Posted on the 15th May 2017

Members of BirdLife Overberg decided to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day on Saturday 13 May by participating informally in the Global Big Day count co-ordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Teams of members birding in their “home patches” contributed from several areas of the Overberg and interest grew as people started giving feedback through the club's WhatsApp group. This report was drafted as the various lists were submitted and obviously we could not mention all species seen by teams, or even all the species seen on the day. The various lists are available from us. Images of the day that are received after the posting of this report will be included in place of Steve's images already used in his report of yesterday.

We presented the Flight for Birders course at the Agulhas National Park on the previous two days and did not have the energy to do a morning's birding. I therefore decided to do just one hour's birding along my usual beat through Vermont and Onrus. The VERMONT SALT PAN produced the usual suspects such as the PIED AVOCET, BLACK-WINGED STILT, REED and WHITE-BREASTED CORMORANTS and BLACK-HEADED HERON. The LITTLE GREBE, CAPE SHOVELER and CAPE TEAL were also seen, but the water levels are extremely low at present with the result that no other duck species were added. Surprisingly there were about five times more LESSER FLAMINGOS than GREATER FLAMINGOS on show – I have never seen this is our area. Amazingly there must have been more than fifty THREE-BANDED PLOVERS around the pan.

Lesser Swamp-Warbler - Anton
Karoo Prinia - Anton









Around the edges of the pan species such as the CAPE BULBUL, CAPE CANARY, CAPE LONGCLAW, CAPE SPURFOWL, SOMBRE GREENBUL and COMMON WAXBILL were added. The lookout point along the coast at Bitou Road produced the BOKMAKIERIE, LITTLE EGRET, FISCAL FLYCATCHER, KELP GULL, GREY HERON, KAROO PRINIA and most excitingly SOUTHERN TCHAGRA. Only the AFRICAN DARTER, LESSER SWAMP-WARBLER and OLIVE THRUSH were seen at the ONRUS LAGOON. At HARDERBAAI there were the CAPE CORMORANT, AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER, WHITE-FRONTED PLOVER and SWIFT TERN. In the end I managed to identify 54 species in the hour and then started waiting for feedback from the other teams.

Southern Tchagra - Richard
Speckled Mousebird - Richard









First I received Richard's list. Their team worked the area around Stanford and visited the Danger Point peninsula, as well as the Papiesvlei gravel road. Great to see that they submitted a BirdLasser card! They added several forest-type species to our list, that included CAPE BATIS, SOUTHERN BOUBOU, AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHER, AFRICAN OLIVE-PIGEON and CARDINAL and OLIVE WOODPECKERS. At Willem Appel se Dam there were BLACK CRAKE and WHITE-BACKED and YELLOW-BILLED DUCKS. Other species seen included both bishops, JACKAL BUZZARD and BLUE CRANE. RUDDY TURNSTONE and COMMON WHIMBREL were still present at the Danger Point peninsula. Cracking contribution, thanks guys.

African Olive-Pigeons - Richard
Olive Woodpecker - Richard









Then I received Carin's BirdLasser list of their team's sightings at Arabella Country Estate and along the Swartrivier road. They experienced good birding along the Botriver Estuary where the WHITE-FACED DUCK, AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE, PURPLE HERON, KITTLITZ'S PLOVER, AFRICAN SPOONBILL and CASPIAN TERN were found. The gardens at Arabella produced the BAR-THROATED APALIS, CAPE GRASSBIRD, AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK and AMETHYST SUNBIRD. The Swartrivier road never disappoints and LBJ's identified included the YELLOW CANARY, LEVAILLANT'S CISTICOLA, LARGE-BILLED and RED-CAPPED LARKS, AFRICAN PIPIT and AFRICAN STONECHAT. The ROCK KESTREL and BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE were added and DENHAM'S BUSTARD represented the highlight of their day! Outstanding birding - thanks girls.

