BIRDLIFE OVERBERG LOCKDOWN BLUES BIRDS RECORDED DURING JUNE 2020Posted on the 1st July 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, April and May during lockdown stages 4 and 5 and launched an Overberg-wide bird count in June during lockdown stage 3. An astonishing 202 species were recorded and the full list can be viewed at this link:
This exercise will be repeated during July and we would like to encourage all birders in the Overberg region to forward their lists of species seen during the month of July to firstname.lastname@example.org
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 70 and 130 species at the various sites. Here is our summarised report for June: Members were at last able to explore the Overberg Wheatfields gravel roads and the Hermanus gang obviously worked along the Swartrivier road. Many of the common species such as the ZITTING CISTICOLA, WHITE-FACED WHISTLING DUCK, BLUE CRANE, AFRICAN STONECHAT and all of the larks and pipits to be expected along this road were recorded. Paula and Gary found a surprising COMMON BUZZARD, probably over-wintering and the Combrinks, as well as Carin and Dawid were delighted to find a magnificent immature MARTIAL EAGLE.
As usual Steve produced the goods from the Napier district and contributed wonderful species such as the DENHAM’S BUSTARD, WHITE-THROATED CANARY, YELLOW CANARY, NAMAQUA DOVE, AGULHAS LONG-BILLED LARK, CAPE CLAPPER LARK, KAROO SCRUB-ROBIN and CAPPED WHEATEAR to our list. Raptors found included the BLACK-WINGED KITE, VERREAUX’S EAGLE, LANNER FALCON and a pair of SECRETARYBIRDS. Steve Baylie reported a BURCHELL’S COUCAL from his garden in Napier and Sharon Brink twice found SOUTHERN BLACK LARK KORHAAN along the Agulhas plains. We are particularly delighted about these sightings as these birds are under huge pressure due to habitat loss and fragmentation and are not seen very often these days. New members Klaas and Linda Steyn also added the BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON and COMMON OSTRICH from the Agulhas National Park area.
|Agulhas Long-billed Lark|
|Immature Black-winged Kite|
Riaan added a few cracking endemics to our list from the Kleinbaai area and these included the GREY-WINGED FRANCOLIN, BLACK HARRIER, CAPE LONGCLAW and SOUTHERN TCHAGRA. He also recorded NEDDICKY and a few over-wintering waders that we will discuss later. My rounds in ONRUS and VERMONT were much of the same as last month as most of the common garden birds such as sparrows, doves and mousebirds were seen, together with the CAPE BATIS, SOUTHERN BOUBOU and FISCAL FLYCATCHER. HARDERBAAI produced the CAPE CORMORANT, AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER and GREATER CRESTED TERNS, with a few COMMON and SANDWICH TERNS surprisingly still being around.
|Female Cape Batis|
Our local land-based pelagic bird spotting experts Cheryl, Lester and Johan were supported by Keith Hamilton and Pieter Verster this month and the foul weather associated cold fronts caused sightings of often hugely sought-after pelagic species. Just look at this brag-list: BLACK-BROWED, GREY-HEADED and SHY ALBATROSSES, CAPE GANNET, PARASITIC JAEGER, NORTHERN and SOUTHERN GIANT PETRELS, WHITE-CHINNED PETREL, SOOTY SHEARWATER and SUBANTARCTIC SKUA. Tinus le Roux also delivered cracking images of the ANTARCTIC TERN and ROSEATE TERNS from the Kleinbaai area.
Carin’s list from Arabella again illustrated the great birding potential of the estate and this time around she added the FOREST BUZZARD, LONG-BILLED CROMBEC, GREAT WHITE PELICAN and RUFOUS -CHESTED SPARROWHAWK to our already very impressive list. The Rooisand Nature Reserve helped us to add GREATER FLAMINGO and BLACK-NECKED and GREAT CRESTED GREBES to our list. A club visit to Jessie’s farm in the Elgin district is long overdue as illustrated by some great birds seen up there: CAPE BUZZARD, LEVAILLANT’S CISTICOLA, COMMON MOORHEN, SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL, BLACK SPARROWHAWK and SWEE WAXBILL.
Carl again reported the majority of waterbirds of our region from the KLEINMOND ESTUARY and the LAMLOCH SWAMPS. All of the species reported on last month were again seen, while LITTLE BITTERN (Keith) and AFRICAN SNIPE were added to the list. Young Daniël contributed the first ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD sighting of the month to our list. The best sighting at Kleinmond however was undoubtedly a GREATER HONEYGUIDE photographed by Carl. David from Betty’s Bay submitted an impressive list dominated by the three cormorants and AFRICAN PENGUIN seen at STONY POINT, together with INTERMEDIATE (YELLOW-BILLED) EGRET and CAPE ROCK-THRUSH from the general Betty’s Bay area.
Members and friends started descending on the world renowned ROOIELS SITE and the who’s who of top birds associated with the site were on parade. These included the CAPE ROCK-JUMPER, SENTINEL ROCK-THRUSH, CAPE SISKIN, CAPE SUGARBIRD, VICTORIN'S WARBLER and GROUND WOODPECKER.
Other interesting migratory birds not yet mentioned were the COMMON GREENSHANK and GREY PLOVER (Riaan at Kleinbaai), BLACK SAW-WING (Carin at Arabella), BARN SWALLOW (Daniël at Kleinmond) and WHIMBREL (Carl at Kleinmond). It will be interesting to see for how long these birds will stick around, or will they remain for the entire winter period?
And finally a list of special birds or species not seen often in our region: Chris found a CAPE VULTURE at Tesselaarsdal and Peter Hochfelden photographed a WATTLED STARLING in Stanford. Pieter also recorded a KNYSNA WOODPECKER at the WITKRANS site outside Gansbaai. The LESSER CRESTED TERN located at FISHERHAVEN by Pieter caused a huge sensation with Western Cape birders, with many ‘flocking’ here to tick the bird. Nothing however touched Johan’s discovery of an out-of-range DUSKY SUNBIRD that he spotted and photographed in VERMONT. It just goes to show what can happen when we all make the effort to report the birds that we find.
In the end we managed to record an astonishing 202 species in the Overberg during the month of June and these include 48 endemic or near endemic species. The full list is available elsewhere on the website. Also consider that we did not receive reports from the Greyton, Swellendam, or the De Hoop and De Mond areas. It is hoped that we can get more birders involved in these counts each month. We will hopefully kick-start the July count properly on Saturday the 4th when many of us will participate in the quarterly CWAC counts.
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 July and could therefore possibly improve on our count for June. 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 June 2020.
(All images by BirdLife Overberg members)