Sightings In The Subregion: Mid-January To Mid-March 2021
African Birdlife|May/June 2021
After a midsummer that was so busy with rarities, one might have thought that things would calm down somewhat, but the later part of the season continued to deliver a dazzling list of mouthwatering records. Twitchers were kept fully entertained and on their toes!
Trevor Hardaker

HEADLINE NEWS

With so many great birds being reported, it is difficult to know where to start, but new species for southern Africa – and indeed Africa – obviously deserve line honours. Many twitchers were in utter disbelief on 30 January when news came through of the subregion’s first ever Crested Honey Buzzard found in Somerset West. Initially seen soaring over Lourensford Estate, the bird was relocated later that same day in the Spanish Farm area. It remained vaguely reliable there, especially in the late afternoons, and many birders managed to see it. There were some initial concerns that it might be a hybrid but, after consulting with a number of the world’s raptor experts, the consensus reached was that it was a pure bird and apparently a juvenile in its second calendar year. (Read more about this bird in the article ‘Mixed messages’, starting on page 26.) There are a handful of previous records of Crested Honey Buzzard in sub-Saharan Africa, but it remains a very rare bird on the continent. It was interesting that another individual, an adult male, was seen in Kenya shortly after the local bird was found.

Also creating excitement and frustration in equal measure was southern Africa’s (and Africa’s) first Green Warbler, found in a garden in the coastal village of Scarborough, outside Cape Town. The bird spent just a couple of days in the area and provided brief glimpses for the few people who happened to be looking in the right place at exactly the right time, despite good numbers of birders combing the fairly confined area that it chose to call home for a few days. However, the bird did call on a number of occasions and thanks to the swift reactions of the original observer, who managed to make a brief recording, this was used to clinch the identification. A series of detailed sonogram analyses comparing this bird’s call to other likely candidates in the Phylloscopus genus across the globe was undertaken by local and foreign experts and this eventually confirmed the bird’s identity. Green Warbler breeds in south–central Europe and generally winters in southern India, although there are records from the Middle East as well, which is possibly where this bird originated.

Twitchers had a double windfall on 30 January as in addition to the Crested Honey Buzzard, news filtered through of southern Africa’s fourth White-cheeked Tern, seen on a pelagic trip out of Durban. To make things even better, it was subsequently found again a couple of days later at the mouth of the Umdloti River near Durban, where it stayed for a few days. The first record for the subregion was at the Umvoti River estuary in November 1975, followed by one in Richards Bay in March 1982 and, most recently, another in Richards Bay in November 1991, so KZN continues to hold all the subregion’s records of this species. It’s also of interest that the latest record ends a 30-year drought for this species in southern Africa.

Further exciting news was the discovery of a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Macaneta, north of Maputo in Mozambique. This is the fourth successive season that the species has been found there and it is almost certainly the same individual returning. Other than this bird at this site, there are no other records for southern Africa, so it remains a massive rarity on a subregional scale and still a very sought-after species.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM AFRICAN BIRDLIFEView All

action stations

Natural fish traps in the Okavango

5 mins read
African Birdlife
May/June 2021

Sightings In The Subregion: Mid-January To Mid-March 2021

After a midsummer that was so busy with rarities, one might have thought that things would calm down somewhat, but the later part of the season continued to deliver a dazzling list of mouthwatering records. Twitchers were kept fully entertained and on their toes!

8 mins read
African Birdlife
May/June 2021

Mixed Messages

Deciphering South Africa’s first Crested Honey Buzzard

6 mins read
African Birdlife
May/June 2021

Jackpot Birding

Observing Striped Crakes

4 mins read
African Birdlife
May/June 2021

It's A Calling

Warwick Tarboton is a true naturalist and respected as one of the country’s foremost natural history authors and bird photographers. There is little doubt that he has influenced many people to take their interest in birds in particular to the next level.

9 mins read
African Birdlife
May/June 2021

Redefining Plett Rage

The call I received from my friend Alastair at 06h00 on a Friday at the start of our year-end holiday was inevitable during the advancing second wave of Covid-19 cases, but it was one I had hoped to avoid. His entire family had just tested positive for the virus and we had just given his son, Alec, a lift from Cape Town to Plettenberg Bay to join us for a few days of holiday. Alec qualified uncomfortably as a close contact, having spent eight hours in the car with us and then slept in the same dorm room as all my kids for two nights.

