On 23 January a friend phoned me to report an exceptional occurrence in our area. On the farm Rooipoort in the Burgersdorp district a swarm of locusts had been sprayed on 7 January. The dead insects were spread over an area of about 250m wide and 1km long. This source of easy delicatessen was just what some of the birds of the area – and even some rare visitors – came to enjoy. More than 850 White Storks were counted – the photo shows only a small portion of this macnificent sight. Other species that came to gorge themselves on the dead locusts were amongst others: Blue Cranes, 3 Marabou Storks, Ludwig's Bustards, Pied Crows and even a Martial Eagle had been seen early the morning. By the time the pictures were taken, the birds had been feasting for more than a week on this specialty. Apparently the insecticide had no obvious detrimental effect on the feasting birds. I atlased the pentad for SABAP2 while visiting the site and added a new pentad to the Eastern Cape tally of atlased pentads.
22 February 2009
08 February 2009
In three weeks I had observed no less than three European Rollers (Coracias garrulus) in close proximity of my home town, Aliwal North. I have been staying here for more than 16 years and this is the first time I have spotted them. I know of one other sighting in the vicinity in the past.
The first sighting was on 16.01.2009 on the N6 just north of Rouxville (at S30.34382 E26.74455). Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me as we were not birding but on our way to Bloemfontein, but the single bird perched on the telephone line allowed us good views for more than five minutes.
Just a week later, on Friday 23.01.2009, I was fortunate enough to have another sighting. This time the camera had been ready for anything that might pop up along the road. Once again the bird had been perching on the telephone line next to the road. It was as if posing in the late afternoon sun. The co-ordinates are: S30.79603 E26.45507 – a mere 26 km from Aliwal North and I had been busy atlasing - so the sighting will be recorded in the new bird atlas (SABAP2) we are working on now.
Nine days later, while en route to Goedemoed, I had the third sighting of this beautiful migrant. It perched on the farm fence – S30.56220 E26.46702. Sadly enough I had not learned the lesson to take my camera with me – especially when I'm not birding, because then one can expect the unexpected. So nowadays the camera is put next to my binoculars – lesson learned!