Wednesday, 9 January 2013

045 | BIRDSCONTOUR REPORT (14.12.'12 - 08.01.'13)

Dear birding friends, 

as birdwatching is a relatively new and one of the fastest growing and a most popular pursuit, it attracts people of all ages around the world. There can hardly be a better place than southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, South Africa) to nurture an interest in birds as it supports almost 1000 bird species, which is about 10 per cent of the world's entire bird. Taking birding to new heights Hobby-Ornithologist Stefan Rust together with BirdsConTour represents some of the ontour bird sightings and several other interesting birding aspects to showcase the fun of birding, promote citizen science, highlight conservation, indicate where to view what birds and raise awareness of southern Africa's (sometimes international) birds and their habitats. 

BirdsConTour Report (Namibia) Personal Highlights: BIRD OF THE YEAR 2013 NAMIBIA, BIRD AND BIRDER FRIENDLY AWARDS, BLACK STORK, 

Have a quick look if you, your site or neighbourhood is included in this scientific informational work (alphabetically arranged): 
- Auasblick Townhouses (Windhoek) (Mrs. Heidi Rust) 
- Gästehaus Seidarap 
- Gauchas Farm (Mr. Argo Rust) 
- Harmony Centre (Mrs. & Mr. Gillmann) 
- Jeanette Street (Windhoek) (Mrs. & Mr. Müseler) 
- Kappsfarm 
- Onjala Lodge 
- Sonnleiten Farm (Park & Fly) (Mrs. & Mr. Giel) 
- Von Falkenhausen Street (Windhoek) (Mrs. & Mr. Schneider) 

2012   Gästehaus Seidarap, Grootfontein                        Wild Bird Sanctuary   Silvia and Stephan Lukaschik were awarded with the recognition of the Bird and Birder Friendly Award by BirdsConTour for erecting feeding stations on their property under guidance of BirdsConTour. Even a dust bowl is set up. Dust bathing is very important for birds for staying clean of parasites. Mostly all guests touring Namibia are in a way into photographing and while visiting Gästehaus Seidarap they now have unique opportunities taking pictures from all different and most colorful birds while feeding at the regularly filled up wild bird feeding station.

14.12.'12   Onjala Lodge                                                Bird Restaurant    The moment you got some spare time, do yourself the favor and visit this easily reached lodge, only 45 minutes drive away from Windhoek. There you relax in the restaurant enjoying breakfast or in the heat of the day a cold beer while observing the wild bird activity at the bird restaurant right in front of the restaurant. For the photographers, here you are in eye height with the so much desired animals. Whether it is the Scarlet-chested Sunbird with its stunning red colored breast, the bright yellow Southern Masked-Weaver male showing off or many other interesting birds, it will be difficult to leave this rich in birdlife lodge. Onjala Lodge received a Bird and Birder Friendly Award for their together with BirdsConTour constructed bird restaurant, congratulations! 

24.12.'12   Jeanette Str., Windhoek                                 Wild Bird Restaurant   What a Merry Christmas for the wild garden birds living and roaming in and in the neighbourhood of Jeanette Street in Ludwigsdorf. The existing seed feeding station was upgraded. Now the birds can come and feed twice a day on fine seed, mixed seed, porridge (unsalted!), fruit, and nectar. It is a delight to sit in the garden having breakfast in the morning or a cup of coffee in the afternoon while enjoying a live show right in front of you with wild birds feeding and even bringing their fledged "children" to the "Wild Bird Restaurant" where they can start eating by themselves or mom and dad still help them. Mom is often nesting again and picks up "takeaway food" in this not "drive through" but "fly through" to feed the nestlings. It really gives the owners of this Wild Bird Restaurant peace of mind, knowing they give something back to nature on the peace of ground that originally belonged to nature with its creatures. Nowadays on this peace of ground stands their beautiful house and its garden. For their effort with giving back to nature through feeding of wild birds in their garden throughout the year, Mrs Heidi and Mr. Harald Müseler were acknowledged with the Bird and Birder Friendly Award from BirdsConTour.

