Our Mission and Values at GBT...
Here at GBT we hope to foster an interest in all things birding, and in so doing, also create a deep and abiding respect for our natural environment. We do so without taking ourselves too serioulsy, but we do take the state of our environment very seriously. We share our knowledge and our passion for all things birding willingly and enthusiastically.
WESTERN CAPE Wow, it’s been a busy few days and, starting in the Western Cape, there was major excitement amongst Cape Town-based listers when news broke that the LONG-CRESTED EAGLE had been relocated at Helderberg College in Somerset West early yesterday morning. With news going out of the bird’s presence at 08h00 yesterday, it wasn’t long before a number of locals were on site, but unfortunately, they failed to relocate the bird. They spent the next few hours scouring the area, but to no avail and eventually gave up, only to have news spread again late in the afternoon that the bird was once again present. Shortly after 5pm, there were once again a number of locals arriving at Helderberg College and, this time, luck was on their side and they all managed to connect with the bird.
An early morning visit this morning by others revealed that the bird was once again present on its “favourite” pole in the complex and showed for a little while before disappearing again.
As a reminder, on entering the Helderberg College, one needs to take the second road to the left (a gravel road) and travel to the end of it and the bird is viewable from here down into the valley where it tends to favour sitting on the exposed pole in the early mornings and late afternoons. I have been sent co-ordinates for the site which are 34 deg 03.2’ S 18 deg 50.4”E, but please also bear in mind that a lot of the area is private property, so please act accordingly i.e. responsibly.
That was not the only excitement of the last few days – earlier this morning, news broke of an AFRICAN PIED WAGTAIL located late yesterday at the Uilkraal bridge between Gansbaai and Pearly Beach. With the “breaking news” alert going out at 08h00 this morning, the first birders were on site by 09h15 and connected with the bird immediately whereafter it showed well throughout the rest of the day (reported until at least 18h00 this evening).
This is an extremely rare bird in the province with the SABAP2 database showing only 2 records for the province since the start of the atlas, both of which are from the eastern parts of the province along the Garden Route. Certainly, it has been a long time since a twitchable bird was within striking distance of Cape Town-based birders who wanted to add it to their provincial lists with the last one probably being a well-watched individual in the V&A Waterfront in March 2005.
Over and above these exciting records, the irruption of arid zone birds south and west of their normal distributions has also continued with BLACK-HEADED CANARIES being reported at the A. van Wyk Farm School on Adderley Road just outside Durbanville (3 individuals) on Saturday and another 4 individuals present at the waterhole close to the Conservation Centre in Koeberg Nature Reserve yesterday. Added to this was a flock of 20 LUDWIG’S BUSTARDS reported on Thursday morning flying over Britannia Bay in the direction of Paternoster.
On the Peninsula, locals were still being entertained on the weekend by small numbers of WHITE-FACED and FULVOUS DUCKS at the temporary wetlands in Phillipi as well whilst it would appear that at least one AFRICAN OPENBILL straggler still remains in the province, a single bird still present this morning at Vermont Salt Pan.
Elsewhere in the province, the Garden Route area has not held back either with the WAILING CISTICOLAS still showing well in a patch of grassland in between cultivated fields west of George on Friday whilst further individuals were located at Sparrebosch in Knysna later that same day. Also of interest on Friday in Knysna were 2 WHITE-FACED DUCKS actively calling over the Hunter’s Home area in Knysna whilst, in the same area, at least one VERREAUX’S EAGLE OWL was still showing well as well. The Diepwalle State Forest just north-east of Knysna also produced a single CROWNED HORNBILL close to the turn-off to the “Big Tree” on Saturday, possibly the same individual reported from near the main office complex earlier in the week.
Other potentially exciting news came this morning from the George area where a possible KURRICHANE BUTTONQUAIL was reported in grasslands close to town. Although the record should remain as unconfirmed for now, it would certainly be worthwhile for locals to follow up on this and try to confirm it one way or the other as this could be another very exciting record for the province, with only a handful of previous records from the Murraysburg area.
