BIRDSCONTOUR REPORT (22.09.’13 – 05.10.’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):
Canyon Roadhouse (Gondwana Collection)
Damara Mopane Lodge (Gondwana Collection)
Etosha Safari Camp (Gondwana Collection)
Etosha NP. (Gemsbokvlakte and Okondeka Waterhole)
Farm Omandumba (Deike & Harald Rust)
Farm Voigtland (Stephan & Gabi Voigts)
Fish River Canyon
Frans Indongo Lodge
Garub Wild Horses
Gemsbokvlakte Waterhole (Etosha NP)
Gondwana Collection (Etosha Safari Camp)
Kalahari Farmhouse (Gondwana Collection)
Klein Aus Vista
Okondeka Waterhole (Etosha NP.)
Rust Deike & Harald (Farm Omandumba)
Solitaire Guest Farm
Sossusvlei, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Voigts Gabi & Stephan (Farm Voigtland)
BirdsConTour Report (Namibia) Personal Highlights:
BIRDSCONTOUR FOR A CLEANER BIRD HABITAT
ELEVEN GERMAN GUESTS REWARDED
SOLITAIRE GUEST FARM – BIRD & BIRDER FRIENDLY AWARD
Distance traveled: 3 810 km
22.09.'13 Farm Voigtland, Windhoek Pied Crow (1) Regarded as being absent from the Kalahari and eastern Namibia, even in the area where Farm Voigtland is situated. But these birds start colonizing these eastern regions of Windhoek, probably because of increase of urban areas.
22.09.'13 Penduka, Windhoek Great White Pelican (60) The Goreangab Dam where Penduka is situated seems to have developed into a suitable habitat for these big birds. Their communal fishing practices impress guests visiting the Penduka Restaurant. While dining, guests can observe how small flocks gather to form larger ones for communal fishing in this clear water. When large shoals of fish are found, cooperative groups of pelicans form ‘U’-shapes to herd fish prey into shallow water in the attempt to increase the catch success.
23.09.'13 Turnoff to Mount Etjo BirdsConTour for a cleaner Bird Habitat Another BirdsConTour for a cleaner Bird Habitat cleaning session was held while being on an Etosha tour with an eleven German guest group. Not only can the litter lying around, including glass bottles, cause a bush fire and threaten bird- and wildlife in general, but it is no good impression for guests. Today cleaning was done at the turnoff B1/Mount Etjo where the big termite mount is situated where visitors often stop to admire the marvelous tower that is created by the small termite creature.
23.09.'13 Frans Indongo Lodge Fiery-necked Nightjar (5) While they mostly call at dusk and dawn, the vocal activity seems to be determined by the light intensity, since the longest calling takes place on nights when the moon shines and birds start calling already late afternoon on overcast days, such as today.
24.09.'13 Allgemeine Zeitung, Namibia Rosy-faced Lovebird An article of these interesting birds was published in the Allgemeine Zeitung. Read more under www.birdscontour.blogspot.com.
24.09.'13 Etosha NP. Red-capped Lark (4) Found less common in northern parts of southern Africa but is well represented in the Etosha NP.
24.09.'13 Etosha Safari Camp (Gondwana Collection) Carp’s Tit (2) This near-endemic species is named after Bernard Carp, a South African naturalist who financed an ornithological exploration in southern Africa.
25.09.'13 Etosha Safari NP. Burchell’s Courser (1) Classified as an uncommon breeding near-endemic species. Although it is not listed in the Red Data Books, the rapid decrease in population size and local extinctions in Botswana and South Africa in the past 50-150 years are cause for concern. Habitat change because of intensive agriculture (irrigation and use of pesticides) probably plays a role but does not explain population decrease in the Kalahari unless movement between Kalahari and eastern South Africa takes place.
25.09.'13 Etosha Safari Camp (Gondwana Collection) Fork-tailed Drongo (1) At the camping site a Fork-tailed Drongo can be observed and photographed in close proximity because this bird associates with moving humans in the attempt to catch flushed prey.
26.09.'13 Petrified Forest Rüppell’s Korhaan (3) Preferred habitat of these birds, near-endemic to western Namibia, are the gravel and sandy plains of the Namib Desert where the rainfall does not exceed 200 mm. Only 17 % of the Namibian population, estimated at about 100 000 birds, can be found in mountainous area. Therefore it was interesting to have seen these three birds in the mountainous area of the Petrified Forest.
26.09.'13 Twyfelfontein, Organ Pipes African Harrier-Hawk (2) Where this pair has been seen there are no large trees, the preferred habitat for breeding. The next larger trees are in the Aba Huab River, not far away. Interestingly enough there lives a pair of Verreauxs’ Eagles in the neighborhood, even having raised a chick, juvenile by now, although it is known that the year-round territorial African Harrier-Hawks react aggressive towards other raptors, including Verreauxs’ Eagles.
26.09.'13 Damara Mopane Lodge (Gondwana Collection) White-tailed Shrike (1) Damara Mopane Lodge with its biologically managed garden serves as an oasis for a wide variety of wild birds being attracted. Guests are impressed by many different species, one highlight being a species that is near-endemic to Namibia, the White-tailed Shrike. While relaxing in the garden with a cocktail in your hands this speciality hops around you, doing its work as pest controller.
27.09.'13 Farm Omandumba Common Scimitarbill (2) A pair can often be observed foraging in the same tree, whereas the male concentrates on the main trunk and the larger branches and the female among smaller outer branches. The sexual difference in bill length and size probably sorts out the inter-sexual competition for food and foraging.
27.09.'13 Hohenstein Lodge Herero Chat (2) Hohenstein Lodge, an ideal place to spot this special bird. Given the fact that the Herero Chat occurs in such a restricted range within Namibia and that it is near-endemic to Namibia, it is given the Amber status in this country.
