By John Bowman
Just over a month ago, a story was posted to our website about a Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin (Rooistert-wipstert), seen at Zeekoevlei, the first time this bird has ever been seen in South Africa.
Are we twitchers? Well, sort of. Sheelagh and I don’t travel vast distances to tick off new birds, but if we’re in the area where a rarity has been seen, we’ll have a good go at trying to find it.
Luckily we were in Cape Town for a function a few weeks ago, and managed to find the bird quite easily. However, the first time we saw it, in my excitement my photos were terrible. The next day we got it again, but my camera battery was flat.
We were in Cape Town again this last weekend, and I was determined to get a decent photo. This time we had to hunt for about an hour, only being rewarded with brief glimpses of the bird as it flew from tree to tree.
Time was running out to get back to Vermont, so we started leaving. And, lo and behold, quite close to our car, the Scrub Robin suddenly popped up on a low wall next to the road. For a few minutes it hopped between the wall and a bollard, affording decent photo opportunities. What a treat.
Just as a reminder, this bird is a Palearctic migrant. A native of Mediterranean Europe and Asia, it spends its winters in North Africa. This bird, after its holiday there, turned South instead of North, and ended up at Zeekoevlei.
According to SA Rare Birds News, over a thousand birders have visited the Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, a couple of hundred from outside the Western Cape, including several Southern African countries. I chatted to folk from Knysna, Limpopo, Durban and Johannesburg on my visits there.
It will probably be around for a few more weeks before it decides to return to North Africa. So those members going on the Strandfontein outing on Thursday 1 September have a very good chance of seeing it. Good luck, hope this whets your appetite.
- If you want to go on the day outing to Strandfontein and Rondevlei, and stand a chance of becoming a twitcher, be at the Onrust Trading Post on Thursday 1 September for departure at 08:00. Bring your own snacks, drinks and lunch.
- The Club’s September monthly meeting at the Fernkloof Reserve Hall will be on Wednesday 14 September. That is a week earlier than usual, to avoid clashing with the Hermanus Botanical Society’s annual flower festival the following week. The speaker will be Frank Woodvine of the Botanical Society.