While out on drive watching a breeding heard of elephant something caught my eye in the distance and to my delight it was a pair of Secretary birds in the very same area I found a nest sight the year before. We tried to find them after viewing the elephants but came up empty handed.
The following morning, while out on drive we drove past the old nest sight to find the pair preparing for another clutch. The pair was on and of the nest displaying in the most unusual way known as the up down bowing display. Whichever bird was on the nest was bobbing its head up and down with its tail in the air, mouth open and plucking at the nest. I was quiet puzzled until I read up and discovered this to be quiet normal behaviour on a nest.
Another interesting thing about this birds nesting behaviour is that the female can be seen in the incubation posture on the nest for months before ever laying any actual eggs. These birds are also monogamous and have home ranges up to 250 kilometres squared around the nest. The reason I was so excited to see the pair back in action was due to the fact that this species is believed to be on the decrease in South Africa with less than 50 % of eggs laid actually make it of the nest as fledglings in fact there is only one recorded case of all three chicks which is the norm making it to this stage. Nevertheless it is a great pleasure to be witness to this great birds nesting behaviour and knowing that they have a place to reproduce.
Ranger Justin Saunders sent in the latest news and pics from Pumba Private Game Reserve
in the Eastern Cape.
Constant, Change and the unexpected.
Over the last little while it is slowly but surely becoming obvious that the arrival of a new elephant calf is causing small but very evident changes within the elephant herd here on Pumba. It seems that the young teenage bulls are being seen more and more on there own as the mature females become less and less tolerant of their antics. I have also seen that on occasion even the matriarch and her sister are spending time apart for periods longer than a day or so. This will eventually result in the splitting of the herd as the numbers increase. One thing is for sure though the herd is growing and the newest edition is doing well under the matriarchs care.
Elephants at Pumba
During the last week it seems that the white male lion is not spending much time if any at all with the tawny female and her two young cubs. This is probably due to her ever decreasing tolerance of his constant stealing of her hard earned meals. The other suspicion I have is that the white lioness is coming into oestrus and the male has bee seen regularly with the white lioness and her sub adult, being very attentive. If this is so it is without a doubt going to bring great change to the predator dynamics here on Pumba.
Male white lion
In the week that has passed there has been two sighting of a very shy and elusive bird known as the Narina Trogon. In mine and another field guides combined over ten years of guiding experience on many different reserves within these birds natural distribution we have only seen it three times and some of the guides here at Pumba are yet to be as lucky. The reasons for this are that this bird has very specific habitat requirements as well as very sensitive nesting behaviours. These birds only occur in forest and on the fringes of riverside bush; both these habitat types are perfect areas for the growing of crops and much damage has been done to this bird’s environment in the past. When breeding the pair will swap nest duties twice a day and it is done mid morning with much loud calling attracting many predators such as genet cats, hornbills, and harrier hawks.
The Trogon is particularly vulnerable while nesting due to its nest usually being a large cavity with a large entrance whole in an old tree, easily accessed by predators. It has been found that this bird is only successful in fledging young about 20% of the time. Overpopulation of elephants can also have a detrimental affect on this bird’s habitat and is something to be considered in the conservation of this species. It is evident with these recent sightings of the bird here on Pumba that the species composition, population dynamics and habitat management are all being watched very closely and we are now reaping the rewards.
(Images used with permission. All rights reserved)
EASTERN CAPE LUXURY SAFARI ACCOMMODATION AT PUMBA
In the malaria-free Eastern Cape, Pumba Private Game Reserve provides an intimate African experience never to be forgotten.
The reserve is home to Africa’s Big 5, as well as white lion, hippo, hyena, cheetah, giraffe, wild dog, antelope species and an abundant 270 bird species.
Pumba offers a variety of accommodation at luxury game lodges.
More about Pumba.
To book accommodation at Pumba please contact Portfolio Collection.