SA Rare Bird News Report - 04 November 2010

Skip to first unread message

Trevor Hardaker

Nov 4, 2010, 3:52:13 PM11/4/10
to SA Rare Bird News


This is the Southern African Rare Bird News Report issued at 21h45 on Thursday, 04 November 2010. 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


Things really seem to be “hotting up” currently with good numbers of records, some of them very exciting, coming through at the moment. In rarity terms, one can already feel the excitement mounting of the season ahead and one just starts to get the feeling that, based on the sneak preview we are already having, the proverbial is going to hit the fan any day now and we are going to be running around like headless chickens not knowing which way to turn with all the exciting rarities to chase. I can only encourage all of you to get out there and try and spend as much time in the field in the next few weeks as possible so that we improve our chances of finding the real goodies! And, while you are out there, I hope many of you will make the effort to complete an atlas card (or several of them!) for the SABAP2 project. It is really not a big deal to register and you will all be contributing to a very worthwhile project. Just go the website at and register yourself to get started. Come on, let’s all get involved with this project so that no-one can say that twitchers do nothing for the greater birding good in this country!


On a separate issue, we have been working for the last few months (if not longer!) on an updated Southern African bird checklist which, in the not too distant future, we will be posting to for people to be able to download and use to count their various list totals with. Although this list will have no “official” status, it will be the list to use for basing all your totals on for the various listing clubs on the website. To this end, I would like to give thanks to Prof. Phil Hockey, John Graham and Barrie Rose for providing assistance in putting this list together and a very special thanks to Prof. Peter Ryan who has done an enormous amount of work on it. This list will follow all the latest taxonomical thinking in terms of orders, family associations and nomenclature in both common and scientific names. Every species included on the list has been categorized into one of 9 possible categories with indications of which categories are considered countable and which are not. The list also contains all potential future splits (not countable at present) and additional notes on a number of species as to why they are or are not considered countable at the moment. I am hoping to email out a draft version of this list to the SA Rare Bird News group sometime next week to get some feedback from all of you out there so that the “Listing Clubs List Committee” (for want of a better term) can review the comments and suggestions and see which of these might be able to be incorporated into the new list. I would also be keen to get input from Afrikaans-speaking birders, so that we can add in a list of Afrikaans names as well.


Alright, that’s enough waffling for now. On to some rarity news…



Starting in the Western Cape, things are looking good for those who are still wanting to chase the LONG-CRESTED EAGLE at Helderberg College in Somerset West this weekend. The bird was still showing well today and, if it performs reliably over the next few days, is probably going to draw a reasonable crowd of provincial listers on the weekend.


A pelagic trip on Tuesday out of Simon’s Town turned up a cracking WANDERING ALBATROSS whilst, earlier today, it was noted that the long-staying GOLIATH HERON at Rondevlei Nature Reserve was also still present and is a “slam dunk” tick for those still wanting to add it to their Western Cape lists. Also today, WHITE-FACED DUCKS with at least 14 chicks and a pair of HOTTENTOT TEALS were present at Paarl Bird Sanctuary. Elsewhere in the province, the GREEN WOOD-HOOPOE in Beaufort West is also still around, having now been in the area for more than a month!



Long-crested Eagle in Somerset West

© Andre Joubert



Hottentot Teals at Paarl Bird Sanctuary

© Johann Strauss

White-faced Ducks at Paarl Bird Sanctuary

© Johann Strauss



Moving into the Eastern Cape, the Grahamstown area is still holding some provincial oddities with Mayfield Dam playing host to a female MACCOA DUCK as well as 3 WHITE-BACKED DUCKS and 2 BAILLON’S CRAKES. The MONTAGU’S HARRIER at Mthatha Dam, first “alerted” on SARBN yesterday, was unfortunately not reported today, but apparently weather in the area was not conducive to good birding today due to heavy rain and mist. Undoubtedly, locals will once again be out on the weekend to look for it as it is definitely a great provincial tick. Other exciting provincial news coming in yesterday was of a GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO reported from Vincent in East London, another seemingly well out of range record.


Also in the province, but a little delayed in being broadcast, a BATELEUR was reported last Thursday from just outside King Williamstown whilst, on the weekend, an unidentified TROPICBIRD species was seen from the shore at Coffee Bay.


Heading up the coast into Kwazulu Natal, there is no doubt that the pick of the crop was Southern Africa’s 2nd ever MASKED BOOBY reported about 80 miles east of Kosi Bay earlier today. The observer, who has been at sea for the last 4 days already, working an area between 80 and 120 miles north-east of St. Lucia has also reported at least 4 GREATER FRIGATEBIRDS and a GREY PETREL as well as quite a number of sightings of BARAU’S PETREL with 2 birds together yesterday!


This latter record, on its own, is more than good enough to constitute a mega alert (Unfortunately, it has been slightly overshadowed by the Masked Booby). Although there are records of this species from Mozambique in November 1987 and from Kwazulu Natal in October 1988, these records have never been substantiated. In theory, these would constitute the first records of the species in Southern Africa. However, the “official” first record of this species is still considered to be a bird off of Richard’s Bay on 8 November 2003. Subsequently, there have been 2 other confirmed records of singletons (both photographed) – a bird on 26 November 2005 aboard the MV Madagascar mega pelagic trip seen by nearly 200 birders on board and another one near Richard’s Bay on 15 September 2007. Things were going well with this species as a mega bird until Barrie Rose took to the seas off Durban on 10 October 2008 and collected 13 of them in one afternoon! Even with Barrie’s slanting of the statistics, up until a few days ago, this still remained an extremely rare bird in Southern Africa with less than 20 records, but we will have to wait for this trip to return before knowing the final number of Barau’s Petrels that have now been recorded in our waters.


Also of interest in the province, a PINK-BACKED PELICAN was present at the bird sanctuary dam this morning in Pietermaritzburg.


Moving into Gauteng, the GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO that was reported from the Beaulieu area in Midrand in Johannesburg seems to have sparked a bit of local interest and was still present today whilst a report has also been received of a SLATY EGRET seen at Marievale Bird Sanctuary on Sunday.


Lastly, in the North-west Province, a few THICK-BILLED WEAVERS were reported on the weekend from reedbeds at the Orkney Golf Course. This species seems to be spreading its way westwards, especially along the Vaal River, at quite a reasonable rate at the moment.



Great Spotted Cuckoo in Midrand

© Rowan Goeller

Thick-billed Weaver in Orkney

© Jasper Jansen



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 photographic attempts at:




Trevor Hardaker and John Graham

Pelagics, rarity photos, listing clubs and more:




Get the latest rarity news by joining at:




Online database of all SA rarities




Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages