(Article and images - all taken at Napier - by Steve Peck).
Napier sits in the wheatbelt of the Overberg, deep in the heart of rural farming. The area has a huge variety of habitats that provide many different types of food sources for wildlife, and is made up of arable fields, patches of renosterveld, small dams, hedgerows, shrubs and trees. All these are home to small and large rodents, a variety of mongoose, bokkies and more than two hundred and fifty species of birds. If you take a drive along one of the many gravel roads that criss-cross the region, you are more than likely to spot several different types of raptors, especially this time of year.
Our smaller raptors, such as the Peregrine and Lanner falcons, the Rock Kestrel and Black-Winged Kite, owls, such as the Spotted Eagle and Barn owls, African Goshawk, Rufous-Breasted Sparrowhawk and Eurasian Hobby feed predominantly on rodents, such as vlei rats, field mice and larger insects, which are all plentiful in this area.
The Black Harrier and the Black Sparrowhawk can also be spotted, as well as the Jackal Buzzard and the African Fish-Eagle, which are a common sight all year round. Secretarybirds frequent the renosterveld areas, stomping about to disturb prey in the low grasses. This year, it is exciting to note that there have been sightings of Martial Eagles carrying yellow mongoose and other prey towards the mountains and their nests.
Other raptors seen in the Napier region over the last few years have been the African Harrier-Hawk, African Marsh-Harrier, Forest Buzzard, Southern Pale-Chanting Goshawk, Cape Vulture, Verreaux’s Eagle, Common Buzzard, European Honey-Buzzard, Yellow-Billed Kite and Lesser-Spotted Eagle.
That makes 25 different species of raptors seen in this region….so, if you are hoping to see some raptors, have a look in the wheatlands. It won’t disappoint!