December Challenge Results

 

At the end of the year, the Challenge is headed by Ronnie Hazell with 458 birds and 525 points; in second place are Lester and Cheryl van Groeningen with 362 birds and 430 points, whilst in third place Ed Meyer has 339 birds and 418 points.  Watch out Ronnie, this looks like a hare and tortoise affair, where too much haste at the beginning can often turn into being dropped at the end.  No doubt the participants who took it easy in December will come charging through as they still have lots of birds to see, whereas the leaders will find it more difficult to find new species.

One thing is for sure – the people taking part are being stimulated to go birding and they are coming up with some really interesting results and some very rare species!  Lifers will be amongst the birds seen – I have had one already with the White Wagtail at Rooisand!

It is good to see that newcomers to the club, Lester and Cheryl, are certainly making their presence felt.

White Wagtail

 

Renee and I visited Rooisand yesterday afternoon and the White Wagtail was still showing well, just to the left of the hide.  We also saw a Great Egret near the car park.  We actually went to see if we could find the Sand Martin reported earlier, but without success.          Ronnie

 

A MASSIVE Find for Hermanus

 

On Saturday morning Renee and I went to Rooisand to see if we could find the Pectoral Sandpiper that had been reported there.  As we approached the hide, we met up with Lester and Cheryl van Groeningen, and entered the hide together, whence we searched the surrounding area.  We could not locate the Sandpiper, but suddenly Lester drew our attention to a whiter than usual Wagtail and we all wondered about this unusual looking bird, thinking that it was an aberrant form of Cape Wagtail.  Luckily Lester had his big lens with him and took a few photos, which he circulated to Trevor and Faansie.  At first they were not to excited about the bird, but Lester pursued the issue with them and they asked for more images.

We were, therefore, delighted yesterday evening to see that both Faansie and Trevor had put out notes suggesting that this bird is, in fact, a White Wagtail, previously unseen in the Southern African region.  By this morning, reports were coming in from other birders who are no doubt arriving on the scene in large numbers to record this Mega-tick, now definitely confirmed as a White Wagtail.  Well done Lester!!  You have put us on the map!!  Rooisand really has delivered this summer!

Lester took this photograph today.

White Wagtail 1

FERNKLOOF GAMEBIRD BREEDING SEASON – 2017/2018

 

The fynbos gamebirds have enjoyed good conditions this season, producing large clutches of healthy chicks.   Our concern, however, is that the attrition rate is very high and the question is why? One proud Guineafowl mother arrived out of the Fernkloof fynbos in Voelklip with 12 gorgeous, fluffy little chicks. Next day there was only one left and the following day she came alone!

Cape Spur fowl seem to be a bit more successful at rearing their chicks. Early in the season we had five families with an average of six babies on arrival here and they have raised on average, three to juvenile stage. In January two new families arrived in our garden, possibly second breedings for the season?   This week we witnessed a very dramatic exchange with a traumatised, frantic Spur fowl mother and a Slender mongoose, who had nipped in and grabbed one of her chicks.  Enraged and quite fearless she attacked the mongoose, chased it off, but not without losing her baby.  She then tried to call off the mongoose, from going for her other chicks who had hidden themselves away, with alarm calls and a ‘wounded bird act’. A very brave and an interesting incident of nature and bird behaviour!

Ground birds like Guineafowl and Spurfowl are vulnerable to mongoose and genets, which have also been seen in the Voelklip fynbos area.  Other predators which are active and a threat to birds are the African Goshawk and Sparrowhawk, which favour doves , but will also prey on young  gamebirds, given the right opportunity.  With all the threats, our gamebirds are lucky if they can raise even half their chicks!

Ed Meyer.

De Hoop

 

De Hoop – we have one space left on the de Hoop outing for a couple or two singles – 6 – 8 March at the cost of R845.00 per person. If you are interested in joining this small group to this wonderful reserve please contact Craig on pcsholmes@telkomsa.net or 0283132458