SA Rare Bird News Report - 25 January 2021

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Trevor Hardaker

Jan 25, 2021, 11:01:05 AMJan 25



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 18h00 on Monday, 25 January 2021.


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.


None of the records included in this report have undergone any adjudication process with any of the subregion’s Rarities Committees, so inclusion in this report does not constitute any official confirmation of the particular record. Observers are still encouraged to make the necessary submissions accordingly.


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


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Well, well, well, it’s been a ridiculously busy last few days, and I honestly considered renaming tonight’s report to the “Frigatebird and Sooty Tern Report”, but at least there were still a few other birds that were reported to “break the monotony” so I stuck with the original name eventually…J


So, let’s get straight into it and start off with some scarcities…




·         One over Lower Tokai Park (Western Cape) this morning.

·         One at Skeleton Gorge (Western Cape) yesterday.

·         Three individuals at Cecelia Forest (Western Cape) yesterday.

·         One along the Darling Hills Road (Western Cape) at -33.471, 18.380 yesterday.

·         One in Bryanston East (Gauteng) yesterday.

·         One at Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve (Gauteng) yesterday.

·         Two individuals in a garden in Meyerville, Standerton (Mpumalanga) yesterday.

·         One at De Hel (Western Cape) on Saturday.

·         One below Ashburton Horse Training Centre (KZN) on Saturday.

·         One at Woodmead Golf Course (Gauteng) on Saturday.

·         One at Hangklip Forest near Louis Trichardt (Limpopo) on Saturday.

·         One over the Hluhluwe floodplain (KZN) at -28.045, 32.356 on Friday.

·         One near Pretoriuskop in the Kruger National Park (Mpumalanga) on Friday.



European Honey Buzzard in Meyerville

© Tobie Pretorius

European Honey Buzzard at Inanda Country Base

© Garret Skead



European Honey Buzzard in Cecilia Forest

© John Graham

European Honey Buzzard over the Hluhluwe floodplain

© Tinus le Roux



European Honey Buzzard in Bryanston East

© Keith Stannard

European Honey Buzzard at Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve

© Johan van der Walt



European Honey Buzzard near Pretoriuskop

© Robert Wienand



On to the rest of the news and, starting in the Western Cape, a pelagic trip out of Hout Bay on Saturday delivered a single RED PHALAROPE which was seen briefly before flying off into the distance. Strandfontein Sewage Works also continued to attract attention with the FRANKLIN’S GULL still there this morning and alternating between Pans P2 and P3 while the RED-NECKED PHALAROPE was also still present on Pan S2 earlier today. Close by, the AFRICAN JACANA was also still at Little Princess Vlei yesterday. Moving up the west coast, a single AFRICAN PALM SWIFT was seen at Dolphin Beach Pans yesterday, a GREATER SAND PLOVER was located on the marshes between Churchaven and Kraalbaai in the West Coast National Park on Saturday (unfortunately, this area is not publicly accessible) and Kliphoek Salt Pans in Velddrif held on to most of its goodies with the AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER still there this morning and the WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER and GREATER SAND PLOVER as well as a LESSER SAND PLOVER all seen there yesterday. Also in the area, the YELLOW-BILLED STORK was still on the mudflats in front of the Riviera Hotel in Velddrif on Saturday.


The very popular WOODLAND KINGFISHER was still on Jonkersrivier farm between Worcester and Villiersdorp today, a GREATER SAND PLOVER was found just upstream of the Uilenkraals River bridge outside Gansbaai on Saturday, there were a number of EUROPEAN ROLLERS reported with 3 birds seen near Stormsvlei at -34.098, 20.036 yesterday, one seen 5km south of Brandwacht along the R328 on Friday and the long-staying bird still on the Uplands Road near Plettenberg Bay on Saturday while a juvenile WHITE-BACKED VULTURE was found at Plett Game Reserve feeding on a carcass near the main entrance road on Friday and was still there earlier today, but was also seen during a brief sortie over the R340 opposite Twins River yesterday afternoon.



