruger - 3-14 January 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 3:14 pm 
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Meandering Mouse wrote:
I do love baboons :lol: :lol: :lol: the best entertainment in the Park, unless they are tucking into your breakfast.

:popcorn:


Yes, Meandering Mouse! We were lucky they never tried anything on us. But in Letaba and Olifants, we were careful to turn the refrigerator the other side, as recommended. Fun they learned to open the refrigerators...

Cheers
Charbel


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 Post subject: Re: Report of our first trip to Kruger - 3-14 January 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 3:15 pm 
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Super Mongoose wrote:
I agree Charbel!

The planning and the Trip Report makes the fun last so much longer!

You must be burning of excitement for you upcoming trip!


Dear Super Mongoose,
Burning is the right word!
Finished today to prepare all my maps...

Cheers
Charbel


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 Post subject: Re: Report of our first trip to Kruger - 3-14 January 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 7:14 pm 
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Still in H7, our next sighting was my favorite stork, Saddle-Billed Stork accompanied by a Little Grebe

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The Saddle-Billed Stork is an amazing bird, with an outstanding combination of colors.

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This bird is classified as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List, but with decreasing populations. The population trend seems to be one of decreasing, but the decline is not believed to be rapid enough to make the species approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable to extinction, according to the IUCN criteria. The population is estimated to be around 1,000-25,000 individuals, roughly including 670-17,000 mature individuals. There is a huge margin of uncertainty about the population numbers, but the evaluation is that it is also not close to make the species vulnerable. Unfortunately, the situation is worse in South Africa and Swaziland, where it is Endangered, and in Mozambique, where it is Threatened. Major threats include disturbance, wetland degradation (for instance, pesticide contamination) and land conversion to agriculture.

This is map of its distribution: http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=106003838

It is found in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, and in South Africa in Mpumalanga and closer areas. We will not see it in Kgalagadi, for instance. This stork inhabits extensive fresh, brackish or alkaline wetlands in open, semi-arid areas and savannahs, where fishes are relatively abundant and there are available trees for nesting and roosting.

There is no evidence of regular long-distance migration in this species, even though it is not sedentary, with some populations showing local nomadic movements to find optimum foraging habitats in periods of drought or flooding.

It eats fishes ranging from 15 to 30 cm in length, and also crabs, shrimps, frogs, reptiles, small mammals, young birds, molluscs and insects. When we found this individual, it was foraging using the typical style of wading, observing, trying to capture fishes and other animals with the beak.

Here is a closer image of the Little Grebes.

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The Little Grebes or Dabchicks have a large distribution. You can see it here: http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=106003628

I saw them also in Doñana, Andalucia, last November. They are found in Eurasia, the west Pacific islands, South-east Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In southern Africa, they are commonly found, with the exception of most of the Kalahari. It generally prefers dams, lakes, small ponds, backwaters in sluggish watercourses and temporary pans. Sometimes they are also found in saltpans and estuaries.

This species is sedentary, but can disperse locally or be fully migratory depending on the winter temperatures of its breeding grounds. In Africa, its dispersions are also related to seasonal rains and the appearance of temporary wetlands. It has an outstanding ability to locate isolated oases, rapidly colonizing new dams in arid areas.

They mainly eat fishes and other aquatic animals. They dive up to 50 seconds underwater to catch their preys. Often they are found together with ducks and hippos, catching the aquatic life they disturb. Like other grebes it sometimes eats its own feathers, since the feathers act as a protective wrapping for fish bones.

This species is not threatened. In a source it is said that its population has increased considerably due to the introduction of farm dams and other man-made reservoirs. However, this information does not agree with the more reliable data in IUCN, in which the species is classified as Least Concern with decreasing populations. But the population is very large, and the decline is not enough to put them into the Vulnerable category. The global population is estimated to number c.610,000-3,500,000 individuals. The species is susceptible to avian influenza and thus could be threatened by future outbreaks of the virus. It also hunted for commercial (as food) and recreational purposes in Iran.

There are several recordings of Little Grebes in Xenocanto, from several parts of the world: http://www.xeno-canto.org/browse.php?sp ... ttle+Grebe

Noisy but nice.

We found another Speke's hinged tortoise crossing H7. It seemed that a car had already passed over this poor animal. See how the shell is distorted.

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Then, some Dung beetles, always amusing and so important for the birds to look for them in the road, guaranteeing our sightings.

