Posted on the 29th May 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown imposed on us by the government has had a major impact on all of our lives. BirdLife Overberg activities were swept off the table resulting in the cancelation of monthly talks, outings and all actions related to the CleanMarine campaign. We experimented with various options in March and April during lockdown stage 5 and launched an Overberg-wide bird count in May during lockdown stage 4. An astonishing 172 species were recorded and the full list can be viewed at this link:

This exercise will be repeated during June and we would like to encourage all birders in the Overberg region to forward their lists of species seen to

Here is our summarised report for May: This time we are reporting the various sightings from west (the ROOIELS SITE) to east (NAPIER). Keep in mind that in this report we only describe some highlights seen by the birders at the specific site and a species is usually only mentioned once – most of the participants logged somewhere between 50 and 100 species at the various sites. Helen and Alison really did the world renowned ROOIELS SITE proud by finding several endemic rippers such as the CAPE GRASSBIRD, KAROO PRINIA, CAPE ROCKJUMPER, CAPE SISKIN, CAPE SUGARBIRD, ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD and GROUND WOODPECKER. Other good sightings included the FAMILIAR CHAT, LONG-BILLED CROMBEC and NEDDICKY. For this selection of special species to be seen in such a small area just again illustrates the birding potential of the Rooiels site. David from Betty’s Bay submitted an impressive list dominated by the BANK CORMORANT and AFRICAN PENGUIN seen at STONY POINT – both species that require conservation intervention.

Cape Rockjumper
Cape Rock Thrush (Images by Anton - 2)









Carl from Kleinmond forwarded several lists, all of them featuring impressive waterbirds such as the LITTLE GREBE, PURPLE HERON, BLACKSMITH LAPWING, AFRICAN MARSH HARRIER, BROWN-THROATED MARTIN, COMMON MOORHEN, BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON and AFRICAN PURPLE SWAMPHEN. It is also interesting to note that several participants, including Carl, reported increased numbers of GREY-HEADED GULLS in the region – we should look at this in more detail. (Not to even mention Kleinmond’s wild horses that were found on the beach a few times causing a huge sensation in the regional press and on social media). 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.

Southern Tchagra (Johan at Onrus)
African Dusky Flycatcher (Steve at Napier)











Carin’s different lists from ARABELLA ESTATE once again illustrated this hugely underrated birding destination that is unfortunately not open to the general public for birding purposes. Water birds abound as shown by species such the AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE, LITTLE and INTERMEDIATE EGRETS, HAMERKOP, GIANT and PIED KINGFISHERS, AFRICAN SPOONBILL, CASPIAN TERN and WATER THICK-KNEE. Some straggling migrants were COMMON RINGED PLOVER, BARN SWALLOW and AFRICAN BLACK SWIFT. Carin also added several common terrestrial species to our list and these included SOUTHERN RED BISHOP, SOUTHERN BOUBOU, CAPE CANARY, CAPE GRASSBIRD and AFRICAN STONECHAT.

Female Southern Double-collared Sunbird (Carin at Arabella)
Ground Woodpeckers (Anton)








My rounds in ONRUS and VERMONT were much of the same as most of the common garden birds such as sparrows, doves and mousebirds were seen, together with the CAPE BATIS, SOUTHERN BOUBOU, FISCAL FLYCATCHER and CAPE SUGARBIRD. Great sightings at HARDERBAAI were species such as the CAPE CORMORANT, AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER and GREATER CRESTED TERNS and migrants still remaining are COMMON and SANDWICH TERNS and WHIMBREL. The calls of BURCHELL’S COUCAL and CAPE LONGCLAW were heard at the ONRUS RIVER ESTUARY. Cheryl, Lester and Johan are becoming land-based pelagic bird spotters of note and they were able to add sought-after species such as the CAPE GANNET, PARASITIC JAEGER, WHITE-CHINNED PETREL and SUBANTARCTIC SKUA. Note should also be taken of the fact that they identified several other pelagic that included the two giant petrels, as well as GREY-HEADED and SHY ALBATROSSES. Sightings of both GREAT and CORY'S SHEARWATERS were also confirmed. We will in fact interview Lester on such ocean birding in our first live Zoom Chat on 22 June. Johan also found SOUTHERN TCHAGRA in coastal brush and added RED-CHESTED SPARROWHAWK and OLIVE WOODPECKER to our list.

