Wednesday, 30 January 2013

A CAR duller than a 1970's Skoda

Not more to be said really – last weekend on our summer Coordinated Avifaunal Roadcount we got 1 distant Karoo Korhaan sighting, and a last gasp pair of Blue Crane literally at the last stop on the route, which normally nets us at least 10. If we didn't have to stop and record Steenbok, we'd have been yawning all the way. Sods law also meant we saw the most interesting species before and after the count – a Black Harrier before the start, and a pair of Southern Black Korhaan 2km after the end. Not sure about why the low target species list, although the veld was looking rather dry.

It did give me time to notice a few disturbing things along the route: First were the dead leopard tortoises in association with Jackal proof electric fencing – basically a single strand electric line about 30cm off the ground. When a tortoise walks into, its reaction is to withdraw into its shell, and the results are fatal.

Second was this nasty scene – sometimes kudu don't get it right when clearing fences. I've witnessed it before on our property – a young kudu misjudges the height and instead of clearing the fence gets a leg caught between the upper and penultimate wire strands. With the momentum of the the jump, the animal spins around, locking the leg between the wires in such a way it is impossible to get out. The animal that I witnessed on our property do this I managed to free. The kudu in the photo below was not so lucky, and probably died of thirst where it hung.

Nice thing about the summer count is that there aren't the hordes of hunters around. This means we saw a fair amount of other wildlife, including many kudu – last winter count we saw only 1.

Remains of a kudu caught in a standard wire fence

Our only Blue Cranes during the 45km route

Lots of common game about, including this Grey or Common Duiker (female)

Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk

Meerkats enjoying early morning sun on what was a cool start for the day

If this kudu doesn't learn that stopped vehicles are danger really soon, he will be biltong come June

Electrified Leopard Tortoise, we counted 3 along this fence, mostly old.

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