28.09.'13 Swakopmund Fork-tailed Drongo (1) A more intense westward expansion onto the coast of Namibia seems to take place. This individual was seen in the town park of Swakopmund between the beech and Strand Street, height of Orange House.
29.09.'13 Walvisbay Eurasian Curlew (1) Their breeding range has expanded in northwestern Europe since 1900 but the eastern population decreased because of intensive agriculture in south central Siberia. Interestingly their numbers have decreased in southern Africa also since 1900.
29.09.'13 Solitaire Guest Farm Bird & Birder Friendly Award The latest addition to the bird and birder friendly awardees has been awarded with a two penguin rated Bird & Birder Friendly Award.
Solitaire Guest Farm, which is situated about ten minutes drive east of Solitaire, with breathtaking views, offers their guests ideal bird watching opportunities.
With a bird friendly waterhole and garden, the guest farm attracts a diversity of real desert birds for guests to easily observe.
30.09.'13 Sossusvlei, Namib Sand Sea 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.
30.09.'13 Sesriem Rock Kestrel (1) Probably a pair is breeding in this surrounding. Rock Kestrels are well represented in the protected area of this Namib Naukluft Park.
30.09.'13 A-little-Sossus Lodge Great Sparrow (2) Unlike all other Sparrow species in southern Africa, the Great Sparrow is the only species that has not adapted to human settlements. Sometimes they visit rural gardens.
01.10.'13 Tourismus Namibia Yellow-billed Stork Find out why the German name of this bird is Nimmersatt under www.birdscontour.blogspot.com. The article was published in the Tourismus section of the Allgemeine Zeitung.
01.10.'13 Garub, Wild Horses Greater Kestrel (2) Establishment of electricity and telephone lines has increased its range. To advertise their territory, they perch prominent. It is not known that this species drink or bathe.
01.10.'13 Klein Aus Vista Karoo Scrub-Robin (1) Klein Aus Vista has another special bird to show birdwatchers, the endemic Karoo Scrub-Robin. Three subspecies occur in southern Africa and the Cercotrichas coryphoeus abbotti is the least common one, represented in the garden of the establishment.
02.10.'13 Dias Point Kelp Gull (1) Mr. Marc Davis spotted a Kelp Gull about 60 km inland on the B1 tarred road, Lüderitz to Aus, quite some distance outside its usual distribution area. A Pied Crow mobbed this big bird. It is well known that individuals specialize in particular foraging techniques, but in general they are generalist foragers and scavengers. It is recorded that they sometimes kill birds as big as Hartlaub’s Gulls and terns. They even occasionally rob Rock Kestrels and Sacred Ibises of food. Other food includes eggs and chicks.
It is not impossible that this individual specializes on following the tarred road this far inland to scavenge on roadkills and harassing Greater Kestrels, Rock Kestrels, Cape Crows and even Pied Crows in an attempt to get to these species’ eggs and chicks, knowing it is their breeding season this time of the year.
02.10.'13 Lüderitz Capped Wheatear (2) Although described as being rare in drier habitats, one bird was found in Lüderitzbucht the city itself and one was found inbetween Lüderitz and Aus, 60 km west of Aus. It is known that most birds are in their breeding areas during July and November but move into drier areas soon thereafter. So the question is if these two birds are done with their breeding activities, or are they residents in these areas?
02.10.'13 Klein Aus Vista Layard’s Tit-Babbler (2) The drainage lines here are perfect spots to view this endemic Tit-Babbler in close neighborhood with the more common Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler.
03.10.’13 Fish River BirdsConTour for a cleaner Bird Habitat Another BirdsConTour for a cleaner Bird Habitat cleaning session was held while being on an Etosha tour with an eleven German guest group. Not only can the litter lying around, including glass bottles, cause a bush fire and threaten bird- and wildlife in general, but it is no good impression for guests. Today cleaning was done at the picnic site at the start of the bridge crossing the Fish River, nearby Seeheim.
03.10.'13 Fish River Canyon Common Ostrich (3) More than sixty percent of its daytime these birds spent on walking, up to 18.5 km daily, within an average home range of 84.3 square kilometer.
03.10.'13 Canyon Roadhouse (Gondwana Collection) Red-faced Mousebird (5) Some fruit farmers in South Africa consider these birds a pest because the feed on fruits of all different plants. During cold temperatures they perch in an upright position with legs apart, facing towards the sun while raising their short hair-like belly feathers to expose the skin to the sun.
04.10.'13 Mesosaurus Fossils Martial Eagle (1) An alarming drop of 60% in the population size occurred in the last few years. Of biggest concern are areas with a high density of powerlines, areas where temperatures increased, areas where prey abundance diminished and where small stock farming is practiced. Although protected areas are a stronghold, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the Kruger National Park show a decline of 45%. What causes this is busy being studied and sightings of tagged birds should please be reported to MartialEagleSightings@gmail.com.
04.10.'13 Kalahari Farmhouse (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.
Eleven German-speaking guests were rewarded with one penguin-rated Bird & Birder Friendly Awards:
Billmann Silke & Michael
Breitenstein Dorothea & Peter
Jonas Helena Maria Yvonne
Wirtz Heinrich Wilhelm
This Etosha Tour, organized by Pack Safari and Chamäleon Reisen, took place from the 22nd of September until the 5th of October 2013.
05.10.'13 Onjala Lodge European Bee-eater (8) Most summer arrivals from Eurasia are mid August to early October, migrating in flocks, sometimes with the Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters. The southwestern Western Cape populations collapsed in the mid 1990’s, causes unknown!
05.10.'13 Windhoek African Paradise-Flycatcher (1) This breeding migrant has arrived in Windhoek. The Von Falkenhausen male is giving its presence away through its territorial song.
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)