Thursday, 28 May 2009

A cat got the Robin family!

Well this was sad. A few nights ago a cat got into the Robin nest and killed the whole family. :( 
Now usually WE get excited if a cat makes a kill, but somehow this time it felt different. Just goes to show how we all tend to see an event from the perspective of the characters we like to watch. A real lesson. Anyway it is 100% natural. It is in the cats instinct to hunt, the birds were nesting outdoors and able to get away as much as they would have in the forest, savannah or jungle.
Tony has quickly set the cam up on a Great Tit nest, and the parents are working very very hard to feed their fast growing chicks. It won't be long before they fly away and begin their lives. Do pop in on this cam and take a look before they have gone. You often get to see one of the parents coming back and feeding the chicks during daylight hours. Hopefully they will make it.
WE learnt a few lessons this week. Pre-roll ads are not popular. Well that is the understatement of the year. WE tried running these ads at the beginning of all our live streams and you, the viewers, let us know in no uncertain terms that you did NOT like them. WE thought it might all settle down, but it did not, and WE have taken the decision to remove them. Clearly that form of advertising is not suitable for what WE do.
Well Djuma is creeping closer and closer to the middle of winter and WE are seeing less and less daylight at our only African location. So with this is mind WE have decided to make the morning drive leave a half hour later in the mornings at 06h30 CAT (Central African Time) and ending at 09h30.
There are a whole bunch of new cams coming, that are being prepped in the background, could be as many as 20 new streams by the end of next week. Its all very exciting.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Djuma news

Well with all the changes at WE there are a few at Djuma as well. WE are sad to say goodbye to Liesbeth after 2 and half years, but she has decided to move on for personal reasons and WE wish her the very best for her future. Hamba kahle mama .
WE are very pleased to welcome Cynthia who will be taking over the critical task of looking after the camp for Liesbeth. Actually Cynthia has been with WE for about 6 months, filling in on the weekends and is married to Amos who works at Vuyatela as a very experienced tracker. 
WE have decided to stop the WEwalk for now. It has been taking too much effort to maintain this show and is enjoyed by very few people. WE all think that it is an amazing concept and plan to work on it in the future, but for now it will be removed from the schedule. It is in our nature to experiment, but not all experiments bear fruit straight away ... you understand.
As you are all no doubt aware, there was no afternoon or night safari from Djuma today. This is because there was a loud noise coming from the tappets and Rexon, very wisely, called in Eric to take a look before WE do something silly like 'blow' an engine. Eric thinks that either the oil pump is blocked or broken. He has begun the 6 hour task of removing the pump, cleaning it and replacing. With luck the old lady will be 100% before midnight and the morning safari will be a go. WE will know in a few hours.
(note: did you spot the elephant in the picture above before or after reading this note?)
Pieter and Lieschen will be on 2 weeks leave from Friday and are heading to Namibia ... it really is in their nature. Marc gets back from the Timbavati on Friday after his leave and at the end of the month Patrick (Charles' brother) will be trying out as a presenter.

Bald Eagles on Catalina Island

WOW what a day it has been for WE!! Another two Bald Eagle nests, this time from Catalina Island off the coast of California, USA. Brought to us by our newest WEproducer: the Institute for Wildlife Studies , represented by Dr. Peter Sharpe. 

The Two Harbours nest

This nest is part of the Channel Islands Bald Eagle Restoration Project conducted by the Institute for Wildlife Studies (IWS) and funded by theMontrose Settlements Restoration Program and generous donations from viewers like you. This pair began breeding near the town of Two Harbors on Catalina Island in 2003. The male (#81) was produced by captive eagles at the San Francisco Zoo in 1998 and was fostered into the West End nest (the other Bald Eagle nest from the IWS). The female (#82) hatched from an egg removed from the West End nest in 1998 and was fostered into the Pinnacle Rock nest.

