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GLOBAL BIG BIRD COUNT REPORT PART 2: FROM SANDBAAI T0 AGULHAS

Posted on the 9th May 2019

This is the second report on Saturday’s quarterly big bird count and covers the area between Sandbaai and Cape Agulhas. Members of BirdLife Overberg again participated in our quarterly Global Big Day count co-ordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this Saturday (4 May 2019) as part of the annual global day count. Teams of members birding in their “home patches” contributed from several areas of the Overberg. Only a few special species seen by each group are mentioned here and only species not recorded in the first report are included. The overall list is available from us upon request. 

Ben Thompson and Duncan Fletcher worked Fernkloof, Prawn Flats and the Hermanus cliff path and they added 8 species to our overall list. These included Cape Batis, Pied Kingfisher, White-fronted Plover, Cape Rock-Thrush and Orange-breasted Sunbird. Most excitingly they photographed a White-fronted Plover chick, indicating that these birds do breed throughout the year – food for thought for the CleanMarine project. This clearly indicates that we need to get those warning signs and other resources at nesting sites erected for the next summer – please support our charity golf day scheduled for 29 August as we are raising funds for the development and printing of these resources and support for our monthly coastal clean-ups.

Kittlitz's Plovers - Ben
Very vulnerable plover chick - Ben

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rynhard van der Merwe birded at Sandbaai for a few hours and contributed Southern Masked Weaver and Peregrine Falcon to our growing list for the day. He also forwarded images of a Grey Plover taken in Sandbaai between 8 and 10 May 2018. At that stage he did not realise the importance of reporting such vagrant sightings. I post this here because the discovery of a Grey Plover and a Garden Warbler at De Kelders over the weekend caused a huge sensation in birding circles. One may ask whether it is a coincidence that these plovers were found in our region precisely a year apart?

Garden Warbler - Paula Combrink
Grey Wagtail - Riaan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Peck and friends again birded the Napier district and found a whopping total of 103 species on the day. We are discussing possible dates for a morning outing to the hugely underrated Napier region. Steve added ten species to our list that included Bokmakierie, Karoo Scrub-Robin, Secretarybird, Black Sparrowhawk, Grey-winged Francolin and Fiery-necked Nightjar. 

We indicated in the earlier report that the swells at sea were really bad and this was aptly illustrated by Marine Dynamics operations on the day as only one boat could go out for shark-diving purposes. Hennie Otto did however manage to record a few species such as Indian Yellow-nosed and Shy Albatrosses, Crowned Cormorant, African Penguin and Cory’s and Sooty Shearwaters and this got added to the growing list of species seen on the day.

Grey Wagtail taking off - Riaan
Greater Striped Swallow - Steve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riaan Jacobs again birded between Gansbaai and Cape Agulhas and came up with some very interesting additions to our overall list. These included the hugely sought-after Hottentot Buttonquail and some wonderful species such as Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Black Harrier and African Marsh-Harrier. Also of note is the recording of somewhat unexpected migrants like the Grey Plover and Sandwich Tern. He also went to De Kelders later on in the week and got the wonderful images illustrating the sheer beauty of the Grey Wagtail posted below. The final news was that several (vagrant) Temminck’s Coursers were discovered along the Agulhas Plains and several of our members were able to go there to tick the birds.

Yellow-billed Ducks - Steve
What's in a name? - Steve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimately our members managed to record 144 species in the Overberg region over the weekend. This compares very favourably with the 158 species recorded in May 2017 and the 147 recorded in May 2018. Another interesting fact is that a quick count reveals that 41 of the species seen on Saturday are endemic or near-endemic to southern Africa, once again illustrating what brilliant birding potential the Overberg region has. Keep in mind that this time we did not receive reports from the Rooisand Nature Reserve, the Fisherhaven slipway, Meer-en-See, the Hawston sewage works and the Stanford district. The weather also did not allow Hennie Otto and his team to do a meaningful count of pelagic species.

For the record one might ask what species were seen on the May counts during the previous two years and but not this time? Many of these species one would expect to find fairly regularly in our region: Pied Avocet, Black Crake, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, White-backed Duck, Lanner Falcon, Lesser Flamingo, Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Grey-headed Gull, Purple Heron, Southern Black Korhaan, Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Cape Clapper Lark, White-backed Mousebird, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Great White Pelican, SA Shelduck, Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, Southern Tchagra, Hottentot Teal, Victorin’s Warbler, Caspian Tern and Ground, Knysna and Olive Woodpeckers. At least ten pelagic species should also be added to this list. Makes one think, doesn’t it? We should try to get more members involved in these quarterly counts as this will certainly push up our numbers considerably. This can only benefit birding tourism to our region.

Grey-backed Cisticola - Steve
Blue Crane - Steve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Friday morning we figured that Saturday’s event was a global count and that our members could in actual fact count birds anywhere in the world. We invited members to do so, unfortunately at that very late stage. We did get three ractions: Di Parker visited her son in Dubai and could only bird at his flat. She did however add Common Mynah, Palm Dove, Red-vented Bulbul and Purple Sunbird to our overall list. The latter is the only sunbird found in the UAE! Charlotte Augustyn was in the Worcester area and sent in images of Hamerkop and Sickle-winged Chat. Wilana Smidt was in the Kruger National Park and she added a whopping 70 species to our list. Her list reads like a who’s who of Lowveld birds that included 3 vultures, 4 eagles, 3 storks, the tchagras and White-faced Scops-Owl. These species took our global list for the day to 216 species and this list is also available from us. 

Hamerkop - Charlotte
Sickle-winged Chat - Charlotte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We decided that we will invite members to count wherever they find themselves on our quarterly bird count days, but that we will still keep the Overberg list apart. It will also be ensured that members be reminded of these counts well in advance. The next counts are scheduled for 10 August and 30 November, the latter to coincide with BirdLife South Africa’s Birding Big Day.

Spotted Eagle-Owl - Steve
Cardinal Woodpecker - Steve

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