SA Rare Bird News Report - 19 February 2018

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Trevor Hardaker

Feb 19, 2018, 1:01:47 PM2/19/18


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This is the Southern African Rare Bird News Report issued at 20h00 on Monday, 19 February 2018. 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



As usual, let's start with the scarcity reports received over the last few days…




·         One in a garden in Bethlehem (Free State) this afternoon.

·         One in a Kempton Park garden (Gauteng) yesterday.

·         One at Limpopo Tented Camp in Mapungubwe (Limpopo) yesterday.

·         One over Raceview, Alberton (Gauteng) on Saturday.

·         One at Haka Game Park in Harare (Zimbabwe) on Saturday.

·         One at Rietvlei Nature Reserve (Gauteng) at -25.878, 28.304 on Friday afternoon.

·         One flying over Midstream in Centurion (Gauteng) on Friday afternoon.

·         Two birds (an adult and an immature) together in a garden in Estcourt (KZN) on Thursday.



European Honey Buzzard in Haka Game Park

© Piet Zwanikken

European Honey Buzzard in Kempton Park

© Cameron Meyer



European Honey Buzzard in Bethlehem

© Muller Janse van Rensburg

European Honey Buzzard over Alberton

© Warren Mckay



European Honey Buzzard at Rietvlei Nature Reserve

© Rihann Geyser

European Honey Buzzard in Estcourt

© Michelle Botha



On to the rest of the news and, for a change, let's start in Mozambique where the massive news came through yesterday of Southern Africa's first ever SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER found at Macaneta in Maputo. This record goes even one better as it also appears to be the first record for mainland Africa with previous records close-by only in Yemen, Madagascar and The Seychelles. This has long been a species that has been predicted as possibly turning up here in the future, so it's really good that it has now finally happened.


As it so happens, this bird has actually been in this area for at least 2 weeks now and was previously identified as a Pectoral Sandpiper based on brief and distant views. It was only when the bird was seen a lot closer and for an extended period yesterday that suddenly questions started being asked about the identity. Fortunately, a number of photos could be taken which showed a suite of features including the blackish brown V-shaped chevron marks on the left flank (but not yet on the right - the bird is currently in moult), the reddish-brown crown, the bold white supercilium especially behind the eye, the contrasting dark ear coverts, the obvious white eye ring and the shortish and mostly all dark bill amongst others, all features that should eliminate the superficially similar Pectoral Sandpiper.


This is the second new species to be added to the Southern African list in 2018 already and the 976th countable species on our subregion list. Unfortunately, there were no reports of the bird today despite a number of birders looking for it, but there will be people out tomorrow looking for it as well, so hopefully there will be some good news again before too long. The same site also held another distraction yesterday morning in the form of a SPOTTED CRAKE.



Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Macaneta

© Gary Allport

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Macaneta

© Gary Allport



Back down into the Western Cape where both BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPERS were still at Geelbek in the West Coast National Park today while a couple of BLACK-HEADED CANARIES were reported from Abrahamskraal in the park yesterday as well. The very popular BAILLON'S CRAKE was also still showing well from the Scotto hide at Rondevlei Nature Reserve earlier today while a single SAND MARTIN was reported along the causeway between Pans P2 and P3 at Strandfontein Sewage Works on Saturday and two birds were reported there between Pans S4 and S7 yesterday. The WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL was also still holding on at Betty's Bay until at least Friday afternoon. Further east, a female MONTAGU'S HARRIER was seen on a private farm about 5km from Grootvadersbosch on Saturday and again briefly yesterday morning. The nearest viewing from a public road to where it was seen on the farm would be around -34.000433, 20.874717.



Broad-billed Sandpiper at Geelbek

© Landi le Roux

Broad-billed Sandpipers at Geelbek

© Kevin Drummond-Hay



Broad-billed Sandpipers at Geelbek

© Francois Dreyer



Black-headed Canary at Abrahamskraal

© Geoff Moller

Baillon’s Crake at Rondevlei Nature Reserve

©Mike Buckham



Baillon’s Crake at Rondevlei Nature Reserve

© Albert McLean

Baillon’s Crake at Rondevlei Nature Reserve

© John Graham



Baillon’s Crake at Rondevlei Nature Reserve

© Karen Powell

Baillon’s Crake at Rondevlei Nature Reserve

© Rousseau Lotter



Baillon’s Crake at Rondevlei Nature Reserve

© Eva Egan

Baillon’s Crake at Rondevlei Nature Reserve

© Andy Bullmore



Baillon’s Crake at Rondevlei Nature Reserve

© Duggy Loock

Baillon’s Crake at Rondevlei Nature Reserve

© Elizabeth Loock



Baillon’s Crake twitchers at Rondevlei Nature Reserve

© Frans-Hendrik Joubert


Baillon’s Crake twitchers at Rondevlei Nature Reserve

© Karen Powell



Sand Martin at Strandfontein Sewage Works

© John Graham

Montagu’s Harrier near Grootvadersbosch

© Russell Warren



In the Eastern Cape, a COMMON CUCKOO was reported this morning around the Mackay bridge in Tankatara, the third record in just a few weeks in the province of this out-of-range species.


Moving up the coast into Kwazulu Natal, the DWARF BITTERN was still at Kube Yini Private Game Reserve on Saturday and a female RED-FOOTED FALCON was seen along the Sani Pass road just before Sani Pass Hotel on Friday.


In Gauteng, the SPOTTED CRAKE was still at Marievale Bird Sanctuary at -26.335, 28.516 yesterday, another female RED-FOOTED FALCON was reported at Northern Farms yesterday, the WHIMBREL was still at Bronkhorstspruit Dam Nature Reserve on Friday and an AYRES' HAWK EAGLE was seen in a garden in Highlands North in Johannesburg on Friday.



Red-footed Falcon near Sani Pass Hotel

© Stuart McLean

Red-footed Falcon at Northern Farms

© Garret Skead



Spotted Crake at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

© Andrew Pike

Whimbrel at Bronkhorstspruit Dam Nature Reserve

© Gerda Welman



Up in Limpopo, an immature SADDLE-BILLED STORK was found at the Sterkrivier turn-off from the R101 south of Mokopane at -24.314, 28.925 on Friday while, earlier today, there was some surprize when a SOUTHERN BROWN-THROATED WEAVER was found at Broederstroom in Magoebaskloof, well out of range for this species.


And finally, in Namibia, there was major excitement late this afternoon when a RED-NECKED BUZZARD was found at Rundu Sewage Works. This remains a mega species in Southern Africa and is only our 9th record ever following the very popular bird that spent an extended period in the Still Bay region back in December 2016.



Red-necked Buzzard at Rundu Sewage Works

© John Davies



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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