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This is the Southern African Rare Bird News Report issued at 20h00 on Monday, 15 September 2014. 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 http://groups.google.co.za/group/sa-rarebirdnews
Well, it's been a rather bizarre week with some really interesting records coming through…
And I was torn about which one to start the report off with until late on Friday evening when I received photos of yet another RED-NECKED BUZZARD!
You will remember quite recently when it was announced that a bird had been photographed in the Buffalo Reserve in the Caprivi Strip of Namibia on 28 July 2014 and was a new addition to the Southern African bird checklist. Well, although that was the first one to be identified in the subregion, it now has to move to become the second record for Southern Africa as this "new" individual was actually photographed on 11 July 2014 in Chobe National Park in Botswana.
One has to wonder whether there is some odd phenomenon that has happened in their normal range in Angola that has pushed a number of these birds further south or whether they have always been there and just been overlooked as some or other weird variation of a more common species? Whatever the case, we now have at least 2 records of this species in Southern Africa!
Red-necked Buzzard in Chobe
© Peter McCalmont
In the Western Cape, a flock of RED-BILLED QUELEAS was located yesterday along the dirt road (R324) between Witsand and Swellendam. This species has certainly expanded its range in recent years and more and more records are being reported from the province these days. Also of interest, a small group of BLACK-BELLIED STARLINGS were located earlier today in the fig trees at Die Opstal in De Hoop Nature Reserve, a rather westerly record for this species, although they have been recorded from this exact area before.
Moving into the Northern Cape (and only just north of the border of the Western Cape), last Friday saw a rather excited birder happen upon a COMMON (aka KURRICHANE) BUTTONQUAIL walking along the road in the Tanqua Karoo National Park between the main Reception offices and Abraham's waterhole just after the 4x4 track. This is way out of range for this species and also in habitat where one would not typically expect them, so is certainly an interesting find indeed.
Red-billed Quelea near Witsand
© Gaynor Donovan
Common Buttonquail in Tanqua Karoo National Park
© Mike Saunders
Up in Gauteng, the interesting birds have also not stopped. A BUSH BLACKCAP has been visiting a garden in Melville for at least the last 3 weeks and was still present until at least late on Friday afternoon when the first local twitchers (after the initial news was broadcast) connected with it. This follows on from the record last year of the popular bird that visited a garden in Randburg for a week or two. Also exciting in provincial terms was a sighting yesterday of a GREY CROWNED CRANE in amongst a flock of Blue Cranes over on the eastern side of the province just inside the boundary at -25 43 29.39, 28 54 46.99 whilst, earlier today, a EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD was seen in Clubview, Centurion. Another interesting record from late last week is of yet another xanthochroic BLACK-COLLARED BARBET (paired up with a normally coloured one) at Featherbrooke Estate in Krugersdorp. It is a gated estate, so access is very limited, but it sits adjacent to Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens and is probably only about 10km away, as the barbet flies, from the popular bird at Roodepoort that so many people have been to see.
Mpumalanga got in on the regional rarity action as well turning up a SOUTHERN WHITE-CROWNED SHRIKE on the farm Kromdraai in Standerton last week. This is also way out of range and is possibly one of the furthest south records ever of this species in SA.
Bush Blackcap in Melville
© Shashi Cook
Southern White-crowned Shrike in Standerton
© Tobie Pretorius
Moving into Limpopo, it was the northern part of the Kruger National Park that held the excitement with no fewer than 2 AFRICAN SKIMMERS being located along the Limpopo River at the Makwadzi look-out in the Makuleke Concession late last week. I stand to be corrected but, based on the information I have available at the moment, this may well represent the first ever record for the park of this species.
Also of interest, and just 2km upstream of Crook's Corner, 2 SWALLOW-TAILED BEE-EATERS were a rather interesting find last weekend. Elsewhere in the park, a single male CAPE SPARROW was present earlier today at a waterhole at 23.436740 S 31.434652 E.
And finally, in Namibia, there was some local interest when both a BLACK SPARROWHAWK and a BATELEUR were reported just outside Swakopmund during the course of last week.
Cape Sparrow in Kruger National Park
© Anton Odendaal
African Skimmers on Limpopo River
© Bruce Lawson
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.
Cape Town, South Africa
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