SA Rare Bird News Report - 08 February 2021

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Trevor Hardaker

Feb 8, 2021, 11:00:52 AM2/8/21



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 18h00 on Monday, 08 February 2021.


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.


None of the records included in this report have undergone any adjudication process with any of the subregion’s Rarities Committees, so inclusion in this report does not constitute any official confirmation of the particular record. Observers are still encouraged to make the necessary submissions accordingly.


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


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We’ve had another busy few days in terms of rarities, so let’s get straight into it and start off with some scarcity reports…




·         One over Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (Western Cape) today.

·         One over Tokai Arboretum (Western Cape) today.

·         Two at Spanish Farm in Somerset West (Western Cape) on Saturday and yesterday.

·         One at Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve (Gauteng) yesterday.

·         One in a garden in Sasolburg (Free State) on Saturday.

·         One over the Cornwall Hill quarry (Gauteng) on Saturday.

·         One in Hurlingham, Johannesburg (Gauteng) on Saturday.

·         One in a garden in Standerton (Mpumalanga) on Saturday and a different individual there yesterday.

·         One near Skukuza along the H4-1 in the Kruger National Park (Mpumalanga) on Saturday.

·         One at Avis Dam in Windhoek (Namibia) on Saturday.

·         One in a garden in Riverclub, Sandton (Gauteng) on Friday.

·         One in a garden in Lambton, Germiston (Gauteng) on Thursday.

·         One in a garden in Bulawayo (Zimbabwe) on Thursday.



European Honey Buzzard near Skukuza

© Cassandra Squire

European Honey Buzzard in Germiston

© Barbara Robb



European Honey Buzzard in Bulawayo

© Kylee Stevenage

European Honey Buzzard at Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve

© Pieter Lombaard



European Honey Buzzard in Sasolburg

© Willemien Barnard

European Honey Buzzard in Sandton

© Michael Smither



European Honey Buzzard in Standerton

© Tobie Pretorius

European Honey Buzzard in Hurlingham

© Susan Attridge



On to the rest of the news and, starting in the Western Cape, the centre of attention remained around the CRESTED HONEY BUZZARD which was still showing at Spanish Farm in Somerset West about 30 mins ago (although it did a disappearing act over the weekend!). It has been an incredibly educational bird, especially the discussions around its specific identity. Following on from the original suggestions after seeing the initial photos from world raptor authority, Dick Forsman, that it was a possible hybrid, further discussions have been had and Dick has also been sent a good selection of additional photos taken by numerous people and, yesterday afternoon, came back with a revised verdict on the bird saying that “it looks like the real thing” i.e. he is now of the opinion that this bird is a pure Crested Honey Buzzard and not a hybrid.


Further to Dick Forsman’s analysis, photos have also been circulated around the world to a number of other people who have extensive experience with both of these species of Honey Buzzards as well as any putative hybrids between them and we are indebted to Klaus Malling Olsen (Denmark), Andrea Corso (Italy) and Hadoram Shirahai, Yoav Perlman, Jonathan Meyrev, Itai Shanni and Shachar Shalev (all from Israel) who have all provided useful and detailed feedback on this bird (I won’t include all of those comments here as it will take up the entire report!), but suffice it to say that they have unanimously all come to the same conclusion that this is a pure CRESTED HONEY BUZZARD and is a juvenile bird in its second calendar year. They all agree that this bird shows absolutely no signs of being a putative hybrid with European Honey Buzzard and shows all the features one would expect to see on a Crested Honey Buzzard of this age. I am also thankful to Callan Cohen and David Erterius who have assisted with facilitating some of these discussions with this international contingent. Obviously, this record will still need to be submitted and adjudicated by the Rarities Committee before a final outcome is established, but it does seem especially promising now that a number of the experts in the field have provided positive comments on this bird.


