SA Rare Bird News Report - 21 November 2011

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Trevor Hardaker

Nov 21, 2011, 2:00:03 PM11/21/11
to SA Rare Bird News, Wallie Latham


This is the Southern African Rare Bird News Report issued at 21h00 on Monday, 21 November 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



There was plenty to keep the Capetonians entertained in the last few days. One of the most popular attractions was the EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHER at Seeberg in the West Coast National Park that performed reasonably well throughout the weekend, particularly in the mornings when it was seen associating with its local cousins on the sandbanks in front of the hide (still present there this morning). By contrast, the COMMON REDSHANK at Geelbek, also in the park, remained particularly elusive, apart from one report of it on Saturday afternoon in a small pool alongside the boardwalk down to the hide.


Paarl Bird Sanctuary saw plenty of local attention as well with the TAMBOURINE DOVES showing throughout the weekend. Just beyond the first main dam that you reach on your right as you enter through the new gates, there is a path off to the left which leads down to the Berg River and the birds seem to be frequenting this patch of woodland mostly. The AFRICAN PIED WAGTAIL at the sanctuary proved rather frustrating for many, showing to a few people late on Saturday afternoon, but not putting in an appearance at all to the small crowd that had gathered there on Sunday afternoon to try and catch up with it. Also of interest, both SQUACCO HERONS were still present after a rather extended stay at the sanctuary yesterday morning as well.


Elsewhere in the province, the other recent "celebrity", the GROUNDSCRAPER THRUSH at Bredasdorp continued to entertain onlookers throughout the weekend and was still showing well to groups late yesterday. If anybody is still looking to chase this bird, Wessel van Zyl, a local and the guy that originally found it, said that you are welcome to contact him at 084 549 2917 for further information. The delayed report of a BLACK-COLLARED BARBET last week on a farm near Elim created some excitement as well, but an intensive search on Saturday unfortunately did not manage to relocate the bird. However, a JACOBIN CUCKOO discovered near the main office complex at Fernkloof Nature Reserve in Hermanus on Saturday morning was a nice consolation prize.



Eurasian Oystercatcher at Seeberg

© Kalvyn Saayman

Tambourine Dove at Paarl Bird Sanctuary

© Trevor Hardaker



African Pied Wagtail at Paarl Bird Sanctuary

© Veronica van Rensburg

African Pied Wagtail at Paarl Bird Sanctuary

© Gielie Bester



Squacco Heron at Paarl Bird Sanctuary

© Freddie Strauss

Groundscraper Thrush at Bredasdorp

© Barrie Rose



Kwazulu Natal managed to attract twitchers from as far afield as Gauteng this weekend and, fortunately, the SOOTY TERN at the mouth of the Umfolozi River as well as the 2 CRAB PLOVERS in the Southern Sanctuary area of Richard's Bay performed well throughout the weekend.


The Free State managed to produce 2 RUDDY TURNSTONES at Krugersdrift Dam north-west of Bloemfontein on Saturday morning whilst a male JAMESON’S FIREFINCH was discovered near Sasolburg yesterday.


Gauteng provided a EURASIAN HONEY BUZZARD on the weekend at Ezemvelo Nature Reserve along with a male PALLID HARRIER.


In the Northern Cape, at least one BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was enjoyed by a group of twitchers who had travelled from Cape Town and Johannesburg on Friday morning at Spitskop Dam just north of Kimberley. A single GREY PLOVER was also present at the site.



Sooty Tern at Umfolozi River

© Garret Skead

Sooty Tern at Umfolozi River

© Dewald Swanepoel



Crab Plover at Richard’s Bay

© Dewald Swanepoel

Black-tailed Godwit at Spitskop Dam

© Niall Perrins



Into Mpumalanga where the most exciting record was undoubtedly a WHITE-THROATED BEE-EATER reported on Wednesday along the Mlondozi Loop in the Kruger National Park. This would appear to only be the 14th record for Southern Africa with previous records being a single bird in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in December 1988, a single bird in Sedgefield in February 1990, one near Wakkerstroom in April 1995, 7 birds at Cape Point in March 1998, 2 in Mkuze Game Reserve in September 1999, a single bird in Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe in November 2002, one bird in Pearly Beach in April 2004, a singleton at Shingwedzi in the Kruger National Park in December 2004, one near East London in September 2006, one in a Hillcrest garden in October 2008, 2 birds at Balule Nature Reserve in March 2010 and, most recently, 2 separate sightings in February 2011 in the Kruger National Park, one near Skukuza and the other near Crook's Corner.


One of the province's rarity jewels in recent times, Mkhombo Dam, also attracted a number of twitchers over the weekend and final tallies revealed 2 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS at the dam as well as a supporting cast of at least 2 GREY PLOVERS and 2 RUDDY TURNSTONES. Thanks to Niall Perrins, the following directions to the site have been provided:


The Dam is roughly 180km from Randburg, you travel through some rural areas, with 80km/h and 60km/h zones where the cops love to speed trap.


Set this as your first destination on your GPS: At the 4-way stop, S25 8' 43.6" E28 55' 37.7", turn left



The turning into Lebangeni Village is at S25 9' 35.8" E28 51' 23.6" - turn right and carry on through the village until a T junction. You'll see a rubbish dump in front of you - turn right and almost immediately left down past the rubbish dump. Just before you reach the water you'll see a turning left. Turn left here and this takes you down to the water and winds along next to the dam. The Pectoral Sandpipers were at S25 9' 9.4" E28 48' 49.0". This is a dried out area where the water has receded and left plenty of tasty morsels for the birds to snack on. They were in amongst a group of Ruffs - looking superficially like a very small Ruff, but having yellow legs, and yellowish on the base of the decurved bill. They also associated with Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers while we observed them.


Additional attractions in the province include a GREEN SANDPIPER located yesterday along the Klaserie River close to the confluence with the Olifants River and a YELLOW WAGTAIL and several LESSER JACANAS at Komatidraai this morning whilst the SOUTHERN BROWN-THROATED WEAVER at Crocodile Bridge in the Kruger National Park was also still on view earlier today.

Ruddy Turnstone at Mkhombo Dam

© Veronique Wolfaardt



Pectoral Sandpiper at Mkhombo Dam

© Veronique Wolfaardt

Pectoral Sandpipers at Mkhombo Dam

© Niall Perrins



Grey Plover at Mkhombo Dam

© Veronique Wolfaardt

Grey Plover at Mkhombo Dam

© Niall Perrins



Limpopo Province also managed to attract twitchers from Gauteng and the Cape this weekend with the main target being the PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER at Den Staat wetlands which thankfully performed well for the travelers.


Zimbabwe's star attraction, the WHINCHAT at Aberfoyle in the Eastern Highlands, remained faithful to its site near the 1st tee on the golf course throughout the weekend and, with this extremely mega rarity now seeming to be reliable at this site, there are already a number of South African twitchers considering the long haul though there to go and chase this bird.


As usual, Namibia also has something new to offer and this time, it took the form of a SABINE'S GULL at Kalkuavel in Etosha National Park. Clearly, Etosha is cooking at the moment in terms of rarities and a concerted effort by some dedicated birders in the area is bound to turn up a whole load more exciting birds there!



Pacific Golden Plover at Den Staat wetlands

© Doug Newman

Pacific Golden Plover at Den Staat wetlands

© Per Holmen



Sabine’s Gull in Etosha National Park

© Kathryn Haylett



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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