Franklin’s Gull at Strandfontein Sewage Works

© Daryl de Beer

Franklin’s Gull at Strandfontein Sewage Works

© Lynette de Beer



Franklin’s Gull at Strandfontein Sewage Works

© Ro’ees van der Speck

Franklin’s Gull at Strandfontein Sewage Works

© Dana Goldberg



African Jacana at Little Princess Vlei

© Graham Pringle

Greater Sand Plover at the Uilenkraals River

© Dean Boshoff



American Golden Plover at Kliphoek Salt Pans

© Joel Radue



European Roller near Stormsvlei

© Stanislav Novotny

European Roller near Stormsvlei

© Adrius Rabie



Woodland Kingfisher at Jonkersrivier farm

© Louis van Wyk

Woodland Kingfisher at Jonkersrivier farm

© Bryn de Kocks



Woodland Kingfisher at Jonkersrivier farm

© Michael McSweeney

Woodland Kingfisher at Jonkersrivier farm

© Stanislav Novotny



Woodland Kingfisher at Jonkersrivier farm

© Dean Boshoff

Woodland Kingfisher at Jonkersrivier farm

© David Hall



Woodland Kingfisher at Jonkersrivier farm

© Jacques Gilliomee

White-backed Vulture at Plett Game Reserve

© Mike Bridgeford



White-backed Vulture at Plett Game Reserve

© Andre Strydom

White-backed Vulture at Plett Game Reserve

© Mark Heysteks



European Roller near Brandwacht

© Stephan Knoetze

European Roller along the Uplands Road

© Andre Strydom



In the Eastern Cape, the mega SOOTY GULL was still at Kei Mouth today while the PECTORAL SANDPIPER remained on there until at least Saturday as well. Elsewhere, a YELLOW-BILLED STORK was found at Alicedale Dam on Saturday and an immature BLACK-CHESTED SNAKE EAGLE was seen near Komga at -32.515, 27.736 yesterday.



Sooty Gull at Kei Mouth

© Jo Balmer

Sooty Gull at Kei Mouth

© Bart Fokkens



Sooty Gull at Kei Mouth

© Kevin Nel

Sooty Gull at Kei Mouth

© June Clarke



Black-chested Snake Eagle near Komga

© Hendrik Smit

Yellow-billed Stork at Alicedale Dam

© Barry Kurten



Moving up the coast into Kwazulu Natal, perhaps the best record in the province was of 3-4 SOUTHERN CARMINE BEE-EATERS seen in Meerensee in Richard’s Bay on Thursday that were still around on Friday morning, but were then not seen again. Also of interest, several CASPIAN PLOVERS and WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAILS were still at Mpempe Pan yesterday, a DARK CHANTING GOSHAWK was found along the Uthobani Loop in Mkuze Game Reserve yesterday, the SOOTY TERN was still at St Lucia estuary yesterday, the SOOTY FALCON was still at Mbazwana yesterday, 2 WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAILS were reported just outside Mtunzini yesterday and a LESSER SPOTTED EAGLE was seen below Ashburton Horse Training Centre on Saturday.



Sooty Tern at St Lucia

© Michael Wright

Sooty Tern at St Lucia

© Marc Cronje



Southern Carmine Bee-eater in Meerensee

© Debbie Thompson

Dark Chanting Goshawk in Mkuze Game Reserve

© Hugo Voigts



Across in the Free State, the popular MADAGASCAN CUCKOO was still at Soetdoring Nature Reserve earlier today. This bird seems to be getting a little tougher now and a new pattern has emerged that it spends most mornings on the other side of the river (which is not accessible) and then only flies across into the reserve around 12h30 or so, so it is taking a lot of patience from twitchers to wait it out until the bird comes across the river, but those with endurance are being rewarded accordingly. Elsewhere, 2 AFRICAN CRAKES weres found just north of Soetdoring Nature Reserve at -28.790, 26.055 today and an immature RED-FOOTED FALCON was seen along the S172 dirt road between Ribeeckstad and Hennenman on Friday in amongst a group of Amur Falcons.



Madagascan Cuckoo at Soetdoring Nature Reserve

© Hamman Prinsloo

Red-footed Falcon along the S172

© Neil Venter



Madagascan Cuckoo at Soetdoring Nature Reserve

© Gielie Bester



Into the North-west Province where there was plenty of action over the last few days. A STRIPED CRAKE with 4 chicks was seen near the bridge over the Kgomo Kgomo floodplain yesterday (another bird was flushed in that general area on Saturday), a dead LESSER MOORHEN was found at Dominionville on Saturday and there was also major excitement when 2 AFRICAN SKIMMERS were found at Rockwall Dam near Rustenburg at -25.502, 27.21 on Saturday. Unfortunately, they only stayed for the one day and then probably the same 2 AFRICAN SKIMMERS were found at Finfoot Lake Reserve at Vaalkop Dam yesterday. While looking for the Skimmers at Finfoot Lake Reserve this morning, there was also massive surprize when a SOOTY TERN was discovered there. Things just went crazy this afternoon when no fewer than 4 SOOTY TERNS were present there!



African Skimmers at Rockwall Dam

© Geoff Finney

African Skimmers at Rockwall Dam

© Shaun McGillewie



African Skimmers at Rockwall Dam

© Wynand Sauerman



African Skimmers at Rockwall Dam

© Jannie Jansen

Striped Crake at Kgomo Kgomo

© Keegan Fraser



African Skimmer at Finfoot Lake Reserve

© Sarel van der Westhuizen

Sooty Tern at Finfoot Lake Reserve

© Sarel van der Westhuizen



In Gauteng, a BLACK STORK was seen yesterday on a private game farm called Elandsdrift, close to Dinokeng.


For the first time in a very long time, we have a report from Swaziland where a dead SOOTY TERN was found this morning in a garden in Mafuteni. I don’t have access to all the historical records, so am still not sure if there are previous records of this species from the country or not so, if anyone can provide further information on this, I would be very pleased to receive that.