Elsewhere, 2 RED PHALAROPES were seen on pelagic trip out of Simon’s Town on Saturday, 2 AFRICAN PALM SWIFTS were reported at Rietvlei on Saturday, the AFRICAN JACANA was still at Little Princess Vlei this afternoon and, up on the west coast, the AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and RED-NECKED PHALAROPE were also still at Kliphoek Salt Pans in Velddrif yesterday. A LESSER CRESTED TERN was found at Rooisand Nature Reserve on Friday and was still there on Saturday, the locally mega WOODLAND KINGFISHER was still at Jonkersrivier farm, between Worcester and Villiersdorp, today, a LESSER SAND PLOVER was seen at De Mond Nature Reserve on Saturday and a EUROPEAN ROLLER was found just outside Bredasdorp at -34.509, 20.077 earlier today. Over on the Garden Route, 3 TEMMINCK’S COURSERS were reported flying and calling over Kingswood Golf Estate in George on Friday while the remaining records all concerned AFRICAN PIED WAGTAILS with one in Victoria Bay on Saturday, another found in the Knysna Waterfront Yacht Club parking area on Friday and the birds also still around the Cape Nature picnic site on the Keurbooms River in Plettenberg Bay yesterday.



Crested Honey Buzzard in Somerset West

© Gabriel Jamie

Crested Honey Buzzard in Somerset West

© Jenny Wentzel



Crested Honey Buzzard in Somerset West

© Joel Radue


Crested Honey Buzzard in Somerset West

© Stephan Wolfart



Lesser Crested Tern at Rooisand Nature Reserve

© Johan van der Westhuizen

Lesser Crested Tern at Rooisand Nature Reserve

© Lester van Groeningen



Woodland Kingfisher at Jonkersrivier farm

© Alice Moller

Woodland Kingfisher at Jonkersrivier farm

© Philip Bredenhann



Woodland Kingfisher at Jonkersrivier farm

© Dana Goldberg

Lesser Sand Plover at De Mond Nature Reserve

© Dean Boshoff



African Pied Wagtail in Plettenberg Bay

© Jacky Stassen

African Pied Wagtail at Knysna Waterfront Yacht Club

© Jacky Stassen



In the Eastern Cape, the mega SOOTY GULL was still at Kei Mouth on Saturday while, after a long period of no reports, the BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER was picked up there again on Saturday as well. Other lingerers included the 3 EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHERS still at the Gamtoos River estuary on Saturday, the PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER still at Hamburg yesterday and several WHITE-WINGED WIDOWBIRDS still on the private farm near Cradock on Saturday while other new records included both a LILAC-BREASTED ROLLER and a BLACK-CHESTED SNAKE EAGLE seen around the Grootfontein College of Agriculture in Middelburg yesterday and a pair of VIOLET-BACKED STARLINGS seen on an Olive farm, just north of Shamwari Private Game Reserve, at -33.351, 26.203 yesterday as well.



Sooty Gull at Kei Mouth

© Peter Rosewarne

Sooty Gull at Kei Mouth

© Blane Venter



Pacific Golden Plover at Hamburg

© Foden Saunders

White-winged Widowbird near Cradock

© Jorrie Jordaan



White-winged Widowbird near Cradock

© Anton Pearson

White-winged Widowbird near Cradock

© Susan Schlebusch



Eurasian Oystercatchers at the Gamtoos River

© Estelle Smalberger


Lilac-breasted Roller in Middelburg

© Tino Herselman

Black-chested Snake Eagle in Middelburg

© Tino Herselman



Moving up the coast into Kwazulu Natal, a BRONZE-WINGED COURSER was found at Izotsha, about 2km inland from Shelly Beach yesterday while the BLACK HERON was still around Prospection in Durban on Saturday and an AYRES’S HAWK EAGLE was reported over the N3 near Pinetown on Friday. The SOOTY FALCONS continued to show on the weekend with both the bird along the R618 close to Mtubatuba at -28.370, 32.256 and the bird at Mbazwana still being present yesterday while the SOOTY TERN was also still on view at the St Lucia estuary until at least Saturday and a GULL-BILLED TERN was reported at Maphalane earlier today.



