It’s been a great winter season for birding with many exciting sightings!
During May there was a rather heated debate about the identification of a wader on the Edendale floodplains. Eventually this was laid to rest by Chris who managed to get a superior picture of the bird in question as it foraged along the shoreline. The AFRICAN JACANA (Actophilornis africanus) was a juvenile and not a LESSER JACANA (Microparra capensis) as originally thought… we could now clearly see the beginning definition of the frontal plate. We were a little disappointed because the LESSER was last spotted here very many years ago but compensated by the fact that the AFRICAN JACANA is also very rarely seen in this area!
The Juvenile African Jacana showing the developing facial plate
The most exciting news on the feathered front is that the AFRICAN FISH EAGLES (Haliaeetus vocifer) have bred again this year! This iconic pair of FISH EAGLES have been a common sight on the upper reaches of the Kariega Estuary and have delighted SIBUYA guests with their duets as they soar high in their search for food. They’ve used the same nest in a tall EUPHORBIA (Euphorbia triangularis) for a good number of years. Perched on the cliff-side in deep forest, they have a marvellous view of the river below and we have the privilege of being able to look down into their nest from a viewing deck cantilevered on the hillside above! The untidy pile of sticks has a shallow bowl which is lined with grass and green leaves during the nesting period. The female had mostly been doing the incubating and the rangers have had to wait patiently for between 42-45 days to see what’s happening. One, two or even three eggs have been the debate after the plentiful food source over the last year! At last, Chris was at the right place at the right time and was rewarded with a good look at the contents of the nest while the female was not in situ… no eggs but…one healthy-looking chick! If there is more than one chick, there is preferential survival of the fittest…the dominant chick is fed first due to its persistence and the weaker one generally dies as a result of bullying and insufficient food.
FISH EAGLE nestlings are generally fed by both parents and are dependent for many months… even documented up to a year. Their diverse diet can consist of a variety of creatures : fish, cuttlefish, insects, monkeys, frogs, carrion and even the eggs and young of other water-birds. Adult plumage takes up to 5 years to attain. According to our ranger’s predictions, the chick will possibly fledge in the next two/three weeks. We’ll keep you updated on progress.
Fish Eagle carrying a large stick for its nest
The Fish Eagle chick in the nest