EASTERN CAPE Moving into the Eastern Cape, the popular and slightly out of range CAPE EAGLE OWLS in the quarry in Grahamstown were still showing well on the weekend with both parents and the 3 fully fledged chicks giving good views whilst Mayfield Dam, also in the area, still hosted the female MACCOA DUCK, a lone WHITE-BACKED DUCK, an immature LESSER FLAMINGO and a BAILLON’S CRAKE and had the added attraction of a PURPLE HERON, all of these species being rather rare in this part of the province. Local birders in the area continued to work hard and also came up trumps with a pair of BROAD-TAILED WARBLERS on a rocky hillside close to Grahamstown on the weekend, a species seemingly about 200km out-of-range! This is fantastic work by a small group of dedicated birders who are scouring this area consistently and is almost certainly going to pay off with an absolute mega in the not too distant future!
FREE STATE In the Free State, there was some excitement yesterday when a WAHLBERG’S EAGLE was located soaring over the N8 between Kimberley and Bloemfontein, a record well west by several hundred km’s of this species’ normal range in South Africa.
GAUTENG Gauteng was determined not to be outdone and produced 2 PINK-BACKED PELICANS at Elandsvlei (formerly known as Dickin’s Pan) close to Bapsfontein late last week, a species much sought after by local provincial listers.
KWAZULU NATAL Heading into Kwazulu Natal, the province also got in on the action with some good regional rarities. A single GREAT CRESTED GREBE was located on Saturday on a farm dam opposite “Babanango Biltong” stall, 30km south of Vryheid on the R34 to Melmoth. This appears to be an exceptionally rare species in the province with only 2 pentads in the entire province showing records on the SABAP2 database, so definitely one that the provincial listers would be interested in chasing. This same dam also held 3 WHITE-BACKED DUCKS, another rather rare species in northern KZN.
Elsewhere in the province, a few AFRICAN OPENBILL stragglers remain on view as well with a single bird reported over Durban North on Saturday and another individual seen at the Sappi wetlands in Stanger yesterday whilst 4 AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS, a species reported from time to time on the north coast of the province, were present on Saturday at Sheffield Beach.
MPUMALANGA Mpumalanga also had provincial listers running around on the weekend with the Komatidraai Estate still holding a number of provincial species of interest on Saturday including PINK-THROATED TWINSPOT, PURPLE-BANDED SUNBIRD, LESSER JACANA and YELLOW WAGTAIL whilst a BROAD-BILLED ROLLER was located in the first group of Sycamore Fig trees along the Alpha Loop near Skukuza in the Kruger NP on Sunday.
NAMIBIA Lastly, in Namibia, the Walvis Bay area still held some appeal on the weekend too with at least 6 RED-NECKED PHALAROPES present along the Paaltjies Road just beyond the salt works and a single EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHER present near the Pump Station. The country didn’t stop there producing an excitingly out-of-range COLLARED PALM THRUSH yesterday on the farm Choantsas 292 near Tsumeb which was found drinking at a birdbath in the garden.
GUATENG For those of you that are keeping a Gauteng list, Rowen Goeller reports that a GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO is still present in the Beaulieu area in Midrand in Johannesburg and appears to have a good source of food with the many caterpillars that are around. It has been in the area now for about 5 days and is favouring some Rhus pendulina trees here, so seems to be fairly localized. From what I can work out from the SABAP2 database, there only seem to be 3 pentads in the entire province that have records for this species, so it certainly seems to be an exciting provincial record.
Exactly why I said you will find some interesting things in his updates. I personally am quite keen on trying to see that Great Spotted Cuckoo in Midrand! Haven't seen one of these birds in ages, and would love to get a photo as well.
Last edited by Safari Ranger (03-11-2010 10:01:27)
added to the report Travor has the follwing request:
As we start heading into a potentially exciting rarity season, this is just a friendly request that all of you out there that are using this service make the effort to report updates on any particular bird that you have chased and seen, so that the information can be shared for the benefit of others also wanting to chase the bird. There are already a number of you out there who make religious efforts to provide me with updates, but there are also many people that are just using the service to find out what is around and not “giving anything back” by providing updates.
