Saturday, 4 May 2013

069 | BIRDSCONTOUR REPORT (11.01.'13 - 31.01.'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. 


Have a quick look if you, your site or neighbourhood is included in this scientific informational work (alphabetically arranged): 

- Gauchas Farm (Mr. Argo Rust) 
- Gillmann Property (Mr. & Mrs. Gillmann)
- Hitradio Namibia (Wilfried Hähner)
- Kalahari Anib Lodge (Gondwana Collection)
- Sonnleiten Farm (Park & Fly) (Mrs. & Mr. Giel)
- Republikein Newspaper
- Voigtland Farm (Mr. Stephan Voigts)
- Von Falkenhausen Street (Windhoek) (Mrs. & Mr. Schneider)
- Wittmann Elisabeth Marika (Windhoek) 

11.01.'13   Farm Voigtland, Windhoek                         Lappet-faced Vulture (3)  It is always a delight to see this uncommon bird.

11.01.'13   Farm Voigtland, Windhoek                         White-backed Vulture (14)  The highest densities of this species is found in conserved areas such as Etosha N.P. With a world population of ±270 000 birds, thereof only around 40 000 in southern Africa, Namibia should be alert that we don't get them on the vulnerable list as they are classified in South Africa.

11.01.'13   Farm Sonnleiten, Windhoek                        Greater Painted-Snipe (1)   A brief visit to family Giel turned out to be on the right spot at the right time. For the first time in wild bird recordings on this farm since 1940, a Greater Painted-Snipe was observed at the biggest of three artificial lakes. There was not even a lot of water after some rain in the lake, actually only a pond of rainwater, but nonetheless there was this exciting bird. Controversy to what Roberts Birds of Southern Africa 7 states, it was actively feeding with up to its belly in the water during bright daylight at 14:00 and not as mentioned after sunset and this male bird was not shy at all. Roberts states that it is a very shy bird. Obviously this can be an exception but nonetheless this controversy behavior was interesting.

11.01.'13   Farm Sonnleiten, Windhoek                        Marabou Stork (1) This bird was another surprise, but it didn't take long to understand the reason for its presence - Army worms, the nightmare of many farmers. This showcases once again the importance of an intact and healthy population of the birdlife. If our birdlife populations are in place through  environment-friendly practices over many years, the birds should be able either to not to allow such an "pest explosion" in the first place or even if it comes to an burst-out of any type of problem insect, nature will be able to react soon, for example with swarms of storks to take care of such unwanted situations. Fortunately the Marabou Stork is not threatened in Namibia, but he is in South Africa.

11.01.'13   Farm Sonnleiten, Windhoek                        African Spoonbill (1) It is only occasionally to find this bird singly, usually in parties of 3-30. It is well possible that this individual was moving in response to the good rainfall Farm Sonnleiten experienced, just above 100 mm altogether up to this date.

11.01.'13   Farm Sonnleiten, Windhoek                        Rock Kestrel (1)  This female Rock Kestrel might well be the only tame bird of its species in Namibia. Two days ago, on his routine control trips over the farm, Mr. Karl Giel came across this bird crouching in a drinking trough, being severely stung by wasps around its eye. When he rescued the bird it showed no sign of wildness and was tame from the first moment on. Back at the farmhouse Mr. Giel fed it with fresh meat which is readily taken by Gräfin von Bismarck (countess von Bismarck), named after the Bismarck Mountains where she was found. The swollen eye is being treated solicitous by him on a daily base. Where she came from and why she is so tame is uncertain. By the time of writing, the message came through that she flew off on the 21. of January and didn't return.

15.01.'13   Von Falkenhausen Str, Windhoek                Village Indigobird (1)  Almost on time as previous year, the Village Indigobird (Vidua chalybeata okavangoensis) pitched up at the wildbird garden feeding station. Last year it made its sensational appearance on the 17.02. and this year a bit earlier. The okavoangoensis has a white bill, the amauropteryx a red bill. The Red-billed Firefinch is considered as its primary host. Interestingly this host bird is by now well spread as a wild bird in and around Windhoek. It will be interesting to know whether this male bird was present all year round, just not been noticed because it looks almost the same as the non-breeding Shaft-tailed Whydah in non-breeding plumage or is it migrating as known from the Dusky Indigobird - nomadic in winter. To read more about the sighting of last year, read the article "Fremde Vogelart in Windhoek gesichtet" under

16.01.'13   Farm Gauchas, nearby Schlip                       Marico Flycatcher (5)  There were two juveniles around. Obviously the adults must have started laying their eggs around the 20th of December 2012, although their incubation period is unknown. Even on their breeding success little is known.

21.01.'13   Von Falkenhausen Str, Pionierspark, Windhoek    Rock Kestrel (4)  Today two juveniles were seen on the church roof where one pair is reident, this means that the adults started laying around the 15th of November 2012.

23.01.'13   Hitradio Namibia, Windhoek                       Bird of the year 2013 Namibia  This morning at 07:15 Mr. Wilfried Hähner from Hitradio Namibia interviewed Mr. Stefan Rust from BirdsConTour live about the awareness program Bird Of The year 2013 Namibia that was launched for the first time ever in Namibia. At the end of the interview the question on what bird was chosen was answered: Common Ostrich. To find out why the Ostrich was chosen and to find out more about this program, read the article about this program in this website.

23.01.'13   Wittmann Garden, Windhoek West             Bird & Birder Friendly Award  Congratulations to Mrs. Elisabeth Marika Wittmann for her year long disciplined feeding of the wild birds in her garden. An addition for her bird garden today was a porridge feeder. This bowl fixed in a natural twig filled up with a ready-mix maize meal is a real profit for many birds. Especially this time of the year with birds having young ones, this porridge feeder assists the adults in raising their chicks. Once they fledged, they accompany the parents to the porridge feeder and mom and dad feed them on site. This in return offers most precious observation possibilities or even pictures.

