SA Rare Bird News Report - 14 April 2014

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Trevor Hardaker

Apr 14, 2014, 2:00:39 PM4/14/14
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This is the Southern African Rare Bird News Report issued at 20h00 on Monday, 14 April 2014. Information has been gleaned from various websites, email groups as well as from individual observers who have passed on their sightings. This report cannot be taken as being totally comprehensive as it is based only on information made available at the time of writing. All bird sightings reported here are reported in good faith based on information as provided by the observers. Any inaccuracies are totally unintentional and the writer cannot be held liable for these. For those who may have only joined the group recently and are interested in finding out what has been seen in the past, previous reports can be viewed at



Before I get started with the report, we have a long weekend ahead of us, so this is forewarning that there will not be any formal reports going out on Thursday or Monday evenings. Obviously, should there be any worthy news to report on, I will certainly post intermittent alerts and updates to keep you all up to speed on what is happening, but since I am away for the long weekend, I am not going to have time to prepare proper reports.


On to the news and, as usual, we start with some more EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD records:


1 bird at Sibuya Game Reserve near Kenton-on-Sea on Thursday (Eastern Cape)

1 bird just outside of Delareyville on Thursday and Friday (North-west Province)

1 bird at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on Friday (Western Cape).



European Honey Buzzard at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

© Robbie Engela

European Honey Buzzard at Sibuya Game Reserve

© Mike Pearson



Moving on to the other news and, starting in the Western Cape, there was no doubt that the major excitement in the last few days came in the form of Southern Africa's 6th ever CHATHAM ALBATROSS seen from one of the regular pelagic trips on Saturday. The bird, a fine adult, really performed well for the passengers on board and certainly entrenched itself as one of the better looking albatrosses that we get in our waters. This bird was first recorded from a trawler trip way back on 8 October 1993 and it was a long break before the next record was seen on a regular pelagic trip on 27 May 2001. The remaining 3 records all then came from trawler trips with birds on 10 July 2006, 8 April 2011 and 29 April 2013. Apart from the initial record, it would seem that the autumn to mid winter period is certainly the best time for them. This same pelagic trip also turned up a single SPECTACLED PETREL whilst a fishing charter operating a lot further south recorded 3 WANDERING ALBATROSSES, a juvenile and 2 adults.


Also creating some local excitement was the discovery of a WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL hanging around at the southern end of Pan S4 at Strandfontein Sewage Works on Friday and subsequently seen along the causeway between Pans S3 and S4 on Saturday afternoon. However, despite a good number of birders out looking, the bird was nowhere to be seen throughout yesterday and no further reports of it have been received today either. There was a small consolation prize for birders yesterday afternoon when at least 2 SAND MARTINS were present at the southern-eastern end of Pan S2, possibly the same individuals that have been at the sewage works for most of the season. Elsewhere in the province, the SOOTY FALCON was still present at Emily Moon Resort in Plettenberg Bay until at least Saturday morning whilst Saturday also turned up records of a single RED-BILLED QUELEA in a garden in D'Urbanvale and a BROWN-BACKED HONEYBIRD in the gardens on Paarl Mountain.



Chatham Albatross on pelagic trip

© Robbie Engela

Chatham Albatross on pelagic trip

© John Graham



Chatham Albatross on pelagic trip

© Trevor Hardaker



Sand Martin at Strandfontein Sewage Works

© John Graham

Sand Martin at Strandfontein Sewage Works

© Trevor Hardaker



Western Yellow Wagtail at Strandfontein Sewage Works

© Gaynor Donovan

Red-billed Quelea in D’Urbanvale

© Ina van der Westhuizen



Moving into Kwazulu Natal, 2 WHITE-FRONTED BEE-EATERS were reported from Hermannsburg in the Midlands yesterday, seemingly slightly out of range although this species certainly seems to be extending its distribution quite a bit lately.


In Mpumalanga, the WIRE-TAILED SWALLOWS that have taken to nesting under one of the bridges at Mabusa Nature Reserve are still also attracting lots of local attention, especially for those birders participating in the Wider Gauteng Challenge, as this is a really great bird for the region. They remained on view throughout the weekend. Also of interest in the province, a COMMON FISCAL was reported from Mestel Dam close to Pretoriuskop in the Kruger National Park on Saturday. Although a common species in most places, this species is surprisingly unusual in the park.


And finally, in Limpopo Province, a SADDLE-BILLED STORK was reported on Saturday between Mokopane (Potgietersrus) and Mokgopong (Naboomspruit) on the Haakdoring Road where it cross the Nyl River whilst the Mapungubwe area also delivered an AFRICAN WOOD OWL at Mopane Bush Lodge on Saturday and no fewer than 4 AFRICAN SKIMMERS at the Samaria wetlands.



White-fronted Bee-eater at Hermannsburg

© Tobias von Seydlitz

Common Fiscal at Mestel Dam

© Ard van der Wetering



Wire-tailed Swallow at Mabusa Nature Reserve

© Michael Johnson



Thank you to all observers who have contributed their records. Please continue to send through any reports of odd birds as well as continued updates on the presence of rarities already previously reported, no matter how mundane you think they may be. Even if you think someone else has probably sent in a report, rather send the report yourself as well. The only way to improve this service and to make it as useful as possible to everyone is if it can be as comprehensive as possible.


Kind regards





Cape Town, South Africa



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