SA Rare Bird News Report - 07 March 2011

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Trevor Hardaker

Mar 7, 2011, 2:06:22 PM3/7/11
to SA Rare Bird News


This is the Southern African Rare Bird News Report issued at 21h05 on Monday, 07 March 2011. 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



Wow, it’s been a busy few days with interesting records from all over the subregion just streaming in…


As usual, we start in the Western Cape where the most exciting new record over the last few days was the discovery of a PECTORAL SANDPIPER at Rocher Pan north of Velddrif. The bird was on view throughout the weekend, but did prove difficult to find at times. Unless the bird is close to the hide (which it does occasionally do), it tends to mostly be quite distant and so a scope would probably be essential. It seems to mostly hang out over on the left hand side of the pan at the first hide and can be hidden by the encroaching reeds which will block your view. But, with a little patience and determination, you should be able to find it. A single LESSER SAND PLOVER was also noted there on Saturday afternoon.


Speaking of PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, after a long absence, the bird at Woodbourne Pan in Knysna was once again present there on Friday as well.


Pelagic birding has also been good in the last week with a cruise between Cape Town and Walvis Bay turning up several LEACH’S STORM PETRELS and RED (GREY) PHALAROPES whilst a trawler trip operating north-west of Cape Columbine also produced a single LEACH’S STORM PETREL as well as 2 FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATERS and a young SOUTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS. One of the regular pelagic trips off of the Peninsula also turned up a single FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER on Saturday.


EUROPEAN ROLLER records are still coming in with no less than 5 birds reported between Suurbrak at the N2 on Friday as well as another 3 individuals near the entrance to the Bontebok National Park on the weekend. AMUR FALCON sightings are also mounting with a single female present near the entrance to Bontebok National Park on the weekend and at least 15 birds between Barrington and Karatara near Sedgefield on the weekend as well.


Other provincial records of interest include a group of 8 WHITE-FACED DUCKS at the Swellendam Sewage Works on the weekend, a single BLACK TERN on Pan P2 at Strandfontein Sewage Works late yesterday afternoon, the GOLIATH HERON still present at Rondevlei Nature Reserve on Saturday, a RED-BACKED-SHRIKE at Voevlei near Mossel Bay on Saturday and a BAILLON’S CRAKE at the Garden Route Botanical Gardens in George yesterday whilst the YELLOW-CROWNED BISHOP reported last week along a river in Beaufort West is also still present but is rather skittish and proving a little elusive for photos.



Pectoral Sandpiper at Rocher Pan

© Sion Stanton

Pectoral Sandpiper at Rocher Pan

© Barrie Rose



Pectoral Sandpiper at Rocher Pan

© Trevor Hardaker

Pectoral Sandpiper at Woodbourne Pan

© Margaret Richards



Flesh-footed Shearwater on trawler trip

© Barrie Rose

Flesh-footed Shearwater on pelagic trip

© Cliff Dorse



Southern Royal Albatross on trawler trip

© Barrie Rose

European Roller near Suurbrak

© Jim Gibson



Amur Falcon near Barrington

© Andre Strydom

Goliath Heron at Rondevlei Nature Reserve

© Frans-Hendrik Joubert



In the Northern Cape, there also seems to have been an influx of EUROPEAN ROLLERS with good numbers reported along the N12 between Kimberley and Victoria West on the weekend. These birds seem to be everywhere at the moment…


Moving into the Eastern Cape, there is no doubt that the biggest twitcher adrenaline rush was caused yesterday with the discovery of a WILSON’S PHALAROPE at Tankatara Salt Pans in Port Elizabeth. The first twitchers were on site very early this morning and managed to connect with the bird, but its appearances seem to be a little erratic showing at times and then disappearing totally from view for hours on end, so it’s feeding patterns obviously still need to be worked out before one can determine when best to search for it. Once again, this also serves as a reminder to respect the fact that this is private property and that one should sought permission before entering it.


