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October 2011, Mvubu River Lodge
Ranger Report - October 2011
Yet again a very pleasant month of bush activities.
With the rise in temperatures, comes the increased presence of snakes, and we have had a few occasions around camp where bird parties were very actively persuading a hapless snake to leave the tree they decided to nest in, constantly mobbing the snake and creating quite a stir amongst the camps’ birdlife.
We have had more joy with our White Rhino population, one particular occasion we found 8 Rhino on an open plain; the generally solitary animals sometimes meet up in areas of good grazing. There were 2 young calves, which both seemed very interested in the vehicle and, with their subsequent approach, caused all 8 Rhino to come to within 20m of the vehicle. The mothers tried to head them off which lead to one of the calves deciding that it was time to exercise his legs. He ran away from the vehicle, which was now surrounded by Rhino, just to come to an abrupt stop about 100m away after coming to the realisation that he was now alone. He then came tearing back across the open sector and ran right in between the other Rhino just to continue running a big loop away from the vehicle. He ran around in big circles for another 5 minutes or so before he ran out of steam and settled down next to mom again.
Birding has also been very good; we have a pair of Peregrine Falcons nesting on a bridge close to the lodge. They are however not the only birds that have decided to nest there, as a few pairs of Egyptian Geese (Gypos) also chose this site. Anybody that has seen these Gypos at a nesting site will understand how noisy they can be especially in the morning. The Peregrines on the other hand do not tolerate their noisy neighbours that well. We see and very clearly hear this disagreement all too often in the form of a fast flying Gypo at water level desperately trying to avoid the sharp talons of the highly aggressive Peregrines, which are constantly dive bombing them. It is really wonderful to see this as the Gypo easily outweighs the Peregrines. What happened to “pick on someone your own size”? These phenomenal little Falcons are also one of the fastest birds when it comes to hunting. A good example; while we were doing some fishing along the river we heard a rather loud thud and when we looked up there was a substantial cloud of feathers hanging above us and we just caught a glimpse of the responsible Peregrine as it perched in a nearby tree to enjoy a rather large dove it had just acquired. They hunt using speed, hovering fairly high up in the sky, they identify an often flying target and with a very accurate swooping dive, which can peak at around 130km/h, smash into the intended victim feet first, literally killing the prey on impact.
Another bird which fascinates is the Goliath Heron; we watched one from a boat cruise as it sat on the edge of the river in a bit of grass. He spotted something in the water and very slowly cocked his neck in an S-shape before he struck. He had caught himself a small Barbel (Catfish) and quickly walked on to a muddy bank where he proceeded to bite and knock the Barbel on the bank. From being bashed on the bank the Barbel was now covered in mud and the Heron walked back into the water with the now dead Barbel and carefully washed it before swallowing it. We than moved off to enjoy coffee and muffins with a hippo grunting cheerfully nearby…
Ronnie Brink (Mvubu River Lodge)