The owners and staff of Stonecutters Lodge near Dullstroom have come across a number of exciting ‘wildlife sightings’ recently. Leaving the property a few weeks ago at noon, Christi Moller, the operations manager disturbed a crowned eagle who had just landed to consume a – a puff adder snake– “ I watched in awe of the enormous wing span as the raptor took flight, leaving his twitching half-eaten prey behind in the dust. As I drove off I was pleased to see the bird return to his meal.
There is a pair of resident African fish eagles that nest in the trees close to the dams and while they too consume their fair share of our trout, they are such majestic birds with their wonderful signature call, that one can only be pleased at their presence. Seeing a fish eagle swoop down and score a direct hit is something most of us only see on TV, but this month I was thrilled to see the live event as a magnificent fish eagle plucked a large trout (about one kilogram) from the dam in his huge claws and landed in a nearby tree, where he tore into his meal with beak and claw, quite unperturbed by my presence. . Made my day!”
In the past week the farm work force have been involved with a project of clearing grass and reeds from sections of one of the dams to create easy fishing access for our trout angling guests and a few days ago they called us, with great excitement, to come and see a White breasted Cormorant. These birds are the bane of owners’ of trout dams as they consume a good percentage of fish, so we approached with little enthusiasm. Imagine our surprise when we were confronted by a white–breasted cormorant lying stone dead with a large trout weighing about one kilogram stuck half-way down his gullet. He definitely bit off more than he could chew - the staff were very pleased to have both a big fish and a big bird for the pot! Clifford Nkuna caught this on camera.
And then a sad event last week: The dams are filled with water from the Dorps River which is fed by 700 meters of parallel pipes. Last week the water had reduced to a trickle and on investigating we found that both pipes were blocked at the inlet by not one, but two water mongooses. The poor creatures were stuck nose first into the pipes and had been unable to extricate themselves. If we had noticed the blockage sooner maybe we could have rescued the poor animals….. From one day to the next we don’t know what we may be privy to in this piece of Paradise. It is not the ‘Big Five’ but in its own way it brings excitement to our every day here.
Next time you travel to Dullstroom try Stonecutters Lodge now offering a Special Discount deal. Click the icon for details.