Posted on the 26th May 2018

Members of BirdLife Overberg again participated in our quarterly Global Big Day count co-ordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Teams of members birding in their “home patches” contributed from several areas of the Overberg and interest grew as people started giving feedback through WhatsApps and general reports. This report will be drafted as the various lists are submitted and obviously we do not mention all species seen by teams, or even all the species seen on the day. The various lists will be available from us.

Elaine and I did the Onrus and Vermont count earlier today and spent two hours driving around. The VERMONT SALT PAN produced very little as it is very close to being bone dry. There were a few WHITE-BREASTED CORMORANTS and the two gulls. Just like last year there were vast numbers of THREE-BANDED PLOVERS around the pan. Birds that we saw on the same day last year, but not today include PIED AVOCET, BLACK-WINGED STILT, BLACK-HEADED HERON, LITTLE GREBE, CAPE SHOVELER, CAPE TEAL, LESSER and GREATER FLAMINGOS and BLACKSMITH PLOVERS. Around the edges of the pan species such as the CAPE BULBUL, CAPE CANARY, CAPE SPURFOWL, SOMBRE GREENBUL and STREAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER were seen. The process of removing the blue gum trees from around the pan is now in full swing – we can therefore assume that we will in future miss out on all the wonderful raptors that we saw here in the past.

Three-banded Plover - Riaan Jacobs
White-fronted Plover - Riaan Jacobs










The lookout point along the coast at Bitou Road produced the LITTLE EGRET, FISCAL FLYCATCHER, GREY HERON, KAROO PRINIA and both local mousebirds. The ONRUS LAGOON was very productive and we added species such as the AFRICAN DARTER, LESSER SWAMP-WARBLER, PIED KINGFISHER and LITTLE GREBE. At HARDERBAAI there were the CAPE CORMORANTS, AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS and SWIFT TERNS, as well as a single SANDWICH TERN. We were rather excited about the latter sighting for this time of year, but later read that a few juveniles tend to overwinter. In the end we managed to identify 54 species, interestingly the same number as last year. Then we started waiting for feedback from the other teams.

Karoo Prinia - Riaan Jacobs
Cape Grassbird - Riaan Jacobs









Anita and Hugo were the first to send a WhatsApp and they added LANNER FALCON and VICTORINS WARBLER at Fernkloof and GIANT KINGFISHER at the Kleinrivier estuary.

Peter Hochfelden, Lester and David van Groeningen and Joan Boshard submitted the report card for the greater Stanford area in BirdLasser format. They started in Stanford, and from there went to the Gansbaai harbour, Danger Point peninsula, Uilenskraalmond estuary and Witkrans. From there they returned via the Lonond Dam and Pappiesvlei to Stanford Manor and back to Stanford. At Stanford they then did Willem Appel Dam and surroundings and also took a trip down the river. They managed to spot 101 species and added a whopping 48 species to our cumulative list. This clearly illustrates the wonderful birding potential of the greater Stanford region.

Just to name drop a bit: Hugely sought-after species that they found included CROWNED CORMORANT, BLUE CRANE, BLUE-MANTLED CRESTED-FLYCATCHER, AFRICAN MARSH-HARRIER, ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD and SOUTHERN TCHAGRA. As far as waterbirds are concerned they had lovely views of the BLACK CRAKE, WHITE-BACKED DUCK, GREATER FLAMINGO, MALACHITE KINGFISHER and AFRICAN PURPLE SWAMPHEN. Great birding!

Rock Kestrel - Riaan Jacobs
Cape Teal - Carin Malan










Riaa Jacobs did the coastal stretch from Danger Point to De Damme and the village of Elim. He added a further eighteen species to our list and these included BLACK HARRIER, SOUTHERN BLACK KORHAAN, DENHAM'S BUSTARD, CAPPED WHEATEAR and GREY-BACKED CISTICOLA. This took our total for the day to 120.

Carin Malan, Julia Smith, Peter Theron and Jenny Parsons worked the Kleinmond lagoon, Arabella Estate, the Karwyderskraal and Swartrivier roads, Stony Point and Rooiels. They came away with a whopping 114 species. Despite this the last report that comes in does not add many species, but the quality of birding was simply outstanding. Read Jenny’s full report and enjoy her and Carin’s lovely pictures at this link:

Grey-backed Cisticola - Riaan Jacobs
Cappe Wheatear - Jenny Parson









The team added some great birds to our list that included the BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, WHITE-FACED WHISTLING DUCK, SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL, SOUTHERN PALE CHANTING GOSHAWK ( a first for us on the Swartrivier Road), AFRICAN PENGUIN, CAPE BUNTING, CAPE ROCK-THRUSH and of course our very own CAPE ROCK-JUMPER. 

African Penguins - Jenny Parsons


Jackal Buzzard - Jenny Parsons


















We have now received Steve Peck's list of the five people who counted in the Napier district and they added 10 species to pour combined list. These included GREY-WINGED FRANCOLIN, AGULHAS LONG-BILLED LARK, SECRETARYBIRD, SA SHELDUCK and BLACK and RUFOUS-CHESTED SPARROWHAWKS. This leaves us with a total of 147 species seen. In May last year we scored 158 species, but that included pelagic species seen on a cruise with Wilfred. This is a big improvement on last year's count. Another interesting fact is that a quick count shows that 42 of the species seen are endemic or near-endemic to southern Africa, once again illustrating what brilliant birding potential the Overberg region has.

Here is the list of species seen in 2017 and not in 2018: MARTIAL EAGLE, HAMERKOP, BLACK SAWWING, RUDDY TURNSTONE, COMMON GREENSHANK, COMMON RINGED PLOVER, GREY PLOVER, GROUND WOODPECKER, CAPE SISKIN, BANK CORMORANT, BROWN-HOODED KINGFISHER, AFRICAN OLIVE-PIGEON and CARDINAL and OLIVE WOODPECKERS. The waders can probably be explained by the fact that last year’s count was 2 weeks earlier, or that Nida was not available to count Meer-en-See this year. Otherwise there are some real surprises on birds missed this year.

African Black Oystercatcher - Duncan Butchart


Magnificent Puffadder - Carin Malan














JULIA SMITH (posted: 2018-05-31 09:37:08)
Having honed my birding skills on the many colourful species in KZN and Gauteng areas, I was found somewhat floundering when it came to all the waterbirds and countless LBJ's we encountered on our count. With patient directives from my team mates, Carin, Jenny and Peter I quickly learnt that a Gull was not just a Gull, and all the many LBJ's - to my untrained eye all the same - could be distinguished by a Red Cap or a Grey Stripe or a Wing Flap or a dart away or a something different.
The Secretary Bird that was sometimes and / or always present in the Wheatfields around Botriver and the Rooi Els Rockjumper were rather shy.
Thanks to Team Carin, Jenny and Peter for a most productive and enjoyable day and for capturing many special viewings.