Levaillant's Cisticola - Steve
Denham's Bustard - Steve










Most of the common species had already been scored by the time Steve's report from the Napier region came in. He did however forward a brilliant photographic article that we posted on the club website and Facebook page last night and the reaction to it is HUGE! Steve did however manage to add excellent species such as the BRIMSTONE CANARY, CAPE CROW, AFRICAN BLACK DUCK, SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL, GREY-WINGED FRANCOLIN, AFRICAN GOSHAWK (see his outstanding image of the bird in flight – straight into the F4B course images), BROWN-HOODED KINGFISHER and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON. Steve identified 72 species on the day – a great contribution. And thanks for the article Steve!

Black-crowned Night-Heron - Steve
African Goshawk - Steve












Laughing Dove - Richard
Streaky-headed Seedeater - Richard









Jenny, Madeleine, Carl and Conrad covered the area between Rooisand and Rooiels. At Rooisand the GIANT and PIED KINGFISHERS and GREY PLOVER were species added to our list. Stony Point obviously contributed BANK CORMORANT, CAPE CORMORANT, CROWNED CORMORANT, GREY-HEADED GULL and AFRICAN PENGUIN and all of the other coastal species already mentioned. The Rooiels site again came up trumps with several rippers such as the CAPE BUNTING, FAMILIAR CHAT, GREY-BACKED CISTICOLA, CAPE ROCK-THRUSH, CAPE SISKIN, CAPE SUGARBIRD, ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD and GROUND WOODPECKER. They unfortunately dipped on the CAPE ROCK-JUMPER and SENTINEL ROCK-THRUSH, but I see on the BLO WhatsApp group that some members are going to Rooiels tomorrow morning in search of these two species. Jenny's team clocked a whopping 92 species on the morning – no mean feat! Well done and thank you.

Cape Bunting - Jenny
Ground Woodpecker - Jenny










Finally, Nida Potgieter was alone at Meer-en See – maybe some people should go and help her there next time around? She managed to add ROCK DOVE, COMMON GREENSHANK, CROWNED LAPWING and COMMON RINGED PLOVER to our list. In the end she submitted 43 species. A remarkable list given such a small area. Baie dankie Nida.

Cardinal Woodpecker - Richard
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow - Richard











Chris spent the day on a pelagic cruise with Trevor's Zest for Birds and came away with a very impressive BirdLasser list of species seen. We include these here as a theoretical list as all of the species seen have also been seen on pelagic cruises from Kleinbaai with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. Crackers recorded include the ATLANTIC and INDIAN, YELLOW-NOSED, BLACK-BROWED and SHY ALBATROSSES, PINTADO and WHITE-CHINNED PETRELS, GREAT, MANX and SOOTY SHEARWATERS and NORTHERN and SOUTHERN GIANT PETRELS. Awesome birding – thanks for forwarding the list Chris.

Great Shearwaters - Carin
Black-browed Albatross - Carin









Very interesting that several migratory waders and terns were still seen at Danger Point, as well as at Meer-en-See and Rooisand along the Botriver Estuary, a newly declared RAMSAR site. These included the COMMON GREENSHANK, COMMON RINGED PLOVER, GREY PLOVER, COMMON and SANDWICH TERNS, RUDDY TURNSTONE and COMMON WHIMBREL, as well as the BLACK SAWWING. Some of these are known to sometimes over-winter and one wonders whether this is the case?
Ultimately we were able to record 158 species, a really excellent count for the middle of May. Also keep in mind that we saw awesome birds such as the MARTIAL EAGLE, HAMERKOP, BLACK HARRIER, AFRICAN MARSH-HARRIER and SECRETARYBIRD in the Agulhas area on Thursday and Friday and these have not been included in the list. Just think what we could have done if members from other areas in the Overberg such as Elgin/ Grabouw, Villiersdorp, Hermanus, Gansbaai, Cape Agulhas and so on could have participated. We will certainly investigate the possibility of repeating this exercise on a quarterly basis as it is fun and could produce interesting comparisons in the medium to long term. If one just look at all of the endemic species seen, it certainly illustrates the vast birding potential of the Overberg region.
Our appreciation to all who had participated and contributed.

Cape Siskin - Jenny
Orange-breasted Sunbird - Jenny








Cape Grassbird - Jenny







DEIRDRE RICHARDS (posted: 2017-05-15 17:49:32)
Thanks for this great report. It just shows that one must keep one's eyes open even in familiar territory!