A Hunt on Varty Camp Lawn

I was on my way back to the studio from Tree Camp after assisting a guest with their camera when I glanced over at Varty car park to watch the last vehicle leaving for afternoon drive.
To the right of me at Varty room eight I had a troop of Vervet Monkeys playing, jumping from tree to tree. I decided to watch them a for a moment before going back and this is when I heard a screech coming from directly above me.

I looked up into the tree and saw a young African Goshawk, staring at me, screeching almost as if I was intruding. I then had a closer look and saw that it had caught a smaller bird. It was difficult to make out what the prey was as most of it had been finished off by the Goshawk.

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The Goshawk with its kill gripped firmly in its talons, looking down at me.

At this point, I dashed for the studio to fetch my camera to see if I could get a couple photographs. I had then set up and started photographing this Goshawk finishing what was left of its kill when out of the corner of my eye saw another Goshawk swoop down and land on a branch at eye level right next to me, so close that my lens was too long for the occasion, so I pulled out the iPhone to photograph it.

The one above me stopped eating its kill and both birds both flew off and landed a couple feet away on the Varty pool bridge where they seemed to be communicating.

I followed and observed. They were shortly thereafter joined by a third Goshawk that came plummeting in through the canopy of green. I was amazed by how swiftly they are able to move through tiny openings of branches and around trees. I was astonished.

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Sitting on a branch within reaching distance.

I had sat down on the camp path to try and be as stable as possible with my camera, and I watched the Goshawk siblings go back and forth between trees and Varty Lawn. One of them managed to manoeuvre through the vegetation in flight and was able to catch a lizard of sorts, after which it perched up on a branch and covered its kill with its wing to hide it. This is known as mantling. It ate the lizard not far from where I was sitting while the other was sitting on another tree branch within only a few metres.

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African Goshawk use their wings to cover up prey, this is known as mantling.

It was something incredible to watch; not only did I see them hunt, but also got so close to them, its as if they didn’t even care I was there. I’ve come to realise that camp itself is thriving with life, and one does not have to wander far for what nature has in store.


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