I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all who had supported and assisted us with our objections to the development of the distillery at Rooiels. We hope that sanity will prevail and that the integrity of this critical birding tourism site will remain intact. Here are two images of the magnificent female Cape Rockjumper taken by Jenny Parsons last week.
HOW BIG IS THE MARTIAL EAGLE? Steve Peck took these images of a Martial Eagle and a young Jackal Buzzard in flight. It clearly illustrates how massive the Martial Eagle actually is when compared to a not-so-small Jackal Buzzard
AFRICAN CRAKE ALONG THE SWARTRIVIER ROAD Johan van der Westhuizen got what must be the best sighting of the month in our region and I include an image of it. A bird was also located at a resort near Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape. Unfortunately (and ironically), news filtered through that the bird was sadly caught and killed by one of the local domestic cats at the resort. S… happens ………..
Nationally the biggest news was the discovery of a LESSER WHITETHROAT within Marloth Park in Mpumalanga – a first for the Southern African sub-region. Lesser Whitethroat is a small warbler species that occurs mostly in Europe and parts of Asia and also migrates into the northern parts of Africa, coming as far south as Ethiopia, during the boreal winter. This bird is way out of the known range and, given the time of year, it seems to be a pretty obvious case of reverse migration where the bird has headed south, instead of north, and landed up down here. This species, together with the Crested Honey Buzzard and Green Warbler located earlier this year now brings the total of bird species for the sub-region to 986 species! (With appreciation to Trevor Hardaker for the use of the notes and images).
Here is a really interesting image by Arthur Ahrens of a young Green-backed Heron making a meal of a Malachite Kingfisher.
I JUST COULD NOT RESIST POSTING THIS COMMENT BY JESSIE WALTON: I paid R600 per fish for 3 large, sterilized grass-eating carp to help control invasive Illinois pond weed in my dam, the idea being they would be too big for the flurry of young reed cormorants fishing greedily. Did not account for this guy though! Just hope the carp are hiding in the pondweed!
COMMENTS ON CONFUSING SPECIES This month I feature two issues that I receive regularly in enquiries about identification: Beware of confusing the White-throated Canary with the female of the Yellow Canary. Note that the White-throated Canary has a shorter eyebrow (supercilium) when compared to the female Yellow Canary. She has an eyebrow that drops down towards her neck, very much like that of the yellow eyebrow of the male. She also has more white in the wing. Also keep in mind that she will usually be in the company of the male.
White-throated Canary - Image by Steve Peck
Female Yellow Canary - Image by Anton
Male Yellow Canary - Image by Wilfred Crous
THOSE YOUNG AFRICAN HARRIER HAWKS About 90% of the photographs of raptors that I receive to identify are of young Gymnogenes. Roberts gives an apt description: “Juveniles are variable, below dark brown to almost pure white; many individuals mottled below. Above usually light to dark brown. Naked facial skin initially greyish- or blackish-yellow, slowly becoming pure yellow; bill and cere may also have a pink wash. Easily confused with other brown raptors, but identifiable by shaggy nape, narrow ‘pinched’ face with bare facial skin and long, thin legs. ” (Roberts adds more key identification features, particularly of birds in flight). Here are some images of juvenile and sub-adult birds to illustrate the point so don’t develop id hang-ups when these birds confuse you.