(This report first appeared in BATIS NO. 70, April 2015 tneSomerset West Bird Club's quarterly magazine)
Overberg precinct crane count - 31st January 2015
The Overberg Precinct covers the area from Botriver to Mossel Bay south of the mountains and has 32 teams covering it by way of defined rural routes, mainly dirt roads in farming areas. The numbers of birds recorded were, as usual, up a bit and down a bit but most encouragingly the Blue Crane numbers were up by 527 compared with last January, a total of 2703 having been counted, with the larger number (897) being seen in the Swellendam/Heidelberg area. The number in the Caledon area was also good at 599. It was commented on that the birds were still displaying and breeding, so we look forward to another good ‘Crane Year”. The number of Denham’s Bustards was also up by 59 with a total of 135 having been seen. Other species that showed an increase in counts were Southern Black Korhaans, Karoo Korhaans, and a huge increase, explosion, of Spur-winged Geese with a total of 1031 counted with many juveniles noted. Happily, 2 Secretarybirds also improved the counts. On the flip side, both the Black-headed Herons and the White Storks showed a drop in numbers of 116 and 1935 respectively. In the world of raptors there were increases in the Black Harriers (16), Cape Crows (252) and White-necked Ravens (64).
The two teams with the highest count of Blue Cranes in the Heidelberg and Swellendam areas were Maureen Aucamp’s team (388) and Keith Moodie’s team (321). Despite the cool/cold weather with some drizzle and strong winds here and there the enthusiasm of those involved was so wonderful and real. Truly a helping hand for a beleaguered nature. The interest in and support for the programme from our Club members can only help it go from strength to strength.
Thank you one and all!
Inès and Duncan Cooke
Overberg Precinct Coordinators