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This is a picture I like, me in the car, taking care of the plans and maps, while my friend Pedro drives, and my wife Carol keeps her sharp eye looking for animals. All of us looked, evidently, but we discovered she was quite good in finding hidden or far away animals.

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Then three landscape pictures. H7 among trees extending to the horizon.

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Here the landscape of the savannah, with the many shrubs and beautiful skies.

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Finally, a nice view of the bushy environment.

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And now the end of this posting. I will soon come back with the fantastic Roodewal Road (S39), where Elephants were the high tone, either bathing to us or threatening us. Don’t lose the next postings in this TR!


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 Post subject: Re: Report of our first trip to Kruger - 3-14 January 2011
Unread postPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 5:57 am 
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Nice to see you!! Thanks for all the extra animal info!

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 Post subject: Re: Report of our first trip to Kruger - 3-14 January 2011
Unread postPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 7:18 am 
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Awesome landscape pictures Charbel! The Saddle-billed Stork is also very special! :clap: :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: Report of our first trip to Kruger - 3-14 January 2011
Unread postPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 8:15 am 
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charbel,

Thank you for another stunning episode with great :cam: and loads of info. :thumbs_up:

Poor little Speke's hinged tortoise really looks as if he/she has really had some major injury. :hmz:

Scenic :cam: *sigh* just awesome. :clap: :clap:

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TR "Born to be Wild"..37 Days of sights, sounds and smells!!


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 Post subject: Re: Report of our first trip to Kruger - 3-14 January 2011
Unread postPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 9:59 pm 
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Awesome saddle-billed stork pictures - Also one of our favourites :dance: :dance: :dance:

and then the tiny tortoise :thumbs_up:

Thanks so much Charbel :popcorn:


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 Post subject: Re: Report of our first trip to Kruger - 3-14 January 2011
Unread postPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 5:22 am 
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Lovely pics of the saddlebills. We really are lucky to be able to have so many opportunities to see them. I always get very excited when one comes my way. Spectacular birds.

:popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: Report of our first trip to Kruger - 3-14 January 2011
Unread postPosted: Wed May 15, 2013 8:57 pm 
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Dear Meandering mouse, Pumbaa, Trrp-trrrrrrrr, Hilda and Cape of Storms,
Nice to know you like the Saddle-billed Stork. They are indeed amazing! We saw them other times during the trip. Lucky we!!

Poor tiny tortoise... seemed to have lived a hard life, but she endured, and was there crossing the road once again.

I will soon go on. It is an honor to have you all on board!

Cheers
Charbel


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 Post subject: Re: Report of our first trip to Kruger - 3-14 January 2011
Unread postPosted: Tue May 21, 2013 3:43 am 
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We chose to go to Olifants through Roodewal Road (S39), in order to avoid the tar road, where many cars would be present. This was a good decision. S39 reserved to us a lot of sightings and, besides that, a great and adventurous stop in the Sasol Ratelpan Bird Hide, which I strongly recommend. These were the sightings in the road before the bird hide:

1 European Roller (Coracias garrulus), 2 Ostriches (Struthio camelus), a male and a female, 1 African Grey Hornbill (Tockus nasutus), 1 Magpie (African Longtailed) Shrike (Corvinella melanoleuca), another European Roller, Burchell's Zebras, 2 Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters (Merops nubicoides), 1 Southern Grey-Headed Sparrow (Passer diffuses) , 2 Laughing Doves (Streptopelia senegalensis) , 3 Grey Go-Away Birds (Lourie) (Corythaixoides concolor), Impalas, Wattled Starlings (Creatophora cinerea) , 1 Cape Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia capicola), 1 Red-Billed Hornbill (Tockus erythrorhynchus), 1 Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri), 1 Tree Squirrel (Paraxerus Cepapi), 2 (African) White-Backed Vultures (Gyps africanus), females taking care of their nests, 1 Brown-Snake Eagle (Circaetus cinereus), Chacma Baboons (Papio ursinos) , 1 African Elephant (Loxodonta Africana), and more Wattled Starlings.

First, European Rollers. They were common, but I could never get tired of taking their pictures. The first individual was in the middle of the road, posing for nice pictures. In fact, he was catching beetles, as you can see in the second picture.

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This European Roller, in turn, was with a Caterpillar ready to be eaten.

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I did not identify the owners of this web, but, based on the size, I`d say it probably belongs to some social spider. I have began working with them – as models to study the evolution of sociality about two years ago. And they do such big webs.