25.01.'13   Inbetween Mariental and Stampriet             Verreauxs' Eagle (1)  Time and again seeing this bird flying with its 2 - 2.8 m wingspan is impressive. It is the first time that I saw a Verreauxs' Eagle at this spot, 10 km east on the C20 off the B1, northern side of the road. Allover this species is not-threatened, except in Namibia where it is classified as near-threatened because of its small population of only 500 to 1 000 pairs.

25.01.'13   Kalahari Anib Lodge, Mariental                  White-browed Sparrow-Weaver (5)  A moth burst out caused a feast for many different bird species, such as the White-browed Sparrow-Weavers, who are hopping on the ground early in the morning before the heat (today 40 degrees in the shadow) sets in and picking up all different types of moths.

25.01.'13  Kalahari Anib Lodge, Mariental                   Cape Sparrow (2) What a joy for children and adults interested in nature and bird life. While enjoying breakfast or lunch under the lapa, guests get entertained by a pair of Cape Sparrows that are busy building their nest in the roof top of the thatched lapa. Both male and female participate in construction work.

25.01.'13  Kalahari Anib Lodge, Mariental                   Common Fiscal (9) This lodge offers splendid opportunity to observe two subspecies of altogether four occurring in this species. Kalahari Anib Lodge lies on the border line of the distribution area of the Lanius collaris aridicolus to the west and the Lanius collaris subcoronatus to the east. The main key feature that distinguishes them is that the L. c. aridicolus has more extensive white in tail than the L. c. subcoronatus.

26.01.'13  Kalahari Anib Lodge, Mariental                   Spotted Eagle-Owl (1) Even this night-hunter bargained from the over population of moths attracted by the lights. Once again the endeavor of the Gondwana group of getting rid of all fences inside their properties is of advantage to these and other owls because entanglement on fences and barbed-wire fences is a mortality factor.

26.01.'13  Kalahari Anib Lodge, Mariental                   Barn Swallow (±30) From a distance it was remarkable to observe these birds flying and foraging over the infrastructure of the lodge buildings catching the last flying moths after their night activity. Wouldn't it be for these busy moth fighters, there would have been even more moths around. After their pursuit of reducing the moth population in the early morning, the flock gathered on a small bush to sunbath.

26.01.'13  Kalahari Anib Lodge, Mariental                   Secretarybird (1) It is interesting to observe that these birds are active during the hottest daytime, today the temperature rose to 40 degrees in the shadow. But this extreme heat didn't seem to bother this individual much, it stalked foraging in the sun.

26.01.'13  Kalahari Anib Lodge, Mariental                   Marabou Stork (±30) Unfortunately this species is not well studied in southern Africa and classifies as near-threatened in South Africa. By this time of the year most of these birds are done with their breeding activities and were thus able to wander, like this flock that followed the localized rain that fell in this arid part of Namibia and filled some pans with water. Most probably flocks of these birds will be seen in northern and eastern areas of Namibia this season more often because they aggregate at irruptions of Armyworms Spodoptera exempta which we have in these parts of Namibia at this stage. It will be of utmost importance to observe what effects the current use of  poison against the Armyworms has on birds such as the Marabou Stork. Most probably the sensitive and unexperienced Juveniles might be affected.

26.01.'13  Kalahari Anib Lodge, Mariental                   Black-winged Stilt (20) Little is known about the movement of this species. Therefore it is even more interesting how it happens that in such a dry and arid place such as the protected area of the Kalahari Anib Lodge just two days after a heavy rain that filled pans in this part of the Kalahari desert, this wetland species pitches up. It is suggested that they locate such sites by following storm fronts.

26.01.'13  Kalahari Anib Lodge, Mariental                   Spike-heeled Lark (12) This LBJ (little brown job) has a fascinating habit, similar to that of the Savannah Baboon (also called Chacma Baboon). In a group of foraging birds on the ground, one bird at a time has to sit guard on low bush or post. This shows us that there is much more behind birds than just the color.

27.01.'13  Kalahari Anib Lodge, Mariental                   Stark's Lark (22) Named after Arthur Cowell Stark (1850-1899), this nomadic and near-endemic species can currently be seen in quite some numbers at Kalahari Anib Lodge. They are well-adopted to arid areas - when they are deprived of water, they produce faecal pellets that contain only 52% water.

27.01.'13  Kalahari Anib Lodge, Mariental                   Red-capped Lark (4) Kalahari Anib Lodge turned out to be an ideal Lark-spotting location. Although the Calandrella cinerea cinerea is registered for this area the lodge lies in, I assume that the Calandrella cinerea spleniata occurs here as well. This I base on my foundings that the Red-capped Lark I observed here is not that rufous colored but more yellowish.

27.01.'13  Kalahari Anib Lodge, Mariental                   Bird visits - Prosopis vs indigenous trees   A comparison between bird visits to prosopis trees and comparable acacia trees (comparable from size and location) showed that the amount of bird visits over a certain time have been about only nearly 19% to the exotic prosopis trees compared to the amount of wild birds visiting the local acacia trees. A detailed report on this investigation will be published soon under

31.01.'13  Republikein, Windhoek                                 Article   In todays Republikein newspaper appeared an article about BirdsConTour - "Voelkenner praat oor bewaring". This article also explains the project "Bird of the year 2013 Namibia". Read the article under Kollig Groen

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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