With the Cormorants breeding period in full swing; the White-breasted Cormorants nests at Modimola Dam near Mahikeng in the North West Province have shown a significant decrease in number.
White-breasted Cormorants breeding site
One of the dead trees providing platform to thirteen (13) nests
Last year, May 2010; I counted thirty four (34) nests at these breeding site.This year again, at the very same time, there are only twenty four (24) nests. My worst fear came to an abrupt end on Sunday the 8th May 2011, when I saw a man rowing his way on a makeshift rubber dhingy towards the nests. He was just about to bring down one of the nest with chicks when I interrupted him. Amidst the noise made by the frantic birds trying to protect their young he rowed his way to the other side of the dam and fled.
The bird trying to protect the nest with chicks
The alleged assailant rowing towards the nest.
I approached some of his friends and fishermen too; witnessing the spectacle, to find out what was he up to. They told me that the nesting material of the White-breasted Cormorant is highly sort by spiritual healers as it has some supernatural powers.
Female White-breasted Cormorant and chicks
Back with the chicks after the nest was rescued
The Modimola dam is part of the Molopo Wetlands and it is a home to five of the pelecaniform species. Great White Pelicans have started showing up in the dam in good numbers while the Pink-backed Pelicans are residents and increasing in number significantly. The Darter is in abundance. The Reed Cormorant numbers are almost equal to those of their counterparts, the White-breasted. Is this the new kind of poaching that will threaten these birds?
The sky having cleared after several days of rain, I decided to go out for some birding at my favourite spot at Modimola Dam last Saturday morning. My day was rewarded with sight of larger birds with long legs scouring the shores of the dam. My highlites were the Great Egret, which is not common in the area and the Yellow-billed stock, an intra-African migrant.
Taking off together with a juvenile
Taking a pause in the long grass along the shores of the dam