BIRDSCONTOUR REPORT (07.08.’13 – 19.08.’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.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS WORK GETS DISTRIBUTED INTERNATIONALLY
Have a quick look if you, your site or neighborhood is included in this scientific informational work (alphabetically arranged):
Canon Roadhouse (Gondwana Collection)
Damara Mopane Lodge (Gondwana Collection)
Etosha NP. (Gemsbokvlakte and Okondeka Waterhole)
Etosha Safari Camp (Gondwana Collection)
Fish River Canyon
Garub Game Ranch (Heidi & Heinz Kühl)
Garub Wild Horses
Gemsbokvlakte Waterhole (Etosha NP)
Gondwana Collection (Etosha Safari Camp, Damara Mopane Lodge, Klein Aus Vista,
Canon Roadhouse, Kalahari Farmhouse)
Hotel A la Mer (Swakopmund)
Kalahari Farmhouse, Stampriet (Gondwana Collection)
Klein Aus Vista Lodge
Kühl Heidi & Heinz (Garub Game Ranch)
Leicher Birgit & Nino
Namib Sand Sea, Sossusvlei (Unesco World Heritage Site)
Okondeka waterhole (Etosha NP)
Omandumba Farm (Deike & Harald Rust)
Rust Harald & Deike (Farm Omandumba)
Solitaire Guest Farm
Sossusvlei , Namib Sand Sea (Unesco World Heritage Site)
Stampriet, Kalahari Farmhouse
Swakopmund (Hotel A la Mer)
Twyfelfontein (Unesco World Heritage Site)
Unesco World Heritage Site (Twyfelfontein and Namib Sand Sea)
BirdsConTour Report (Namibia) Personal Highlights:
A-LITTLE-SOSSUS LODGE – BIRD & BIRDER FRIENDLY AWARD
KLEIN AUS VISTA LODGE – BIRD & BIRDER FRIENDLY AWARD
Distance traveled: 4 549 km
07.08.'13 Windhoek Burnt-necked Eremomela (6) A handsome little bird that isn’t seen in Windhoek as often as the very common Yellow-bellied Eremomela.
07.08.'13 Garub Game Ranch (Heidi & Heinz Kühl), Otavi Bradfield’s Hornbill (3) According to Mr. Heinz Kühl, this species is found on his 6 000 ha big farm only in the past five years. This is a definite indication that the ecology on the Garub Game Ranch has improved through a proper management scheme so that the habitat developed suitable for this species. Although logging has a negative impact, benefit is gained from creation of open patches that attract game on these areas.
08.08.'13 Garub Game Ranch (Heidi & Heinz Kühl), Otavi Senegal Coucal (1) In the central northern Namibia these birds definitely benefit from man-modified habitats with thick cover such as parks and gardens.
08.08.'13 Etosha NP, Okondeka Waterhole South African Shelduck (2) It is assumed that this species was historically restricted to central and west South Africa and recently colonized Namibia and south east Botswana. They nest in pre-existing holes in ground, mainly in those of Aardvark. This reliance on the threatened Aardvarks for nest sites can be of some concern.
08.08.'13 Etosha Safari Camp, Godwana Collection Familiar Chat (1) Six subspecies do occur in southern Africa. Here in the northwestern part of Namibia it is the Cercomela familiaris angolensis.
09.08.'13 Etosha Safari Camp, Gondwana Collection Bare-cheeked Babbler (3) Within southern Africa, the Turdoides gymnogenys kaokensis can only be seen in the central and western parts of north Namibia. No data exist about the incubation aspect of these birds.
09.08.'13 Etosha NP, Gemsbokvlakte Waterhole Lappet-faced Vulture (1) Although sunbathing usually takes place in the midday at a waterhole after drying its feathers, this individual was quite a distance away from the waterhole and it was about 9:30 in the morning. Standing on the ground with spread wings sunbathing, perhaps the sudden cold temperature during the night, about 4 degrees above freezing, caused this behavior. Only when a Black-backed Jackal arrived to inspect, the vulture stopped sunbathing.
10.08.'13 Petrified Forest White-throated Swallow (2) The first pair of this intra-African breeding migrant was seen here. It is not impossible that this record may be passage birds.
