Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pilanesberg National Park birding

My wet and rainy day at the Pilanesberg National in the North West Province did not deter me from capturing some of the birds as  migrants depart from our Southern African grounds. Local resident birds were also in dispaly in the soaking rain.

Red-billed Hornbill
Early morning snack. Found in great numbers around the park.

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
Quite photogenic. Common around the park.

 Violet-backed Starling
An intra-continental breeding migrant known to migrate to as far as Zambia, Sudan and Ithiopia. Some overwinter.

Golden-breasted Bunting
A melodious bird with a distinct song.

Cinnamon-breasted Bunting
The head with bold stripes

Great Egret
The largest of the egrets

Red-billed Oxpecker at Pilanesberg National Park

Red-billed Oxpecker
Hitching a ride at the back of a giraff. They are regarded as near threatened due to the use of pesticides.Their numbers have drastically gone down.

While the majestic giraff is crossing the road; another stunt takes place. This is not safe.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mahikeng's migrating Kestrels roost tree succumbs to pressure

Today, the 20th April 2011, the Mahikeng Kestrel roost tree was cut and brought down to give way to a business development. The tree has hosted migratory birds from as far as Russia and China during Summer every year for the past decades.The birds had just left at the begining of April this year and are expected to be back in early November again for Summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
The giant ceases to exist as life goes on around it.
Holiday home is NO MORE

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mahikeng's migrating Kestrels roost tree under threat

The migrating Kestrels roost tree at the Corner of Hatchard and Tillard Streets in Mahikeng (Nort West Province - Republic of South Africa) has to give way to a new business development. The tree has been a host to more than 3000 migrating Kestrels  every summer when they head down to Southern Africa from their breeding grounds in Europe and Asia.
It is only a week after the birds' departure that their natural host becomes a victim of circumstsnces. The birds are expected to be back by early November 2011.
The tree is situated inside the late Mrs E. Bernard property, who was a Kestrel lover and an avid monitor. The local bird club, The Mafikeng Bird Club, was using  this tree to monitor migrating Kestrels roost in colaboration with other roosts monitors in several towns across the country through the Migrating Kestrels Project.
In 2005 there were only 500 birds counted from the tree as compared to 3700 in February 2011.It hosts Lesser Kestrels, Amur Falcons and Red-footed Falcons. The Lesser Falcons being in the majority, followed by the Amur Falcons. The Red- footed falcons are always in the least.

The tree standing alone after the site was cleared

The giant ready to go down on Sunday the 10th April 2011 if all goes according to plan

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Migrating Kestrels depart from Mahikeng Roost tree

Yesterday, was that time of the year again when the migrating Kestrels that annually fly down to Southern Africa from their breeding grounds in Asia and Europe had to depart on their long journey back again. They normaly spent four months at this roost tree at the corner of Hatchard  and Tillard Street in the Mahikeng CBD before flying back.
The birds were counted in January this year during the national Kestrel count day; and  ± 3000 birds were recorded inclusive of those in the adjoining trees. That was an increase in number from last year.
This year they departed almost at the same time as last year but only a day earlier.In 2009 they arrived and departed earlier (look at the table below).It will be interesting to watch their arrival and departure in the coming season.

The roost tree is now deserted after the departure. The evenings are all quiet now. 

 The morning of the departure. Getting ready for the long journey back to Asia and Europe.Mostly are Lesser Kestrels and Amur Falcons

Arrivals and departures in the last three years
 Year period         Arrival               Departure
   2008-9            28/10/2008            23/03/2009
   2009-10          09/11/2009            03/04/2010
   2010-11          13/11/2010            02/04/2011

You can also  follow the link below for more information on their migratory route: