AFRICAN BIRD OF PREY SANCTUARY (Ashburton) - Leader Katy Hart
9 APRIL 2017

Report and photos by Rod Hart

[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]

Group photo in the restaurant area of the Centre

This is definitely one of the "WoW" fixtures on our hiking calendar, whilst there is a short "token" hike (Picture 3) at the beginning of the visit the WoW factor is supplied by the birds of prey and the educational display of raptors flying (at 10:30am) and the Vulture feeding frenzy at 12:00 noon.

The African Bird of Prey Sanctuary comprises of a "MAIN BUILDING" housing a conference and education centre, a small tourist type shop (where hike leader Katy purchased her "ZA - love it" shirt (as seen in Picture 15), and a small restaurant focussing mostly on a variety of reasonably priced toasted sandwiches; the restaurant has both inside and outside tables where one can, certainly to the outside tables, bring your own picnic lunch - it is a very relaxed atmosphere, and has a jungle gym for the kids. The Sanctuary itself comprises of "EAGLE ALLEY", "HOOT HOLLOW", "HONEYCOMB HABITATS", a "VULTURE HIDE" and a "FLYING ARENA" where the flying dispay is presented. The hike is a short 1.5km path through the Sanctuary's thornbush which provides an idea of the type of terrain that many of the raptors hunt over.

On purchasing your entrance ticket (R70.00) you are provided with a "Self-Guided Tour" sheet which provides a map of the area as well as giving the story of each of the birds at the Centre (every bird here is unable, each due to its own circumstance, to be released in the wild) and you are free to wander around at will. Included in the cost is the hour long educational display of flying, as well as, dependant on the availability of meat, a Vulture feeding session - a little gory for the faint of heart, so I opted out of this one, prefering my own feeding session at the restaurant!

A very relaxed and eye-opening day, pleasant company in an environment that one feels is contributing positively towards the sustainability of South Africa's nature through their awareness and education efforts (South Africa with 81 different species of raptor has more than North America and Australia combined). Thank you Katy for organising this trip, a really lovely day.

- The following is only a small selection of the photographs taken on my camera (we took over 400 photographs), best thing is to see it all in real life! -

Pic 2: The ubiquitous Zebra
Pic 3: The "Hiker" contingent about to set off

Pics 4-13: A small selection of pics from the various enclosures
Pics 9-10: (Contributed by Katy) The majestic Fish Eagle (...and its underside not so majestically captured)

Pic 14: Very relaxed atmosphere around the Centre
Pic 15: Katy's new shirt
Pic 16: "The Story Tree"

Pics 17-25: The educational display of flying in the Flying Arena

Pics 26-27: Vultures
Pic 28: MHC Chairman, Alistair risking losing a finger or two...
Pic 29: The Vulture House
Pics 30-32: (These pics courtesy of Katy) Vulture feeding session