6 mins read
African Birdlife
May/June 2021

Juvenile African Cuckoo Diet

Juvenile African Cuckoo Diet

2 mins read
African Birdlife
May/June 2021

Home Invader

Diederik Cuckoo

6 mins read
African Birdlife
May/June 2021

The Birds And The Beast

Addo’s bird/mammal associations

6 mins read
African Birdlife
May/June 2021

A Wahlberg's Summer

Wahlberg’s Eagles have always been close to my heart and when the opportunity arose to photograph a breeding pair at the nest, I grabbed it with both hands. It all started when Marius, my future son-in-law, told me early in 2019 about an eagle’s nest in a thorn tree near the Sand River on the farm where he lives in Limpopo. He sent me a photograph of the two eagles at the nest and I immediately recognised them as a pair of Wahlberg’s. To add to my excitement, one of them was a pale morph.

7 mins read
African Birdlife
May/June 2021
RELATED STORIES

National Cycle VStream Sport Windscreen for Honda Africa Twin

There are many ways to improve motorcycle rider comfort, covering everything from bar risers to footpegs. Having done almost all of them, I decided to switch out my stock windscreen to see if it made a difference, especially on long trips.

1 min read
Adventure Motorcycle (ADVMoto)
March - April 2021

Africa Tries Free Trade

Economic nationalism has plagued Africa since decolonization. In 2021, that is set to change.

4 mins read
Reason magazine
April 2021

Uncommon Dinosaurs

Southern Continents Reveal Uncommon Giants

10+ mins read
Rock&Gem Magazine
December 2020

ZOISITE

A Massive Mineral Marked by Christmas- Like Color and Appeal

7 mins read
Rock&Gem Magazine
December 2020

Pittsburgh's August Wilson African American Cultural Center

LOCATED IN THE HEART of downtown Pittsburgh, on Liberty Avenue close to Union Station and the David Lawrence Convention Center, the sleek and elegant but unpretentious August Wilson African American Cultural Center (awaacc) cannot fail to capture the eye and the imagination of anybody who is visiting Pittsburgh or, for that matter, of anybody who lives in the city.

2 mins read
World Literature Today
Autumn 2020

AFRICA

Bishop Stephen Masilela is the general presbyter for the COGOP in Africa. He is also a counselor and registered marriage officer and currently serves as president for Evangelical and Pentecostal churches in Africa. He holds a diploma in Personnel Management and Training (IPM) from Bible Training Institute and is enrolled with the Gordon Conwell/COGOP Leader of Leaders Master’s Degree program and the Extension School of Ministry of Swaziland College of Theology for a theology degree. He is married to Sibongile and they are blessed with three children.

3 mins read
White Wing Messenger
October 2020

NICOLE PATTON-TERRY READING RESEARCHER

Nicole Patton-Terry loves helping kids learn to read. She is associate director of the Florida Center for Reading Research at the Florida State University. Patton-Terry works on teams with researchers, students, teachers, designers, parents, and community members. Together they study reading and develop tools that help children read.

6 mins read
Muse Science Magazine for Kids
October 2020

‘THE 24TH' IS A SOBERING HISTORY LESSON FOR TODAY

On Aug. 23, 1917, four months after the U.S. had entered World War I, the all-Black 3rd battalion of the U.S. Army’s 24th Infantry Regiment mutinied in Houston.

3 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #461

BEYONCÉ'S ‘BLACK IS KING' IS SUPREME BLACK ART

King Beyoncé’s new film takes you on a journey of Black art, music, history and fashion as the superstar transports you to Africa to tell the story of a young man in search of his crown, matched to epic songs she created while inspired by “The Lion King.”

3 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #458

BY THE SEAT OF OUR PANTS

My Africa Twin Adventure Sports was buried belly pan-deep in mud.

6 mins read
Adventure Motorcycle (ADVMoto)
July - August 2020