OUTING TO RADICAL RAPTORS AND HARKERVILLE FOREST 5 SEPTEMBER 2015
(This report first appeared in the December 2015 edition of “THE MALACHITE”, the official LAKES BIRD CLUB newsletter and is posted with the permission of the editor. - Ed.)
This outing was a departure from our normal outings. A large group of birders met at Radical Raptors and were thoroughly entertained by Dennis and his birds. First up was Georgie, a Yellow-billed Kite, who was very happy to perch on our gloved fists to get a small titbit of meat. She had been raised by humans and still walks after Dennis shouting for food. Next was Charlie the Spotted Eagle-Owl. His flight was so quiet you could hardly hear him. Dennis told us that Owls sit quietly in the day time as they are slow and would be easy prey for other raptors. Then we had Barney the Barn Owl. They are not often seen but are extremely successful ratters. Each one catches about 1000 rats per year. Barn Owls need cavity nests and therefore like nesting boxes unlike the Spotted Eagle-Owl which would be happy with a cup in the branches of a tree. Last up was Black Jack the Jackal Buzzard who at 1 kg is much heavier than the 300g weight of a Barn Owl. He gave us a good demonstration of how he catches a rat on the ground. Dennis appealed to all of us to never use poison to kill rats as this has a huge impact on raptors.
Spotted Eagle-Owl at Radical Raptors - Anton
Radical Raptors rehabilitates birds that have been injured or that people have had as pets. Where possible they are released back into the wild. It was a very interesting visit and most enjoyable to see these birds up close. Among the birds that can’t be released is a Bateleur and a Verreaux’s Eagle and it was special to see them up close.
After that some of the birders went to the Harkerville Forest and had lunch at the Kranshoek picnic site. The weather was so nice and warm that we were glad of the shady trees. We did a walk after lunch through the fynbos to the view site which has magnificent views of the coast. Among the birds on our bird list were Hadeda, Cape White-eye, African Black-headed Oriole, Sombre Greenbul, Fork-tailed Drongo, Neddicky, Knysna Turaco and Klaas’s’ Cuckoo. We also saw Amethyst, Malachite, Greater Double-collared and Orange-breasted Sunbirds. Kelp Gulls, Swift Terns and Cape Cormorants were seen from the view point. Although we only saw 28 different species it was a most enjoyable outing.