Posted on the 31st December 2021

The BirdLife Overberg monthly bird counts in the Overberg region during December once again produced really exciting species being reported by some 29 members and friends. The full list of the more than 250 species recorded can be studied elsewhere on this website. Of these an impressive 52 species are endemic and near-endemic to southern Africa and 46 migrants were recorded in the period under review. This once again illustrates the huge birding potential of the Overberg region as a top bird-watching destination. We discuss herewith some of the interesting, rare and vagrant species encountered.

It should be kept in mind that no pelagic cruises were undertaken during this period as this would have added several species to our monthly list. This, together with the fact that very few participants visited the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve where many species that are usually not found in the Overberg region are available had a negative impact on our count. Only the GREY CUCKOO-SHRIKE is on record here for this month. It is interesting to note however that some species usually associated with Grootvadersbosch were seen elsewhere: The BLACK CUCKOO-SHRIKE and BLACK CUCKOO at Greyton and the LEMON DOVE at Platbos. The Rooisand Nature Reserve near Kleinmond again produced some excellent birding with the COMMON CUCKOO and WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL causing great interest. The long-staying PECTORAL SANDPIPER remains popular.

Several species often reported by SA Rare Bird News were seen at various spots throughout the Overberg. These included the EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD, KNOB-BILLED DUCK, EURASIAN HOBBY and EUROPEAN ROLLER. BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATERS were also reported from different spots with a flock of fourteen birds at Pearly Beach being the most impressive. The GREATER PAINTED-SNIPE from this area is also a fairly unusual sighting for the region.

Other species that attracted huge interest from birders from far and wide included the EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHER at the Klein River Estuary, the long-staying GREATER SAND PLOVER at the Uilenkraal Estuary, the EUROPEAN GOLDEN ORIOLE at the De Hoop Nature Reserve and a RED-BACKED SHRIKE outside Suurbraak. Late reports included the YELLOW-BELLIED EREMOMELA at Tesselaarsdal and a male LONG-CRESTED EAGLE at Napier. The WHITE-WINGED TERN recorded at the Kleinmond Estuary is also not seen in the area regularly.

Two species that were way out of their normal distribution range were a CORN CRAKE (unfortunately a dead specimen) that was located at Elgin and an immature SADDLE-BILLED STORK photographed at Pringle Bay. What is probably the same individual was later also photographed near the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve.

We are receiving several enquiries about the possible causes of these rare and often vagrant birds being recorded in the Overberg region. What can one say? The easiest answer would be that these birds simply got lost and we can’t explain the causes of this. The impact of climate change is also a popular theory regarding these vagrant birds. Extensive research on this is currently being undertaken and we are looking forward to concrete evidence and proof about the impact of climate change of the distribution of birds (and other organisms).

The most logical explanation at this point would be that many more birders are actively participating in our monthly bird counts in the Overberg – there are many more eyes, binoculars and cameras out there in the field. We will continue with these monthly counts as we are gradually developing a fascinating database on the birds of the region. The list of species identified in the Overberg since the beginning of the Covid pandemic is clear evidence of this and can be studied elsewhere on this website. The vast bird-watching potential of the Overberg region can however not be disputed.

We would like to wish our members, participants in the monthly bird counts and visiting birders a prosperous, blessed and healthy 2022 and the best of birding. May the next year’s bird counts be even more exciting than the last year, so join us in these fun-filled bird counts.
31 December 2021.

Male Paradise-Flycatcher with chick - Steve Peck
Immature Black Sparrowhawk - Steve Peck











Gymnogene & Long-crested Eagle confrontation - Steve Peck
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater - Riaan Jacobs










Immature Saddle-billed Stork at Pringle Bay - Jenny Parsons















Long-crested Eagle at Napier - Steve Peck


















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