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.
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Natural fish traps in the Okavango
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!
Deciphering South Africa’s first Crested Honey Buzzard
Observing Striped Crakes
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.
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.
Juvenile African Cuckoo Diet
Juvenile African Cuckoo Diet
The Birds And The Beast
Addo’s bird/mammal associations
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.
National Cycle VStream Sport Windscreen for Honda Africa Twin
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Africa Tries Free Trade
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Southern Continents Reveal Uncommon Giants
A Massive Mineral Marked by Christmas- Like Color and Appeal
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
BEYONCÉ'S ‘BLACK IS KING' IS SUPREME BLACK ART
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My Africa Twin Adventure Sports was buried belly pan-deep in mud.