Monday, 30 January 2012

Outing report- Ingeli Forest & Summer CWAC 29th January 2012

By Andy Ruffle

One of the clubs two new gazebos
offers welcome shade at Harding Dam
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Attendees: Stan & Val Culley, Mike Fagan, Eric Kok, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Andy Ruffle, Ron Whitham. (8 attendees)

The bird list for today's outing speaks for itself, with an impressive 85 species recorded, reflecting the varied habitats visited on this trip.
We decided to start our morning at Ingeli Forest from the top entrance (where we normally exit) for a change. There we found an old quarry, which proved very fruitful on further investigation. Swee Waxbill, Forest Canary, Drakensberg Prinia and Common Waxbill all showed themselves nicely, whilst Barratt's Warbler called incessantly. Did we actually see it? we're not sure. Overhead we caught a glimpse of three large birds scimming the tree line. To our delight they were Southern Ground-Hornbills. This sighting was a first for all present, I believe, with none having seen these birds in-flight before.
Our usual check of the parrot nest boxes again revealed no signs of activity other than bees.
Enroute to Harding Dam, we stopped off at the Weza Blue Swallow site. We were able to identify about 5 birds, but due to time constraints we couldn't stay long.
High water levels, at Harding Dam, didn't fair well for the CWAC count and with only 131 birds present, we weren't proved wrong.

For the results of this count and to compare with last years count see here.

Harding Dam gave us the ideal opportunity to try out the clubs new aquisition, a gazebo (one of two), proving to be a very worthwhile purchase.

Ron, Mike, Bob and Eric put up the gazebo in
minutes (just as it says on the box)
while Andy lights the braai (stage left)
(Photo Hazel van Rooyen)

To download the results for this and previous counts click here.

Birds recorded: Hadeda Ibis, Fork-tailed Drongo, Red-chested Cuckoo, Black-headed Oriole, Sombre Greenbul, Barratt's Warbler, Eastern Olive-Pigeon, Bar-throated Apalis, Swee Waxbill, Forest Canary, Drakensberg Prinia, Dark-capped Bulbul, Green-backed Camaroptera, Cape White-eye, Cape Robin-chat, Knysna Turaco, Common Waxbill, Terrestrial Brownbul, Lazy Cisticola, African Firefinch, Southern Ground-Hornbill, Cardinal Woodpecker, Collared Sunbird, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Grey Cuckooshrike, Olive Bush-shrike, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, African Dusky Flycatcher, Black Cuckoo, African Goshawk, Black Saw-wing, Southern Boubou, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Emerald Cuckoo, Forest Buzzard, Red-collared Widow, Speckled Mousebird, Southern Red Bishop, Thick-billed Weaver, Little Rush-Warbler, Long Crested Eagle, Jackal Buzzard, Burchell's Coucal, Common Fiscal, Black-shouldered Kite, Yellow-billed Kite, Cape Canary, Neddicky, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Croaking Cisticola, Blue Swallow, Barn Swallow, Common Myna, Yellow-billed Duck, Fan-tailed Widow, White-throated Swallow, White-rumped Swift, Red-knobbed Coot, White-breasted Cormorant, Reed Cormorant, Grey-Crowned Crane, Little Grebe, Amethyst Sunbird, Cape Turtle-Dove, Cape Wagtail, Pin-tailed Whydah, Brown-throated Martin, Red-billed Teal, South African Shelduck, Egyptian Goose, Cape Shoveler, Wood Sandpiper, Blacksmith Lapwing, Black-headed Heron, Cape Longclaw, Diederick's Cuckoo, Greater Striped-Swallow, Rufous-naped Lark, African Stonechat, African Jacana, Brimstone Canary, Levaillant's Cisticola, African Marsh-Harrier, Zitting Cisticola, Cattle Egret. (85 species)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

First Barry Porter Memorial Trophy Winner

Andy presents Elaine Whitham with the
Barry Porter Memorial Trophy at the 2012 AGM
(Photo Ron Whitham)
The 2011 committee have come up with a fitting tribute to our former Chairman, the 'Barry Porter Memorial Trophy'.
The trophy will be presented at consecutive Annual General Meetings. The criteria for being nominated for this award will be very broad, but will most likely be restricted to club members only.
At the AGM held on 21st January 2012 at Sapper's Glen, Elaine Whitham was awarded the trophy for 2012 for her outstanding contribution to the club.
Elaine has worked wonders with sorting out the clubs outings venue contact details and her organising skills for the Away Trips and End of Year function made them truly memorable occassions. An example of the way Elaine always goes that little bit further, was when she and Ron diverted into Rhodes, whilst on one of their trips, just to do a recky for our planned Rhodes excursion. She was able to meet the owners of the Hotel face-to-face and the rest is history.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Jerry Gosnell 20th February 1932 - 9th January 2012

Jerry Gosnell & his wife Marilyn at the launch of his book
'The Beach Book'
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

It's with sadness that we learn of the death of former member Jerry Gosnell.

