BIRDS OF THE WARM BOKKEVELD REGION OF THE CERES DISTRICTPosted on the 1st July 2015
BIRDS OF THE WARM BOKKEVELD REGION OF THE WITZENBERG LOCAL MUNICIPAL AREA
The Swaarmoed Pass and Droëhoek loop roads in the Ceres district are hugely underrated from a bird-watching perspective, but unfortunately poorly described in birding literature. For this reason it was decided to review available checklists, SABAP2 pentad protocol cards, site visits and interviews with local residents in view of giving an overview of species to be expected in this section of the Warm Bokkeveld. Note should be taken of the fact that this brief overview is not an attempt to produce a definative and comprehensive checklist of the birds to be found in the Warm Bokkeveld region. It should rather serve as a basic introduction to assist visiting bird-watchers to form an idea of what they could expect to find in the region. It does not form part of the birdfinder web page for the Witzenberg region as such and is published as a seperate article.
|View over Lakenvlei Dam & Matroosberg|
|View over Ceres Valley from Swaarmoed Pass|
Endemic species associated with fynbos habitats that are fairly common are CAPE SISKIN, CAPE SUGARBIRD and ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD. HOTTENTOT-BUTTONQUAIL, CAPE ROCK-JUMPER, PROTEA SEEDEATER and VICTORIN'S WARBLER have very specific habitat preferences and are found far less often.
Other endemics and near endemics that are very common in this region include CAPE BULBUL, CAPE CANARY, FISCAL FLYCATCHER, CAPE GRASSBIRD, CAPE SPURFOWL, and CAPE WHITE-EYE. Thickets along water courses should be investigated for KAROO SCRUB-ROBIN, ACACIA PIED BARBET and FAIRY FLYCATCHER. Rocky outcrops and mountainous areas may produce CAPE BUNTING, GREY-WINGED FRANCOLIN, CAPE ROCK-THRUSH, the latter to a lesser degree. GROUND WOODPECKER and MOUNTAIN WHEATEAR are far more difficult to find, although present.
Special species that are found commonly along wheatfields and farmlands are BLUE CRANE and SOUTHERN BLACK KORHAAN. Other common species include SOUTHERN RED and YELLOW BISHOPS, CAPE CROW, BLACK-HEADED HERON, LARGE-BILLED and RED-CAPPED LARKS, AFRICAN PIPIT, KAROO PRINIA, STREAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER, AFRICAN STONECHAT and CAPPED WHEATEAR. Also interesting that NAMAQUA WARBLER was found at various locations. Species found less often in this habitat type include FAMILIAR CHAT, GREY-BACKED and ZITTING CISTICOLAS, NAMAQUA DOVE, CATTLE EGRET, CROWNED LAPWING, CAPE LONGCLAW, NEDDICKY, LONG-BILLED PIPIT, PIED and WATTLED STARLINGS and ALPINE and LITTLE SWIFTS. Others that are present, but in significantly smaller numbers and therefore representing a challenge to find are BLACK-HEADED CANARY, ANT-EATING and KAROO CHATS, CAPE CLAPPER, KAROO and SPIKE-HEELED LARKS, GREY-BACKED SPARROWLARK and BLACK STORK.
Common species associated with well wooded habitats and thickets are BAR-THROATED APALIS, CAPE BATIS, AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHER, AFRICAN OLIVE-PIGEON and AFRICAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHER in summer. More difficult to find are SOUTHERN BOUBOU, LONG-BILLED CROMBEC, GREATER HONEYGUIDE, GREATER DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRD and CARDINAL WOODPECKER. Only a few reports or records of YELLOW-BELLIED EREMOMELA, DUSKY SUNBIRD, GREY TIT, CHESTNUT-VENTED and LAYARD'S TIT-BABBLERS were noted.
The gardens of farms and accommodation establishments commonly produce BOKMAKIERIE, CAPE SPARROW, STREAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER, SOUTHERN DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRD, KAROO THRUSH and CAPE WEAVER. Also look out for BROWN-THROATED and ROCK MARTINS, WHITE-BACKED MOUSEBIRD and SOUTHERN MASKED-WEAVER.
The water bodies and dams in the region commonly attract species such as LEVAILLANT'S CISTICOLA, RED-KNOBBED COOT, REED and WHITE-BREASTED CORMORANTS, AFRICAN DARTER, YELLOW-BILLED DUCK, CATTLE and LITTLE EGRETS and EGYPTIAN and SPURWINGED GEESE. GREAT CRESTED, LITTLE and BLACK-NECKED GREBES, HAMERKOP, BLACK-HEADED, GREY and PURPLE HERONS, GIANT and MALACHITE & PIED KINGFISHERS, BLACKSMITH LAPWING, HADEDA IBIS, COMMON MOORHEN, THREE-BANDED PLOVER, LITTLE RUSH-WARBLER, SOUTH AFRICAN SHELDUCK and CAPE SHOVELER, AFRICAN SPOONBILL and LESSER SWAMP-WARBLER are also numerous. Species found far less often include PIED AVOCET, BLACK CRAKE, AFRICAN BLACK and WHITE-FACED DUCKS, GREATER PAINTED SNIPE, BLACK-WINGED STILT, RED-BILLED TEAL and WATER THICK-KNEE. Very few records or reports of FULVOUS and WHITE-BACKED DUCKS, GREATER FLAMINGO, GLOSSY IBIS, KITTLITZ'S PLOVER, SOUTHERN POCHARD, AFRICAN SNIPE and WHISKERED and WHITE-WINGED TERNS were noted.
Birds of prey found commonly in rocky or hilly country are JACKAL BUZZARD, BOOTED and VERREAUX'S EAGLES, PEREGRINE FALCON and ROCK KESTREL. Well wooded habitats should be searched for AFRICAN GOSHAWK, AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK and BLACK and RUFOUS-CHESTED SPARROWHAWKS, although these are often difficult to find due to their secretive behaviour. AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE, SOUTHERN PALE CHANTING GOSHAWK, BLACK HARRIER, BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE and SECRETARYBIRD are found more in open areas such as over wheatfields and farmland. SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL and BARN OWL are very common throughout the region. Very few records of MARTIAL EAGLE, LANNER FALCON and AFRICAN MARSH-HARRIER could be established and FRECKLED and RUFOUS-CHEEKED NIGHTJARS and BLACK-CHESTED SNAKE-EAGLE are found seldomly.
Summer migrants that are found commonly include EUROPEAN BEE-EATER, AFRICAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHER and WHITE STORK, as well as all of the cuckoos, swallows and swifts usually expected in the Western Cape Province. Species found far less often include SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, COMMON HOUSE-MARTIN, AFRICAN REED-WARBLER and WILLOW WARBLER. STEPPE BUZZARD, YELLOW-BILLED KITE and LESSER KESTREL also occur in good numbers. Waders recorded regularly include COMMON GREENSHANK, RUFF, COMMON RINGED PLOVER, COMMON, CURLEW, MARSH and WOOD SANDPIPERS and LITTLE STINT.
Vagrant records of SQUACCO HERON, GREY-HEADED GULL, PALMNUT VULTURE and SHAFT-TAILED WHYDAH are of interest.
Note should be taken of the fact that this brief overview is not an attempt to produce a definative and comprehensive checklist of the birds to be found in the Warm Bokkeveld region, but should rather serve as a basic introduction to assist visiting bird-watchers to form an idea of what to expect to find in the region.
(All images by Anton of BirdLife Overberg)