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Newsletter # 3 April / May 2008

In this issue:

1 Vultures on Farm Kumbis, south of NamibRand Nature Reserve........... Le Roux van Schalkwyk 1 Barn Owl ........................................................... 1 Another breeding attempt by the enigmatic Cape Vulture: Dragon Rider .John Mendelsohn 2 Newsflashes 3 Little Sparrowhawk in the eastern Cape ........... ....................................................... Robin Teifel 4 Pale Chanting Goshawk attempting to capture a Barn Owl .................................Sandra Farkas

Another breeding attempt by the enigmatic Cape Vulture: Dragon Rider

John Mendelsohn Last year I reported on an attempt by this tracked male to nest at the historical vulture colony on the Waterberg. To recap briefly, the vulture has been monitored since the 15th of January 2005 when it was fitted with a transmitter at REST, 50 kilometres north-east of Otjiwarongo. About 13,500 locations had been recorded by the end of May 2008. In 2005, the bird nested in a tree near REST on the Diekmann's farm Uitsig. Breeding started in late March and ended in late June when the nestling disappeared. Dragon Rider nested again in a tree during 2006, this time on the resettlement farm Okaputa, close to the Otjiwarongo-Otavi road. The 2006 breeding attempt was probably successful because the bird was recorded at the nest consistently between February and November. The nesting attempt in 2007 on the Waterberg cliffs lasted from late March to the end of July when Dragon Rider's behaviour suggested that it then deserted because of a shortage of food. 2008 has seen the male revert to a tree nest, again on Okaputa but in a different tree. An egg was probably laid in early or mid-March, judging from the whole days the bird then spent on the nest (1-3, 8 and 15, 17-18 March). We also saw the male regurgitating food into what should have been a nestling on the 24th of May. The nest is about 7 metres off the ground on top of an Acacia reficiens in thick bush.

Vultures on Farm Kumbis, south of NamibRand Nature Reserve

Le Roux Van Schalkwyk Lately we have seen Lappet-faced Vultures on a regular basis at Kumbis. I saw these six on the ground near a dead gemsbok calf on 12/04/08, close to the boundary fence with the Namib-Naukluft Park. One of them was tagged. I tried to get close enough to read the tag with the binoculars, without success. When they took off, they were joined by two more in the air. I then drove off as I did not want to disturb them any further. Of interest is that we have seen cheetah on regular basis on Kumbis, feeding mainly on springbok and ostrich that they chase and catch against the jackal-proof fence.

Vultures seen on Kumbis

Photo: John Mendelsohn

Barn Owl at school

A scholar reported seeing a Barn Owl roosting at Walvisbaai Höerskool in the school pavilion. The school is within two blocks of where three dead raptors were found, and others were seen looking very much the worse for wear. Hopefully it's not just roosting, but breeding. Here the mice must be struggling to exist.

Photo: Le Roux van Schalkwyk

The male Cape Vulture, Dragon Rider on its nest on the 24th of May 2008 on Okaputa. The antenna of the PTT is clearly visible in the inset image.

April / May 2008 #3 Page 2

The Peregrine adult

Newsflashes

N ews f la sh es (Continued)

in Newsletter # 2 page 2 is Falco peregrinus. minor. I have a question about the Black-chested SnakeEagle (in the same edition). If it hit a wire, it wouldn't have burned wrists. It most likely landed on a cross arm and touched wires with its wings. When large birds hit wires, it usually breaks a wing, but with no burns. Bill Clark Thanks for your reply Bill. Luckily power-lines in areas where there are vultures, or other large birds, are few and far between, so we don't get all that many collisions. At 10,30 on 26/03/08, at Neudam, I saw a pale male European Honey Buzzard soaring quite low and I got a perfect view. When I looked at Sasol's guide, I was confused about the distribution. But I see from your newsletter on the web that a couple of these birds have been recorded this year. Unfortunately I could not take a picture. Thomas Falk June Own-Smith and I saw one (out of two present ) tagged Lappet­faced Vulture, E009 (could see presence of a ring but not the number) at the water hole called Klein Namuntoni in Etosha National Park at 13.00 pm. Twenty-one White-backed Vultures there, were mating and bathing. Sue Roux A juvenile Black Harrier was seen on 04.05.08 near Tok Tokkie Trails base camp on NamibRand Nature Reserve. On 16.04.08 I saw an adult Black Harrier on the entrance road to Aandstêr, close to the main road. The same bird (I assume) was seen by Nils Odendaal approximately 2km further north two days later. Marc Dürr apparently also saw it (if it is the same one) in the same vicinity (south of Tok Tokkie), about the same time. Elinor Dürr saw a Black Harrier at Tok Tokkie Trails on 06.Janury, 2003. Andreas Keding I counted 14 Lanner Falcons, an active Pale Chanting Goshawk nest, and several Jackal Buzzards in early March 2008. This will probably attract Black Harriers if it persists. Rob Simmons I was up at Potberg on the 13/05/2008 and saw three Black Harriers on the plateau. At first I only saw two birds as they were flying about 20 meters or so above the vegetation, involved in chasing one another and clasping claws. Eventually the one bird "chased" the other one over the horizon and out of view. Just as this happened I caught a quick glimpse of a third bird flying low over the vegetation and dropping into it below where the other two birds were. About an hour and a half later I saw a single bird flying over the horizon from the direction in which the two birds flew. This bird flew to the area where I originally saw the three birds. Unfortunately I was distracted by tagged. Vultures and did not see what happened to the bird. Kevin Shaw

