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Birding: GOLDEN GATE

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Birding: GOLDEN GATE

Unread postby Owl » Wed Dec 19, 2007 10:51 pm

This past long weekend I was in Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Despite all the rain there was still opportunity to go up to the Vulture Feeding Scheme on the Oribi Loop during breaks in the pour.

On the Sunday at about 11h00 there was a single adult Lammergeier soaring and circling over the ridge where one can leave the tar road and walk up to views of the feeding site.

On Monday morning I returned to the site hoping to get some photographs. As I approached the site at about 07h30 there were 5 vultures circling above the ridge. I anticipated that some would be Cape Vultures, but to my delight the five consisted of 1 immature and 4 adult bearded vultures
and they seemed to be playing together or performing synchronised soaring in the air currents. As I approached and parked my car they would take turns to soar into view, wheel in the wind and disappear over the ridge. At least 2 of the adults reappeared carrying long bones and did the bone dropping thing onto the rocks on the slope adjacent the
road.

While one of the birds descended to feed on the bone fragments, it was hassled by 3 or 4 ravens, but it held its ground. Then suddenly a Cape Vulture appeared out of nowhere and dropped literally on top of the feeding Bearded, which immediately took flight.

Questions I'd like input on from any vulturephiles on the forum:
- 5 Lammergeiers together seems to me to be quite a lot. Is this so for Golden Gate or for other parts of their range?
- Do Lammergeiers (or any other vultures) engage in sychronised flying?
- Do Lammergeiers usually play second fiddle to Cape Vultures, but remain unfazed by the ravens?

And unrelated to my observations, are their any plans to reintroduce these magnificent birds to their former haunts in some of the Cape mountain ranges?

Regards

Chris Patton

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Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Thu Dec 20, 2007 2:21 pm

I can't help with the queries, Chris. I just want to express my complete envy at the wonderful experience you have had to see not just a single BV, but a whole bunch doing synchronised flying displays, bone-dropping and inter-acting with other species!

You lucky fish! :mrgreen:
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Unread postby DuQues » Thu Dec 20, 2007 2:24 pm

Johan took the words out of my mouth... :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
Arriving currently: The photos from our trip! Overhere! :yaya:

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

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Unread postby Owl » Thu Dec 20, 2007 8:49 pm

I can't tell you guys how chuffed I was because for over 20 years this has probably been my number one bogey bird and I'm just shy of 700 SA species.

I've been through Lesotho, climbed Champagne Castle twice, been to Golden Gate at least 5 times and various places in the Natal Drakensberg at least another 10 and although I've seen birds I'm confident are BV at great distance I've never had one close enough to view properly and tick off.
:) :D :dance:

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Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Thu Dec 20, 2007 10:03 pm

Hey, Owl... what would it take to get you to add your numbers to our very modest list of forum birders? It'll be absolutely great to have you on board!
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Unread postby Bush Baptist » Fri Dec 21, 2007 9:43 am

Johan van Rensburg wrote:Hey, Owl... what would it take to get you to add your numbers to our very modest list of forum birders? It'll be absolutely great to have you on board!
Agreed!
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Unread postby Owl » Fri Dec 21, 2007 10:53 am

What does that entail?

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Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Fri Dec 21, 2007 11:36 am

Just post your total here with a note to francoisd, something to the effect: "Francois, please add me (Owl). My total is XXX"

:lol: :dance: :lol: :dance: :lol:
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Unread postby Owl » Tue Jan 08, 2008 10:05 am

I've just received feedback from Dr Chris Brown of the Namibia Nature Foundation, who did his PhD on Bearded Vultures in the 1980s re some of my questions. Below is his response which I found fascinating and thought I'd share with the forum:

While generally solitary, Bearded Vultures will come together in groups at food, or in places where wind conditions are favourable for group “playâ€

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Unread postby Owl » Fri Jan 11, 2008 5:54 pm

And Andre Botha - the raptor specialist with the Endangered Wildlife Trust has added more commentary:

Your queries regarding the Bearded Vultures at Golden Gate, etc. has reference.

5 BV’s at one spot is not unusual for this part of their range. The most individuals that I observed at one time at a now defunct vulture restaurant in the adjacent QwaQwa National Park during 1998 was 13 individuals of various ages. We also recorded quite a number of individual birds at a restaurant near Underberg last year, but the most that landed together were two immature birds at once. It is however possible that they could arrive at a feeding site at the same time.

I have seen BV’s flying together, but not seen “synchronizedâ€

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Golden Gate Birding

Unread postby Guinea Pig » Wed Jul 29, 2009 5:29 pm

I need some Stiffneck info.

I last visited Golden Gate in 1995 but my brother and I stayed in Clarens. That was before I learnt the error of my ways. :lol: And a bird had two wings.

I have no idea what to look for in Golden Gate. Ja, DB, I know you saw Bearded Vultures. :lol: We should be that lucky. Any tips what we may expect to come accross.
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Re: Golden Gate Birding

Unread postby Batmad » Wed Jul 29, 2009 5:37 pm

GP- Look out for Bearded vulture! :wink: aswell as Bald Ibis in the rockfaces.

We did not see alot when we where there because it was in the middle of winter :(
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Re: Golden Gate Birding

Unread postby Guinea Pig » Wed Jul 29, 2009 5:45 pm

We'll be there middle September so hoping to have a good birding trip, Batmad.

It'll be nice seeing a Bald Ibis that doesn't want food from you like the ones in the Aviary at the Emerald Zoo. :evil:
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Re: Golden Gate Birding

Unread postby mosij » Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:54 am

Hi,
Check the birding info on the web page - here's an extract of what you can expect to see;
Bearded Vulture, Black Stork, Bald Ibis, Cape Vulture, Verreaux’s (Black) and Martial Eagle, Jackal Buzzard, Lanner and Peregrine Falcon and Rock Kestrel. Black and Alpine Swift Grey-wing and Redwing Francolin, Mountain, Mocking Cliff- and Buff-streaked Chat, Sentinel and Cape Rock-Thrush, Orange-breasted Rockjumper, African Rock Pipit, Ground Woodpecker, Wing-snapping (Ayre’s), Wailing and Lazy Cisticola, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Malachite, Greater Double-collared and Southern (Lesser) Double-collared Sunbird and Drakenberg Siskin

I'm not sure how to create a link but here's the url;
http://www.sanparks.org/parks/golden_ga ... 0Highlands


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