SA Rare Bird News Report - 16 December 2013

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Trevor Hardaker

Dec 16, 2013, 1:00:56 PM12/16/13
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This is the Southern African Rare Bird News Report issued at 20h00 on Monday, 16 December 2013. 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



This will be my last formal report for 2013 as I will be heading off to India on Thursday and will only be back in South Africa in mid-January 2014. So, firstly, let me take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a happy, safe and healthy Festive Season and a prosperous New Year with lots of lifers and bagfulls of rarities in the months to come…J


Of the over 2000 subscribers to SARBN, only 4 people stepped forward to offer to take it over while I was away, so thanks very much to those 4 people indeed! Of those, 2 of them, Jeff Curnick and Juan Pinto, would not necessarily always be available (Jeff is based in the UK and Juan is based at a game reserve in the Lowveld) to react to messages immediately, but your offer of assistance was appreciated nonetheless. So, the 2 people who are now going to be steering the ship in my absence are Etienne Marais and Arnold van der Westhuizen. Their contact details are as follows:


Etienne Marais


Cellphone: 082 898 6998


Arnold van der Westhuizen


Cell: 083 262 1273


Please save these details in your contacts list, so that you can pass on the rarity information to them. You only need to start doing this from Thursday onwards when I no longer will be able to react and personally send out the messages.



Alright, on to some news, and let’s start in Limpopo Province where the discovery of a WHINCHAT on Saturday morning near Percy Fyfe Nature Reserve caused quite a stir. This bird, which seems to be the 19th record of the species for Southern Africa, got many people very excited and the first twitchers were able to still get up there on Saturday afternoon and connect with the bird. Unfortunately, it did not go all that well for the large contingent that arrived at the site early yesterday and, despite some intensive searching by a big group of people, the bird could not be relocated. Let’s just hope that someone gets lucky and manages to find it again sometime soon! Also in the area, at least 4 EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARDS were seen over the weekend.


In the North-west Province, a TEREK SANDPIPER was discovered at Borakalalo Nature Reserve on Friday and drew a number of visitors over the weekend still showing well earlier today.



Whinchat near Percy Fyfe Nature Reserve

© Johan Viljoen

Terek Sandpiper at Borakalalo Nature Reserve

© Hennie Peters



Terek Sandpiper at Borakalalo Nature Reserve

© Warren Ingram


Terek Sandpiper on right (with Common Sandpiper) at Borakalalo Nature Reserve

© Mark Tittley


Terek Sandpiper at Borakalalo Nature Reserve

© Jason Boyce



In Mpumalanga, 2 GREY WAGTAILS were seen on Saturday at the Blue Swallow Natural Heritage site in Kaapschehoop whilst, on Friday, the SOUTHERN BROWN-THROATED WEAVER was confirmed as still being present at Crocodile Bridge in the Kruger National Park. Earlier today, at least one male RED-FOOTED FALCON was still present at the Three Rondawels in the Blyde River Canyon. The SHORT-TAILED PIPITS at Mabusa Nature Reserve were also still on view this morning.


In Gauteng, a EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD was brought in to the FreeMe Rehabilitation Centre in Johannesburg yesterday after having been hit by a car (it unfortunately died later on) whilst another individual was seen at Hekpoort earlier today.



Short-tailed Pipit at Mabusa Nature Reserve

© Hugo le Roux

European Honey Buzzard in Hekpoort

© Andrew Keys



Moving into Kwazulu Natal, there was a MADAGASCAR CUCKOO reported from Ndumo Game Reserve on Saturday, but when people were able to get out there yesterday and record the call, it proved to actually be a Red-chested Cuckoo that was adding an additional note to its call and creating the confusion. However, a GREEN SANDPIPER reported from the reserve was also still a good record. Elsewhere in the province, a BRONZE-WINGED COURSER was located at Hauser Park in Ladysmith on Friday (disappeared before most twitchers got there on Saturday unfortunately!) whilst EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARDS were reported from Mkhuze Game Reserve, Ndumo Game Reserve, Hilton and Illovo Beach.


Green Sandpiper at Ndumo

© Sally Harris


Bronze-winged Courser in Ladysmith

© Dave Marshall

European Honey Buzzard at Mkhuze Game Reserve

© Lorinda Hart



Down in the Eastern Cape, the CRAB PLOVER at the Gamtoos River was the big attraction on the weekend with a number of people heading off to go and see it. However, those that left it until today were a little disappointed as the bird seems to have now disappeared.


With so many birders in the area, it was bound to turn up a few other goodies and, over the course of the last few days, both YELLOW-BILLED STORK and SAND MARTIN have also been reported from this site.


In the Western Cape, the BLACK HERON at Thesen Island in Knysna was also still performing well on the weekend whilst there was some surprise yesterday when a YELLOW-BILLED STORK was located near the camping site at Swartvlei near Sedgefield.


Up into the Northern Cape, it was all happening in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park with an ALLEN’S GALLINULE seen at Lijersdraai and a MONTAGU’S HARRIER located at Kannaguass.

Yellow-billed Stork at Swartvlei

© Sylvia Ferguson



Crab Plover at Gamtoos River

© Jean-Marc Strydom

Yellow-billed Stork at Gamtoos River

© David Green



Allen’s Gallinule at Lijersdraai

© Shaun Overmeyer

Montagu’s Harrier at Kannaguass

© Shaun Overmeyer



In Zimbabwe, a WESTERN MARSH HARRIER was reported from Lake Manyane on Friday whilst, the day before, Gosho Park produced a COLLARED FLYCATCHER, one of the better sites for this species in the subregion.


And finally, in Namibia, a EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD was reported from Ngepi camp on Friday whilst, on Saturday, the GULL-BILLED TERN was still present at Andoni Plains in Etosha National Park along with a single EURASIAN CURLEW. And the final goodie from the country came earlier today when a BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was located at Rundu Sewage Works.



European Honey Buzzard at Ngepi camp

© Patrick Rollinson



Please remember to send through your details to be included on the various listing clubs that are hosted at This website also has an extensive rarities gallery that has many additional photos of a number of rarities that are mentioned in these reports.



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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