This is particularly relevant to mega Southern African rarities or very rare provincial records that local listers might be keen to chase for their provincial lists. A simple sms to my cell phone (082 780 0376) from the site to tell me that you are watching the bird would be most appreciated as, with many of these rare species, many people would prefer more regular updates rather than having to wait for the reports coming out on Monday or Thursday evenings to see if the particular species is still around.
It would also be appreciated if you could spread this message far and wide because, although we already have 785 subscribers to this service, there are loads more birders out there who are finding good birds or seeing species that have already been reported and are not passing their information along. The whole idea of this service is to create an attitude of sharing information and not keeping it to ourselves and with top national or regional rarities (i.e. those that would be of huge interest to the twitching community), it would be great to get to a point where this service can provide daily updates on the particular bird. Ultimately, this would be to everyone’s benefit if regular updates are provided.
The other part of this request is around the timing of reports – if you are fortunate enough to be away for a few days and find a really good bird, it would be greatly appreciated if you could, once again, sms me the information immediately (or phone me if you prefer) rather than waiting until you return home to put the message out. Timing is everything when it comes to rarities and, the sooner the message gets spread, the more chance everyone else out there will have to get to see your special find as well.
All that remains to say is that I hope you get to do some fantastic birding this summer season and, hopefully, you get lucky and bump into some mega national or regional rarity which you can share with the rest of us!
News just in from Shaun Peard, via Jeff Curnick, is that a MONTAGU’S HARRIER has just been located at the Mthatha Dam just outside Mthatha about 90 km or so inland from Port St. Johns. A quick look at the SABAP2 database indicates that this is only the 2nd record for the entire province during the atlas, so is indeed an exciting find for provincial listers.
Good luck if you are planning on chasing it and keep us updated!
2nd ever for the Western Cape. First for the (discontinued as a stand alone province, but still referred to as by all the locals there as well as many others through out the country as Southern Cape )Southern Cape.
MEGA MEGA ALERT! Right, now that I have got your attention, I am going to have to disappoint you by telling you that, unless you have immediate access to a boat somewhere along the northern KZN coastline, this one is not going to be twitchable...!
But this just goes to show the wonders of modern technology and also reinforces my comments yesterday about certain people religiously making the effort to get the information of their sightings through to me timeously, no matter where they might be at the time…
Hot on the heels of Southern Africa’s 5th ever Buller’s Albatross at sea south of Cape Agulhas last Monday, I have just received an email from Meidad Goren who just cannot contain his excitement, having picked up the second MEGA of the season and an even better one at that! He is currently sitting on a boat about 80 miles east of Kosi Bay and about 6 miles south of the Mozambique Channel, so therefore still in South African waters, and could not wait to get the email off to me via the satellite system on the boat to tell me that they have just found Southern Africa’s 2nd ever MASKED BOOBY a few minutes ago!
Apparently, Meidad was alerted to the birds presence when the captain called him to tell him that there was a “funny looking gannet” hanging around the boat. When he stepped outside to look for the bird, he was blown away to find a Masked Booby there (as most keen birders would be!). Meidad has managed to get a few photos of the bird as well, but it is a little too expensive to transmit those via the satellite email system through to me at the moment, so we will have to wait until they get back in about a week’s time to see the photos. He has also seen a number of other mouth-watering seabirds in the last 4 days, but I will tell you more about those in the report this evening – just couldn’t wait to break this news!
With only one previous sight record from Namibian waters in November 2009 of this species, Meidad’s record is really exciting, being the second for Southern Africa, the first for South Africa and the first photographic confirmation of this species occurring in the subregion. Well done Meidad!
I’m not going to wish you good luck for the chase on this one as I assume no-one will be attempting a twitch…
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. Mahatma Gandhi
Treat the Earth and all that dwell therein with respect.Remain close to the Great Spirit Show great respect for your fellow beings. Work together for the benefit of all Mankind Give assistance and kindness wherever needed. Do what you know to be right Look after the well-being of Mind and Body. Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater Good Be truthful and honest at all times. Take full responsibility for your actions. American Indian Ten Commandments