Southern African Rare Bird News 28 Dec 2020

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Garret Skead

Dec 28, 2020, 12:17:13 PM12/28/20
Dear SARBN subscribers

Firstly, thanks for the updates and photos that you've sent me, but due to data and formatting constraints I don't seem able to send many of them out in these emails. But please continue to send them to me for record purposes.

Starting in the WESTERN CAPE, the celebrity waders were still performing well over the last few days. BAIRD'S SANDPIPER was still present Strandfontein Sewage Works today, but now tends to move around between various locations, including P5, P1, S5, and today showing well in the morning on S2, and occasionally moving to M1 and M2. There have been two LESSER SAND PLOVERS at Strandfontein, with a second bird first reported on 25 Dec on S2, with further reports of these birds on 26-28 Dec, with at least one bird being present S5 today. Strandfontein has also played host to a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE, mostly on P3 and S2 (still present today). In the West Coast National Park, at least two BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPERS have been present at Geelbek hide, with at least one present today. There was also a BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER at Kliphoek salt pans as of yesterday, during the high tide roost, and the popular RED-NECKED PHALAROPE was present today, and is in full breeding plumage. A RED-NECKED PHALAROPE was also reported yesterday from the pans to the east of the R27 crossing into Velddrif. The WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was still present at Kliphoek on 26 Dec, and a single GREATER SAND PLOVER was seen yesterday. The AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER was also reported from Kliphoek over the last few days, but not seen today. Also up the west coast, an OXPECKER SPECIES was seen flying over the R27 at -33.302, 18.222. Elsewhere in the province, the LESSER SAND PLOVER was seen again at Rooisand Nature Reserve yesterday, and the reserve continues to produce sporadic sightings of the group of BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATERS, seen around the entrance road and parking area, and also seen today along the river near Kleinmond. A BROWN SNAKE-EAGLE was seen near McGregor on 25 Dec, and on the Garden Route, a SQUACCO HERON was seen near the Rondevlei causeway, and a single EUROPEAN ROLLER was seen near the entrance to Cairnbrogie dairy farm outside Plett, on 26 Dec. On the scarcity front, EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARDS were reported from Eco Reflections Lodge on 27 Dec, and two birds were seen at Majik forest in Protea Valley, Cape Town, yesterday. AFRICAN PALM SWIFTS were reported from Beaufort West and over Dick Dent bird sanctuary, Strand, on 27 Dec. Another unusual record was that of 3 BAR-HEADED GEESE flying over Strandfontein on 26 Dec, although probably impossible to prove whether escapees or genuine vagrants, as is often the case with wildfowl.

KWAZULU-NATAL continued to deliver some great birds, with the MADAGASCAN CUCKOO still present today at Hluhluwe Game Reserve (best seen with the assistance of a local guide from Hilltop camp). Another excellent record for the province and country came in the form of a GREAT SNIPE on the southern edge of Lake Sibaya at -27,383, 32.684. I've attached a photo of this rarely seen species, (c) Dominic Rollinson. Elsewhere, a SOOTY FALCON was reported from Manyoni Game Reserve on 25 Dec, and there were plentiful HARLEQUIN QUAILS seen today at Umfolozi Game Reserve, and a single bird at Thurlow Nature Reserve on 26 Dec. LESSER SPOTTED EAGLES were reported from Bonamanzi on 26 Dec, Forest Hills (Kloof) on 26 Dec, and Fountainhill Estate near Wartburg on 27 Dec, where a PALM-NUT VULTURE was also seen. In Durban, a EURASIAN GOLDEN ORIOLE was seen on 26 Dec. Two different sightings of DUSKY LARK were reported on 26 and 28 Dec from Manyoni Private Game Reserve. LESSER MOORHEN was reported at Bayete, Manyoni Private Game Reserve on 28 Dec. Another unusual record was that of a BRONZE-WINGED COURSER seen at Umlalazi Nature Reserve, near Mtunzini yesterday. EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARDS were reported from the Greater St Lucia area on 28 Dec, and a bird was also seen over Mtunzini on 25 Dec.

In the EASTERN CAPE, a PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER was discovered near Hamburg on 26 Dec at -33.279, 27.483, and the EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHERS were present today at Gamtoos mouth. A BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATER was reported at Rebelsrust Private Nature Reserve close to Cape St Francis on 26 Dec, and good local records from the Kouga area included SAND MARTIN and EUROPEAN ROLLER on 25 and 26 Dec. A EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD was seen from the N6 between Stutterheim and Cathcart on 28 Dec.

In the NORTH-WEST PROVINCE, a COLLARED PRATINCOLE was seen in a group of Black-winged Pratincoles near Kgomo-Kgomo on 25 Dec, and at least 3 ALLEN'S GALLINULES and 1 LESSER MOORHEN were present at the Kgomo-Kgomo bridge, reported on 27 and 28 Dec. In Madikwe Game Reserve, there was a SPOTTED CRAKE reported today from the north-western section of the park, and appearing to move around quite extensively being pans. 

In LIMPOPO, another STRIPED CRAKE was found near Punda Maria in the Kruger National Park on 26 Dec, at -22.703, 31.041 (see photo attached (c) Dylan Vasapolli). Perhaps we are seeing the start of a mini-irruption of this species? The LESSER JACANA was still present at the pan near Ofcolaco on 26 Dec, and 2 LESSER MOORHENS were seen in Mabalingwe Game Reserve yesterday.

In MPUMALANGA, a GREEN SANDPIPER was seen on Saturday, in Mjejane Game Reserve at -25.426, 31.682, and a LESSER MOORHEN was reported from a pan on the S21 in Kruger, at -25.142, 31.649 yesterday, as well as from Secunda on 26 Dec, at -26.597, 29.220, and the LESSER JACANA was still present on the same pan on the R36 at -24.235, 30.573 on 28 Dec. 

In the FREE STATE, the MADAGASCAN CUCKOO was still present this afternoon, and although highly vocal, visuals sometimes proved challenging. On this topic, I was informed that birders were using playback today to obtain views of the bird. Whilst I can fully empathise with the temptation to use playback for a lifer, this technique doesn't appear to have much success with this bird, and furthermore causes confusion for fellow birders, who may not always be visible to you in the thick acacia woodlands, so please take this into consideration when visiting the site and preferably employ other techniques to obtain visuals, which often may be a matter of time and patient waiting. Elsewhere in the province, a number of BRONZE-WINGED COURSERS were reported, being seen south of Brandfort on 25 Dec, between Henneman and Ventersburg on the R70 at -28.007, 27.055 yesterday and in Bainsvlei cemetery today. A EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD was reported from a garden in Bethlehem on 26 Dec.

In the NORTHERN CAPE, a GREAT WHITE EGRET was seen 10km from Twee Rivieren on the Nossob Road, Kgalagadi Transfontier Park on 25 Dec.

In GAUTENG, the SLATY EGRET remained at Gnu Valley until at least 26 Dec, and a DUSKY LARK was seen today on the entrance road to Wagendrift lodge. In Ruimsig, Krugersdorp, a EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD was seen on 26 Dec.

And finally, in NAMIBIA, the out-of-range SWAMP BOUBOU was seen on 25 Dec near Platz shopping mall in Swakopmund, and a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE was seen at Mile 4 Guano Works on 26 Dec, at approximately -22.580, 14.519.

Kind regards

Great Snipe (c) Dominic Rollinson.png
Striped Crake (c) Dylan Vasapolli.jpeg
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