Posted on the 25th May 2020

Our regular birding outings were made something of the past by the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions forcing us to try alternative approaches to our birding endeavours. In April we requested members to record the birds in their gardens while the level 5 restrictions were in place. We collectively managed to record a respectable 125 species in our Overberg gardens. We continued with this during May with level 4 restrictions when early morning hikes were also allowed and we are already on a whopping 169 species. We also participated in the Global Big Bird count run by the Cornell Lab on 9 May and more than 20 members collectively logged 141 species.

This was so successful that it was decided to again undertake a “collective count” over the weekend of 23 and 24 May. The weather was not really good and several of the previous participants were unable to do so this time. Early indications are that 123 species were recorded over the weekend and it was decided to delve into the various lists a bit – please note that these are not definitive findings and merely impressions of what is going on. The difference in species recorded on 9 May and over the past weekend can clearly be ascribed to our friends at Rooiels and Arabella Estate not being able to participate over the weekend. These are two prime birding destinations in our region offering unique and often endemic species not easily to be found in other areas of the Overberg. 

The other interesting finding that stands out is that the species recorded during the month, but not on the 9th or the 23rd or 24th are often hugely sought-after and difficult to find birds that are in most cases fairly habitat restricted. DENHAM’S BUSTARD, TAMBOURINE DOVE, GREY-WINGED FRANCOLIN, HAMERKOP, PARASITIC JAEGER, NORTHERN and SOUTHERN GIANT PETRELS and KNYSNA and OLIVE WOODPECKERS serve as great examples of this.

It seems as if most of the migratory swallows and swifts have left in the last week or so, but it seems as if some COMMON and SANDWICH TERNS and WHIMBRELS are planning to overwinter – probably first-year birds? There were a few firsts for some of the participants: Chris recorded an AFRICAN BLACK DUCK on their property, Gary found a CAPE ROCK THRUSH in his garden at Chanteclair, Onrus and Steve photographed a CAPE GRIFFON from his property at Napier. 

We will draft a comprehensive report on progress with these counts, together with fascinating findings beginning to emerge for inclusion in the “What’s Happening” in a week’s time. Send us an email if you want us to forward copies of any of these lists to you. It has become evident that these counts are very rewarding and entertaining: We will repeat the month-long count during June and again do collective counts on the weekends of 6 and 7 and 20 and 21 June. Please diarise these events and let’s see if the majority of us can participate.
25 May 2020.

























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