Monthly Archives: August 2018

Southern Right Whales

Approximately 10,000 southern right whales are spread throughout the southern part of the Southern Hemisphere.  Like other right whales, the southern right whale is readily distinguished from others by the callosities on its head, a broad back without a dorsal fin, and a long arching mouth that begins above the eye. Its skin is very dark grey or black, occasionally with some white patches on the belly. The right whale callosities appear white due to large colonies of cyamids (whale lice).

Video credit: RailTime Photography

Right whales do not normally cross the warm equatorial waters to connect with the other species and (inter) breed: their thick layers of insulating blubber make it difficult for them to dissipate their internal body heat in tropical waters.

Life span is not clear although whales seem to reach over 100 years old.

The southern right whale has made Hermanus, South Africa one of the world centers for whale watching. During the winter months (June to October), southern right whales come so close to the shoreline that visitors can watch them from the shore as well as from strategically placed hotels. Hermanus also has two boat–based whale watching operators. The town employs a “whale crier” (cf. town crier) to walk through the town announcing where whales have been seen. Southern right whales can also be watched at other winter breeding grounds. In False Bay whale-watching can be done from the shore or from the boats of licensed operators in Simon’s Town. Plettenberg Bay along the Garden Route of South Africa is another mecca for whale watching not only for southern rights (July to December)but throughout the year. There are both land based and ocean safaris boat based whale encounters on offer in this beautiful town. Southern right whales can also be seen off the coast of Port Elizabeth with marine eco tours running from the Port Elizabeth harbour, as some southern right whales make Algoa Bay their home for the winter months.

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Greater double-collared sunbird

The sunbird breeds in southern South Africa (and where Sibuya Game Reserve is situated). It is mainly resident, but partly migratory in the northeast of its range. It is common in gardens, fynbos, forest edges and coastal scrub.

The sunbird is usually seen singly or in pairs. Its flight is fast and direct on short wings. The sunbird breeds all year round, with a peak from July to November. The closed oval nest is constructed from grass, lichen and other plant material, bound together with spider webs. It has a side entrance which sometimes has a porch, and is lined with feathers.

It lives mainly on nectar from flowers, but takes some fruit, and, especially when feeding young, insects and spiders. It has the habit of hovering in front of webs to extract spiders. It can hover like a hummingbird to take nectar, but usually perches to do so.  The Greater Double-Collared Sunbird makes a shrill whistle and click: Wrew wrew wrew ch ch