SA Rare Bird News Report - 09 February 2015

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Trevor Hardaker

Feb 9, 2015, 1:00:18 PM2/9/15
to SA Rare Bird News,, Stephen James

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This is the Southern African Rare Bird News Report issued at 20h00 on Monday, 09 February 2015. 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



As usual, we start with the scarcity reports and EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARDS were noted at a number of sites with 2 birds between Rustenburg and Madikwe last Friday, one on Wednesday in Garsfontein,  one on Thursday between Settlers and Marble Hall, 2 on Friday over Hatfield in Pretoria, 1 on Saturday at Rietvleidam Nature Reserve (Gauteng) and 1 yesterday at Paarl Bird Sanctuary (Western Cape) and another at Coutada 12 in Mozambique.


The GREEN SANDPIPER also remained on at Darvill Bird Sanctuary until at least Saturday.



European Honey Buzzard at Rietvleidam Nature Reserve

© Ed Raubenheimer

European Honey Buzzard at Paarl Bird Sanctuary

© Trevor Hardaker



European Honey Buzzard in Hatfield

© Niel Cillie



On to the rest of the news and let's start in Gauteng where the big news of the weekend came on Saturday morning when a EURASIAN REED WARBLER was mistnetted and ringed along the Moreleta Spruit in the Moreletakloof Nature Reserve near Pretoria. The lack of records of this species in the subregion is mostly due to the difficulty in identifying them in the field but, with a bird in the hand, it becomes slightly simpler where measurements can be taken and the ID can be confirmed accordingly. Apparently, a number of twitchers tried to look for it yesterday and, although they saw a lot of warblers in the area, no-one came away confirming that they had actually seen the bird in question. Elsewhere in the province, the SLATY EGRET continued on at Gnu Valley throughout the weekend although it was not always at the main fishing dams, but also moved up to the 3 smaller ponds on the boundary with Walkhaven whilst at least 2 MARABOU STORKS remained present at Olifantsfontein dump in Midrand on the weekend too. Also of interest were at least 2 RED-FOOTED FALCONS seen on a farm about 50km north of Pretoria and another close to Nigel on the weekend too.



Eurasian Reed Warbler at Moreletakloof Nature Reserve

© Gert Opperman

Eurasian Reed Warbler at Moreletakloof Nature Reserve

© Vince Ward



Slaty Egret at Gnu Valley

© Stuart Groom



In Limpopo Province, a single WHITE-BACKED VULTURE was located along the Zaagkuilsdrift Road on Saturday, a very erratic species for this area.


Down into Mpumalanga where the SOUTHERN BROWN-THROATED WEAVER continued on at Crocodile Bridge in the Kruger National Park on the weekend whilst, also in the park but perhaps more exciting, a SOOTY FALCON was located on Thursday 7km from the Paul Kruger gate towards Skukuza Rest Camp, a nice record for the park indeed. RED-FOOTED FALCONS continued to be reported as well with no fewer than 22 individuals reported on Saturday morning in an area from south-east of Devon through to south-west of Balfour.


Across into the Free State, a LONG-CRESTED EAGLE was reported in Parys at the entrance to Otter's Haunt on Saturday.


Into the North-west Province where a couple of TREE PIPITS were located yesterday at Kgaswane (Rustenburg) Nature Reserve. Initially, the photos were not of great quality and it was a little tough to be sure of the ID, but up to 4 birds were located there this afternoon and photographed which confirmed the ID. Apparently, the area that they are in is quite difficult to find, but I have been informed that the gate is going to arrange a Ranger to show interested visitors where exactly they are.


In the Northern Cape, a GREY GO-AWAY-BIRD visited a garden in Kimberley on Thursday, an unusual species for the area.



Sooty Falcon near Kruger gate

© Stephen James

Long-crested Eagle in Parys

© Jéan van Rooyen



Tree Pipit at Kgaswane Nature Reserve

© Geoff Finney


Tree Pipit at Kgaswane Nature Reserve

© Shaun Mc Gillewie


Down into the Western Cape where there was once again entertainment in Velddrif with the RED-NECKED PHALAROPE and a number of CASPIAN PLOVERS showing throughout the weekend. On Friday, there were 21 birds there in the morning, Saturday saw a group of 14 stay for much of the day and, on Sunday, a group of 10 birds was eventually located at 16h00 only. Just as a reminder, if you want to visit the Kliphoek Salt Pans where all these birds are hanging out, you have to enter through Kuifkopvisvanger farm ( as you cannot access the pans any other way. East of Velddrif at Kersefontein farm, there were also a GOLIATH HERON and a single SAND MARTIN present on Saturday.


Elsewhere in the province, there were also some exciting records with an AFRICAN PALM SWIFT located yesterday afternoon flying around The Kom in Kommetjie, a BROWN SNAKE EAGLE reported yesterday along the Dassiefontein Road near Caledon and a dead male EURASIAN GOLDEN ORIOLE found in a garden in Oudtshoorn on Friday. Not a bird, but also exciting, was a SOUTHERN ELEPHANT SEAL that was hauled up on the rocks at Onrus for most of the weekend.


Across into the Eastern Cape, 4 CAPE VULTURES were located about 20km west of Middelburg on Saturday whilst, this morning, a TAWNY EAGLE was reported from the same general area.



Red-necked Phalarope at Velddrif

© Eddie du Plessis

Red-necked Phalarope at Velddrif

© Wilna Steenkamp



Caspian Plovers at Velddrif

© Linda du Plessis

Caspian Plovers at Velddrif

© Wilna Steenkamp



Caspian Plovers at Velddrif

© Johan Slabbert


Caspian Plovers at Velddrif

© Basil Boer



Caspian Plovers at Velddrif

© Otto Schmidt


African Palm Swift in Kommetjie

© Glynis Bowie

Eurasian Golden Oriole in Oudtshoorn

© Reinderd Visser



Southern Elephant Seal at Onrus

© Keir Lynch

Southern Elephant Seal at Onrus

© Alouise Lynch



Up the coast into Kwazulu Natal where the WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL at Darvill Bird Sanctuary in Pietermaritzburg stayed on throughout the weekend whilst a LESSER SPOTTED EAGLE was reported from the same site on Saturday. A single GREY CROWNED CRANE along the Pan Loop at Cape Vidal earlier today also created some local excitement, a species not normally seen this far north up the KZN coast.


Heading into Mozambique, yet another BASRA REED WARBLER was located on the weekend, this time at the Grown Energy farm near Sena (the well-known site for Bohm's Bee-eaters in the subregion) whilst two more birds were located this morning at the bridge over the Zangue River south of Catapu.


And finally, in Namibia, the RED-THROATED PIPIT remained on at Avis Dam in Windhoek until at least Friday whilst the weekend saw reports of a PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER, a EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHER, a COMMON REDSHANK and upwards of 60 RED-NECKED PHALAROPES from Walvis Bay.



Western Yellow Wagtail at Darvill Bird Sanctuary

© Trish Strachan

Western Yellow Wagtail at Darvill Bird Sanctuary

© Ian Gordon



Lesser Spotted Eagle at Darvill Bird Sanctuary

© Trish Strachan

Pacific Golden Plover in Walvis Bay

© Klaus Hoffmann



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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