SA Rare Bird News Report - 01 February 2021

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Trevor Hardaker

Feb 1, 2021, 11:01:05 AM2/1/21



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, 01 February 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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It continues to be an incredible rarity season for us, the season that just keeps on giving…! Long may it continue…J


Let’s start with some scarcities first…




·         One at Sibiya Coastal Precinct in Umhlanga (KZN) this morning.

·         One at Elvira Rota Village in Bapsfontein (Gauteng) this morning.

·         One at Bryanston Country Club (Gauteng) yesterday.

·         One at Sir Lowry’s Pass Village (Western Cape) on Saturday.

·         One over Victoria Falls town (Zimbabwe) on Friday and Saturday.

·         One at Dunes de Dovela (Mozambique) on Saturday.

·         One in a garden in Aston Manor, Kempton Park (Gauteng) on Friday.

·         One in Moreletakloof in Pretoria (Gauteng) on Friday.

·         One at Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve (Gauteng) on Friday and Saturday.



European Honey Buzzard in Sir Lowry’s Pass Village

© Halima Beale

European Honey Buzzard in Kempton Park

© Vickie Hollenbach



European Honey Buzzard at Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve

© Willie van den Heever

European Honey Buzzard at Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve

© Blane Venter



European Honey Buzzard at Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve

© Jon Pullen

European Honey Buzzard at Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve

© Joann Ebben



European Honey Buzzard in Moreletakloof

© Steve Stevenson

European Honey Buzzard at Dunes de Dovela

© Thomas Bruneau



On to the rest of the news and, starting in the Western Cape, things were abuzz when a probable ORIENTAL (CRESTED) HONEY BUZZARD was seen and photographed over Lourensford Estate in Somerset West on Saturday morning. The bird then disappeared, but was relocated late in the afternoon in the Spanish farm area of Somerset West where a few lucky birders managed to connect with it (and it was seen again in this same latter area this afternoon). This is a species that has long been on our radars as possibly turning up here, but things get very complicated because this species is also known to hybridise with EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD quite regularly. In order to safely sort this one out, a good selection of photos was sent off to Dick Forsman, the world authority on raptors and probably THE person that has the most experience with the conundrum of these hybrids and this is what Dick had to say about this bird:


The bird is definitely carrying lots of CHB genes in its genome, no doubt about that, but is it a pure one? The points which are slightly worrying are:


-the dark tips to the greater primary coverts, forming a dark carpal crescent, are often found in hybrid-type birds, but as a rule not in good CHBs


-the wing shape shows a broader arm than hand and is not quite the rectangular eagle-like wing of a good CHB (although it comes very close)


-the dark gorget is clearly there but it is not a textbook case, it is somewhat incomplete, but may be acceptable as it is


-the tail may be a bit on the long side compared to the width of the wings for a good CHB-the barring of the secondaries could be finer and denser with an extra bar in typical CHB


-the bill looks fine, as in EHB, but this is difficult to assess properly


All in all, I don't think it is a 50:50 hybrid, it looks more like a backcross with 75:25 or even more of the genetic material coming from the CHB side.


So, it seems that Dick Forsman is of the opinion that this is not a pure ORIENTAL (CRESTED) HONEY BUZZARD, but rather a hybrid. It would appear that we will just have to keep looking until we find a pure one…


Elsewhere in the province, the RED-NECKED PHALAROPE was still on Pan S2 at Strandfontein Sewage Works on Friday and an AFRICAN PALM SWIFT was seen along Brakenfell Boulevard at -33.895, 18.693 on Saturday. Up on the west coast, Kliphoek Salt Pans in Velddrif was still attracting attention too with the AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER still there yesterday and the GREATER SAND PLOVER and RED-NECKED PHALAROPE still there on Saturday. The WOODLAND KINGFISHER remained on at Jonkersrivier farm between Worcester and Villiersdorp today, the BROWN SNAKE EAGLE was still on the Van der Stel Pass at -34.162, 19.224 on Friday and the GREATER SAND PLOVER was also still along the Uilenkraals River near Gansbaai on Friday while there was also some local excitement when a LESSER SPOTTED EAGLE was found in the farmlands south of Greyton at -34.120, 19.603 on Saturday. There were a number of EUROPEAN ROLLER reports that came through with on in Stellenbosch at -33.964, 18.847 on Saturday, one at Wildekrans Wine estate in Botriver on Saturday, one on the farm Sparrekloof, outside Bredasdorp, at -34.574, 20.024 on Friday and another in the Bontebok National Park, in the parking area where all the river trails begin, on Friday as well.