To the best of my knowledge, this represents the 17th record for Southern Africa. The first record stems back to March 1965 in Cape Town and this was followed by a record on the Afdaks River in the Western Cape in October 1974, then one at Muizenberg in 1977, one at Velddrif in October 1979, another at the Umvoti estuary in November 1982, one in Swakopmund in April 1983, another in Paternoster in November 1983 (which returned to the same site for 7 successive seasons!), one at the Steynrus Dam in October 1984, then another in Swakopmund in March 1985 followed by one at the Cape Cross Lagoon in February 1986, another Swakopmund record in March 1988 followed by two in Walvis Bay (September 2000 and November 2004), one at Abrahamskraal in the West Coast National Park in January 2005, then one at Barberspan in May 2007 and finally, the most recent one at the Dolphin Beach Pans in Blouberg in May 2007.


This same site earlier today also produced a single RED-NECKED PHALAROPE whilst, earlier today, an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was present at Orient Beach in East London again. The EUROPEAN ROLLER records are also streaming in from the province with 5 individuals noted in the Amakhala Reserve south of Grahamstown on Saturday and yesterday producing one near Canon Rocks, two at Woody Cape, one at Port Alfred and another in Bathurst.



Wilson’s Phalarope (far right) with Ruffs at Tankatara Salt Pans

© Stefan Strydom



A little further up the coast into Kwazulu Natal, the GREATER FRIGATEBIRD was reported on and off throughout the weekend in the Durban harbour area whilst other provincial records of interest included  a LESSER MOORHEN at the Wattled Crane hide on Loskop Dam at the Karkloof Conservation Centre whilst, on Saturday, a CHESTNUT-BACKED SPARROWLARK was reported near Mkhuze. Directions to this latter site have been given as follows:


Take left turn opposite to Jozini turnoff from N2 (10km north of Mkuze) signposted to Umziki Chalets. Continue to the entrance gate to small game farm and go 500m to the bottom of the hill where there is a small dam on right. The bird was drinking at this small dam.



Into Mpumalanga where the STRIPED CRAKES seem to have hit with force…


Unfortunately, the one record is a little delayed with the initial sighting being on 25 February of a bird with chicks at Renosterkoppies in the southern Kruger National Park. They were apparently in a small temporary pan near to the turn-off to the Stevenson-Hamilton Memorial.


The last reliable report of this was on Tuesday and subsequently, it would appear from the information that I have received that the small temporary pan that these birds were inhabiting has dried up.


Not to worry, because another one, this time along the southern shore of Mkhombo Dam, was reported yesterday morning.


It certainly seems to be a good season for these…

Striped Crake with chicks at Renosterkoppies

© John Carlyon



Other records of interest in the province include a nesting pair of WHITE-BACKED NIGHT HERONS at Lake Panic bird hide near Skukuza in the Kruger National Park which were seen by a number of people over the weekend (a single bird was also seen from Skukuza camp flying upstream towards the Sabie River for 3 nights in a row at around 18h40) whilst at least 3 WHITE-BROWED SPARROW-WEAVERS with signs of nesting activity as well were noted about 4km from Tshokwane along the road to Lower Sabie.



White-backed Night Heron at Lake Panic

© Tertius Gous

White-browed Sparrow-weaver near Tshokwane

© Tertius Gous



In Gauteng, despite a number of people spending many hours searching on the weekend, there was no sign of the GREY WAGTAIL at Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, so possibly, it has decided to move on from there, but, still of interest, a EURASIAN HONEY BUZZARD was reported at Sammy Marks Museum in Pretoria yesterday.


Into Limpopo Province where at least 3 THRUSH NIGHTINGALES are still present in the vicinity of The Outpost in the northern Kruger National Park and have been actively calling in recent days.


Moving into Namibia, at least 2 RED-NECKED PHALAROPES are still present in Walvis Bay.


And, lastly, in Zimbabwe, a STRIPED CRAKE was reported from Monavale Vlei in Harare on Wednesday whilst, on Thursday, a EURASIAN HONEY BUZZARD was present at the Buzi River area.

Thrush Nightingale at The Outpost

© Byron McGaw



Striped Crake at Monavale Vlei

© Maans Booysen

Eurasian Honey Buzzard at Buzi River

© Maans Booysen



Don’t forget 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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