SA Rare Bird News Report - 19 October 2009

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Trevor Hardaker

Oct 19, 2009, 4:15:02 PM10/19/09
to SA Rare Bird News, David Taylor, Jessica Kemper, Jean-Paul Roux, Kevin Trinder-Smith, Phil Patton, Chippy Schaefer


S O U T H E R N   A F R I C A N

R A R E   B I R D   N E W S   R E P O R T



This is the Southern African Rare Bird News Report issued at 22h00 on Monday, 19 October 2009. 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


Wow, where do I start!!! What an exciting last few days this has been…


Namibia is certainly proving to be the place to be at the moment. On Thursday evening, I received one of the most exciting emails I have received in a while detailing a record of a possible MADEIRAN STORM PETREL on Halifax Island just offshore of Luderitz.  Thanks to detailed field notes and accompanying photos from Jessica Kemper and Jean-Paul Roux, there was little doubt in my mind as to the record, but after surviving the initial shock of falling off my chair when I first read the email and eventually recovering, I decided to take the more conservative approach and consider the possibility of an odd Leach’s Storm Petrel as well.


Bearing this in mind, I then forwarded the email to local friends John Graham and Barrie Rose for comment, both of who came back very much in favour of it being a Madeiran Storm Petrel as well. A posting on an international bird id discussion forum didn’t really get to any resolution on the identity with most of the participants indicating that they thought it was probably a Madeiran too. It was then time to send the record off to a number of other experts outside the country who would have more experience with both of the possible contenders and, to this end, I would like to also take the opportunity to especially thank Bob Flood, Lee Evans and Killian Mullarney who have already responded with comments indicating that there is no doubt that this is in fact a Madeiran Storm Petrel. As such, it then forms the first photographically substantiated record of this species for the subregion. Well done Jessica and Jean-Paul!! What a find!!


For your interest, I include below the comments received from Killian Mullarney (the others commented much the same, so I am only including one set of comments here):


“There is no doubt that this is a Madeiran Petrel and not a Leach's. The wing shape, tail shape, extent of white on the rump/sides of rump, strength of wing-bar, bill structure (usually longer looking in Leach's) are all fine for a Madeiran. Even the faint suggestion of a dividing-line in the center of the rump is not a source of concern, as I think this can sometimes be seen on Madeiran, but is probably just a matter of the natural divide in the feather tracts showing, rather than a true feature.”



Madeiran Storm Petrel on Halifax Island

© Jessica Kemper

Madeiran Storm Petrel on Halifax Island

© Jessica Kemper


As if the above was not enough, I was just starting to get over this record when I received another email, this time informing me of a ROSS’S TURACO that has been seen on Ntwala Island, near Impalila Island, in the Caprivi! Needless to say, I fell off my chair again!! These emails detailing exciting records are starting to hurt now…


At this point in time, there are no photos available of the Turaco, but word is that the local guides are adamant about what was seen and that they are now scouring the area armed with cameras to bring back some photographic proof. If they are able to do this, this would once again constitute the first substantiated record of this species in Southern Africa!


I am hoping to monitor progress on both of the above-mentioned records and, as soon as I receive any further feedback on either of the birds’ continued presences and whether or not any of them are actually twitchable (for those of us who might be mad enough to even attempt this!), I will post the news here immediately.


In the Western Cape, there were a number of pelagic trips that took place over the last few days with at least 3 separate day trips out of Simon’s Town and a 2 night deep sea trip out of Table Bay. Between them, they racked up a reasonable list of birds including NORTHERN and SOUTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSSES, WANDERING ALBATROSS, SOUTHERN FULMAR, SPECTACLED PETREL and FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER whilst another private trip also encountered a WANDERING ALBATROSS about 35 miles south of Cape Hangklip on Saturday as well.


Other birds of interest in the province over the weekend included a TEREK SANDPIPER on the western side of Rondevlei near Wildernis, a single FULVOUS DUCK at the Phillipi wetlands and a FORK-TAILED DRONGO in Darling which, to the best of my knowledge, probably represents the first record ever of this species on the west coast north of Cape Town.


Wandering Albatross on deep sea pelagic

© Niall Perrins

Flesh-footed Shearwater on pelagic trip

© Cliff Dorse


Wandering Albatross south of Cape Hangklip © David Taylor


In Kwa-zulu Natal, a PIED AVOCET discovered at the Umzumbe River estuary on the south coast on Saturday has created some local excitement and was still present there today.


Continuing with the regional rarities theme, Mpumalanga also delivered some interesting birds over the weekend near Malelane with BLACK-BELLIED STARLING, DARK-BACKED WEAVER and PINK-THROATED TWINSPOT all being seen whilst the undoubted highlight was a pair of GREY WAXBILLS.


Don’t forget 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


See my wildlife photos at




Trevor Hardaker and John Graham

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