Category Archives: Ramblings

Great egret

The great egret (Ardea alba), also known as the common egret, large egret or (in the Old World) great white egret or great white heron is a large, widely distributed egret, with four subspecies found in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and southern Europe. Distributed across most of the tropical and warmer temperate regions of the world. It builds tree nests in colonies close to water and commonly seen on the banks of the Kariega River on the Sibuya Game Reserve.

Description

The great egret is a large heron with all-white plumage.  Apart from size, the great egret can be distinguished from other white egrets by its yellow bill and black legs and feet, though the bill may become darker and the lower legs lighter in the breeding season.  It has a slow flight, with its neck retracted. The great egret walks with its neck extended and wings held close. The great egret is not normally a vocal bird; it gives a low hoarse croak when disturbed, and at breeding colonies, it often gives a loud croaking cuk cuk cuk and higher-pitched squawks.

Distribution and conservation

The great egret is generally a very successful species with a large and expanding range, occurring worldwide in temperate and tropical habitats. The species adapts well to human habitation and can be readily seen near wetlands and bodies of water in urban and suburban areas.

Diet

The great egret feeds in shallow water or drier habitats, feeding mainly on fish, frogs, small mammals, and occasionally small reptiles and insects, spearing them with its long, sharp bill most of the time by standing still and allowing the prey to come within its striking distance of its bill which it uses as a spear. It will often wait motionless for prey, or slowly stalk its victim.

The Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) and Sibuya Clean up Project

We had an amazing day yesterday on a project with The Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) Kenton on Sea. 20 children from a local school, their teacher as well as members from SST did a big clean up on various sections of the Kariega River.

The day started with a boat cruise to Forest Camp, a talk by both SST and Sibuya about the effects of plastic and littering to our environment, followed by a hot dogs and juice for everyone.

22 bags of plastic and rubbish were collected in an hour and a half. Thank you to everyone involved for making a difference to our precious environment!

 

Nigel, our resident Nyala at Forest Camp

Description

Adult males and females look totally different.  Males are slate grey to dark brown with up to 14 distinct white stripes across the back going down the flanks.  They have white spots on their thighs and belly.  Females do not have manes or fringes of long hair.

Habitat

They are restricted to reedbeds and adjacent grasslands of the Okavango and Chobe. During the annual flood they move out of the reedbeds for a short period.

Nyala Nigel 2

Diet

As a herbivore, the nyala’s diet consists of foliage, fruits, flowers and twigs. During the rainy season they feed upon the fresh grass. They need a regular intake of water, and thus choose places with a water source nearby.  Today the nyala are found in South African protected areas in the KwaZulu-Natal Game Reserves of Ndumo Game Reserve, uMkuze Game Reserve and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, Kruger National Park and Sibuya Private Game Reserve. According to statistics of 1999, 10-15% of the nyala occur on private land.

Fishing at Sibuya Game Reserve

The Kob is probably one of the most targeted edible saltwater fish off South Africa’s coastline and is known by many names in Southern Africa: Kob, Daga, Drum, Daga Salmon and Kabeljou. The Kob grow to big sizes and put heavy tackle to the test. They are also a great species to target on boats in estuaries with lures. Kob are aggressive fish and mainly move around in shoals where they feed on smaller fish and crustaceans.

Fishing - Sibuya

Breeding Habits

Most adults migrate from the Cape to KwaZulu-Natal to spawn between August and November. Juveniles enter the upper reaches of estuaries where they remain until they about 15cm. The juveniles prefer the sandy or muddy substrates in shallow embayments.

Feeding Habits

Most kob species are voracious, shoaling predators and some species have become highly specialised for feeding in their muddy, murky environment. Their lateral line system (a sensory system found in all fish that enables them to detect vibrations and pressure changes in the water) is very well developed and this, in conjunction with the sensory barbles which some have on their snouts, makes the kob less reliant on sight when feeding. Small fish, crustaceans such as prawns and crabs, and molluscs such as squid and cuttlefish are all eaten by the various kob species.

