SA Rare Bird News Report - 02 December 2013

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Trevor Hardaker

Dec 2, 2013, 1:06:08 PM12/2/13
to SA Rare Bird News


This is the Southern African Rare Bird News Report issued at 20h00 on Monday, 02 December 2013. 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



Starting in the Western Cape, Strandfontein Sewage Works delivered a BLACK TERN on Saturday whilst at least 2 SAND MARTINS at the same site were also good records. Elsewhere in the province, the WHITE-FRONTED BEE-EATERS at Matjesvlei near Calitzdorp were confirmed as still present throughout the weekend whilst a couple of AFRICAN QUAILFINCHES at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve on Saturday were also a good local record.


In the Northern Cape, a pair of FULVOUS DUCKS at Mokala National Park on Wednesday was a good find for the area.


In the Eastern Cape, a SQUACCO HERON was discovered at Galphin Dam at Kwandwe Private Game Reserve on Friday whilst, yesterday, the provincial specials at Ottersvlei including GREATER PAINTED SNIPE, SQUACCO HERON and AFRICAN JACANA were all still present as well.



Black Tern at Strandfontein Sewage Works

© John Graham

Black Tern at Strandfontein Sewage Works

© Oliver Metcalf



Sand Martin at Strandfontein Sewage Works

© John Graham

Sand Martin at Strandfontein Sewage Works

© Frans-Hendrik Joubert



Moving into Kwazulu Natal, an immature CRAB PLOVER was present at the St Lucia estuary on Saturday, probably the same bird that was at the Umfolozi River earlier and, before that, at Mtunzini. Elsewhere in the province, a WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL was located at St Lucia estuary on Friday, 2 LESSER MOORHENS were present at Weenen Game Reserve on Saturday at the old dam, marked as point 14 on the reserve map and a EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD was reported from Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve yesterday.


Mpumalanga's MADAGASCAR CUCKOO near Biyamithi in the Kruger National Park continued to frustrate many birders on the weekend doing disappearing acts for long periods of time or calling from points that were just impossible to get a view of the bird from, but it was still around late yesterday afternoon. The SOUTHERN BROWN-THROATED WEAVER was still present at Crocodile Bridge in the park on Saturday as was the GREEN SANDPIPER at Sweni bridge.


An exciting find is the discovery of a population of SHORT-TAILED PIPITS - a very tricky and localised species which is hard to find! Although in Mpumalanga, the site is not far from the Gauteng birder at Mabusa Nature Reserve and on adjacent hills. Local birders refer to the area as the Old Verena Spa road - it is covered in the Chamberlain Guide to Birding Gauteng (900m west of point 12 on the map on P179).


The land on the one side of the road is nature reserve with a big fence, and the other side is trust land, so this is going to be roadside birding, unless you can arrange access to the reserve at the office S25 21 34.8 E29 04 50.5  - but be warned that to get to the area in question you will probably need to walk a long distance! The gravel road along which the birds can be seen is 8.5km north of the Verena 4 way stop, which in turn is 48km north of the N4/R25 Junction at Bronkhorstspruit. A single bird was seen on Saturday chasing an African Pipit on the south side of this gravel road, exactly 900m from the main road, (GPS S25 25 18.8 E29 03 11.4)  but they are also present on the hills in the reserve 1.8km from the main tar road. They display very early in the morning and you need a good deal of luck to see them on the ground! The birds appear to be breeding at the moment, so birders should be wary of walking in the veld since there is a possibility of standing on a nest! Thanks to Etienne Marais for this detailed information.


Also of interest in the province, Mkhombo Dam still held GREY PLOVER, WHIMBREL and SANDERLING on Saturday whilst, just outside of Mkhombo Dam, a rather interesting warbler was picked up as well. Although the identity remains unconfirmed at this stage, the observers provided the following notes and it may be worth others following up on this to see if they can relocate the bird and get photos of it to try and pin down the ID.


Yesterday afternoon outside Mkhombo, we encountered a medium sized Hippolais, which I initially mistook for a Common Whitethroat - due to the slender build, head shape, and apparently colourful bill base and brownish flight feathers (on folded wing). The vertical waving, slight fanning and side to side movements of the dark, white sided tail were faster and more distinctive than anything I have seen before, and there was a complete absence of any pale wing panel. (the wings appeared brown with even a rufous tinge - contrasting with the grey body.) The movement of the bird seemed less ponderous and more agile than what I am familiar with from this group and Rob Geddes described it as flycatcherish. The bird was fairly confiding and came into a low open bush in response to spishing. Other impressions were slender build with long-legged look, steep forehead and crest reminiscent of Whitethroat and dark legs. The bill based appeared colourful (did I see a pinkish tinge at the base?) and bill was smallish compared to what I am used to in large Hippolais warblers. Location was at  S25,166614 E28,81124 in Mpumalanga just west of Libangeni.



Crab Plover at St Lucia

© Wilma Moreby

Lesser Moorhen at Weenen Game Reserve

© Martin Potgieter



Gauteng's offerings included EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARDS in the Wilge Valley and at the Bush Trade Enviro Centre in the Magaliesburg on Saturday whilst a slightly strange record concerned 14 BLUE CRANES present at Sandpan in Benoni late on Friday afternoon and still present on Saturday morning before disappearing during the day.


In the North-west Province, the GREY PLOVER at Borakalalo Nature Reserve was still on view yesterday.


The only news received from Limpopo concerned 3 LARK-LIKE BUNTINGS reported around Satara in the Kruger National Park on Friday.


And finally, in Namibia, a EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD was located about 40km west of Windhoek on Friday whilst, earlier today, it was confirmed that there were still good numbers of RED-NECKED PHALAROPES as well as a PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER still present in Walvis Bay.

Grey Plover at Borakalalo Nature Reserve

© Dirk Human



Please remember 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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