Ground Nesting: My Collage for LMAC #107, and the Black Harrier of South Africa

in Let's Make a Collage4 months ago (edited)

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I begin today's blog by thanking @shaka for the beautiful photo he gave the LMAC community to work with this week. Making a collage out of the photo was a pleasure.

The Template Photo by @shaka
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As soon as I saw the picture, the idea of fantastic, ground-dwelling creatures came to mind. One part of the image especially suggested these entities. Look at the rock formation delineated by the rectangle in the picture below.
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In that formation I saw the green-headed creature featured in the foreground of my collage. From there, the scene grew and eventually the idea to write a blog about animals that nest on the ground. More about the collage later, but now a brief essay on the perilous existence of ground-nesting birds.

Ground Nesting Black Harrier (Circus Maurus) of South Africa

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Image credit: Jackie During. Used under GNU 1.2 license.

In the picture of the soaring bird featured above, you will see a physical representation of natural balance. The black harrier has a magnificent wing span and relatively small body mass. This tradeoff between wing span and light weight allows the bird to coast for long periods as it searches for prey in its habitat.

The black harrier nests in grassy areas, on flat ground. There the bird is more vulnerable than it would be in a less accessible location. However, the grassy areas offer abundant food sources. When a mated pair is nesting, the female guards the young while the male soars overhead in search of prey. The male must provide dinner for both the young and their mother.

De Hoop Nature Reserve, Nesting Area for Black Harriers
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Image credit: gossipguy. Used under CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

Balance. This term could well express the circumstances in which the black harrier thrives. A balance between wing span and body weight. A balance between security and food supply. And the balance that is imposed by the harrier as it consumes small mammals that inhabit its territory.

The harrier helps to temper the growth of the prey population, mostly rodents. If there are too many rodents, they will overrun the habitat. If there aren't enough, the harrier and other predators will starve. Plus the rodents are an ecological asset to the nesting area.

The rodents feed on insects and seeds. The rodents help to control insect populations and play an important role in seed dispersal. These behaviors contribute to the health of the grassy areas in which the black harrier nests.

Striped Mouse (Rhabdomys pumilio) of South Africa

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Image credit: Derek Keats. Used under a CC 2.0 license.

Because the black harrier builds its nest on the ground, it requires a pristine environment in which to raise its young. The presence of black harriers in an area is considered an indication that the territory is ecologically healthy: clean and biodiverse.

If you have a few moments there is a beautiful, informative video on YouTube about the black harrier. The video features the biologist and ornithologist Rob Simmons.

Conservation Status
According to the website Birdlife of South Africa, the black harrier is Southern Africa's "rarest endemic raptor". The conservation status is endangered. There are estimated to be less than "1000 mature breeding birds" in the species.

Pollutants, such as organochlorine compounds (pesticides used in agriculture) are found in significant amounts in black harrier blood samples. The concentration of pollutants is evident even in birds that live in preserves, away from agriculture. The presence of these chemicals is evidently extensive throughout the environment, so that the birds cannot escape them.

Black Harrier, (Circus Maurus) Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
black harrier Circus maurus Stephen Temple from Cape Town, South Africa 2.0.png
Image credit: Stephen Temple from Cape Town, South Africa. Used under CC 2.0 license.

Black Harrier Facts
**The birds are mostly monogamous. Occasionally the male will have a second mate, but generally the second mate fares less well than the first.

**Although they are essentially ground nesters, some black harriers do nest in the mountains. These birds tend to breed less successfully.

**Black Harriers nest in "loose colonies", which may have between 3 and fifteen nests in the colony. It is believed that the birds breed every two years and have between 3 and five chicks at a time.

**Lifespan of a black harrier is about eight years. The chicks are ready to fly about 40 days after emerging from the egg.

Future of the Black Harrier
Despite the efforts of committed conservationists, prospects for the black harrier are not great. Habitat loss is the bird's greatest threat. Not only must it deal with the incursion of agriculture and contamination by pollutants, but the planned construction of wind turbines is also seen as a threat to the bird because of inevitable collisions. Finally, a decline in rainfall has negatively affected the grassy areas in which the birds make their nests.

