Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus) & the field mouse!

Cape Town-based wildlife photographer Stephen Hammer and his wife, Lee-Anne, spent the weekend on Landmeterskop trying to capture our family of Bat-eared Foxes on camera. This first sequence of views was taken on the way to look for the shy little foxes on Sunday morning. It was truly beautiful to see… and quite cold up on the hill. The cold air is beautifully clear and haze-free. Winter is the time to photograph landscapes and Landmeterskop has some very good potential for this.

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The little Bat-eared Foxes did not put in an appearance, although Steve and Lee-Anne searched for them late afternoons and early mornings! But, Steve was fortunate to get this magnificent sequence of a Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus) eating a field mouse.

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Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)
Afrikaans: Blouvalk

Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

Afrikaans: Blouvalk

The Black-shouldered Kite is a small, graceful raptor and the most voracious eater in the raptor family. It needs to consume up to 25% of its body mass every day – that is the equivalent of about two mice. This means each bird probably kills around 700 mouse-sized animals a year.

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa VII estimates there are about 100 000 Black-shouldered Kites in southern Africa, so if we assume each bird takes two mice a day, that adds up to about 70 million mice being consumed by this species alone every year. Think of how many mice there are out there that are not being eaten!

It prefers the grasslands probably because prey is easier to see than in the more densely-wooded lowveld.

Black-shouldered Kites are solitary hunters by day, yet often roost communally at night. They usually spend between 4 and 10 hours a day in flight, but also often hunt from a perch.

One of their characteristics is to hover (air-perch) in one place above the ground searching for prey. Black-shouldered Kites range widely. The longest range so far recorded was that of a bird ringed in the former Transvaal and recovered in northern Mozambique, 915km away. Another bird ringed at the same time was recovered in the opposite direction – in the Cape, 645km away.

Stephen’s website: http://stephenhammer.co.za

Steve also took beautiful photos of the night sky over Landmeterskop… and we shall post some of them soon! And we are very excited to announce that Steve has agreed to do a series of photography courses in future with us.

Blue Cranes chasing Cape Fox!

We are very excited to have Cape Town based wildlife photographer, Stephen Hammer and his wife, with us in a fortnight’s time. Stephen and his wife will go on night-time and early morning expeditions to see if they can take photos of our two families of Bat-eared foxes. Yes, we’ll tell you all about them once we have photos to show you! We have also seen the occasional Cape Fox on the farm.

The Cape fox (Vulpes chama), also called the cama fox or the silver-backed fox, is a small fox with black or silver gray fur with flanks and underside in light yellow. The tip of its tail is always black.

The Cape fox tends to be 45 to 61 cm (17.7–24 inches) long, not including its 30 to 40 cm (11.8-15.75 inch) tail. It is 28 to 33 cm (11–13 in) tall at the shoulder, and usually weighs from 3.6 to 5 kg (8–11 lbs).

As most foxes, they are nocturnal and most active just before dawn or after dusk. During the day, it typically shelters in burrows underground, holes, hollows, or dense thickets. It is an active digger that will excavate its own burrow, although it generally modifies an abandoned burrow of another species, such as the springhare, to its specific requirements. They are solitary creatures, and although they form mated pairs, the males and females are often found alone, as they tend to forage separately. They are not especially territorial but will mark their territories with a pungent scent. Although a normally silent fox, the Cape fox is known to communicate with soft calls, whines or chirps. However, it will utter a loud bark when alarmed. When in an aggressive mood, the Cape fox is known to growl and spit at its attacker. To show its excitement, the fox lifts its tail, the height of the tail often indicating the measure of excitement.

Cape foxes are omnivorous and will eat plants or animals. Although they prefer invertebrates and small mammals such as rodents, they are opportunists and known to hunt and eat reptiles, rabbits, spiders, birds, and young hares. They will also eat eggs, beetle larvae, and carrion, as well as most insects or fruits. Cape foxes have been reported to be able to kill lambs up to three months of age, although this is a rare occurrence.

Enjoy these amazing photos Stephen took of Blue Cranes and Cape Foxes near Caledon. These Blue Cranes did not like the family of Cape Foxes being in the same field as them. The birds actually chased the foxes all the way to their den and kept them there for a good while.

Stephen, in his own words, has “an almost child like fascination for all creatures, both great and small. I am constantly astounded and amazed at just how intricate, ingenious and smart Mother Nature is. If we are prepared open our eyes, Mother Nature will reveal her beauty and magnificence to anybody who has the patience and desire to see and learn.

I am always amazed at how few people out there realize just how much bird and wildlife there is here in Cape Town.

I believe that if we educate and make people aware of what we have here on our doorstep,  maybe they will take more care of the environment. The more people that are aware of nature, the more potential custodians of nature we will have. I would like my grandchildren to see what I’ve seen, not in a photograph, but alive, wild and free.

We are very fortunate to have the most unbelievable abundance of both fauna and flora right here on our doorstep. We are truly spoilt for choice in that we have wetlands, forests, arid semi-desert,  mountains, grasslands, coastal marshes and beaches, all within a 150km radius of the city center.

