SA Rare Bird News Report - 30 September 2013

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Trevor Hardaker

Sep 30, 2013, 2:31:28 PM9/30/13
to SA Rare Bird News


This is the Southern African Rare Bird News Report issued at 20h30 on Monday, 30 September 2013. 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



Before I get started with the current news, Dominic Rollinson has just returned from being an observer on a fishing vessel for the last couple of months and has turned up some amazing birds within the subregion’s waters. The 3 main areas that they concentrated in were 160 nautical miles south of Cape Agulhas, 60 nautical miles south of Port Elizabeth and 100 nautical miles south-east of Durban. Dominic has sent through the list of interesting sightings as follows:


Wandering Albatross: over 100 (Cape Agulhas, PE, Durban)

Southern Royal Albatross: 35 (Cape Agulhas, PE)

Northern Royal Albatross: 40 (Cape Agulhas, PE

Tristan Albatross: 5 possibly 6 (Cape Agulhas - the bird photographed (A69) is a male ringed as a chick in 1984, a failed breeder in 2013!)

Sooty Albatross: 3 PE, 1 Durban

Blue Petrel: 4 (2 Cape Agulhas, 2 off PE)

Atlantic Petrel : 1 (Cape Agulhas)

Spectacled Petrel: 2 (Cape Agulhas)

South Polar Skua: 1 (Cape Agulhas)


I have included some of his photos of the more interesting and rarer species below although he did send through photos of all of the birds noted above. Well done on a fantastic trip Dom…!



Tristan Albatross in Southern African waters

© Dominic Rollinson

Sooty Albatross in Southern African waters

© Dominic Rollinson



Grey Petrel in Southern African waters

© Dominic Rollinson

Blue Petrel in Southern African waters

© Dominic Rollinson



Atlantic Petrel in Southern African waters

© Dominic Rollinson



On to more current news and, starting in the Western Cape, a pelagic trip that went out yesterday turned up 2 SOUTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS, singles of NORTHERN ROYAL and WANDERING ALBATROSS as well as 2 RED PHALAROPES. Elsewhere in the province, the GOLIATH HERON remains on at Rondevlei Nature Reserve whilst the AFRICAN PIED WAGTAIL was also still present at the Postcard Café in Jonkershoek.


Moving into the Eastern Cape, there have been quite a few interesting reports coming through. A PECTORAL SANDPIPER showed well at the mouth of the Fish River from late last week already whilst, last Sunday, a juvenile GREEN TWINSPOT was reported in Cannon Rocks, a great record for the province indeed. Other good records for the province included a GROUND WOODPECKER in Presley Bay on Thursday whilst a COMMON SCIMITARBILL was reported from the farm Newstead near Qumbu and a DRAKENSBERG PRINIA was recorded in Port Alfred.



African Pied Wagtail at Postcard Cafe

© Howard Langley

Goliath Heron at Rondevlei Nature Reserve

© Tinus Lamprecht



Pectoral Sandpiper at the Fish River

© David Weaver

Green Twinspot at Cannon Rocks

© Phil Whittington



Ground Woodpecker in Presley Bay

© Garth Shaw



Kwazulu Natal joined in on the rarity action as well with the SOOTY TERN still on view yesterday at the St Lucia estuary whilst, this morning, a BUSH BLACKCAP was reported along the Igwalagwala Trail in St Lucia, seemingly well out of range.  St Lucia didn’t stop there and also produced a rather out of range DAMARA TERN at the estuary on Friday, another incredible record indeed! The province didn’t stop there and turned up a CASPIAN PLOVER at the King Shaka International Airport on Wednesday and Thursday (unfortunately in an area inaccessible to the public) and another one at Mkhuze Game Reserve yesterday. Other good birds included the return of a pair of RED-HEADED WEAVERS for the third season in a row to Leopard Mountain Game Lodge in Mkhuze last week whilst 2 WHITE-BROWED SPARROW-WEAVERS, another really tough bird in the province were reported from Pongola Nature Reserve yesterday.


Moving across to the Northern Cape, a GREY-BACKED CAMAROPTERA was reported near Jan Kempdorp on Wednesday, a very unusual species for the province indeed whilst, also of interest, a LESSER FLAMINGO was located just north of Rooiputs water hole in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park on Tuesday.


Neighbouring North-west Province got in on the action producing a WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL at Kroondal Dams near Rustenburg on Tuesday whilst a GREY-BACKED SPARROWLARK was reported about 20km west of Rustenburg on Saturday.


In Limpopo Province, at least 6 GREY-BACKED SPARROWLARKS were also present around Kgomo Kgomo on Tuesday whilst at least 6 CASPIAN PLOVERS are now being reported around Mooiplaas waterhole in the Kruger National Park.



Bush Blackcap at St. Lucia

© Mike Buckham

Damara Tern at St. Lucia

© Johan van Rensburg



Western Yellow Wagtail at Kroondal Dam

© Geoff Finney

Grey-backed Sparrowlark west of Rustenburg

© Dawie Joubert



Caspian Plovers at Mooiplaas Waterhole

© Thomas Hohls



Please remember 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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