10.08.'13 Twyfelfontein (Unesco World Heritage Site) Verreauxs’ Eagle (2) Both birds of the Twyfelfontein pair were seen simultaneously in the air. One high up in the sky and the other one lower down carrying a twig with green leaves on. Most probably they are busy preparing their nest. About a month and a half ago they were seen in courtship. It is not uncommon that the copulation takes place up to 30 days before egg laying.
10.08.'13 Damara Mopane Lodge (Gondwana Collection) Common Fiscal (1) It is commonly found in well-watered farmhouse and lodge gardens with trees and responds aggressive towards Fork-tailed Drongos.
11.08.'13 Farm Omandumba (Harald & Deike Rust) Pririt Batis (1) It seems as if the Pririt Batis benefits from the alien mesquite tree. Sometimes some birds gather to call excitedly, snap their bills and frip their wings. Such formations are called ‘batis parliaments’.
11.08.'13 Hohenstein Lodge, Erongo White-throated Canary (3) Southern Africa presents four subspecies of this near-endemic bird and is well represented in the protected areas of the Nama and succulent Karoo as well as in Namibia.
12.08.'13 Hotel A la Mer, Swakopmund Scarlet-chested Sunbird (1) As in the case of the garden of the A la Mer establishment with only one nectar spending aloe plant, it is sufficient to attract this beautiful little bird. Still it is unknown with what age these birds start breeding.
13.08.'13 Walvisbay Lagoon Common Greenshank (1) Most of these birds arrive in August till September. Often after dark, they fly a distance of up to 10-15 km to their favorite roost site, roosting while standing in shallow water, moving with ebb and flow.
13.08.'13 Solitaire Guest Farm Red-billed Spurfowl (1) Solitaire Guest Farm is the most south western distribution area of this species Further into this direction it becomes too dry for this species.
14.08.'13 Sossusvlei, Namib Sand Sea (Unesco World Heritage Site) It is scary what devastating footprints guests cause with their visit to Sossusvlei. A research showed that every guest climbing the dune Dune 45, walking to the Death Vlei and back and/or walking in the surrounding of Sossusvlei unconsciously kills with his or her stay an average of ±50 small animals (ants, beetles etc.). With hundred guests per day this is a loss of ±5 000 potential food items of in this case birds. Given the fact that most birds living in this hot and dry part of the Namib Desert prey on small animals to replenish their body moisture as an alternative to water, these footprints left behind by the guests cause a big loss in possible moisture for the feathered animals. This results in a severe decrease of the natural bird population in this area.
To counteract this negative influence and to help the birds to replenish their body moisture, BirdsConTour together with Pack Safari and Chamäleon (German travel company) came up with a solution. Every tour guide who leads Chamäleon guests into the Sossusvlei area takes a portable water feeder, constructed and funded by BirdsConTour, along. When the tour vehicle is parked at the 4x4 parking area, the guide fills the water feeder and hangs it to the wiper, a tree or puts it onto the ground close to the Pack Safari tour vehicle. With peace of mind, the Pack Safari guide together with the Chamäleon guests can now go and discover and enjoy the Sossusvlei area, while the birds can refill their needed body moisture with water as an alternative for the small animals that are destroyed unconsciously by each visitor.
The water feeder gets either attached to the wiper, a tree or put onto the ground for the birds to replenish their body moisture. This "Water for Sossus Birds" project is a joint venture between BirdsConTour, Pack Safari and Chamäleon.
14.08.'13 Sesriem Canyon Speckled Pigeon ( ) A proud age of up to ten years can be reached. Often they benefit from man-made structures for breeding purposes.
14.08.'13 A-Little-Sossus Lodge Bird & Birder Friendly Award Jandré Germishuizen took the initiative to create an environment on the lodge ground that suits the birds and the bird watchers. And the bonus? Bird conservation and tourism (BirdsConTour) rewarded A-little-Sossus Lodge with a two out of six penguin rated Bird & Birder Friendly Award for their level of input.
15.08.'13 Helmeringhausen Pygmy Falcon (1) Destruction of large trees may lead to habitat destruction and although the erection of utility structures allows Sociable Weavers to colonize previously unoccupied areas, it is arguable that the Pygmy Falcon follows this colonization because the nests in these artificial poles are never big and according to experience these falcons mostly occupy bigger nests of the Sociable Weaver.
