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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Dassies, Rock rabbits, Rock hyrax, Cape hyrax or Klipdas.

Rock hyrax (Procavia capensis).

Now here is a dilemma for you… according to the experts and all the books, the closest living relative of the Dassie is the .. wait for it… ELEPHANT…

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Do they even look alike.? One is 4 kg in weight and the other up to 6000 kg. A big Dassie may reach 0.3 of a metre in height and the other 4 metres…

But seeing as the experts say it is I wont argue… they are found all over South Africa and almost over all of Africa south of the Sahara… A few interesting facts….

  • The forage and feed off grass and leaves. (Vegetarians)
  • They have been known to eat insects and grubs. (Not so vegetarians)
  • They will forage up to 50 metres from their homes.
  • They climb trees, and have been found eating fruit from trees.
  • They have a sentry system and when warned hurry quickly back to their refuge.
  • They even have a toilet, where the whole herd will do their business. That herd can be as big as 80 individuals.
  • And they will even take up residence next to the sea, and that is where I photographed this herd, catching a tan. (some one should tell them they need to undress to catch a tan..

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Africa’s Big Five.. or are They?

Africa’s big five refers to supposedly the five biggest killers of mankind… well on this I don’t agree. Maybe in the days of the pioneers and those of the big hunters, but not today…

The first… Elephant…..

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Meeting up with one of these outside of a National Park is highly unlikely, and within the Parks if you are not stupid, your chances of not having your car turned over is up to you… be stupid and think of these gentle giants as pets … and you will quickly discover that they aren’t…  African elephants, especially older bulls and young males, can be aggressive, and death is normally by being trampled…. 6 ton is kind’a heavy…. In places where poaching is rife and/or the elephants’ habitats are threatened, elephants are more aggressive, and rightly so…

The second… Lion..

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Lions live throughout sub-Saharan Africa (except for forests and deserts) in protected areas. Lions can be extremely dangerous and the famous man-eating lions of Tsavo were not just a myth. A 2005 study showed that lion attacks on man were on the rise in Tanzania and Mozambique. Sick male lions are mostly responsible for the hundreds of human deaths that occur each year because of these attacks. So when visiting a park, stay in your car… these are not cats that you can cuddle…

Thirdly my favourite, the Buffalo… scared of nothing….

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They have reputedly killed more Big Game Hunters than any other specie… they are thought to kill nearly 200 people each year… standing around like herds of cattle, they can be hugely underestimated… a big bull will seem to be looking right through you… but give him the chance and he’s going to gore you if he feels the least threatened…. 700 kg of strong muscle will make an ugly mess of you when he’s finished tossing you around like a rag doll… Most Lion will not even contemplate taking them on, and their ferocity when protecting their young, has proven the demise of many lion…

Then fourthly the Leopard..

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This cat has had a bad wrap for many years… yes he has killed humans, but not in great numbers.. the chances are he will avoid you, but again don’t treat this cat as a domestic.. he is a ferocious killer and when cornered will not back down.. his bite is far worst than his bark, which is nothing more than a type of cough… So if you decide to go poaching at night and hear a slight cough, say your prayers, he’s seen you, has warned you, and now the silent killer is going to kill you….. luckily this seldom happens….

The fifth, the rhino

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You would far rather see the other end of this monster than this end…. but beware he can turn on a whistle, or a dime… and that huge body can go far faster than even Usian Bolt.. He might just point to the sky showing the direction he’s about to travel, after that horn has entered his rear orifice…. The black Rhino is far more aggressive than the white, and will attack rather than run, so find a tree and start to climb long before he decides to come and find you… he will detect you by sound and smell (actually half blind) and when he does he isn’t going to warn you…

But here is where the others come in…

The crocodile, the Nile crocodile..

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Crocodiles kill hundreds of people each year in Africa. It can be found in almost every major river throughout the continent as well as many lakes. Most fatalities occur while people are washing or collecting food near river banks and lake shores. Fisherman are also prone to attack as they slide their boats in and out of the water. Crocodiles attack by dragging their prey under water and drowning them. Some crocodiles will also then roll their bodies repeatedly to weaken their prey, and this happens more times than we would like to think… so be aware when walking around near possible infested water…

The Hippo (hippopotamus)

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The hippo is responsible for more human fatalities in Africa than any other large animal. Male hippos actively defend their territories which run along the banks of rivers and lakes. Females have also been known to get extremely aggressive if they sense anyone coming in between them and their babies, who stay in the water while she feeds on the shore. Hippos can run at speeds of over 20 miles an hour and they have enormous jaws which host up to 20 inch canines. They can basically cut you in half… so beware these are not to be taken lightly… Yet not considered one of the big five…

And now for the biggest killer of all, yet not one that tourists come to Africa to film.. The Mosquito..

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The mosquito is responsible for killing more Africans than any other through the spread of malaria and other diseases. Malaria kills over a million Africans every year, most of these are children under the age of five. Malaria is only spread by the female Anopheles mosquito. They are most active around dawn and dusk. There are in fact around 3,500 species of mosquito flying around and their average life-span is about two weeks. So … you can’t shoot them … they’re too small, so take the necessary precautions or suffer the disease like I did…

African Barred Owlet.. Little Guy.

African Barred Owlet (Glaucidium capense).

The species is frequently found in woodlands and forests. It may also occur in more open savannah and along rivers. It is partly active during the day making it a little easier to see. It feeds on insects, and small rodents and birds may also be eaten.

Now I’ve just discovered more than that I don’t know… I cant tell you even what size they get to… they kept flying away when I alighted with my measuring tape… so all I can tell you is they are small…. maybe that’s why the name Owlet…. Their call is nothing special and can be heard by clicking here

So here are some photos…. (and these didn’t even talk to me… just gave me the beady eye..)…

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Yellow-billed Stork…A Fisherman’s Tale..

Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis).

The Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis) is a large wading bird in the stork family (Now that must have come as a surprise to you… a yellow-billed stork part of the stork family..??? Bulldog go to bed.. you need sleep.) It occurs in Africa south of the Sahara and in Madagascar. Its a medium-sized stork. Length: 97 cm; average body weight for males: 2.3 kg; for females: 1.9 kg. Plumage mainly pinkish-white with black wings and tail; bill yellow, blunt, and de-curved at tip.

Ok and how and what do they eat???? wake up….

They have a fishing technique of using one foot to stir up the water to flush out prey. A quick muscular reflex in the neck enables yellow-billed storks to catch almost all of their food in the water. Brilliant.!!!! I know, I know, they eat……Crustaceans, small fish, frogs, insects and worms.

Now here’s a gob-smacking fact for you….!!!!

The books say these birds do not socialise with each other… notice do not … then I wonder what is going on here.. a committee meeting, a union..?? A gathering of the clan to remind each and everyone “Hey, fellows we don’t like socialising, have you forgotten the fact.???” Or is this the Bus Stop to tomorrow..?? A funeral.? A wake.? Someone should let them know they don’t like socialising…!!!!!!

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Now this one looks as though he’s saying “if that croc gets any nearer.. I’m going to have to move..”

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Ooooooh… a fishing we will go, a fishing we will go, hi ho a merryio a fishing we will go….

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