Tag Archives: pale chanting goshawk

A visit to the Marienfluss area of Namibia

In my previous blog I wrote about what a beautiful oasis Marble Camp is.  It was a great spot for us to recover and prepare ourselves for our trip up to Camp Synchro on the Kunene River.  We met some other campers who were towing a trailer and they told us about Red Drum Pass that awaited us shortly after we left Marble Camp.  The Pass turned out to be relatively easy to negotiate, but the rocks were quite jagged and we crossed fingers that they wouldn’t damage our tyres.  Apart from a few small tears in the sidewalls of the tyres, we survived the climb up and over Red Drum Pass relatively unscathed.

The road up Red Drum Pass

From there it was a short drive to Red Drum, which, although it features on all the road maps of the Kunene region, is really no more than a junction marked by a red drum.  We came upon it quite suddenly and it took us a moment or two to realize that this was the famous Red Drum that everyone talks about.  We had to stop and take the obligatory photos to show that we’d passed it!  Rob looks a bit perplexed about something – probably wondering what all the fuss is about.

Rob at Red Drum

Once we turned off at Red Drum and headed into the Marienfluss, the going was a lot easier.  The Marienfluss is a valley that runs alongside the Hartmann Mountains in northern Namibia and it is definitely one of the prettiest areas in the Kunene region.  It is described as one of the southern Africa’s last wilderness areas because of its isolation, and it’s easy to see why.  Although it is dotted with little Himba settlements, they are few and far between so do little to change one’s perception of being in an undeveloped and remote area.  These colourful Himba ladies graciously allowed me to photograph them.  Unfortunately our idea of a reasonable price to pay for a photo was somewhat different to theirs – their thinking was more in line with what a model like Kate Moss would charge!  As a result their smiles turned to glares as we drove away.

Three colourful Himba ladies

We loved the beautiful fairy circles that dotted the Marienfluss and stopped often to photograph them, the yellow grass, mountains and red road.  The area has an almost ethereal quality about it.

The beautiful Marienfluss scenery

The road was very corrugated and sandy in patches.  It was quite sad to see how motorists had left the track often to get away from the sand and corrugations, causing the track to become ever wider.  Sometimes we had as many as six tracks to choose from.    Driving off the road is not encouraged as the damage to the environment is usually permanent.

The wide red road

There were lots of wild animals and birds to be seen along the way.  These ostriches made a beautiful picture in the landscape.

Ostriches in the Marienfluss

We also stopped to watch a Pale chanting goshawk swoop down and catch a snake.  When Rob set off on foot to try and photograph it, the goshawk flew off clutching its prey in its talons.  These are the magical moments on a trip and they need to be savoured without being in a hurry to get to your next destination.

Pale chanting goshawk with a snake

What a special time it was in this area.  If you’re prepared to put up with the atrocious roads to get there, the beauty will amply reward you for your tenacity and endurance.  Our destination for the day was Camp Synchro on the Kunene River – one of two camping places at Otjinungwa.  More about that lovely spot next week …..

 

Hey you – get off my mound!

One of the things that we love about game reserves is the interaction between the various animals and birds.  There is always an animal or bird that is intent on eating another one, or encroaching on the others territory.  Animals guard their territories very fiercely and we saw this quite plainly in an interaction between a Southern pale chanting goshawk and a Slender mongoose in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

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We stopped to watch the goshawk that was perched on a termite mound, not realizing that a little drama was about to unfold before our eyes.  With binoculars and camera trained on the bird, we noticed an agitated mongoose run around the base of the termite mound and stand up on its back legs to chase the goshawk off.  The mongoose obviously felt threatened by the goshawk in some way, even though it looked pretty innocuous to us.

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Now we’re not up on ‘mongoose speak’ but the photograph shows the mongoose giving the goshawk a verbal lashing for intruding on its termite mound.  What was said was apparently sufficient to scare the bird off, because it took to the air very quickly.

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Once it had gone, the mongoose took possession of its termite mound and claimed victory after its little turf war.  Mongoose 1 – Southern pale chanting goshawk 0!

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Fascinating to watch as it all unfolded.  We apologise for the poor quality of the photographs, but they were taken quite a distance away from all the action.

 

Bird of the Week – Week 109 – Southern pale chanting goshawk

A very common sight along the quieter roads of Namibia, Botswana and more arid western parts of South Africa, is a slender, mostly grey raptor with a very upright stance perched on a telephone pole or atop a roadside tree or bush. With a length of about 65 cm, grey upperparts and a white rump; pale grey upper breast and head with the rest of the under parts finely barred in white and grey,  this is the Southern pale chanting goshawk, proudly surveying its terrain. Closer inspection will show that its eyes are red, its red bill is tipped with black and it perches on long red legs.

Southern pale chanting goshawk

In flight the Southern pale chanting goshawk, when seen from below, appears to be white (it is in fact very pale grey) with black primary flight feathers.

The Southern pale chanting goshawk, near-endemic to the southern African region, prefers open semi-desert areas, where the bushes and thorn trees are fairly low. It is usually a somewhat quiet bird, but it has a melodious whistling chant “kleeu-kleeu-kleeu”  that has given it both its common name and its scientific name.

Southern pale chanting goshawk

This little raptor eats mainly small mammals, lizards and insects, but will also take small birds or small reptiles. It may hunt from a perch, but is often seen on the ground and may run after its prey. Sometimes it will follow smaller mammals, like jackals, to feed on the insects and other suitable prey that is flushed by their passing.

Southern pale chanting goshawk

The female Southern pale chanting goshawk might pair up with a single male, or two males and a female may form a polyandrous trio. They build a relatively small cup-shaped nest of sticks, usually well above the ground in an acacia tree, and the female lays a clutch of one or two pale blue or pale green eggs that hatch after an incubation period of about 35 days. It is common for only one youngster to be raised even if two eggs are laid.

Southern pale chanting-goshawk

The scientific binomial for the Southern pale chanting goshawk is Melierax canorus; Melierax from the Greek for a “melodious hawk”; and canorus from the Latin meaning “to sing”. Someone was certainly impressed with this birds vocalizations!

Southern pale chanting goshawk