Plains Zebra Facts

The plains zebra, also known as the common zebra, is the most abundant of three species of zebra, inhabiting the grasslands of eastern and southern Africa. The plains zebra remains common in game reserves (including Sibuya Game Reserve).

Habitat

Its habitat is generally but not exclusively treeless grasslands and savanna woodlands, both tropical and temperate. They generally avoid desert, dense rainforest and permanent wetlands, and rarely stray more than 30 kilometres from a water source. Predators of the zebra include lions, spotted hyenas, leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs.

Physical Description

Like all zebras, they are boldly striped in black and white, and no two individuals look exactly alike. They also have black or dark muzzles.

Function of the stripes

Perhaps the best explanation for the stripes is that they serve a social function.  Individual zebras can apparently recognize each other by their striping patterns.  The stripes may also serve as visual cues for grooming.  In addition, they could serve to help zebra groups stay together when they are fleeing.

zebra

Interactions with other grazers

Plains zebra herds will mix and migrate together along with other species such as wildebeests. Wildebeests and zebras generally coexist peacefully and will alert each other to predators. However, aggressive interactions occasionally occur.

Secretary Bird Facts

Endemic to Africa, it is usually found in the open grasslands and savannah of the sub-Saharan. Although a member of the order Accipitriformes, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, hawks, vultures, and harriers, it is given its own family, Sagittariidae.

It appears on the coats of arms of Sudan and South Africa.

Description

The secretary bird is instantly recognizable as a very large bird with an eagle-like body on crane-like legs which increases the bird’s height to as much as 1.3 m (4.3 ft) tall. This bird has an eagle-like head with a hooked bill, but has rounded wings.

From a distance or in flight it resembles a crane more than a bird of prey. The tail has two elongated central feathers that extend beyond the feet during flight, as well as long flat plumage creating a posterior crest.

Distribution and habitat

Secretary birds are endemic to Sub-Saharan Africa and are non-migratory, though they may follow food sources. Their range extends from Mauritania to Somalia and south to the Cape of Good Hope. These birds are also found at a variety of elevations, from the coastal plains to the highlands and occasionally spotted around Sibuya Game Reserve.

Secretary birds prefer open grasslands and savannas rather than forests and dense shrubbery which may impede their cursorial existence. While the birds roost on the local Acacia trees at night, they spend much of the day on the ground, returning to roosting sites just before dark.

secretary-birdStomping

Secretarybirds specialize in stomping their prey until the prey is killed or immobilized.  This method of hunting is commonly applied to lizards or snakes.

Diet

Prey may consist of insects, mammals ranging in size from mice to hares and mongoose, crabs, lizards, snakes, tortoises, young birds, bird eggs, and sometimes dead animals killed in grass or bush fires.

Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bat

This species is found in Central Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa (it is broadly distributed across Southern Africa, and also commonly found within Sibuya Game Reserve).

Description

Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bat is brown to tawny colored with white hair patches at the base of the ears. Males are typically darker in coloration than females. This species is named for erectable epaulettes of hair that form around large scent glands in males only. Males are also distinguished from females by air sacs on the neck that may increase the volume of courtship calls.

Range and Habitat

Populations have also been found in wooded urban areas and roosting in man-made structures.

Diet

Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bat is frugivorous, its diet mainly consisting of figs, guava, and various fruits of Diospyros species. Collected fruit is typically carried away from the source tree to another tree. The soft tissue and fruit are consumed while the seeds and skins are discarded. Leaves from Balanites species and several insects may also be eaten.

Roosting

E. wahlbergi is nocturnal. It roosts in well-lit open trees, under palm fronds, in dense forests near rivers, under thatched roofs of sheds, and, rarely, in caves.

Fruit Bat

Photo taken by Chris Ovens