Grey Heron on Akabeko Golf Course.

I have taken to riding around with my camera near at hand, and how happy I am that I did this the other day.

I saw this Grey Heron as I past the one dam its attitude told me it was either stalking something or had seen food…

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I got this photo just before the strike and then struggled to actually see what it had caught.. a struggle was on the cards.. something of length that could not just be swallow.. I continued to take photos until I could make out what it was… a small grass snake..

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This snake was not giving up without a fight…

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and even managed to encircle the beak of the bird..

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Down the hatch you go… eyes closed…

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But with a lot of head shaking and swallowing the snake finally disappeared down its throat… I nearly gagged thinking about that length going down my throat, and then it struck me… the snake was not dead when it went down.. why would it not bite the bird from the inside ? and would it be painful if it did ?

The bird was now disturbed by my proximity and flew off to one of the other dams, closely followed by me…

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An odd stance and attitude.. was this bird regretting the meal?.. well it never regurgitated anything, had a drink and settled down to what looked like a further search for food..

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This has taught me one lesson… “keep the camera handy!”…

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Pale Chanting Goshawk

(Southern) Pale Chanting Goshawk (Melierax canorus)

This hawk breeds in southern Africa. It is a resident species of dry, open semi-desert with 75 cm or less annual rainfall. It is commonly seen perched on roadside telephone poles.

This species is 56–65 cm long. The adult has grey upper-parts with a white rump.

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Immature have brown upper-parts, with a white rump and black bars on the tail.

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The Pale Chanting Goshawk eats a variety of vertebrate prey, mainly lizards, but also small mammals and birds, and large insects. It often walks on the ground.

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Amur Falcon.. Rietvlei Dam..

Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis)

The Amur Falcon, previously known as Eastern Red-footed Falcon, is a small raptor of the falcon family. It breeds in south-eastern Siberia and Northern China, wintering in Southern Africa. This bird is far from home…

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The birds diet consists mainly of insects, such as termites.

Males are characteristically dark sooty colour (grey), the chestnut on the vent should prevent miss identification with the Gabar Goshawk. Also there may be some superficial resemblance to Sooty Falcon and Grey Kestrel, but those two species both have yellow feet and cere. Separating male Amur and Red-footed Falcons is best done by the white under-wing coverts on Amur Falcon, whereas the under-wing of male Red-footed Falcons is uniformly grey.

Females may offer a bit more confusion with a wider range of falcons as they have a typical falcon head pattern. The grey on the top of the head should quickly rule out confusion with Red-footed Falcons. The female has barring on the lower belly. Red cere and feet this rules out all other falcons.

These photos are of a Male Amur Falcon…

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Martial Eagle… The Boss…

Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus).

The Martial Eagle is a very large eagle, with a length of 78–96 cm (31–38 in), weight of 3–6.2 kg (6.6–14 lb.) and a wingspan of 188–260 cm (6 ft. 2 in–8 ft. 6 in).

The adult’s plumage consists of dark grey-brown coloration on the upper parts, head and upper chest, with slightly lighter edging to these feathers. The body under parts are white with blackish-brown spotting. The under wing coverts are brown, with pale flight feathers being streaked with black. The female is usually larger and more spotted than the male.

Martial Eagles have been thought to have no distinctive display flight, but they do engage in a subtle one, with the males flying mildly around in circles. Rarely, the female joins him and the pair grasp talons with each other.

The Martial Eagle is an apex predator, being at the top of the avian food chain in its environment and, if in healthy condition, having no natural predators. It hunts mostly in flight, circling high above its territory, and stooping sharply to catch its prey by surprise. Prey may be spotted from 3 to 5 kilometres away. The eagles have been noted for their extremely keen eyesight (3.0–3.6 times human acuity). Due to this power, they can spot potential prey from a very great distance.

Their prey is of the following; game birds and Egyptian Geese. Reptiles, especially lizards like monitor lizards and snakes, which include Cape cobras, boom slangs, puff adders, green mambas, young black mambas and African Rock Pythons. They also capture mammal prey, hares, hyraxes, mongooses, squirrels, springhares, rats, genets, foxes, baboons, other monkeys, young warthogs, dikdiks, young impala and various other young or small antelope.

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Black-shouldered Kite {Elanus axillaris}

A common, grey and white raptor with a black shoulder. The upper parts are bluish grey, with black wing coverts which appear as a distinctive, black shoulder patch. The under parts are white. There is a small black mask around the eye.
Young birds have a reddish-brown wash on the head and breast and the feathers of the upper parts are tipped white. The bill is short with a sharp, hooked tip to the upper mandible.
The bill is black, while the feet and legs, and the cere (skin at the base of the bill) are bright yellow. The eye is dark red in adult black-shouldered kites and brownish-orange in immature birds.

QUICK FACTS

Habitat: Although found in timbered country, they are mainly birds of the grasslands.
Size: Length: 35 to 38 cm Wingspan: Between 80 and 95 cm.
Diet Description: Insects, rodents and small birds.
Socialisation: Able to hunt by hovering on upturned wings about 50 meters above the ground. When prey is sighted, the kite "parachutes" gracefully straight down into the grass. Black-shouldered Kites are highly nomadic – moving about in search of prey.

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Bird of Prey… The Greater Kestrel.. a falconry bird..

The Greater Kestrel or White-eyed Kestrel (Falco rupicoloides) is a bird of prey belonging to the falcon family. It is one of the largest kestrels and is found in open country in southern and eastern Africa.

The bird is 29–37 cm long with a wingspan of 68–84 cm.

The species is usually silent but has a shrill, repeated call.

The Greater Kestrel usually hunts from an exposed perch such as a tree or rock. It also hovers like several other kestrels. It feeds mainly on invertebrates such as grasshoppers, termites, and beetles. It also takes lizards and sometimes small birds, mammals and snakes. It mainly catches prey on the ground. It is attracted to fires where it catches insects and other prey as they flee from the flames. Excess food may be cached underneath vegetation or stones.

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And I thought I’d play around with one and make it a pencil sketch…. here’s the result…

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