The West End nest

First established in 1991, this nest, called the West End nest, is rare in that there were three eagles (two females and a male) cooperatively breeding here from 1992 through 2006. The original male disappeared before the 2006 breeding season at the age of 25 years old. He was replaced by a 6-year-old male (#01) in 2006. The two females were hacked onto the island in 1986. One female K-69) disappeared at the beginning of the 2008 breeding season. The nest, located on a rock pinnacle at a remote location on Santa Catalina Island, California, has been monitored since 1991 by IWS biologists using closed-circuit camera systems.

Wolf River Underwater.

WildEarth is proud to invite Gary Bunnell from Shiocton, Wisconsin, USA to the WEfamily along with his 3 underwater cameras in the Wolf River. Gary owns and runs the website and WE have kind of been calling his cams the WRC cams.
The Wolf River originates from Pine Lake in Hiles, WI where it measures only a few feet deep and about 30 feet from shore to shore and is populated mostly by trout. From there, the river winds south through many different classes of rapids, where the fiercest of whitewater lies within the Menominee Indian Reservation. As the Wolf continues to press further down through Wisconsin, the river widens and feeds into the Shawano, WI dam, where each spring the Sturgeon, Walleyes, and other species, tend to bottle up in huge numbers at the foot of the dam. From Shawano, the river carves its way through some very remote areas and feeds numerous bayous and marshes. Approaching Shiocton, the river tends to get very deep in certain locations. These deep waters are partly due to dredging that had occurred years ago, to provide a means of transportation for loggers to float their timber to the lumberyards. These lumberyards still exist in some area of the Wolf River, but have become smaller in numbers. Continuing on, the river flows through New London, where it widens even further. Below New London the Wolf River flows in and out of Partridge Crop Lake in Fremont Wisconsin, and encounters Lakes Poygan and Winneconne, just before emptying into Lake Butte des Morts. In Butte des Morts, the Wolf combines with the Fox River and they both connect finally to Lake Winnebago. Fishing is not only plentiful below the Shawano dam, it also can be a way of life for some. A gigantic amount of leaves and silt is from the miles and miles of river.

In April these cameras saw an impressive spawning of Walleye's and although they will be a little quieter for a while you may still see: 

  • Walleyes
  • Carp
  • Suckers
  • Bass – white, striped, large & small mouth, black and rock
  • Dogfish
  • Mudpuppies (look strikingly familiar to an amphibian, has 4 legs and a tail)
  • Sturgeon
  • Lawyers
  • Catfish
  • Bullheads
  • Northern pike
  • Perch
  • Bluegill
  • Crappies (crop ee)
  • Sunfish
  • Garfish
  • Lamprey
  • Crawfish
  • Sheephead
  • Mooneye

Wolf River Cam 1 - Shiocton, Wisconsin, USA – This camera is positioned just within the boundaries of Shiocton on the shallow side of the river, on the very bottom of the river in 6ft of water. We have nested it on a sandy contour that has been naturally formed by the waters current. The fish tend to follow these ridges and valleys like land animals would follow a tree line or mountain ridge. This camera is mounted on the end of the pole, which is fastened to a structure. Mounting it on a pole allows for ease of adjusting the camera for the best position.

Wolf River Cam 2 - Shiocton, Wisconsin, USA – This camera is a fair distance downstream from camera 1, but is located in the very middle of the river, where it is about 11ft deep. The current is stronger above the camera, than at camera level. Due to the strength of the flow, the water carries large amounts of tree leaves, marsh grass and silt. The camera is mounted to a flat weight, so to not be carried away by the current or large debris. Cleaning of the camera is done be retracting it in and then deploying again.