Jerry died on 9th January 2012. His funeral was held at St Margaret Anglican Church, Marine Drive, Margate. He is survived by his wife Marilyn and four children.

Although we had not seen Jerry for a long while, due to failing health, he still remainded a member of the club and kept in contact. He recently donated a selection of bird books for our Lions' Show stand.

Our deepest condolences go to his wife and family.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Outing report- 15th January 2012 Ringing at Umzumbe

(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Attendees: Liz Blomeyer, Stan & Val Culley, Mike Fagan, Sandy Olver, Andrew Pickles, Andy Ruffle, Ron Whitham. (8 attendees).

Not to be deterred by the morning rain, the early risers (Andy, Liz, Mike & Ron) were rewarded with views of a Eurasian Hobby flying high over the Umzumbe Barn Swallow roost, it's slender appearance giving it away.
Warblers were in evidence again, with 5 species this time. (European) Marsh Warbler was an addition to our last session.

Mike was kept busy emptying the nets whilst Andrew ringed.
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

(European) Marsh Warbler- [Non-breeding Migrant] Extremely difficult to separate from the African Reed-Warbler (African Marsh Warbler) in the field. In the hand, the wing shape is a bit of a give away. To confirm 100% ID, Andrew uses a formula called the 'Wallinder Score', which uses various measurements to determine the difference between the two species.

(European) Marsh Warbler
(Photo Andy Ruffle)
Wing shape of Marsh Warbler
See here for the comparison with the African Reed-Warbler
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

The bird below gave us some trouble initially with identification. It is a Rufous-winged Cisticola going from  breeding plumage to non-breeding plumage- see comparison of full breeding plumage here.

non-breeding Rufous-winged Cisticola
(Photo Andy Ruffle)
As if to confirm the breeding status of the Rufous-winged Cisticolas, a juvenile bird popped up. Note the yellow wash underneath and the steaked crown. It appeared that this bird was not long out of the nest.

juvenile Rufous-winged Cisticola
(Photos Andy Ruffle)

The juvenile Amethyst Sunbird below is identified by the black (not purplish) throat and yellowish gape.

juvenile Amethyst Sunbird
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

With a Terrestrial Brownbul (a surprising catch considering the habitat) and Great Reed-Warbler in bags at the same time, we couldn't let slip the opportunity for a comparison photo.

Terrestrial Brownbul & Great Reed-Warbler
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

For the piece de resistance a male Diderick Cuckoo was our final bird in the nets.

male Diderick Cuckoo
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

wing of male Diderick Cuckoo
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Thanks to Andrew imparting his extensive knowledge, this was once again a very educational morning.
Breakdown for todays ringing:

Recaptures- Fan-tailed Widow  ringed 02.10.2011; Yellow Weaver  ringed 02.10.2011;
Yellow Weaver  ringed 17.04.2010.

New rings- 
5 x Common Waxbill; 3 x African Firefinch; 2 x Yellow-fronted Canary; 1 x Pin-tailed Whydah (female); 1 x Little Rush-Warbler; 3 x Rufous-winged Cisticola; 1 x Amethyst Sunbird; 3 x African Reed-Warbler; 2 x Marsh Warbler; 2 x Malachite Kingfisher; 3 x Lesser Swamp-Warbler; 1 x Southern Red Bishop; 4 x Great Reed-Warbler; 2 x Spectacled Weaver; 2  x Yellow Weaver; 1 x Terrestrial Brownbul; 1 x Dark-capped Bulbul; 1 x Diederick Cuckoo. (38 plus loads of weavers un-ringed and released)

References: Roberts online

Outing report- 8th January 2012 Buhr's Farm, Paddock

by Andy Ruffle

(Image: Google Earth)

Attendees: Nick Baglow, Stan & Val Culley, Mike Fagan, Margaret Jones, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Andy Ruffle, Irma Smook, Ron Whitham, Sue Hansbury & Barry Willis. (12 attendees)

Incredibly, the last time we visited this venue was in March 2007. Gerald meeting us to show us the way was much appreciated, as many of the more recent members are unfamiliar with the location of the farm. Thanks go to Eric for arranging this. It was quite an amusing sight I believe, seeing a 5ft 4in me standing next to the huge stature of Gerald. Thankfully no photos, I hope.
Birding saw the usual suspects and was challenging as always at this time of year.
There was a surprising lack of activity on the dams, but with high water levels maybe it's to be expected.
A pair of Grey Crowned Cranes entertained us nicely whilst eating our picnic lunch. 