My Collage

I start this section of my blog by thanking three contributors to LIL. Their images were indispensable to the completion of my collage. What would I have done without the eggs? Can't have nesting birds without eggs. Or the fantastic trees in my magical forest (all came from one seed plant)? Or the beautiful flower? All the flowers in the foreground were adapted from one, single petal. So, thank you,


Seed Plant

Flower Petal

As is my custom I only used LIL images and my own resources to make this collage. The creatures chattering in the foreground were created from the one rock formation I indicated at the top of this blog. The blue nesting birds were created from a frustrated attempt to draw a vulture. Since that didn't work, I just let my imagination go.

In several of my sketches, filters from Lunapic helped to accentuate a fantasy impression. In addition to that, I used Paint3D, Paint, and GIMP to size, arrange and organize the frames of the collage.

Please join us in our weekly art fun, if you haven't yet. No art skills necessary, just a desire to create. This week's contest announcement may be found on @shaka's blog, here. Although I don't compete, every week I come back and create a collage.

And, please feel free to borrow from LIL. We invite everyone to contribute images to LIL. Procedures for that may be found here.

As always, I end my collage post by thanking @shaka for the adventure, and thanking everyone who participates in the LMAC contest for making this a dynamic community.

Thank you for reading my blog

Hive on

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The photo of @shaka is really a peaceful one. It just triggers dreams in my mind of a place where I could just rest alone, far from any crowd, and enjoy a peaceful view. I guess I am very far from your fantastic ground-dwelling creatures, but we recover the sensation of balance mentioned later in your blog.

Despite the efforts of committed conservationists, prospects for the black harrier are not great.

I have heard from collaborators from Johannesburg that due to COVID, funding for wildlife preservation in South Africa has melted, as it was mostly relying on tourism. The government does not help much to compensate, and prospects for the harrier may therefore be even worse…

Hello @lemouth,
Thanks for your visit and your comment. As you may know, I'm a 'country' girl at heart. My earliest years were spent pretty much in fields and forests, without much contact with people until I went to school. So I love @shaka's country scenes. A nice place for me to relax and let my imagination roam freely.

As for our black harrier: that is not good news (that government support of it has dried up). The naturalist (Bob Simmons)who has been doing much of the research on the bird works out of the University of Capetown and seems to have NGO support, according to Birdlife International. I can only hope that this private support enables him to continue his work. However, even given that, prospects for the black harrier are not good.

Looking forward to reading your blog today (no pressure 😄). I haven't checked the blog yet. I will later.

Hope you have a wonderful Monday.

Amazing blog as always! Very informative!

Thank you @one-eye! I really appreciate your support and your kind words.

Your imagination was kicking into high gear when creating this beautiful collage, A.G. @agmoore. I see the little creatures head now that you pointed it out. It was a great inspiration to work from.

Love the colored trees to the left and the animation going on with the flowers and weird headed birds.

Always a pleasure viewing collages with your drawings. 💕

Have a great rest of the week! We had really cold weather the last 2 nights and it’s not getting much warmer today. 🥶 Oh spring where art thou?

Hello my friend @redheadpei,
Maybe life is like a circle. We end up where we began...with the free-wheeling imagination of a child. I had fun with my little creatures and my peculiar forest. I'm glad these do not seem absurd to you (I'm sure they do seem absurd to some people 😄).

What a time we are having in the world, aren't we? Vaccines and boosters and variants. Why not lose ourselves in fantasy collages.

I appreciate your visit and your kind words very much. I wish you and your family a healthy, peaceful week.

So many beautiful creatures,I love how that flower glows. Nice one agmoore

Thank you, @onyechi. You have such an exquisite sense of color. I feel very complimented. I just followed my instincts with this and did what pleased me. I'm glad it worked.

Have a great evening.

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Thank you very much for your support!

Querida @agmoore, ¡qué cosa tan absolutamente hermosa, extraña, tierna, colorida has hecho aquí!
Cuánta liviana sonrisa despierta.
La amo absolutamente.

Hello my friend @adncabrera. You are so kind. I let my imagination wander and didn't try to achieve an objective goal. I stopped making the collage when it felt 'right'. I'm happy you think it worked out well.

Hope you are well and peaceful.

Hello @agmoore, a pleasure and pleasure to greet you. What a beautiful and wonderful collage, I really like the colors, the animals, the birds, the animations. You know I am passionate about including animals in my collages. I look at it and it transmits me a lot of positive energies. I am very honored and pleased that you have selected one of my images contributed to the lil library. Congratulations. Have a happy week.

