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BLOG May 7, 2008

Game monitoring at Hanchi

Report by Charlie Bullen, game monitoring and behaviour

Location:     Water hole
Date:            Tuesday 4th February 2008
Start:            12:30
Finish:           17:00
Weather:     Hot and sunny

The first water hole count of the year at Hanchi was a successful one, sighting many giraffe and warthog, as well as viewing many birds. The game monitoring started at 12:30 noon, arriving at the hide surrounded by giraffe, a total count of 14 to start with. We watched them for 1hr 20mins, observing their behaviour and social group.  We recorded 16 giraffe in total, 2 males (senior), 9 females and 5 sub adult males were seen browsing, drinking from the game trough, scratching on branches and vocalising (heard 2 males ” Huffing “), these two males (Sub adult males) were also seen to be demonstrating strength of dominance- banging of heads, pushing of bodies and standing beside each other in opposite directions.  We also suspected a pregnant female giraffe, as she was looking rather full in the stomache region, as well as this female there were also 2 senior females, which were covered, in bodily warts.  It was so fascinating watching the giraffe, although we were keeping the noise to a minimum the giraffe were curious and immensely interested in our presence and came within a few meters of the hide to investigate.  At 12:55 shortly after arriving 3 warthog appeared at the hide to wallow in the mud a few meters in front of us.  We watched them for a few minutes wallowing in the mud, drinking, foraging and sheltering in the shade; it was amazing watching the 2 adults (1 female and 1 male) and the juvenile.  At 13:10pm we saw a male Nyala passing in the background of the trough, unfortunately he did not stop for a drink but it was brilliant to see- MY FIRST NYALA EVER!!  After an hour at the hide 2 more warthog gathered at the waterhole- 2 males. It was so fascinating to watch, they were aware of our presence but were not able to detect where we were, both males were smelling the air, snouts lifted and came within a few meters of the hide, it was incredible, my first real opportunity to see how they really look up close and behave.  Once they had settled to our unusual smell, they wallowed in the mud and rubbed up against the trunks and branches.  After a hot and sweaty wait, we saw 3 more warthog arrive at the water hole at 14:25pm 2 females and 1 juvenile, wallowing and drinking in the mud. We noted that one of the females had incredible large tusks.  At 14:25pm we watched 2 young male warthog grazing by the hide and wallowing in the mud, they were rather skittish, kept looking around, we then saw an incredible large male warthog join the water hole with the 2 younger males.  This massive warthog immediately went to wallow- the 2 young males were instantly submissive, lowering their heads and backing away from the mud. This male had a left broken tusk and appeared to be relaxed, the male only hung around for a few minutes laving the two younger males to continue wallowing, rubbing on branches and drinking before heading off into the bush.  The 2 young males then reappeared at 15:50pm, they still showed skittish behaviour and curiosity to the hide.  At 16:25pm we saw 2 male Nyala drinking at the trough before heading off into the bush browsing.  At the same time as the Nyala 1 large male warthog was noted drinking and wallowing in the mud, he appeared to be considerably large but not the same male as before as his left tusk was not broken.  Prior to leaving the hide we recorded giraffe sightings- 1 male and 1 sub adult female drinking at the trough and showing curiosity at the hide, they both stood by the trough for 10min before moving off.  Our last sighting was a fair estimation of 20 female impala and 6 juvenile impala browsing and grazing behind the hide.  We saw 2 young impala suckling and 1 female rather full in the stomach, maybe pregnant- but unusually late if so!  Amongst the impala was the Nyala Male also browsing.

As well as plenty of animals sighted we also saw an array of birds-

* Glossy starling
* Brown hooded kingfisher
* Dark capped bulbul
* Fork tailed drongo
* Red billed ox pecker
* Bronze winged prinia
* African wood hoopoe
* Black collered barbet
* Francolin
* Emerald spotted wood dove
* And the sound of Black cuckoo and yellow-billed hornbills in the trees behind the hide.
 

Location:     Water hole
Date:           20th March 2008
Start:            06:41
Finish:          14:31
Weather:    Cool with a slight breeze- hot and sunny

The second water hole count was very successful for bird watching although not a great amount of mammals were seen perhaps to the cooler weather and the animals not being as water dependant in the cooler weather.  The first animal sighted was at 7:36am- 2 male warthog, wallowing in the mud, drinking and rubbing against trees.  Shortly after sighting the 2 warthog, 2 giraffe were present at the game trough, this was at 08:22am. There were 2 young males with what seemed to be the youngest one being the darkest, we watched them for about 20 minutes- unnoticed, drinking from the trough, standing under shaded trees chewing the cud and behaving slightly suspiciously of the hide although they did not detect us!  At 11:40am 2 female and 1 juvenile warthog was sighted wallowing in the mud , drinking, rubbing against trees, searching for food, digging in the mud and rolling.  It is to be noted that one of the females had extremely large tusks.  12:23 noon another 3 warthog were seen wallowing in the mud, drinking, rubbing on trees, sniffing and appearing fairly relaxed.  Among these 3 males one was slightly larger than the other 2.  The last sighting was at 13:07, one very large male warthog seen to be wallowing, drinking and rubbing on trees. It was thought that the left tusk was shorter.

In total 31 bird species were sighted and heard whilst in the hide.

* Wood hoopoe- perched and also on the floor probing at the ground.
* Black collered barbet- heard and seen perched
* Black cuckoo- heard calling
* Blue waxbills- calling and flying from trees
* Bearded woodpecker- beating on logs
* Dark capped bulbul- perching
* Violet backed starling-perched, flying
* Chinspot Batis- looking for food, flying
* Black backed puff back- calling and perched
* Red eyed dove- calling
* Rattling Cisticola- perched and calling
*  Francolin- calling
* Grey go away bird- calling, flying, drinking and perched
* Emerald spotted wood dove-calling
* Fork tailed drongo- Calling, flying, perching and feeding
* Speckled mouse bird- flying, perching, feeding
* Cape turtle dove- Feeding on ground, calling
* Brubru- calling
* Yellow billed hornbill- calling, flying, dominating grey go away birds
* Glossy starling- Calling, perched on top of tree
* Black headed oriole- perched in tree
* Red billed Oxpecker- perched
* Bronze winged prinia- perched by water
* Brown hooded kingfisher- calling
* Purple crested turaco- perched in tree
* Guinea fowl- sand/dust bathing
* Flappet lark- calling
* Spotted flycatcher- perched
* Golden breasted bunting-perched
* Olive Thrush- on ground feeding
* Paradise whydah- perched
* White faced ducks- in water
* Grey heron- in water

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