Posted on the 13th June 2020

Members and friends of BirdLife Overberg continued with regular bird counts in many areas of the Overberg during the month of June. This included the bi-weekly Saturday and Sunday bird count on the weekend of 6 and 7 June – It was decided not to write a report on that weekend’s birding, but to rather review the birds seen during the first thirteen days of June. Most of the common species were yet again recorded and we don’t report on them here. At this stage we managed to record an astonishing 169 species in the Overberg during the first two weeks of June and this include 42 endemic or near endemic species. The full list that is updated regularly is available elsewhere on the website.

Female Klaas's Cuckoo - Steve Peck
Male Klaas's Cuckoo - Steve Peck














The good birding news for June was that the lockdown restrictions went to stage 3 allowing many members to take to the streets, or should one say the wonderful Overberg wheatbelt gravel roads. DENHAM’S BUSTARD, YELLOW CANARY, ZITTING CISTICOLA, BLUE CRANE, AGULHAS LONG-BILLED LARK, CAPE CLAPPER LARK, LARGE-BILLED LARK, all 3 pipits, KAROO SCRUB-ROBIN, AFRICAN STONECHAT and CAPPED WHEATEAR were just some of the special species logged by participants. Raptors reported included the JACKAL BUZZARD, both the common falcons, BLACK HARRIER, BLACK-WINGED KITE and a magnificent immature MARTIAL EAGLE reported from the Swartrivier road by the Combrinks and the Malans. (By the way, the adult MARTIAL EAGLE with prey photographed with a camera trap in the Vogelgat Reserve outside Hermanus caused a sensation on social media). 

Most of the endemic species associated with the Benguela current were reported by David from Stony Point and Carl again reported some cracking birds associated with watery habitats from Kleinmond. I know that I said it last time around, but the KLEINMOND ESTUARY and the LAMLOCH SWAMPS clearly have great potential specifically as far as waterbirds are concerned and certainly need to be protected from unsustainable tourism developments. Both GREY-HEADED GULLS and INTERMEDIATE (YELLOW-BILLED) EGRETS were yet again reported by more than one participant and one wonders whether sightings of these species have been under-reported in the past?

Agulhas Long-billed Lark - Steve
Large-billed Lark - Steve










Species that were not reported during Covid-19 lockdown previously, but were added to our growing list this month were CAPE BUZZARD (Jessie at Elgin) and FOREST BUZZARD (Carin at Arabella). “New species” that were reported by more than one participant include the BROWN-HOODED KINGFISHER, CROWNED LAPWING, GREAT WHITE PELICAN, SOUTH AFRICAN SHELDUCK and CAPE SHOVELER. Lastly, two species that are seen rarely on our side of the Overberg were the WATTLED STARLING seen by Peter Hochfelden at Stanford and a CAPE VULTURE spotted by Chris Cheetham at Tesselaarsdal. 

The cold fronts that reach our shores at this time of year regularly bring in lots of pelagic species closer to land making sea (or ocean) birding very exciting in our area and this month was no exception. Johan van der Westhuizen reported CAPE GANNETS and SUBANTARCTIC SKUAS from Vermont, while Pieter Verster nailed it by getting the image of the month of a GREY-HEADED ALBATROSS at the Hermanus New Harbour. Lester van Groeningen was busy as ever and reported cracking sightings of species such as the SHY ALBATROSS, PARASITIC JAEGER, NORTHERN and SOUTHERN GIANT PETRELS, WHITE-CHINNED PETREL and SOOTY SHEARWATER. Our Zoom chat with Lester scheduled for 22 June should therefore not be missed as he will provide lots of tips on how to find pelagic species from land.

Denham's Bustard - Steve
Male SA Shelduck - Steve










Terns also caused great excitement as Tinus le Roux got great images of both the ANTARCTIC and ROSEATE TERNS at Kleinbaai and Pieter Verster got a sensational LESSER CRESTED TERN at Fisherhaven. The later was a ‘lifer’ for many of our members that raced out there to get the bird. Also interesting that several reports of the COMMON and SANDWICH TERNS were received from different areas – these are probably first-year birds that are overwintering. Other summer migrants that were still reported include COMMON BUZZARD, COMMON GREENSHANK, GREY PLOVER, BLACK SAWWING, BARN SWALLOW and WHIMBREL. 

Lesser Crested Tern to the right of Greater Crested Terns - Image provided














Consider that we did not receive reports from the Rooiels, Greyton, Caledon, Swellendam, or the De Hoop and De Mond areas. We quickly drew up a list of fairly common birds not recorded to illustrate how many more species could potentially be seen: PIED AVOCET, LITTLE BITTERN, NAMAQUA DOVE, BOOTED EAGLE, SOUTHERN PALE CHANTING GOSHAWK, LESSER HONEYGUIDE, SOUTHERN BLACK KORHAAN, SENTINEL ROCK-THRUSH, SECRETARYBIRD and VICTORIN'S WARBLER, as well as those specials at Rooiels.

Southern Tchagra - Johan van der Westhuizen
White-fronted Plover - Johan van der Westhuizen














And news just in! Johan van der Westhuizen found and photographed  the first DUSKY SUNBIRD in our region in Vermont, Hermanus.

With all of this considered it is evident that the Overberg region of the Western Cape Province has vast bird-watching potential and one can only hope that this potential will be realised once the Covid-19 pandemic is something of the past. We appeal to all our members and friends to assist us with the identification of species during the rest of the month and remember that we will again be doing a weekend count on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 June. Forward your lists of species seen to 200 species in the Overberg during one month (in winter nogal) might just be within our reach.
13 June 2020.

African Fish-Eagles at Napier - Steve











Martial Eagle with prey in Vogelgat Nature Reserve - Camera trap image from Landmark


















No current posts. Be the first to post a comment