SA Rare Bird News Report - 21 December 2009

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Trevor Hardaker

Dec 21, 2009, 3:17:13 PM12/21/09
to SA Rare Bird News, Carin Malan


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, 21 December 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


It’s always fun putting together these reports when there are lots of photos to illustrate them with, so a big thank you to all of you that make the effort to send through your photos. I am sure every person that is subscribed to this newsletter really appreciates it!


Let’s start with the continuing invasion of AFRICAN OPENBILLS right across the country. Up until the time that the report on Thursday, 17 December 2009 was sent out, we had already listed 17 out of range records for the species in the last 2 weeks! Well, this irruption seems to be continuing unabated at the moment and here is a list of new records received since Thursday:


In the Western Cape, a single bird was reported from Arabella Golf Estate on the Bot River Lagoon on the weekend (in fact, it has apparently been present for up to a week prior to that already).


In Gauteng, a single bird was reported flying over the Malanshof Sports Grounds in Johannesburg on Friday.


In Kwazulu Natal, 2 birds were present in the middle of suburban Amanzimtoti on Friday whilst a bird was also seen over the Amanzimtoti cricket fields early last week. A single bird was also seen along the R74 near Stanger on Thursday afternoon whilst another 4 birds were reported along the south bank of the Umvoti River as well. Two birds were reported in the KZN Midlands about 10km west of Mooi River on the weekend and, lastly, another 2 birds were seen soaring over the new La Mercy Airport site just north of Durban last week.


In Mpumalanga, a single bird was present at Fickland Pan near Wakkerstroom on Saturday afternoon.

African Openbill at Arabella Golf Estate

© Carin Malan


African Openbill at Arabella Golf Estate

© Trevor Hardaker

African Openbill at Arabella Golf Estate

© John Graham


African Openbill at La Mercy Airport

© David Allan

African Openbill near Mooi River

© Bruce Ward-Smith


Now, let’s look at what else has been happening across the Southern African subregion…


In the Western Cape, a male VILLAGE INDIGOBIRD has been reported intermittently coming into a garden to feed in Melkbos. Although the report has only just surfaced today, the bird has apparently been present for up to a month now already!


Also of interest, the 2 YELLOW-BILLED STORKS first reported from Teri-Moja Game Lodge about 12km south-west of Beaufort West on 12 December 2009 were still present on the weekend although the small dam that they are frequenting is said to be drying up rather quickly. A male RED-BACKED SHRIKE was also located about 5km north-east of Beaufort West on Saturday.

Village Indigobird in Melkbos

© Jeanne Bull


Yellow-billed Stork at Teri-Moja Game Lodge

© Mike Buckham

Yellow-billed Storks at Teri-Moja Game Lodge

© Cliff Dorse



Red-backed Shrike near Beaufort West

© Mike Buckham

Red-backed Shrike near Beaufort West

© Cliff Dorse


In Gauteng, a WESTERN MARSH HARRIER was reported from Marievale Bird Sanctuary on Saturday morning while a further two records of this species were also received on the weekend – a bird at Vogelfontein on Saturday afternoon and another over the Kgomo-Kgomo floodplain yesterday.


In Limpopo Province, De Loskop Dam near Dendron turned up quite an interesting record last week when 4 BLUE CRANES were encountered there. This appears to be at least about 100km further north than any other record in South Africa during the current bird atlas based on the latest SABAP2 data.

Western Marsh Harrier at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

© Niall Perrins


Also of interest in the province was a GREEN SANDPIPER seen on Friday pottering around in a muddy pool on the Mopane stream at Ngala.


In Kwazulu Natal, there was much excitement earlier today when an immature GREATER FRIGATEBIRD was spotted soaring over the Illovo River near Durban. Other records of interest from the province include a EURASIAN HONEY BUZZARD located in Mkhuze Game Reserve last Wednesday along the main road about halfway between the camp site and the main camp and a GOLDEN WEAVER reported from the entrance to Pongola Nature Reserve which may well constitute the first record of this species for the reserve.

Greater Frigatebird over the Illovo River

© Elaine Fish


Moving into Namibia, good numbers of RED-NECKED PHALAROPES were still present at Walvis Bay on the weekend with at least one individual noted as still being in full breeding plumage.


Also of regional interest is a record yesterday of a pair of VILLAGE INDIGOBIRDS (of the race okavangoensis showing the white bill) at Avis Dam just outside Windhoek. The closest known resident population to here is in the Okavango Delta which is at least 650km north-east of here, but it is perhaps not that surprising given the recent colonization of Red-billed Firefinches, the species it parasitizes, into the Windhoek area.

Village Indigobird at Avis Dam

© Neil Thomson


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


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Trevor Hardaker and John Graham

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