Wolf River Cam 3 - Fremont, Wisconsin, USA – Is located just upstream from Fremont, in very deep water. Due to the amount of silt and debris in the water, sunlight has a hard time penetrating to the camera down past the 7ft mark. So we have moved the camera up the pole, off the bottom, so it rests in 6ft of water. Visibility increases as the year progresses, because the river needs to clean itself of the foliage that has fallen in the previous Autumnal season. This camera is positioned next to a recess in the shoreline, which creates a back current or a swirling type of pattern. Fish love to feed in these areas, because their prey tends to be present longer as the current rotates.
Written by Gary Bunnel 

Irish Robin Nest

WE are proud to announce the arrival of a brand new LIVE wildlife channel, and our first from Ireland, the Robin Nest. Brought to us by Tony Gaynor this exciting little European Robin nest  all the way from South Kilkenny in Ireland. 
They are sitting on eggs, which should hatch any moment now. With a bit of luck WE will get to watch more than one successful brood. Enjoy.

Irish Robin
Spideog (Irish name) 
Erithacus rubecula (Latin name) 
Known by a number of different names including; robin redbreast, ruddock, redbreast, Bob robin, Cock robin, robinet and reddock, to name but a few, the robin is probably the most familiar and easily recognised of all our birds. Ruddock is an Old English word, meaning "red". It is believed that there are about 4 million robins in Ireland and the robin is the only Irish bird that sings continually throughout the winter.
 When you hear the famous line of the song, "The red, red robin goes bob, bob, bobbing along", you will be surprised to learn that this does NOT refer to our Irish robin, but to the American Robin, which is NOT a robin at all, but a thrush. It seems that when settlers arrived in America, they decided to call the red-breasted thrush a robin, after their favourite bird back home!
Despite the impression given of the robin, they are in fact extremely aggressive and territorial. Looking at a group of robins perching happily together on a holly branch on a Christmas card, nothing could be further from the truth. They would tear each other to pieces! However, once they have set up their territory,  Robins are one of our friendliest birds and can be encouraged to come close to humans. During the cold winter leave out some food and watch for him (or her) to arrive in the garden. Gradually it will gain your trust and come closer. If you are very lucky, you may be able to entice it to take food from your hand.
This Robin's nest is in a small evergreen tree just outside my sunroom. Located in South Kilkenny, just outside Mooncoin, Ireland.There are 5 other types of birds nesting in the garden and house gables, Sparrow, Thrush, Blackbird (I Think) and some member of the Tit family, (great or blue).
Written by Tony Gaynor

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Battle stations!!

Minutes before yesterday afternoon's safari, the Jigga stopped broadcasting!! It was all working fine (and has done so now for more than 2 years with very few issues), but suddenly stopped. :( Herman, Pieter and Pete set about checking every thing they could think of to find the problem. The team worked for hours and hours and could not find the problem. Then this morning the searching carried on. WE got hold of Quenton from Telemedia in Johannesburg (a broadcast microwave genius who has been there for WE for years), and he suggested several additional tests ... but still no clue as to why it had failed.
The time had come to get the gear to Johannesburg and fast ...
Now when Herman woke up this morning he did not expect to be driving to Jozi on his own. In fact it is Herman's birthday today and I am sure that he expected a very different day. But the dragon that is LIVE broadcasting had different ideas ... so Herman is driving like the wind, Quenton is preparing to work into the night ... and WE will all have to wait and see what they discover.
As usual WE must apologize for the fact that there will not be any safari's today or tomorrow, but also to promise you that WE will not rest until the Jigga is back on the road bringing you that all important LIVE window into Africa ... it is in our nature.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Changes ...

One of the beautiful things of seasons, is the changes. Not only the colours and the weather, but also the very fabric of the air around us. In our case, WE also know it is not only the bush, but also the wildlife that changes. More and more WE'll arrive at the waterholes and find various species around, the bush will loose the summer lushness and green density, making spotting easier and tracking more rewarding. Gowrie waterhole will get busier and busier.
WE have already seen this, not only the lovely shades of the autumn bush, but also the increase in game. Maybe WE have also been a little lucky here and there. . .The Styx pride have been around so often, from when WE saw them on the zebra carcass, to when WE followed them the afternoon when they hunted the little steenbuck on Quarantine and later that same night, the impala close to Vuyatela lodge! WE have all had opportunity to get to know them a little, whether it is the close social bond they all share or the organized fashion in which the nine cubs follow the females when they move around. WE even saw Yambil-Jordaan (male leopard), up in a tall Marule tree ... with the whole Styx pride underneath! They stole his impala kill of course, why else would we speak of the lion's share? Not to mention the brown hyena, earlier that same evening!

