Sunday, 5 May 2013

053 | BIRDSCONTOUR REPORT (03.03.'13 - 08.03.'13)

BIRDSCONTOUR REPORT (03.03.'13 – 08.03.’13)

Text from Stefan Rust

(In terms of the Geneva Convention the copyright of these texts belong to Stefan Rust)

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: 


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

- Capricorn Tours (Stephan Noelle)
- Catamaran Charters (Walvisbay Lagoon)
- Etosha N.P.
- Farm Sonnleiten (Windhoek)
- Game (Windhoek)
- Hohenstein Lodge (Usakos)
- Karibib
- !Naibeb Karel
- Noelle Stephan
- Swakopmund Salt Works
- Swakopmund Sewage Works
- Walvisbay Bird Paradise
- Walvisbay Lagoon

03.03.'13   Game Parking area   Laughing Dove (2)   Although heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic occurs here, this pair built their nest right above the eastern entrance to the parking area of the Game shopping area in an acacia tree that overhangs the entrance with its branches. This shows again that one can find interesting wildlife right in front of your doorstep or your work. With these doves the male delivers the material for building the nest to the female who awaits the material, takes it from the male and builds the nest, which is a frail twig platform. During the process of breeding the nest gets stabilized through the dung that serves as concrete in the nest.                                    

03.03.’13   Farm Sonnleiten (Windhoek)   European Bee-eater (6)   Southern Africa presents a breeding population of about 20 000 birds. Most of their breeding activities should be done by now and they are often registered through their typical liquid prruip call during their feeding flights. They mainly feed in flight.

04.03.'13   Karibib, 50km east   Kori Bustard (3)   With its up to 12.4kg weight (male), they are regarded as locally nomadic. One male was observed traveling 85 km between two breeding seasons. It might be possible that they move more often as expected, perhaps influenced by rainfall.                                       

04.03.'13   Hohenstein Lodge   Shikra (1)   At this bird rich place one can observe the scarce to common Shikra regularly coming to drink at the water pond right in front of the restaurant. This male bird is used to guests, knowing they are harmless (please keep it that way), and is coming to drink at such a close distance that you can see the bright red eye color without needing to use your binoculars. Females have bright orange eyes.

04.03.'13   Hohenstein Lodge   Klaas's Cuckoo (2)   The distribution in Namibia is more or less only scattered. Although this species is mostly recorded in the time from July till November, when males call, this individual was registered by it calling. It is a high-pitched whistle, mei-tjie, repeated 2 to 3 times. Most birds leave by the end of February and I haven’t noticed this species here before, it possibly was a bird on its migration. It is not impossible that Klaas’s Cuckoos will pitch up in Namibia more often due to the increasing bush encroachment. They also live in dense acacia thickets.

04.03.'13   Hohenstein Lodge   White-tailed Shrike (4)   The new established hiking trail can surprise the hiker, after quite some walking, with this true Namibian speciality, the White-tailed Shrike. It is a near-endemic to the Namibian escarpment and the neighboring area.

04.03.'13   Hohenstein Lodge   Peregrine Falcon (1)   The increasing bush encroachment seems to be in favor of this Falcon, it improves hunting habitat. This species is classified as near-threatened in South Africa and the global breeding population is 20 000 pairs.

05.03.'13   Hohenstein Lodge   Herero Chat (2)   This near-endemic to the Namibian escarpment draws quite a lot of birders to Namibia. Often it gives itself away by its call that almost sounds like that of the Pale-winged Starling, a

05.03.'13   Swakopmund Sewage Works   Common Moorhen (Juvenile) Although classified as locally common, little is known about their courtship displays in southern Africa.

05.03.'13   Swakopmund Sewage Works   Ruddy Turnstone (Juvenile)   Its habit of turning stones while searching for food gave it its name. This species departs southern Africa in April. It is mentioned that they have a strongly developed ortstreue.

05.03.'13   Swakopmund Salt Works   Damara Tern (Juvenile)   In South Africa this species is classified as threatened, in Namibia as near-threatened. If managed responsible, the Dorob National Park will hopefully safe these birds because its main breeding ground is on the Namibian central coast. The world population exists of about only 6 000.