Over in Mpumalanga, the effects of Cyclone Eloise have certainly been felt in the last couple of days…! It seems crazy to be associating these species with the province, but seeing is believing… An adult female GREAT FRIGATEBIRD was seen at Ngala Private Nature Reserve, about 1,5km west of Orpen Rest Camp, yesterday evening while an unidentified distant FRIGATEBIRD was seen 20km upstream of Ngwenya Lodge early this morning and another unidentified FRIGATEBIRD, possibly the same individual, was seen from the hide closest to reception at Ngwenya Lodge soaring out over the Kruger National Park later this morning as well. Elsewhere, it was all about SOOTY TERNS with 4 birds seen over Marloth Park yesterday and another singleton there this afternoon, 3 individuals (1 adult and 2 juveniles) seen over Riverside in Nelspruit this morning and another 2 seen at Tulloh farm along the Crocodile River today as well while the rest of the records came from the Kruger National Park and adjacent reserves forming part of the greater park. One was seen flying down the river at Mjejane Game Reserve this afternoon, another was seen along the Orpen road next to the main entrance to Wits Rural Facility this morning, another was seen flying west up the Matjulu River, near the junction of the H3 and S110, this morning, another was found on the H3, north of Afsaal picnic site, yesterday, another was reported west of Skukuza at -24.980, 31.547 yesterday, one was seen at Nsemani Dam along the H7 near Satara yesterday and, finally, one was present at the airstrip at Ulusaba in the Western Sabi Sands yesterday as well (and still there today). The only other reports from the province came from Mkhombo Dam where the GREAT WHITE PELICAN and several COLLARED PRATINCOLES were all still present there yesterday.



Great Frigatebird at Ngala Private Game Reserve

© Eric Exelby

Sooty Tern along the H3

© Susan Scheepers



Sooty Tern at Ulusaba airstrip

© Karl Langdon

Sooty Tern at Ulusaba airstrip

© Brandon Birch



Sooty Tern at Tulloh farm

© Brian Phelps



Sooty Tern over Nelspruit

© Duncan McKenzie

Great White Pelican at Mkhombo Dam

© Johan van der Walt



Limpopo also felt the effects of Cyclone Eloise with a GREAT FRIGATEBIRD seen over Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate earlier today, another GREAT FRIGATEBIRD (possibly the same individual) reported at Moditlo Estate today, 3 SOOTY TERNS seen flying over the Mphongolo River, just north of Shingwedzi, in the Kruger National Park yesterday, another SOOTY TERN also in the park just north of Mopani on the main road to Shingwedzi today and another juvenile SOOTY TERN found near Letsitele at -23.839, 30.400 today while as many as 10 exhausted SOOTY TERNS have been brought in to rehabilitation centres today all from various farms in the Waterberg between Vaalwater and Ellisras. The popular COLLARED FLYCATCHER was also still at Island Camp at Limpokwena Nature Reserve near Alldays until at least Saturday.



Great Frigatebird over Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate

© Jaco Scheepers

Sooty Tern along the Mphongolo River

© John Adamson



Sooty Tern north of Mopani

© Bob Swart

Sooty Tern near Letsitele

© Addie Eastman



Up in Namibia, a single RED-NECKED PHALAROPE was still present at Mile 4 Salt Works in Swakopmund this morning and a LESSER MOORHEN was found about 35km south of Gobabis today while the YELLOW-THROATED LEAFLOVES were still coming to the gardens of Caprivi Houseboat Safari Lodge in Katima Mulilo yesterday as well.


Across in Botswana, a single, slightly injured, CASPIAN PLOVER was seen in Khutse on Saturday.


In Zimbabwe, a WESTERN MARSH HARRIER was reported at Marlborough Vlei in Harare.



Lesser Moorhen south of Gobabis

© Wilfried Nauhaus

Caspian Plover at Khutse

© Ian White



And finally, in Mozambique, there have been some crazy scenes in the wake of Cyclone Eloise. Several hundred SOOTY TERNS were reported to be passing by the San Sebastian Peninsula throughout the day on Saturday while there were many FRIGATEBIRD reports as well. These concerned groups of both GREAT and LESSER FRIGATEBIRDS (single species groups) as well as mixed flocks with both species in them and ranged from small groups of 8 birds through to flocks numbering 150 individuals or more! Groups of Frigatebirds were reported at Vilanculous and at Dunes de Dovela on Saturday, at Casa de Cocos in Coconut Bay, at Barra lighthouse and over Morrungulo yesterday and at Guinjata Bay and Barra Beach today.



Sooty Terns on the San Sebastian Peninsula

© Dave Gilroy

Great Frigatebirds at Dunes de Dovela

© Thomas Bruneau



Lesser Frigatebirds at Casa de Cocos

© Gary Rowan



Frigatebirds over Morrungulo

© Shani Stewart



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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