Saturday, February 11, 2012

Abdim's Stork: the common intra-African migrant that brings "good luck"

Though the arrival of Abdim's Stork around Mahikeng was earlier this time than last year; it is still late than the previous years.Last year they went pass Mahikeng and Masutlhe on the 30th January.

This year they went pass Mahikeng in early January. They were seen on their annual migratory path, through the Village of Masutlhe, on the 8th January heading South. They spend time on the ground, walking and flying short distances as they move.

Abdim's Storks inhabit the Eastern and Southern parts of Africa, but during the breeding season they move to the North of the Equator.

According to one of the myths they bring "good luck" and this is because they migrate to and fro at the peak of the rainy season(i.e from November to March). On their way as they pass through Eastern Africa; the rains would be pouring.

They are still present around Mahikeng at the moment but the numbers have declined.(I will keep you posted on their departure date)

You can follow this link for a story on their late showing last year:

Abdim's Stork: a common intra-African migrant in January 2012

Abdim's Storks showing in large flocks around Masuthle but numbers have gone down

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Great Egret: the mystery behind the bill

After being tormented by the bill of a Great Egret I spotted  in the tall grass on the side of a road; in a swamp, at the village of Disaneng; I could not resist the temptation of finding more about it. The following is what I gathered from comments, replies, books and word of mouth interactions.

The interesting attribute to the Great Egret when breeding is that the facial skin (where the lore and the cere are situated) flashes bright emerald green for only a brief period of time before returning to the pale olive green. At this time the bill also changes to black from usual yellow. The "breeding" bill is actually a "courtship" bill and this brings us to courting.

When courting, they erect their mantle and scapula plumes called ‘aigrettes’. This is where the word egret is derived from.

The "breeding" bill is actually the "courtship bill"

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Breeding Great Egret with yellow cere against familiar green ones

While doing the Summer CAR count today we came across the following Great Egret.
The first reaction was that it was a Snowy Egret but on  careful look, considering the size, it was clear that it was a breeding Great Egret. While a breeding Great Egret had greenish cere, this one had yellow ones. It was in a swamp just next to the road. It was obscured by tall grass for proper identification. Only the mysterious head was sticking out.
Look clearly at the following images and give your opinion. Is this a Great Egret or not?

Great Egret with yellow cere

Breeding Great Egret
Further twenty kilometers down the road we came across this non breeding one. The was no doubt about it.

Non breeding Great Egret

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Barberspan Bird Sanctuary: Summer Coordinated Waterbird Count (CWAC)

The Barberspan Bird Sanctuary's Summer Coordinated Waterbird Count  (CWAC) was held during the past weekend. A good number of volunteers turned up for the count which started at 8h00 on Saturday morning.
There were quite some few surprises.
A total number of 49 species were spotted, bringing the total number of birds counted to 17766.
Topping the list was the Red-knobbed Coot followed by the Egyptian Goose with 14081  and 773 respectively. The weather was fine for a counting day.
This is higher than the numbers obtained in previous years Summer count (2010).
A total number of 55 species were spotted and the total number of birds counted was 6779.
Topping the list once again was the Red-knobbed Coot followed by the Egyptian Goose with 2777 and 1075 respectively.
This figures do not include the Leeupan Dam count.

Egyptian Geese: Their numbers lower than previous years