Sooty Tern at St Lucia

© Richard Crawshaw

Sooty Tern at St Lucia

© Desiree Davis



Sooty Falcon near Mtubatuba

© Ian Gordon

Sooty Falcon near Mtubatuba

© Desiree Davis



Sooty Falcon near Mtubatuba

© Carole Hills

Bronze-winged Courser at Izotsha

© Jay Redinger



Into the Free State where the MADAGASCAN CUCKOO was still drawing attention at Soetdoring Nature Reserve today while other interesting records included 2 AFRICAN CRAKES found just north of Bloemfontein at -29.011, 26.233 on Friday, a BRONZE-WINGED COURSER found close to the entrance gate of the Loch Athlone Bird Reserve in Bethlehem on Saturday and LILAC-BREASTED ROLLERS reported south of Bloemfontein at -30.079, 26.457 on Thursday and at Soetdoring Nature Reserve on Friday. There were also several RED-FOOTED FALCON reports with 2 birds seen along the R712, just outside Bethlehem, at -28.302, 28.368 yesterday and another found between Bloemfontein and Clarens at -28.297, 28.367 on Saturday.



Madagascan Cuckoo at Soetdoring Nature Reserve

© Ryan Tyrer

African Cuckoo near Bloemfontein

© CW Vermeulen



Bronze-winged Courser at Loch Athlone

© Martin Potgieter

Red-footed Falcon along the R712

© Janet du Plooy



Gauteng chimed in with 2 STRIPED CRAKES reported near Pienaar’s River on the road next to flooded grassland at -25.402, 28.075 on Friday as well as a RED-FOOTED FALCON seen at Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve on Friday.


Over in Mpumalanga, it was all about RED-FOOTED FALCONS with up to 3 birds seen south of Leandra at -26.527, 28.894 yesterday, another singleton reported in a flock of Amur Falcons around Vlaklaagte at -25.611, 28.803 on Saturday and another one seen on the weekend along the S127 road north of Satara in the Kruger National Park.


Across in the North-west Province, a RED-FOOTED FALCON was also seen along the road on the northern boundary of Barberspan Nature Reserve on Saturday while 2 LESSER MOORHENS were noted at Dithabaneng Dam in Pilanesberg National Park on Friday.



Red-footed Falcon at Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve

© Jon Pullen

Red-footed Falcon at Barberspan Nature Reserve

© Steve Stevenson



Limpopo surprized everyone on Saturday when a juvenile BRIDLED TERN was found at Houtrivier Dam, near Polokwane, at -23.772, 29.230. A number of twitchers managed to make it there during the day to connect with the bird (which was still there until at least 6pm on Saturday) but, come yesterday morning, the bird was sadly nowhere to be seen and has not been reported since. Elsewhere, a CAPPED WHEATEAR was found near Ofcolaco at -24.097, 30.481 on Saturday and was still there today while a single AFRICAN SKIMMER was seen just outside Letaba camp in the Kruger National Park at -23.839, 31.578 yesterday.



Bridled Tern at Houtrivier Dam

© Marcia van Tonder

Bridled Tern at Houtrivier Dam

© Jody de Bruyn



Bridled Tern at Houtrivier Dam

© Geoff Goetsch

Bridled Tern at Houtrivier Dam

© Diego Pitzalis



Bridled Tern twitchers at Houtrivier Dam

© Leonie Kellermann



African Skimmer near Letaba

© Andrew de Blocq

Capped Wheatear near Ofcolaco

© Hannes Swanepoel



Up in Namibia, there were 2 RED-NECKED PHALAROPES at Mile 4 Salt Pans in Swakopmund on Saturday.


And finally, in Zimbabwe, the MADAGASCAN CUCKOO was still in Monavale in Harare on Saturday while a EURASIAN CURLEW was found on the main land behind Fothergill Island in Kariba on Saturday as well.



Red-necked Phalaropes at Mile 4 Salt Works

© Dayne Braine

Eurasian Curlew at Kariba

© Luke McDonald



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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