31.12.'12   Harmony Centre, Windhoek                           Black Stork (1)   For me this is the first sighting of a Black Stork this close to the center of Windhoek city. Although not threatened globally, its conservation status looks different in southern Africa, except in Zimbabwe where it is not threatened. In South Africa it is classified as near-threatened and in Namibia even as endangered. It is not unusual to find them single. Their favorite habitat is dams, pans, pools in dry riverbeds and mountains. If this area seems adequate it well can be that they start nesting around Windhoek. The Auas Mountains offer suitable cliffs for them to build their nests on. Wouldn't it be a stunning sighting having these birds circling over Windhoek?

01.01.'13   Kappsfarm                                                       Bird of the year 2013, Common Ostrich (1) Driving past Kappsfarm and seeing a Common Ostrich in a bigger fenced off area, reminds me of the campaign, the Bird of the year 2013 in Namibia - the Common Ostrich. Traveling through Namibia one will see a lot of Ostriches and you might ask yourself the question: Why did BirdsConTour chose the Common Ostrich as the Bird of the year 2013 for Namibia? Even the Roberts birds of southern Africa V11 states that there is a population of 'tens of thousands' in Namibia. So what is the big deal? As you read on in the same majestic book you will find under conservation, and I quote: "The genetic identity of the 'wild' population is threatened throughout its s African range by translocation of domesticated 'Oudtshoorn' ostriches". Now, this might be enough reason to create an awareness of the situation of the 'tens of thousands' Common Ostriches in Namibia through having chosen this bird as the Bird of the year 2013 campaign in Namibia. Another matter of concern for this species are the density of fences and the severe increase of bush encroachment throughout Namibia. Keeping these aspects in mind, we need to shine light on the fact that in southern Namibia, under natural conditions, one ostrich has an average home range of 84.3 square kilometer, moving a distance of up to 18.5 km per day. Do the density of fences, roads etc. and the ever increasing bush encroachment leave this necessary space? This might give some food for thought.

06.01.'13   Auasblick Townhouse, Windhoek                  Bird Friendly Garden   Congratulation to Mrs. Heidi Rust for her award for creating a small but effective bird friendly garden together with BirdsConTour. Originally living on a farm and being used of having wild animals around her, she decided to attract wild birds into her garden through setting up different wild bird feeders catering for nectar-, seed-, fruit- and porridge feeding birds. Two water tables cater for the thirst of the wild visitors and even a nest box was set up. If you see the size of her beautiful garden, one wouldn't expect that much of bird activity in such a small place. Due to the size restriction of the garden the water table is nearly 1.5 meters away from where you sit while for example having breakfast but by this time the birds understood that in this garden they don't need to be scared of human activity. "Stelzi", an adult Cape Wagtail, feeds her juvenile right next to you on the lawn while you sit and sip your coffee.

08.01.'13   Property in the Auas Mountains, nearby Harmony Centre    Bird Feeding Station   Sitting on the porch and enjoying a spectacular view over the valley during the last few hours of the year 2012, the idea of establishing a wild bird feeding station on the property of Mrs. and Mr. Gillmann was born, to enrich this spectacular view with the sound and view of some birdlife. Together with BirdsConTour a feeding station was established only a few days later. The bird friendly water pond is also usable by other animals such as kudus. Can you imagine anything more relaxing than sitting on this elevated porch and enjoying a sundowner, while the birdlife and mammals also enjoy a sundowner and get a snack before they find their tree for sleeping. The best for the spectators is the peace of mind they get from offering "their" wild birds this paradise. Therefore Regine and Martin Gillmann earned their Bird and Birder Friendly Award.