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And then we found our first ostriches in the trip, a couple. First we saw the male and then the female. In the first picture, you can see how we found them, far away in the middle of the grass.

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Ostriches are classified as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List, due to their large range and population size. However, the population trend is decreasing, but up to the moment not at a rate that puts them into vulnerability to extinction. The global population size has not been quantified. Anyway, the species is reported to be frequent to abundant throughout most of its range.

Here you can see their natural distribution, including an area in southern Africa where they were introduced: http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=100006001

However, this is not entirely correct, since ostriches have also been introduced in other parts of the world, for instance, in Northeast Brazil, where I live.

Ostriches generally prefer open savanna woodland, arid and semi-arid grassland and shrubland, and open desert plains.

In Xenocanto, we find only one recording of Ostrich, quite short, but with the curios that we also hear an African Rock Python hissing in foreground: http://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Struthio-camelus

A call recording can also be found here: http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/bir ... amelus.htm

They are predominantly herbivorous, eating succulents, grass, leaves, flowers and seeds.

One male holds a territory and mates with up to four females. Even though the females also have home ranges, they do not defend them, and, besides, they which overlap with one another. The female home ranges are larger and do not coincide with the male territories. A male drives other males out of his territory. If he encounters females, however, he displays to them, trying to court them.

Parents care for young for about nine months, warding off predators off by pretending to be injured so as to divert the predator away from the young. They can also threaten the predator by running towards it with opened wings and lowered head. Anyway, survival rates can be low. A study in Kenya showed that only 36% of the eggs in a nest were incubated, and, of the incubated eggs, only 33% hatched, resulting in 7.5 young on average being produced per nest. Only about 12% of these young survived to adulthood, resulting in 0.9 survivors per nest. In South Africa, in particular, chicks die due to the sudden onset of cold, wet spells and are also susceptible to internal parasites. When we see such vulnerability, worries about risks for the species increase. But ostriches have entered the set of animals domesticated and reared by humans, what makes it less likely that they get extinct.

In S39, we found once again a Magpie Shrike, always a nice bird to see. In the first two pictures, it was more exposed in the tree, showing its long tail. Then, it moved (as we can see in the third pic) to a more hidden position.

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And then the first Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters. What a marvel of nature this combination of colors! Almost unlikely that we are seeing something like that. This is a birder dream!

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These two birds were found in the same dry tree.

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Here is a closer view.

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And then one of them flew away

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Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters are classified as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List, with decreasing populations, since it occupies a large range and the population decline is not fast enough for their classification as Vulnerable to extinction. Although the species is not threatened, they are shot by farmers who consider them pests. This shows how knowledge can be a bless. As they feed on insects, they are more likely to help than to harm farming.

The distribution of this species can be seen here: http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=106001185

In KNP, we are at the southernmost part of its distribution, in a non-breeding area. They are locally common in savanna, swamps with scattered dead trees and cultivated land, especially in areas surrounding rivers and lakes.

They feed exclusively on insects, as the common name of the species suggests. Their preys are generally larger than those of other bee-eaters. Most of the foraging takes place aerially, often flying long distances to find eruptions of insects. They quick take advantage of bushfires, catching the insects as they flee from the fire.

Here you can find recordings of their calls: http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/bir ... coides.htm

As usual, these recordings are also available from Xenocanto: http://www.xeno-canto.org/browse.php?sp ... +Bee-Eater

One of the recordings is from ca. 500 birds breeding in a river bank, showing one of the more famous behaviors of the species.

I will soon come back with a new posting, still in S39.


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 Post subject: Re: Report of our first trip to Kruger - 3-14 January 2011
Unread postPosted: Tue May 21, 2013 10:23 am 
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Wow Charbel, those Carmine Bee-eaters are beautiful! And the European Roller sitting in the road is a stunning picture, as is the Magpie Shrike in the dead tree! :clap: :clap:

Thank you for all the interesting information too! :dance: :dance:

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 Post subject: Re: Report of our first trip to Kruger - 3-14 January 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 12:19 am 
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Dear Hilda,
Thanks for your message!
All great birds to see!!!

Cheers
Charbel


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 Post subject: Re: Report of our first trip to Kruger - 3-14 January 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 5:45 am 
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Charbel,

Another very informative and stunning episode. :clap: :clap:

Great pics of all the birds. :thumbs_up:

Some of those spider webs are really huge. :big_eyes:. Wonder if anybody has ever recorded amount found to be residing in one. :hmz:

Thank you for sharing :popcorn:

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