Birds recorded: Barn Swallow, Egyptian Goose, Long-crested Eagle, Red-collared Widow, Fan-tailed Widow, Blacksmith Lapwing, Olive Sunbird, Burchell's Coucal, Common Fiscal, Yellow-billed Kite, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Hadeda Ibis, Spectacled Weaver, Yellow-billed Duck, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Three-banded Plover, Cape Batis, Cape Grassbird, Little Rush-Warbler, Black-collared Barbet, White-bellied Sunbird, Pin-tailed Whydah, Village Weaver, Yellow-fronted Canary, Black Saw-wing, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape Weaver, Southern Red Bishop, Levaillant's Cisticola, Steppe Buzzard, African Stonechat, Neddicky, Cape White-eye, Southern Boubou, Black Cuckoo, African Fish-Eagle, Lesser Striped-Swallow, Red-eyed Dove, White-necked Raven, White-throated Swallow, Eastern Olive-Pigeon, Spur-winged Goose, Brown-throated Martin, Speckled Pigeon, Lesser Honeyguide, Sombre Greenbul, Grey Crowned Crane, Black-headed Oriole, Amethyst Sunbird, Red-throated Wryneck, Zitting Cisticola, Croaking Cisticola. (52 species)

Outing report- 18th December 2011 Simuma Conservancy

(Photo Ron Whitham)

Attendees: Stan & Val Culley, Mike Fagan, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Andy Ruffle, Stefan Schoeman & family, Ron Whitham, Sue Hansbury & Barry Willis (plus grandson Cameron). (15 attendees).

Considering we have normally wrapped up our outings for the year by now, the attendance for today's outing was very good. It was nice to have the Schoeman family join us, along with Barry & Sue's grandson Cameron. The two boys thoroughly enjoyed exploring the big outdoors and kept disappearing into the bush.
Birding was pretty good, albeit quieter than we would normally find. This aside, the conservancy still lived up to it's reputation by producing an extremely special bird in the form of a European Honey Buzzard. The first sighting was rather distant, with juv Jackal Buzzard, Steppe Buzzard and African Harrier-Hawk (there seemed to be lots of yellow on the face) being thrown into the discussion pot. Stan's (C) gut reaction was that it resembled a European Honey Buzzard and the discussion deepened further. Whilst walking back for breakfast, the bird showed itself again, but this time much lower, flying along the river. This time, the lack of contrast on the upper wings could be seen clearly.
With the help of the Schoeman's hi-tec gadget, we were satisfied we had seen a Honey Buzzard by the time we had finished breakfast.
Photos, taken by Ron (below), which were later scrutinized, confirmed the ID. Stan (C) even thinks there may have been two separate birds, one of the photos showing a more rufous form.
There are many different plumage variations for the European Honey Buzzard as demonstrated by a plate from a book scanned by Stan (C). I am awaiting permission to post this on the blog.

European Honey Buzzard taken at 07h13
(Photo Ron Whitham, enhanced by Stan Culley)

European Honey Buzzard taken at 09h01
Very possibly a female bird.
Note the dark patches on the rear of the wings
(Photo Ron Whitham, enhanced by Stan Culley)

Birds recorded: Golden-breasted Bunting, Diederick Cuckoo, African Green-Pigeon, Tambourine Dove, Brown-Hooded Kingfisher, Dark-capped Bulbul, Natal Spurfowl, Southern Black Flycatcher, Hadeda Ibis, Red-winged Starling, African Firefinch, Red-eyed Dove, Village Weaver, Yellow Weaver, Chinspot Batis, Lesser Striped-Swallow, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Little Swift, Fork-tailed Drongo, Yellow-fronted Canary, Violet-backed Starling, Thick-billed Weaver, Common Waxbill, Black-collared Barbet, Black-headed Oriole, Trumpeter Hornbill, Black-bellied Starling, Southern Boubou, Burchell's Coucal, Purple-crested Turaco, Speckled Mousebird, White-bellied Sunbird, Sombre Greenbul, Knysna Turaco, Amethyst Sunbird, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Hamerkop, Crowned Hornbill, African Hoopoe, Yellow-billed Kite, European Honey Buzzard,  African Fish-Eagle, Orange-breasted Bush-shrike, Dark-backed Weaver, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Black Cuckoo, Black Saw-wing, Red-chested Cuckoo, Southern Black Tit, Egyptian Goose. (51 species)