Brown Hyena seekpoint 1 
Brown Hyena seekpoint 2
According to Rexon, the previous sighting of a brown hyena in Sabie Sands was in 1992, that is seventeen years ago and it was only a glimpse! WE filmed and shared it LIVE!
We have also all gotten to know a bit more about the spotted hyenas at their den, with their inquisitive noses and curious nature. WE saw Saseka, Yambilu-Jordaan, Nkanyeni (Beacon female's previous cub, now independent) and most of all, WE saw Karula and her two cubs! Often!

Little Mixo and Induna, are fast becoming not so little, and what a pleasure to see them discovering their world, and to discover it with them. Whether they are climbing things, playing with each other's tails, running away from elephants (after Induna stalked the ellie) or just seeing the beautiful bond between siblings and mother, WE have all oohed and aahed while captivated by their magic, magic that WE will keep finding, and more importantly, sharing ... it is in our nature!
So cheers to a splendid African summer past, and cheers to the excitement of winter safaris ahead, where WE never know what the next corner will reveal or what surprise WE might find down the next dusty road.

written by Pieter Pretorius

Kaiser is no longer with WE. He is a great man with tons of knowledge and we all really liked him, but LIVE presenting is not for everyone, and was not for Kaiser. You have all seen many people come and go, and you have learnt that some people stay for a long time, while others move on quite quickly. This is a part of how our world works, and is a necessary aspect of WildEarth. Emily is actively looking for a new presenter, and WE hope to see Patrick (Charles's brother, also from Dixie) trying out again at the end of the month. He did do a try out over a year ago on the old 'Tank', but he will be 'driving' again to see if he has what it takes to work super long hours and carry the responsibility of taking the WE audience out into the African wilderness and finding what nature has to show and making sure that the knowledge that is imparted is true and special.
Also, the drive times are changing with the season. The Djuma crew will be going out at 06h00 CAT for three hours in the morning on the AMsafari, then the WEwalk every weekday morning at 09h30 CAT for a half hour (WE are planning some changes to this show, so watch this space), then the PMsafari will start at 15h00 CAT and run until 18h00 CAT when a quick crew change will take place and the night safari will run until 21h00 CAT. For the moment WE have chosen not to have a Night Safari on Saturday nights.
Please take a look at the link below for the detailed schedule ...

The following was noticed by Aquila (WEadmin) and she agreed that I could share this info with you ...

On the AM drive, April 27th, there was a pride of lions sighted by Kaiser and Rexon. The pride was ID'd as the Nkuhumas but that ID bothered me from the beginning, as I thought they may have been a new pride (new as in for WE) called the Windmill Pride originally out of Mala Mala, but spending much time the last year or two in Kruger. They only recently returned to this area. The Windmill pride has similar aged sub adults as the Nkuhuma pride but their sub adults are a bit older than the Nkuhumas. The pride seen on the 27th consisted of 3 adult females, 3 sub adult males (2 looked a bit older than the 3rd) and two sub adult females.  That is the exact same make up of the Windmill Pride.
I now am almost certain that the pride we saw was indeed the Windmills. Djuma Ranger reports were just updated and they reported the Windmill Pride being on Weavers Nest Rd. both AM and PM on the 27th April.  Exactly the same place WE had the sighting of the lion pride the AM of the 27th April.
Some rangers have even suggested that the Nkuhumas and the Windmill are the same pride but called different names but that is not so.  The Windmills were in Mala Mala on the date the Nkuhumas were being attacked (cubs killed) in Djuma by the Mapogos in Jan 2008. 
Really cool that on WE's Birthday a new pride was seen on cam.   Such amazing sightings lately with the Styx, Windmills and Nkuhumas not to mention Karula, the cubs, Jordaan and Inkanyeni.