Thank you for the eggs! I think they were the only ones available on LIL. It would not have been easy to draw my own eggs 😂

I appreciate your visit to my blog, and your kind words. It was a lot of fun to make this collage. The world can be pretty dark, but not in that picture.

Have a great week.

Great collage with a wonderful in-depth story. I wonder how they found out that the Black Harrier's "mistresses" fared less well than the first wife. I imagine that some sneaky biologists kept track of the number of chicks that mistress and first wife incubated. Then after counting them, they probably found that the first wife had more eggs/chicks than the mistress. Or maybe, the chicks of the first wife were bigger and healthier.

Hi @litguru,
Thanks for your visit and your comment. If you look at the YouTube video, you will see the researcher actually weighing the eggs in each nest. Apparently, the 'mistresses' nest in high ground, in mountain areas. (It's funny in a way, like a secret apartment for a second family). It seems that black harriers nesting in mountain areas generally do not do as well as the ground-dwelling birds. Again, if you look at the video, you can see the mother on the ground, caring for her young, and calling to the male for food. (He seems to be 'harried 😄) He seems quite busy. I don't know how he would provide for a second family with the same amount of energy.

Have a great Monday, @litguru

Mountain love nests, you say? (Furiously writing notes). 😊

Fascinating that the male would actually try to help the 'mistress', and it's not just wham, bam, thank you ma'am. It's almost like a primitive version of love or sense of duty. Also, maybe the second female would've fared worse without the affair, and this is why the behavior persists in spite of the evolutionary disadvantage.

He seems to be 'harried 😄

It's almost not worth the trouble, if you ask me, but that's nature for you.


Hello friend, excellent collage with the review of the black harrier, all this is the natural balance when one of this is broken, it can affect all this natural environment that surrounds it.

Hello my friend @cetb2008. I know you respect nature and are very interested in the environment. I'm happy that you found my collage and blog worthwhile.

I hope you and your family are well. Have a great week!

Thanks for your contribution to the STEMsocial community. Feel free to join us on discord to get to know the rest of us!

Please consider delegating to the @stemsocial account (85% of the curation rewards are returned).

Thanks for including @stemsocial as a beneficiary, which gives you stronger support. 

I am very grateful for your support, @stemsocial. Thank you very much.

The photos look so beautiful thanks for the information

Thank you @sanda1999. I very much appreciate your stopping by and your kind assessment of my blog.

I see that you are new. This can seem like an uphill journey. May I suggest that you join LMAC and enter next week's contest. There is a new picture coming out on Thursday. Anyone can enter. Everyone is acknowledged who makes an effort to make a nice collage. No art skills necessary. Just effort. Check out @shaka's blog (here) about last week's contest. Voting for that contest is going on right now.

I look forward to seeing your collage. It's OK if you tag me when you enter. I'll be sure to check your collage out if you do.

Good luck in your Hive adventure.

In that formation I saw the green-headed creature featured in the foreground of my collage. From there, the scene grew...

Pareidolia - A best friend of the artistic mind. I truly envy you that moment of inspiration!

The result was a fantastic collage. I really like all your creatively produced and elaborated creations in this collage. Surreal from bottom to top and wonderfully animated as usual in your collages.
It is a great work of art and it would have been well worthy of a place in the final.

Many thanks also for the education part. Once again very interesting.

Have a great evening and a good night! :-)

Meeting your standards...that's a high point for me when I make a collage. This one really was all intuitive, and therefore a great pleasure to create.

I looked up pareidolia. That is a great word, and new to me. You do not seem to lack inspiration. When I see your collages I see other worlds and I wonder what triggered your art when you created those worlds.

I do love making collages. You can see that. And I do love learning about our world and sharing what I learn in my (your term) edu-blogs. LMAC is a gift to me on so many levels. Besides the art, and the writing, it is a functioning economy that allows people to make money. This is money that sometimes is badly needed.

At my age, to be part of such a community...what a lucky woman I am.

Sorry to go off like this. Just felt like it.

Thanks for that high estimation, and for the new word. Thanks especially for the crucial part you play in keeping the LMAC motor running :)

Happy New Year.

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Stunning pictures, thanks for the article