Crocodile Count 1 of 2010 – Lake St Lucia, KZN

Jan 24, 2010

MISSION 1 OF 2010
Name of Mission: Crocodile Count 1 of 2010 – Lake St Lucia, KZN
Date of Mission: 24th January 2010
Flight Requestor: Xander Combrink
Pilots: Donovan Barton-Hobs and Donald Hicks

Pilot’s story of the mission : By  DONOVAN  BARTON-HOBBS

The first of our crocodile-related missions in 2010 was a flight to count crocodile nests in the Greater St Lucia estuary.  The flight took place on 24th January and the North Easterly did not disappoint, with winds of up to 30 knots.

This mission was flown with two aircraft:  my aircraft is a Bushbaby and Donald Hicks, another Bateleurs member, accompanied us in a Foxbat from Light Flight in the Cato Ridge area.

Xander Combrink, the flight requestor, was happy that we achieved the mission objectives.

Pilot’s story of the mission : By  DONALD  HICKS

I took off from Emoyeni at about 07h00 on Sunday morning after having waited for the mist to lift.  It took me about 1.5 hrs to get to Dukuduku where the counting team were waiting for both Donovan Barton Hobbs and myself. I removed my aircraft door to facilitate easier viewing and, after a quick briefing, we took off and followed the plan laid down by Xander Combrink.  The wind picked up from the NNE gusting to about 25 knots making low level operations quite difficult. Nonetheless we were able to complete the task in 3 hrs and 1 minute.  It is noted that, due to the high winds and the many turns, the fuel burn rate was unfortunately quite high.

Following a brief rest and debrief, Donovan and I climbed back into our respective aircraft and returned back to base.  Time in the air worked out to be 6.7 hours and the total time, door to door away from home, was 11 hours.

A most enjoyable, (if somewhat tiring), sortie that realised, I believe, “a happy customer”. I am strongly of the opinion that the day, from their point of view, was successful and we will be seen in the future as a preferred supplier.

I have attached below two visuals – one is of the entire route flown, from Emoyeni (home base at Cato Ridge) back to Emoyeni;  the second is of the route flown for the count .

Freshwater_inflow_from_the_Mkhuze_River_into_the_north_of_Lake_St_Lucia
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Passenger’s story of the mission : By  XANDER  COMBRINK

The survey on Sunday went very well with Donovan Barton-Hobbs and Donald Hicks flying for this count of crocodile nests in St Lucia.

We identified four areas of nesting not recorded by the field rangers in areas where they have already surveyed, which is fantastic!  And we also identified nests in two other areas which still have to be surveyed by rangers.

One of the key outcomes is covering the marginal (historical in normal rainfall years) nesting areas which we can now confirm as having no fresh water, i.e. no nests.  This will save us days and days of foot surveys, as we need to confirm if they are nesting this year or not.

Thank you so much for the survey.

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