On 26 April 2008, just west of Okondeka in Etosha,

vulture researcher Orr Spiegel and I recaptured a White-backed Vulture with the aid of a leg-hold trap . The vulture (G15596), was ringed in the nest on 11 October 2004 on the Etosha northern boundary, west of the Ekuma River. See photo below of what the colour rings look like now. Wilferd Versveld

E009, reported by Sue Roux and June OwenSmith, is an Etosha bird ringed near Two Palms on 16/10/07. Stephen Sachse reported a Cape Vulture K290 from near Kalkheuwel to me yesterday. Any idea where it comes from, REST or South Africa? Wilferd Versveld The note on kites reminded me of several thousand that I saw from the window of a troop train, when travelling from Bloemfontein to Walvis Bay in Feb 1969. It was late afternoon somewhere south of Windhoek with sparse vegetation and a couple of stunted acacias. The birds covered the ground and anything that they could perch on. An accurate estimate was not possible, but I remember the impression that there must have been more than 5 000 birds. Guy Palmer On 26 April 2008, during mid-morning, at the edge of Kalkheuwel Waterhole, Etosha National Park, one of the CC Africa Expedition guides, Jan Mohrdieck, very excitedly reported that he and his guests, had positively identified a Palmnut Vulture! It was inactive for a while, then flew off, making positive identification possible. I have also been watching for a while now, a pair of Honey Buzzards, seemingly roosting in the tall pine trees near our office just outside Avis, Windhoek, . Hazel Milne On 24/05/08 I saw sixteen Lappet-faced Vultures at a waterhole in the Goantagab River, GPS coordinates 20.74751°S 14.38084° E. The birds were very skittish and no tags could be seen. Herta Kolberg

April / May 2008 #3 Page 3

Little Sparrowhawk in the eastern Cape

Robin and Kai Teifel A Little Sparrowhawk we caught in our nets last weekend. Kai and I had the nets up around the fig tree and in he flew. What a beautiful bird. We ringed and released him and netted him twice more that morning. He was trying to catch the birds feeding on the wild fig that is starting to fruit. Made my day but probably upset his. Alexandra Keding is starting birdwatching early -- apparently she has a vulture in sight. She turns two in October.

ing s Ked ndrea :A Photo

Shrikes and buzzards.

Rob Simmons On a recent set of bird surveys, assessing bird species richness and diversity across Namibia's impressive rainfall gradient, Justine Braby and I recorded Redbacked Shrikes - a common migrant from Eurasia in the eastern parts of Namibia. Nothing unusual there, except on at least two occasions in the same river (about 1 km apart) I was drawn to adults alarm-calling at me. (I chased them down and there were no snakes or mongooses or gabars etc.). Curious, as that's never happened before. On closer inspection there were two young (flighted) shrikes in the trees in one instance and a singleton in the other. At least two thoughts come to mind (i) adults and their young migrate together and they are still semi-dependent on the adults whilst in their winter quarters (ii) they bred in Namibia/southern Africa in the exceptional rains of this La Nina year and this is why they were still being defended. Any thoughts? Weirder things have happened ... Steppe-like Buzzards breeding on the Cape peninsula for starters.

Photo: Robin Teifel

Pale Chanting Goshawk attempting to capture a Barn Owl

Sandra Farkas On 14 November 2007, while driving east on the main road toward the Halali Camp, I saw a Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk on top of what I believe was a Barn Owl. As I stopped, the Goshawk jumped off, and the owl stood up with extended wings. There was one more attempt at a kill by the goshawk, but the owl lunged up toward the attacking goshawk. Fifteen minutes passed as a stand-off ensued, during this time the owl had outstretched wings holding itself in an upright position; the owl was wavering from side to side. Several times the owl exhibited a behavior of hanging its head and swung it from side to side. The owl's back was toward me and the goshawk was facing me. There appeared to be a small spot of blood on the owl's feathers. I assumed the goshawk made the kill when I left.

This picture of a Spotted Eagle-Owl was taken on the farm Spiegelberg west of Ai-Ais. Namibia.

Photo: Sandra Farkas Photo: Susann Kinghorn

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