By far the most exciting news in the last few days was the discovery of a SOOTY GULL at Kei Mouth in the EASTERN CAPE, on Friday, following on from a previous record of the species on birding big day in Northern KZN. I haven’t analysed photos but one can only assume that this is most likely the same individual. The bird was found on the afternoon of 1 Jan, and was still at the same site until at least 08:40 on 4 Jan, where it was last seen flying across the river, southwards. The bird moves around in the general area, which may also relate to tides, sometimes on the sand bar in the mouth, and has also been seen in the Tern roosts. At low tide the bird has been seen further upriver towards the ferry. However, I haven’t received any further updates since this morning, and at least one observer wasn’t able to find the bird in the afternoon.
Photo of Sooty Gull attached (c) Peter Sharland.
Another excellent record was the discovery of a BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER on a small marsh near the Kei River, at -32.672, 28.381, (photo attached (c) Richard Crawshaw), representing the second record for the province according to local sources. The bird was still present in the afternoon of 4 Jan. The bird was found and photographed by Pieter Verster, who’s photos I included in my initial email.
Elsewhere in the province, a flock of BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATERS was seen flying south east from Shamwari towards Lalibela, and one bird was seen at Lambasi Bay on 2 Jan. A BROWN SNAKE EAGLE was seen over Van Staden’s pass, on 2 Jan. Also on Jan 2, a LESSER SPOTTED EAGLE was seen at Komga Quarry, and a LILAC-BREASTED ROLLER was found near Oviston, and was apparently present for the last two days, and seen again on 3 Jan, but not today. The same area yielded a juvenile RED-FOOTED FALCON this afternoon. Of local interest was a VILLAGE INDIGOBIRD seen at Queenstown on 1 Jan. A MARABOU STORK was seen near Tarkastad on 3 Jan, and a YELLOW-BILLED STORK was at Mayfield sewer works, behind pan 3, Grahamstown on 3 Jan.
Moving up the coast to KWAZULU-NATAL, the MADAGASCAN CUCKOO continued to entertain twitchers, being present this afternoon.
The LESSER MOORHEN and DWARF BITTERN were still at the same dam at Bayete, Manyoni Private Game Reserve on 1 Jan, and a PEARL-BREASTED SWALLOW was found at Darville on 1 Jan, which appears to be a very good record for the province.
Two CASPIAN PLOVERS were seen at Mpempe pan on 2 Jan, and up to 8-10 birds were seen on 3 and 4 Jan, while the site also boasted two DWARF BITTERNS. A single BRONZE-WINGED COURSER was found at Tala game reserve near Figtree house on 2 Jan. Also on Saturday, a single EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHER was found at St Lucia beach, and was still present today, and a LESSER SPOTTED EAGLE was seen at Luleka, Manyoni Private Game Reserve. A male EASTERN BRONZE-NAPED PIGEON was seen at Mbona Private Nature Reserve yesterday. The SOOTY FALCON was still at the usual spot in Mbazwana on 2 Jan. A LESSER FLAMINGO was also seen at Wilson Wharf in Durban on 2 Jan and still there the next day. A BRONZE-WINGED COURSER and CORN CRAKE were seen at Lower Illovo on 4 Jan. There was also a EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD flying over Mtunzini on 3 Jan.
In the WESTERN CAPE, the popular BAIRD’S SANDPIPER was still at Strandfontein on Saturday afternoon, as well as at least one LESSER SAND PLOVER and RED-NECKED PHALAROPE. Up in Velddrif, the WHITE-RUMPER SANDPIPER, AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and RED-NECKED PHALAROPE were seen on 2 Jan at the Kliphoek salt pans (accessed via Kuifkopvisvanger). A YELLOW-BILLED STORK was seen from the R399 and along the Riviera mud flats on 1 and 2 Jan, and a BLACK STORK was seen near Kalbaskraal on 3 Jan. Another BLACK STORK was seen near Vleesbaai today. A roadkill CASPIAN PLOVER was found on a farm road near Malmesbury at -33.315, 18.622 on 2 Jan. On the Uplands roads near Plett, a EUROPEAN ROLLER was seen on 1 Jan, and the GREAT REED WARBLER was still present near Klein Brak on the same day. Another EUROPEAN ROLLER was seen near Swellendam on 2 Jan, as well as on the R43 between Uilenkraal and Pearly Beach on 4 Jan, and one near Oudtshoorn on 3 Jan. A female EURASIAN GOLDEN OROLE was seen at Red Stone Hills near Calitzdorp on 3 Jan. At least 9 LESSER STRIPED SWALLOWS were seen at the Goukamma bridge on 1 Jan, and 8 BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATERS were found at De Mond Veld Cottage/NR boundary on 2 Jan and seen again on 3 Jan. EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARDS were seen over Alphen at Le Seuer Rd on 2 Jan, two birds over Kirstenbosch gate 1 on 3 Jan, a bird at Wedderville private estate near Sir Lowry’s Pass on 27 Dec and one over Klein Heidelberg farm near Somerset West today.
In the FREE STATE, EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARDS were seen near Parys on 1 Jan, and 2 birds were recorded over Potchefstroom at OPM Prozesky and Schoemansdrift Rd.
I also need to make a correction on my previous report - the bird seen near Harrismith was a female RED-FOOTED FALCON, not Amur as stated in the last report.
In GAUTENG, a EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD was seen at Hedianga Farm in Pretoria East, Gauteng on 31 Dec.
In the NORTH WEST, DUSKY LARKS, LESSER MOORHENS and ALLEN’S GALLINULES were all reported from Kgomo-Kgomo / Zaagkuildrift between 1-3 Jan.
In LIMPOPO, a GREEN SANDPIPER was seen on a farm at -24.318, 30.806 close to Hoedspruit, on 2 Jan. The LESSER MOORHEN and LESSER JACANA were still present today at the pan near the R36.
Please also note that a new rarity WhatsApp group has been created for Limpopo. If you’d like to join, please send a message to Geoff Goetsche on 0834571501.
In MPUMALANGA, a BLACK COUCAL was seen on the Coopersdal road near komatipoort, opposite Swartvlei/Komatidraai dam, at -25.528, 31.891 on 2 Jan.
In the NORTHERN CAPE, an excellent local record came in the form of a EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD at Kathu on 1 Jan, and another two birds seen on 4 Jan.
In NAMIBIA, two YELLOW-THROATED LEAFLOVES visited the gardens of Caprivi Houseboat Safari Lodge on 1 Jan, and two RED-NECKED PHALAROPES were seen along the Paaltjies Road near Walvis Bay on 2 Jan.
And finally, in BOTSWANA, the two RED-THROATED PIPITS were present at Gaborone Dam on 1 Jan, as well as 15+ WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAILS at the same site, but I haven’t received any further info on the Pipits since then.