Saturday, 7 January 2012

**UPDATED** 'British' Barn Swallow re-capture at Umzumbe swallow roost

During a ringing session at the Umzumbe Swallow roost on 30th November 2011, Andrew Pickles was thrilled to net a previously ringed bird. His excitement soared when he realised the ring had a BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) stamp on it. This is a first for the Umzumbe roost.
According to Roberts Online, it appears that Barn Swallows in Namibia originate from Scandinavia; in west South Africa from Britain and Ireland; and in east South Africa from north and east Europe.
News from the BTO: The Swallow was ringed at Retford, Nottinghamshire by the North Notts Ringing Group on the 16th September 2011 as a first year bird. The straight line distance between Retford and the Umzumbe Roost is 11 163km, obviously the distance covered on this epic journey far exceeds this distance due to migration routes.
Interestingly, Andrew was born just 45kms from Retford. What a strange coincidence.

For more on this story and photos see Andrew's post.
For more on the 2011/2012 Umzumbe roost ringing season see here.

References: Roberts Online

Mystery Bird No.4 revealed

For the answer to our Mystery Bird quiz no.4 and our new Mystery Bird no.5 please see here.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

**UPDATED** Outing report- 16th December 2011 Bird ringing at Umzumbe floodplain

Text and photos by Andy Ruffle

Only Liz and I braved the very early start this morning, but we were handsomely rewarded.
Andrew had said he thought the warblers were back and he certainly wasn't wrong.
No less than six species of warbler were netted, with two very interesting specimens- European Sedge Warbler and Garden Warbler, neither of which have been recorded in the pentad previously.
Warblers recorded in the pentad are (those ringed today highlighted red):- African Reed-, Dark-capped Yellow, Barrett's Great Reed-, Lesser Swamp, Little Rush-, (European) Marsh, Yellow-throated Woodland-,

Great Reed-Warbler- [non-breeding Migrant] Immediately identified by it's size, being about the same size as a Terrestrial Brownbul. The tail (see photo below) is also very distinctive.

Great Reed-Warbler (Adult)

Great Reed-Warbler (Adult)

Great Reed-Warbler (Juvenile)
Looking very shabby. Note the gape.

(European) Sedge Warbler- [non-breeding Migrant] Identified by it's boldy streaked crown (no other warblers in our region have this) and broad cream eye-stripe.

(European) Sedge Warbler

African Reed-Warbler (African Marsh Warbler)- [Intra-African breeding Migrant] Identified by it's size and buffy underparts. Inspection of the wing shape confirms this is not a long distance migrant (see photo below). Field identification extremely difficult.

African Reed-Warbler (African Marsh Warbler)

Lesser Swamp-Warbler (Cape Reed-)- [Resident] Identified by it's dark brown upperparts and white underparts

Lesser Swamp Warbler (Cape Reed-)

Garden Warbler- [non-breeding Migrant] Identified by it's brownish-grey upperparts and shortish bill. This bird did have us confused for a while, but the mass, wing, tail and bill measurements confirmed the id, as did the pink colour inside the mouth (other warblers have orange inside the mouth).

Garden Warbler

Garden Warbler-with squared off tail

Little Rush-Warbler (African Sedge)- [Resident] Identified by it's dark upperparts and broad un-barred tail (which seperates it from Broad-tailed Warbler).

Little Rush-Warbler (African Sedge)

Little Rush-Warbler (African Sedge)

Wing of African Reed-Warbler
Note the way the wing curves in at the end indicating
this is a resident or short distance Migrant. Long distance
Migrant's wings are longer and tend to be more pointed
(red shaded area)

And some others ringed today.

Spectacled Weaver (Immature)
Note the spectacle just starting to appear.
You'd be lucky to pick this up in the field.

Thick-billed Weaver.
We all see the white flash in the wing when it's flying.
This is what it looks like up close.

Malachite Kingfisher (Juvenile) - note black beak
Now have you ever seen this before??
Crazy hair do!!!

Malachite Kingfisher (Juvenile)
Just look at those colours!!!

And the ringing tally for the morning

Malachite Kingfisher x 1, Dark-capped Bulbul x 1, Garden Warbler x 1, Great Reed-Warbler x 3, African Reed-Warbler x 3, Lesser Swamp- (Cape Reed-) Warbler x 2, European Sedge Warbler x 1, Rufous-Winged Cisticola x 3, Spectacled Weaver x 2, Yellow Weaver x 8 (one ringed by Andy who has the scar to prove it), Thick-billed Weaver x 1, Red Bishop x 1, Fan-tailed Widow x 3, Common Waxbill x 2. (Total 32)

Recaptures: Yellow Weaver x 1, Little Rush- (African Sedge) Warbler x 1.
UPDATE The Little Rush Warbler that we caught was ringed at the same location on 4th December 2004. 7yrs 8days previously.
References: Roberts Online