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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Vacation Time - Day 4 Part 7

It is hot and getting late and so I start to head down the road making my way home. It has been as wonderful as it always is and I long to stay there and never go home.

Along the road I see these vultures on a buffalo carcass. Whatever had killed it was long gone unfortunately but it was probably lion. These Whitebacked Vultures are very common and found almost throughout SA. They roost in trees at night and start foraging as soon as it gets warm. Often one sees them sitting in the watering holes when it is very hot.
The Hooded Vulture is much smaller than the previous species and only found in the northern areas of SA. They are mostly silent but have a thin, squealing call when feeding or on their nests. Unlike the Whitebacked Vulture which gathers in large groups, the Hooded Vulture is a solitary bird and only join up with others around a carcass where it picks up scraps from the others.
The juvenile Whiteback has not got its full colors yet. Females lay only one egg per season and it takes about 58 days to incubate. Both the male and female will take turns sitting on the egg and when it hatches, it will take its first flight when about 4 months old.
Around a carcass, great fights break out amongst the various species of vultures gathered there. You will constantly see one flying up into the air, chasing another. I have seen some lock feet and go rolling around on the ground, feathers flying.
Vultures go for the soft insides of a kill first, crawling right inside the body of the dead animal. They also eat bone fragments for the calcium content. They have long toes and claws for grasping prey and unlike most birds, the male and female plumage is the same.
At the next dam I stopped at, there was a small herd of buffalo laying back in the trees.
What was interesting to me was that the leader of the herd first went down to the water to drink by herself (the leaders are always female), then she stood there and the others followed her down, one or two at a time while she stood watching them. That is her on the right.
A hippo stood stretching its jaw muscles in a huge yawn. The males fight over territory and females like this and I have seen them tear each other to bits. Usually is does not go that far, with one backing away fairly fast.
There are colossal termite mounds there. This one is about 14-15 feet in height and I could see it was still active by the amount of fresh soil at the top. Many animals use old mounds to burrow in and raise their young. You can never get lost in the bush if there are mounds around as the hole at the top always points north, so remember that the next time you are lost in the bush. :)
And so my day ended. The feel of being back in the bush is like no other to me. To see and record all of this is always an unbelievable experience. After so many years in the bush one would think I have seen it all but never are two roads the same on consecutive days, never do animals behave in the same manner all the time. There is always something new to learn, something new to be amazed at and to see. How I miss being a tour guide!! It will always be my first and only love!!

26 comments:

Andrea said...

I love vulteres,Joan.
One of them,the Griffon,is quite common in Italy too.
I like to go sometimes to see them flying like big angels in the sky.

Ida said...

I think you must organize a big 'blog-party' to the Kruger and be our guide! (((Ida)))

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Vultures are fascinating birds, I am always intrigued watching them. It is a long time since I saw a termite mound, I have been away too long :-( Sadly the expense of travel now is way beyond my pocket. Maybe I will win the Euro millions yet, no harm in wishing :-) Diane

Sandra said...

the feelings you have when back in the bush are very similar to mine when we go hiking in wooded arears. we don't have all the spectacular things you see, but God's creation is there and has its own beauty.
i am one of few people who like vultures, maybe because they are so ugly and also because they are god's clean up crew. you managed to make the first photo the prettiest vulture i have seen. that is a wonderful photo of him.

Dejemonos sorprender said...

Wa. you have amazing pictures here.. surprisingly, these vultures..
I will follw you :)..
Saludos dese bastante lejos..

Gaelyn said...

You are an Excellent tour guide too. So glad you got into the bush where you belong. The vultures are so like our condors, and turkey vultures. Awesome post!

JM said...

This is so Africa and you know I love it! The vulture on top looks fantastic!

Rambling Woods said...

Vultures are so misunderstood ..I really enjoyed seeing the photos. I wish you could leave your job and live in the bush fulltime...Michelle

Craig Glenn said...

Great shots of the vultures!

You are still quite the tour guide J, you have given many people around the world a wonderful view of your beautiful land of nature for years now. We love you and are very thankful that we are able to see the many exciting wonders you live with every day in SA!

Thanks Joan aka the Bug Lady!

Craig

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

I cannot say they are my favourite birds Andrea. :) I think I prefer the eagles. It ia always amazing to watch them soaring in the sky though, they do it with so little effort.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

I would love to Ida but I do not have a Kombi. :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Diane. It is for the same reason I have had to stop traveling. With the difference in exchange rates, it is impossible to go anywhere unfortunately. I have always loved seeing other places.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

You are right Sandra but anywhere out in nature does it for me. The bush with its animals is special though.

These vultures are so necessary in nature and I cannot imagine what it would be like without them.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks for visiting and commenting Dejemonos sorprender.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Gaelyn. They are all the same thing and family no matter what neame they go by.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Jose. I know you love Africa and am pleased you liked this post.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

So do I michelle. If only I could find some companies to sponsor me so I can get back to doing photography on a full time basis, I would be the happiest person around.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thank you for your kind words Craig. I dont think I could ever loose the way I like to impart my little bit of knowledge of Africa, its fauna and flora. I think I was born to be a tour guide. :)

Firefly said...

The game reserves around PE doesn't have any vultures, so I have actually never seen them in the wild. It must be quite a site to see them circling or finding a carcas with vultures all around it.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

It is quite a sight to see Jonker. Such a pity these birds have been poisoned in so many areas as they are a necessary part of nature.

Becky and Gary said...

A wonderful, wonderful trip Joan. Those Vultures are much more handsome than the Turkey Vultures we have here.
You are just perfect for this job!
B.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

You are welcome Becky. I would never associate the word 'handsome' with vultures but I will admit that as they go, these are not as ugly as some. :)

I REALLY miss my work as a courier and wuld do almost anything to get back to the bush.

Mary said...

A Sunday brunch of fresh buffalo meat...yum! Great shots of the vultures. Nice to see young ones, too.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

LOL!! They were having a great time feasting and fighting over the best pieces. I was actually surprises that the carcass was so whole and wondered what had killed it. Lions usually break it into lots of pieces.

birdy said...

Great post Joan! I recently start loving vultures, because of their importance for environment.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

They do a very good and necessary job Birdy. Here in Africa, we could not do without them.