Sadly, your editor will be a away for most of May, so the blog will be silent for that period. I shall be birding in Botswana and Zimbabwe, so hope to bring back some interesting stories about the birds encountered. Craig assures me that he will keep members up to date via their email, so you should not miss out.
Avail yourself of this fine opportunity to visit the Elgin Valley for some fine birding, and take a look around Jessie’s garden, a birders paradise!
The last of the evening cruises was not that successful! We had a lovely group who enthusiastically boarded the River Rat at 17h00. However, the wind gods decided that we should have strong winds inflicted upon us and going down stream was very rapid and the return slow with strong winds in our face. Nonetheless we did manage to get 31 species including wonderful Purple Swamphen sightings, Purple Heron, and four species of Kingfisher. Despite the wind, however, we all thoroughly enjoyed the outing – it’s always lovely to be on the water at Stanford.
A Weaver has pushed the boundaries with this attempt to decorate it’s nest. I wonder if his partner rejected it or is now sharing her new home with Barbie!!
Despite the threatening clouds on Wednesday 24th January, a congenial group of 12 club members and a few friends enjoyed a wonderful sunset cruise on the Kleinriver Lagoon. Some 45 bird species were seen, although we were unable to match the numbers seen by the morning cruise! Water birds abounded, but some of the highlights were the good sightings of Purple Swamphen, Malachite and Giant Kingfisher and 5 raptor species, including an African Marsh Harrier. Sadly, the Martial Eagle did not oblige again, but well done to Ronnie for his photo of the Martial and his excellent photos of the birds seen on the early morning cruise.
“There was huge excitement last week at the Midway Atoll Bird Refuge in the South Pacific, when 67 year old Laysan Albatross, named Wisdom, appeared once again and commenced breeding with her long-term partner.
Wisdom was first ringed on Midway as a 5 year old in 1956 by seabird ornithologist Chandler Robbins and has been returning regularly ever since, raising a chick most years. She is thus the world’s oldest known wild bird.
Midway Atoll is the largest albatross breeding colony in the world and is home to more than 70% of the world’s Laysan Albatrosses.
Considering the hazards posed by long-line fishing boats and plastic ingestion Wisdom appears to be extremely fortunate to have survived for so long and to still be producing viable offspring.
Long may she continue!”
The Stanford Bird Club very kindly invited a representative of HBC to join them on their inaugural cruise down the Klein River in the newly launched ‘Lady Stanford’ and Renee and I were the lucky participants. We set off at 7:30 am this morning along with around 20 local birders and spent three and a half hours enjoying the wonderful birding along the river.
The Lady Stanford is a purpose built river boat and it provided a wonderful platform from which to enjoy the abundant birdlife that the region has to offer. We saw no less than 70 species. There were many Giant Kingfishers, abundant African Darters, all the Grebes, three Herons, Falmingos galore and much more. The juvenile African Harrier-Hawk was a highlight as it pecked at its branch, and we saw two Osprey, as well a s a number of Fish Eagles.
At one point, a Bontebok on the bank with a large piece of vegetation attached to its horns kept us entertained. Above it, a beautiful Common Buzzard looked down and wondered what all the fuss was about!
Thank you to Peter Hochfelden and the Stanford Club for an enthralling morning!!
A confused Bontebok
Juvenile African Harrier-Hawk
Giant Kingfisher and prey
The Lady Stanford
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!
Please note that the first draft of the 2018 programme had the AGM in January. THIS IS INCORRECT. THE AGM IS IN FEBRUARY!