It is with a great sense of pride that I can show the rest of the world just how beautiful and magnificent the wildlife and landscapes of Cape Town and South Africa truly are…”

Stephen’s website: http://stephenhammer.co.za

To read more about the Blue Crane, South-Africa’s national bird: https://landmeterskop.com/2014/08/10/blue-cranes-our-national-bird-landmeterskop/

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Family Friendly Farm Getaway by Liza

I’d highly recommend you book soon, as Landmeterskop is popular, and it’s worth it.

Reblogged from: http: I Heart Your Outfit

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An opportunity not to be missed!

Landmeterskop-Stanford-HarvestONLY THREE MORE DAYS TO WIN, WIN, WIN!!!!!!! Entries close on 13 April at 22h00. If you have not yet entered your name, liked and shared both our pages, you better hurry up now! The winner of this wonderful 2-night midweek stay for 2 people on landmeterskop.com, plus a free lunch at Stanford Harvest Farm Kitchen, plus a free bottle of our local wines, will be announced on THURSDAY 16 APRIL 2015. All you have to do is like and share our page as well as that of Stanford Harvest and write “liked and shared” in the comments under this post on each page. Just click on the respective names in this post which will take you to our pages! For more information about Stanford Harvest Farm Kitchen, please visit their blog: https://stanfordharvest.wordpress.com/

Midweek Winter Special and Last-Minute Deals

1. LAST MINUTE SPECIAL
For that unexpected couple of days off, make use of our 20% discount for last minute bookings!

2. MIDWEEK WINTER SPECIAL

Treat yourself to a midweek winter escape! And as always, Landmeterskop Farm, your home-away-from-home, is the perfect getaway from frantic city living, even in winter! What better than to snuggle up in front of a cozy fire with a good book, a cup of steaming coffee or tea, and some of Valerie’s homemade rusks… Or  sitting with friends around an open fire, watching the sun set and the stars come out, feeling the nip of the crisp winter air on your face, while your potjie is cooking or your meat grilling! Add a few bottles of good red… Ahhh, total bliss!

For the winter season we are offering two different deals for families and couples who want to enjoy a midweek getaway (Monday to Thursday night) during 1 June to  31 August: stay for 3 nights, pay for 2, or stay for 4 nights and pay for 3! This excludes school & public holidays.

Terms and Conditions

  1. All specials are subject to availability.
  2. The last minute special is only available for a stay of 2 nights and if booked within 48 hours of check-in’ stay per room. First time visitors only.

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The 2015 Walker Bay Bird Fair

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Are you interested in birds and birding? Do you love nature in general? Are you concerned about conservation issues? Are you enthusiastic about photography, especially of birds and their environment?

The Walker Bay Bird Fair, the first regional event of its kind in the Overberg, will cater for all those interests and more. It will be held in the picturesque village of Stanford during the last week of February 2015.

The Walker Bay Bird Fair will replace the annual Stanford village event of the last nine years. The new – much bigger – annual event will be based on the highly successful British Bird Fair, held every year at Rutland Water, now in its 25th year and regarded as the biggest wildlife event in the world.

The entrepreneurial Stanford Bird Club has teamed up with Hermanus Bird Club, the biggest in the Overberg, to host the new Walker Bay Bird Fair. They aim to make it the biggest event of its kind in South Africa within a number of years.

Tim Appleton MBE, founder of the British fair, will be the guest speaker. He will deliver the opening address on 27 February.

The Walker Bay Bird Fair will be hosted in three exhibition marquees and the programme will comprise lectures by many top international and South African bird and environmental specialists, photographic workshops, bird-ringing demonstrations, live raptor demonstations, a photographic competition and a vendor exhibition area.

Daily birding trips in the greater Walker Bay area, led by an expert guide, will begin earlier that week.

The Overberg environmental biosphere, one of the most beautiful birding regions in the world, is under enormous ecological pressure. The Walker Bay Bird Fair will not only promote a greater interest in birding, but also highlight many aspects of conservation efforts in this region.

The organisers are fortunate to have the financial support of Strettons Gin, De Hoop Collection and Dyer Island Conservation Trust.

This article has been taken directly from: Stanford Bird Club

SEE THE FULL 2015 PROGRAM HERE

Walker Bay Bird Fair Photographic competition

Printable Bird List for the Stanford Area

Country weekend – Landmeterskop Farm by Megan Smith

Megan Smith who with her family spent a weekend at Landmeterskop at the beginning of December wrote about us on her blog:
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After a friend told us about the peaceful weekend they spent at Landmeterskop Farm in the Cape Overberg near Stanford, I knew that it was the perfect place for a family weekend at the end of a busy year. I made a booking and last weekend we packed the car and headed off to this sheep farm in the country. Owners Valerie and Theuns Steenkamp go out of their way to make your stay special and relaxing. The unique touches throughout our self-catering cottage and endless roaming space for our boys made Landmeterskop thoroughly memorable.
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Although we don’t live in the city, our busy lifestyle keeps us running most of the time. A country weekend complete with farm animals and swims in the dam is the perfect antidote to the active way of life most of us lead. How can you not relax when you’ve got nothing to do and all day to do it? I even got a chance to do a little painting. Bliss.
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Continue reading on my blog Dressed by Style and I’ll take you on a tour of our Merino Cottage and then on to some farmyard fun…