restricted access Geese and grebe
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Spur-winged Goose L: 85–100 cm (33–39") A massive, heavily built, long-necked, black goose, with varying amounts of white on the head, belly and wings, and a warty red bill, face and legs . In flight, the white forewings on the black body differentiate it from other waterfowl . The male is much larger than the female . This species is uncommon in Kruger, but can be absent from the park in drier years; numbers often increase after the December to March rains when more wetland habitat becomes available . It forages in a variety of wetland habitats and lush grasslands, feeding mostly on plant matter . It usually nests in vegetation near water but has been known to commandeer the nests of Hamerkop or even Martial Eagle or African Fish-Eagle . The function of the spur on the bend of the wing, which gives the bird its name but is often hidden, is poorly known, but it is used by males in aggressive territorial conflicts . Geese: 1 and grebe 32 Little Grebe L: 20 cm (8") Grebes are swimming birds which dive to feed . They differ from ducks and geese in their narrow, pointed bills and lobed, rather than webbed, toes . Also called the ‘Dabchick’, the Little Grebe is the smallest species of waterfowl within Kruger . When breeding, it is rufous and dark grey, with a pale spot by the bill, while in non-breeding plumage it is dirty buff with a paler face . Little Grebe numbers fluctuate in Kruger, with it being common during wet periods and absent during droughts . It is widespread on open water bodies, and avoids rivers and fast-flowing water, this bird is often detected by its characteristic trilling call . It nests on floating vegetation on open water, and is rarely seen on land because its legs are set so far back that it is unable to walk far . It rides high on the water with the rear often elevated, sometimes raising its back feathers to expose black skin to the sun to help regulate its body temperature . The Little Grebe dives to catch fishes, tadpoles and insects, and will follow Hippopotamuses to small eat animals they disturb . Like other grebes it will eat its own feathers, which line the digestive tract and prevent injury from small fish bones . It is one of the favoured prey items of the Cape Clawless Otter . BIRDS OF RIVERS AND WETLANDS breeding non-breeding juvenile 33 ...