Heading eastwards, the DARK-CAPPED BULBULS were still around Aqua Marina Guesthouse in Hill Street in Mossel Bay at -34.185, 22.146 on Friday and a pair of AFRICAN PIED WAGTAILS with 2 juveniles were at the Cape Nature picnic site on the Keurbooms River in Plettenberg Bay on Friday as well. Inland, a BROWN SNAKE EAGLE was found at Klipkop, about 15km west of Beaufort West, at -32.442, 22.465 on Thursday and was still there on Friday while a LAPPET-FACED VULTURE was found at Kookfontein in the Karoo National Park yesterday, still an incredibly rare bird in the province and probably the first time one has ever been photographed in the province.



Hybrid European x Oriental Honey Buzzard in Somerset West

© Kate Morris

Hybrid European x Oriental Honey Buzzard in Somerset West

© Tertius Gouse



Hybrid European x Oriental Honey Buzzard in Somerset West

© Cliff Dorse

Hybrid European x Oriental Honey Buzzard in Somerset West

© David Winter



Hybrid European x Oriental Honey Buzzard in Somerset West

© Nick Fordyce

European Roller in Stellenbosch

© Andries Vermeulen



Greater Sand Plover at Kliphoek Salt Pans

© Otto Schmidt

Greater Sand Plover at Kliphoek Salt Pans

© Sandy Schmidt



Red-necked Phalarope at Kliphoek Salt Pans

© Otto Schmidt



American Golden Plover at Kliphoek Salt Pans

© Johann Mey

Greater Sand Plover on the Uilenkraal River

© Stephen James



Woodland Kingfisher at Jonkersrivier farm

© Duggy Loock

Woodland Kingfisher at Jonkersrivier farm

© Karen Powell



Lesser Spotted Eagle near Greyton

© Charles Britz

African Pied Wagtail in Plettenberg Bay

© Pieter Schoeman



African Pied Wagtail in Plettenberg Bay

© Mike Bridgeford

African Pied Wagtail in Plettenberg Bay

© Neil Ebedes



Brown Snake Eagle at Klipkop

© Anton Vorster

Brown Snake Eagle at Klipkop

© Stefan Theron



Lappet-faced Vulture in the Karoo National Park

© Graeme Huddy



Up in the Northern Cape, a COMMON TERN was seen on a private farm dam in the Kalahari on Thursday while there were 2 male YELLOW-THROATED SANDGROUSE reported at Moravet waterhole in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park on Wednesday, a really bizarre record indeed.


In the Eastern Cape, the mega SOOTY GULL was still present at Kei Mouth this afternoon while other lingerers included the PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER and GREATER SAND PLOVER still in Hamburg on Saturday, the 3 EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHERS still at the Gamtoos River estuary on Friday and the adult PALM-NUT VULTURE still around the composting facility at Komga on Saturday as well. Other good birds included 2 GREATER SAND PLOVERS at the Gamtoos River estuary on Saturday, a group of no fewer than 15 BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATERS seen in Colchester yesterday and reports of 2 pairs of COMMON BUTTON-QUAILS, a pair each at different sites around Cradock, yesterday.



Sooty Gull at Kei Mouth

© Andy Featherstone

Greater Sand Plovers at Gamtoos River estuary

© Bert Ophoff



Moving up the coast into Kwazulu Natal, there was some massive excitement when an adult WHITE-CHEEKED TERN was seen on pelagic trip out of Durban on Saturday that also produced a SOOTY TERN and a RED-FOOTED BOOBY. Ordinarily, a species seen on a pelagic trip is generally untwitchable, but imagine the excitement when what is likely to be the same WHITE-CHEEKED TERN was found at the mouth of the uMdloti River at -29.647, 31.129 (approached from the La Mercy Recreational Area side) earlier today. What an exceptional find indeed and only the 4th ever record for Southern Africa. Our first record for the subregion was at the Umvoti River estuary in November 1975, followed by one in Richard’s Bay in March 1982 and, most recently, also in Richard’s Bay in November 1991, so KZN continues to hold on to all subregion records of this species for now.