05.03.'13   Swakopmund Salt Works   Royal Tern (2)   The sighting of this vagrant visitor to southern Africa caused quite some excitement. It was seen together with Swift and Damara Terns. Its large and orange bill was distinctive.

05.03.'13   Swakopmund Salt Works   Tractrac Chat (1)   This fairly common near-endemic to southern Africa Cercomela tractrac albicans was found almost right next to the entrance of the Swakopmund Salt Works, having its territory there.

06.03.'13   Walvisbay Lagoon   Great White Pelican (1)   Great White Pelicans are not threatened globally but near-threatened in South Africa. Beneath others the one was ringed with ring description ‘JY’. He joined us during the tour with Catamaran Charters.

06.03.'13   Walvisbay Lagoon   African Black Oystercatcher (19)   Described as less common in lagoons. But during a bird-rich cruise on a comfortable catamaran of catamaran charters, we observed altogether 19 of these globally near-threatened birds. The reason to find them here in the Walvisbay lagoon is that this place acts as a nursery for some of the juveniles that leave their natal site in a northern direction when reaching independence. They take 2-3 months to reach this ‘nursery’ and return to their natal site 2-3 years later. Southern Africa has a small population size and they have a slow reproduction rate (breeding success of average 0.56 juveniles/pair/year). Human disturbance (urban developments and off-road driving) is the main threat.

06.03.'13   Walvisbay Lagoon   Royal Tern (1)   Another Royal Tern was seen from the Catamaran in the Walvisbay lagoon. As mentioned in Roberts Birds of Southern Africa, occurrence in Namibia may be under-recorded in late summer. Reason for their occurrence may be warm Angola current water incursions to the south by this time of the year.

06.03.'13   Walvisbay Lagoon   Black Tern (5)   The strong controlled fishing restrictions in Namibia might increase the current estimated population of 5 000 – 35 000 in coastal Namibia. The population fluctuation is possibly influenced by food availability.

06.03.'13   Walvisbay Lagoon   White-winged Tern (1)   This tern is considered rare on Namibian coast except at Walvisbay and Sandwich Harbour. More often it occurs on inland wetlands where the Peregrine Falcon likes preying on them.

06.03.'13   Walvisbay Lagoon   Pintado Petrel (1)   When caught, it drops foul-smelling stomach oils as a defence. This bird was seen chasing a juvenile Kelp Gull at the beach. Seldom one can see this species this far inshore. Reason might have been the strong onshore winds that day, usually they are found on the open ocean.

06.03.'13   Walvisbay Bird Paradise   Ruff (1)   During an interesting birding hike led by a local birding guide, Mr. Karel !Naibeb, we observed a single Ruff. This individual was most probably a female. The adult males leave our grounds by January and February, whereas the females only leave March and April. They are long-distance migrants, traveling about 16 000 km between breeding and non-breeding grounds.

06.03.'13   Walvisbay Bird Paradise   Cape Shoveler (2)   In Namibia their numbers increase most probably because of the increasing availability of artificial water bodies.

07.03.'13   80km east of Karibib   Black-chested Snake-eagle (1)  Its main prey are snakes. Thus it is ecological important in keeping the snake populations under control. It can attack its prey from up to 450 m, mainly striking it behind its head.

08.03.’13   Fisherspan, Etosha N.P.   Lesser and Greater Flamingo (±2 500)   Stephan Nölle from Capricorn Tours reported to have seen about 1 000 Lesser Flamingos and about 1 500 Greater Flamingos with about 15% of numbers being juveniles. When the Greater Flamingos move to the breeding site in Etosha they fly this distance of about 500 km during night in one shift with an average speed of 60 km/hr. Probably they fly north along the coast and then turn east to Etosha. Both species are near-threatened in South Africa and classified as vulnerable in Namibia. The Greater Flamingo is globally not threatened whereas the Lesser Flamingo is classified as near-threatened globally because all three breeding sites in Africa are threatened. With 0.040-0.053 young/pair/yr for both species at Etosha Pan, recruitment here is very low. In 40 years of observation, both species attempted to breed 17 times at Etosha pan.
Low-flying aircraft can easily lead colonies to be deserted.

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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