10.01.'13   Farm Sonnleiten                                                Bird and birder Friendly Garden and Farming Practices   "It is so beautiful, being woken up by the sound of the birds in the garden" is a comment I heard myself of one of the guests on Farm Sonnleiten. Every morning at a certain time the wild birds get fed in the garden, so that by the time the guests arrive for breakfast they have the most beautiful live performance by the garden birds. This farm offers Park & Fly and thus is an ideal place to park your vehicle before flying off from the Hosea Kutako International Airport. Also offering accommodation, another important aspect is the cattle farming on Sonnleiten. The farming practice used is interesting as well. If you as a guest have some spare time, arrange for an optional cruise over the farm and learn more about cattle farming and the grazing method used. Each paddock intensely grazed becomes a rest period of ± 1 year. This intensely grazing offers the soil proper impact through the hoof activity and the dung. This in return attracts a high density of insects and other animals that then again serves as a rich set buffet for the birdlife, no poison used. For this effort in conserving birdlife, Andrea and Karl Giel were honored with the Bird and Birder Friendly Award by BirdsConTour.

12.01.'13   Von Falkenhausen Street, Windhoek                Bird Friendly Yard   Nino, the grandson of Mrs. Hilde and Mr. Werner Schneider, creeps around in his grandmothers yard with his pair of binoculars, which he received for christmas last year, around his neck. From time to time he brings them in front of his eyes, trying to identify a bird he discovered. The next thing Nino needs to get is an bird identification book and then a camera. Now already he all the time borrows his mothers camera to take the most beautiful pictures of colorful birds such as the male Shafttailed Whydah. His grandparents themselves enjoy watching the wild birds arriving at the different bird feeders that they hang up some time ago. Together with BirdsConTour, Nino build a seed feeder out of an empty milk container. This shows that bird feeders can be made out of recycled material, being a way of saving costs. For their effort in bird conservation on their yard and for nurturing an interest in birdlife with their grandson Nino, Hilde and Werner are rewarded with the Bird and Birder Friendly Award. 

16.01.'13   Farm Gauchas                                                  Bird Friendly Farming Practices   International award winning cattle farmer, Mr. Argo Rust, was honored today with another recognition, the Bird and Birder Friendly Award from BirdsConTour. He earns this recognition because since many years he farms with environment friendly methods and never using poison on the lands he farmed on. Whether it was on his parental farm Sonnleiten, Waterberg Wilderness Lodge or the newly bought farm Gauchas nearby Kalkrand. Wild birds on land managed by him not only benefit from the banning of chemical products but also from the environmental effective grazing strategy he follows to restore nature back to its original state. To get a mouse problem under control at the time he bought the farm, he searched for ecological solutions and one was, together with BirdsConTour, setting up owl nests, constructed out of second hand material, to invite breeding owls to the mouse problem area, so that they can take care of this problem. What is important with following this strategy, it is a long-term solution and not a quick-fix. Perching bars are erected to offer the birds of prey perching possibilities to effectively prey on the rodents and on dangerous snakes around the farmhouse.

08.01.'13   Property next to Harmony Centre, Auas Mountains, Windhoek   Familiar Chat (2)   These birds are known for positioning of their nests to be highly opportunistic. Here on this site this couple is nesting in a Rock Martin nest cup. The clay wall of the existing nest is extended with fine material by the Familiar Chats up against the roof of the house to create a burrow nest. They have chicks in their nest because they were observed carrying insects into the nest. This same couple saved the house owners from a Puff Adder snake a few weeks ago entering their house. The noise created by the Familiar Chats alerted the owners who then recognized the poisonous snake.

08.01.'13   Pionierspark, Windhoek                                 African Harrier-Hawk (1)   It would be interesting to know wether this individual is the same bird I have seen precisely on this same spot on the 17.12.'11. It likes perching in the artificial tree which is a MTC antenna in Pionierspark, corner Hintrager Street/Jordaan Street. Not having seen it during winter it presumably might be a migratory bird. There is a suspicion of a east-west migration in northern parts of southern Africa supported by peak numbers in north-west region in late summer. 

Enjoy Birding, 

Stefan Rust

Please note: Most scientific information has been taken from Roberts Birds of Southern Africa, V11th edition! 

(For further reading see
(For more information contact Stefan Rust on +264 (0)81 129 8415 or

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