Elsewhere in the province, an exhausted SOOTY TERN was found at Sungulwane near Bayala on Saturday, the “normal” SOOTY TERN was still at St Lucia estuary yesterday, AYRES’S HAWK EAGLES were seen over Tinley Manor at -29.421, 31.259 and near the Army Base in Bluff on Saturday, GREY-HEADED KINGFISHERS were reported in Mkuze Game Reserve at -27.633, 32.223 on Friday and at Leopard Mountain Lodge in Manyoni Private Game Reserve on Saturday while a SOOTY FALCON was seen along the main road to St Lucia at -28.371, 32.256 on Friday.



White-cheeked Tern on Durban pelagic trip

© Niall Perrins

White-cheeked Tern on Durban pelagic trip

© Matthew Axelrod



White-cheeked Tern on Durban pelagic trip

© Zach Simpson


White-cheeked Tern twitchers at the Umdloti River

© Bart Fokkens


White-cheeked Tern twitchers at the Umdloti River

© Adam Cruickshank



Ayres’s Hawk Eagle at Tinley Manor

© Mike O’ Donaghue

Ayres’s Hawk Eagle in Bluff

© Rowan Bartlett



The Free State held on to the popular MADAGASCAN CUCKOO which was still present at Soetdoring Nature Reserve today while an AFRICAN CRAKE was still present north of Soetdoring Nature Reserve at -28.802, 25.990 on Saturday, a DWARF BITTERN was still at Soutpan on Saturday and several RED-FOOTED FALCONS were reported with a female just outside Harmony, Virginia at -28.091, 26.931 today, a male in Bethlehem on Saturday and another female still near Aldam at -28.151, 26.947 on Friday.



African Crake near Soetdoring Nature Reserve

© Charles James

Red-footed Falcon near Aldam

© Leonie Fouche



Madagascan Cuckoo at Soetdoring Nature Reserve

© Alan Collett



In Gauteng, a female RED-FOOTED FALCON was seen just outside Brackendowns yesterday afternoon, WESTERN MARSH HARRIERS were reported at Marievale Bird Sanctuary at -26.388, 28.503 and around Duiker hide on Saturday and a SOOTY TERN was seen flying strongly eastwards along the Vaal River, about 1 Km upstream from the barrage, on Thursday.


Across in Mpumalanga, the COMMON WHITETHROAT was still near Leeupan in the Kruger National Park at -24.85, 31.799 on Saturday while the park also delivered a STRIPED CRAKE at Shitsalaleni Pan on Saturday. Elsewhere, the GREAT WHITE PELICAN was still at Mkhombo Dam yesterday and a female RED-FOOTED FALCON was found just outside Standerton, on the road to Vrede, yesterday as well.


Into the North-west Province where a female RED-FOOTED FALCON was found near Stella at -26.530, 24.859 on Saturday while a single AFRICAN SKIMMER was found in a large quarry in the village of Ga-Habedi, between the turnoff to Borakalalo National Park and Moretele, on Thursday, possibly one of the individuals that have been seen recently at Rockwall Dam and at Finfoot Lake Reserve.

Red-footed Falcon (on right) near Brackendowns

© Dylan Vasapolli



Up in Limpopo, it was all happening in the Makuleke Concession near Pafuri in the Kruger National Park with both a SCALY-FEATHERED FINCH and CRIMSON-BREASTED SHRIKE reported there yesterday and a PECTORAL SANDPIPER seen there on Saturday.



Common Whitethroat near Leeupan

© Gregory Gillespie

Red-footed Falcon near Standerton

© Tobie Pretorius



African Skimmer at Ga-Habedi

© Tom Drinkwater

Pectoral Sandpiper in the Makuleke Concession

© Marc Cronje



Up in Namibia, the COMMON REDSHANK and RED-NECKED PHALAROPE were still at Mile 4 Salt Works in Swakopmund until at least Friday while the YELLOW-THROATED LEAFLOVES were also still present in the gardens of Caprivi Houseboat Safari Lodge in the Katima Mulilo on Friday as well.


And finally, in Mozambique, a juvenile BRIDLED TERN was seen yesterday on the San Sebastian Peninsula near Vilanculous.



Common Redshank at Mile 4 Salt Works

© Timo Britze

Red-necked Phalarope at Mile 4 Salt Works

© Timo Britze



Bridled Tern on the San Sebastian Peninsula

© Dave Gilroy



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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