15.08.'13 Garub Wild Horses Greater Kestrel (2) Its distribution range has certainly increased into this area with the erection of the telephone line and electricity line across the treeless Sperrgebiet NP., creating nest sites for the Cape Crow and the Pied Crow and hence for the Greater Kestrel.
15.08.'13 Klein Aus Vista Cinnamon-breasted Bunting (1) In southern Africa the subspecies Emberiza tahapisi nivenorum is found as an isolated group from the nominate and occurs only in Namibia within the southern African region. This individual bird was observed further south as the distribution map shows!
16.08.'13 Kolmanskuppe Sickle-winged Chat (2) About 250 km west of its registered distribution range in Namibia, a pair of this endemic to southern Africa species has been observed at Kolmanskuppe. They gave themselves away with the dark ‘V’ on the rufous tail instead the ‘T’ as with the Familiar Chat.
16.08.'13 Klein Aus Vista Bird & Birder Friendly Award This establishment goes the extra mile to create a suitable habitat for birds and an attractive place for bird watchers. For this responsible input, Klein Aus Vista Lodge is rewarded with a two penguin rated Bird & Birder Friendly Award from bird conservation and tourism (BirdsConTour).
17.08.'13 Seeheim African Fish-Eagle (2) In this remote area of Namibia, the distribution of this species only stretches all along the Fish River. Elsewhere it is too dry. Even here at Seeheim it is an unusual sighting.
17.08.'13 Fish River Canyon Lanner Falcon (2) When breeding, pairs favor cliff habitat and otherwise they prefer open habitat. In treeless area, utility pylons and poles are of benefit, having contributed with spreading into these areas.
17.08.'13 Seeheim, Fish River picnic site BirdsConTour for a cleaner Bird Habitat BirdsConTour arranged a cleaning session of the picnic site at the Fish River at the B4 road close to Seeheim. Such cleaning sessions are part of the "BirdsConTour for a cleaner Bird Habitat" project.
17.08.'13 Canyon Roadhouse Grey-backed Cisticola (2) All six African subspecies occur in southern Africa. In this region only the Cisticola subruficapilla namaqua occurs and is classified as uncommon for here.
18.08.'13 Mesosaurus Fossils Kori Bustard (1) A nice surprise to have seen this large bird with a wingspan of 2.2-2.5 m and weight of up to 12.4 kg. In this area they are rather sparsely distributed.
18.08.'13 Kalahari Farm House (Gondwana Collection) Bird & Birder Friendly Award By traveling directly with BirdsConTour or making use of a guide from BirdsConTour you support bird conservation and create an economic platform for local livelihoods. Sometimes travelers also participate in other BirdsConTour projects. To say THANK YOU, every tour participant receives a Bird & Birder Friendly Award at the end of the tour.
Seven German-speaking guests were rewarded with one penguin-rated Bird & Birder Friendly Awards:
Nicole & Heinrich Buchal
Reinhild & Manfred Schnitzmeier
Ingrid Andrea & Jobst-Joachim Suchsland
This Etosha Tour, organized by Pack Safari and Chamäleon Reisen, took place from the 6th of August until the 21st of August 2013.
19.08.'13 Onjala Lodge Lappet-faced Vulture (1) In the Caprivi-Strip in Namibia a few hundred birds have been reported poisoned this year. Ivory poachers deliberately kill these scavengers so that they do not give their illegal practices away by showing carcasses when circling in for feeding.
19.08.'13 Windhoek Spotted Eagle-Owl (1) Sadly notice was taken of the unexplained death of the owl that lived for years in the area of the Falkenhausen Street in Pionierspark, Windhoek. Birgit and Nino Leicher found this big owl dead on the pavement, perhaps it died of old age. They have a life span of up to ten years in the wild and up to twenty in captivity.
Please note: Most scientific information has been taken from Roberts Birds of Southern Africa, V11th edition!
(For further reading see www.birdscontour.blog.com)
(For more information contact Stefan Rust on +264 (0)81 129 8415 or firstname.lastname@example.org)