Shy Albatross at Vermont (Lester)
Wild horses on Kleinmond beach (Carl)










Several interesting sightings were reported from the HERMANUS area. Gary got a CAPE ROCK THRUSH in his garden at CHANTECLAIR in Onrus, with Rynhard reporting regular sightings of adult and immature PEREGRINE FALCONS, as well as the STREAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER and WHITE-FRONTED PLOVER from SANDBAAI. Ingrid sent through cracking photographs of a juvenile AFRICAN GOSHAWK that we posted elsewhere and Chris logged the first ever sighting of an AFRICAN BLACK DUCK from their estate. Richard at STANFORD also logged 50 species and found the BLACK CRAKE, WHITE-FACED WHISTLING DUCK and WHITE-BACKED DUCK at Willem Appel se Dam to add to our growing list. Riaan added THREE-BANDED PLOVER and a cracking KNYSNA WOODPECKER from his garden in KLEINBAAI.

Immature African Goshawk (Ingrid in Hermanus garden)
Knysna Woodpecker (Riaan at Kleinbaai)










And then the best for last: Steve sent through several lists of his endeavours in the NAPIER region and already I hear rumblings of “that’s the first place we’re going to once the lockdown is over….” A hike up the mountain produced ACACIA PIED BARBET, CAPE BUNTING, JACKAL BUZZARD, GREY-BACKED CISTICOLA, BLUE CRANE, VERREAUX’S EAGLE, GREY-WINGED FRANCOLIN, BLACK SAWWING, KAROO SCRUB-ROBIN and BLACK SPARROWHAWK. A bicycle ride on some gravel roads produced DENHAM’S BUSTARD, YELLOW CANARY, AGULHAS LONG-BILLED, CAPE CLAPPER, LARGE-BILLED and RED-CAPPED LARKS, the three pipits, PIED STARLING, CAPPED WHEATEAR and many more. Steve’s garden on his smallholding did however produce some real specials with TAMBOURINE DOVE (and a fledgling!) and most of the raptors mentioned earlier being photographed. The FIERY-NECKED NIGHTJAR and SPOTTED EAGLE OWL were heard at night, but wait for it …………….., MARTIAL EAGLE, LANNER FALCON and CAPE GRIFFON all staged flypasts.

Immature Black Sparrowhawk (Steve in Napier)
Rock Martin (Steve in Napier)









In the end we managed to record an astonishing 172 species in the Overberg during the month of May and this include 44 endemic or near endemic species. The full list is available elsewhere on the website. Also consider that we did not receive reports from the Elgin and Grabouw, Agulhas plains, Swellendam, or 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, KLAAS’S CUCKOO, NAMAQUA DOVE, BOOTED EAGLE, SOUTHERN PALE CHANTING GOSHAWK, LESSER HONEYGUIDE, GLOSSY IBIS, BROWN-HOODED KINGFISHER, SOUTHERN BLACK KORHAAN, CROWNED LAPWING, SENTINEL ROCK-THRUSH, SECRETARYBIRD, AFRICAN SNIPE and VICTORIN'S WARBLER.

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 should have more freedom of movement during June and could therefore possibly improve on our count for May. We would like to invite all birders in the Overberg region to send us the list of species that they have logged during the next month.
30 May 2020.

Acacia Pied Barbet 
Blue Crane (Steve at Napier - 2)












Streaky-headed Seedeater (Steve at Napier)
Male Southern Boubou (Steve in Napier)




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