(3) Blog Posts Made in September 2015

South Africa

It is 36 degrees celcius in the shade as I write this sitting on a veranda overloking the Olifants River in one of a number of private game reserves bordering the Kruger Par.  Nyala have just walked past and an African Fish Eagle is circling above.  I arrived in Johannesburg last Wednesday and was met at Standton Station by my host Tom.  We sat in his garden watching Rosy-faced Lovebird, Masked Weaver, Karoo Thrush and Cape Sparrow and several more before going out for lunch where a Fiscal Flycatcher kept us entertained.  Afterwards we visited Liliesleaf where the executive of the ANC were arrested in what was the Rivonia Trial.  The next morning we headed east with Tom’s friend where I managed to pick up a few larger birds from the back of the car before we stopped at the Taiata Falcon site.  Micheal our guide could not find the bird that day but he did show us a Mountain Wagtail, Half-collared Kingfisher and a Green-backed Camarpotera.  We then headed for the Game Reserve were we settled in before going out in the open vehicle for a evening and night drive.  It is the same programme each day with morning and evening drives except last Saturday where the pool area was packed for the SA rugby game and deserted as I watched England lose.  During the time here I have seen  a lot of 4 of the big 5 less Leopard.  There have been fighting giraffe, large herds of elephant, vultures on a kill and a good range of birds that have to be seen from the vehicle; it is too dangerous to get out and walk.  Highlights have included Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Arrow-marked Babbler, Marico Sunbird, Golden-breasted Bunting, Brubru, Water Thick-knee, Black-backed Puffback, Long-billed Crombec, Blue Waxbill, Green Wood-hoopoe, Crested Barbet, Acacia Pied Barbet, Bateleur, Mocking Cliff Chat and Pels Fishing Owl.  There are lots to mention that include a whole host of other birds and animals including vultures, eagles, kingfishers, waders and quite a few LBJs as well as antelopes.  It is now time for a swim today rather than use the outdoor shower.  I hope to keep you updated on my trip and my list stands at 102 birds this afternoon.



Another month has flown past and summer migrants are nearing the end of their passage south.  There are lots of Wheatears about on the tracks and there are still Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Winchats feeding.  Goldfinches are making large flocks of up to 300 birds and there are still family groups of Stonechats.  There has been quite a few troops exercising recently and I was caught up in a HCR bridge crossing as I was about to look for Fairy Shrimp; took an opportunity to get away.  On Breakheart scrape there was a late pair of nesting Stone Curlew with a juvenile at the beginning of the month.  On the East there were was up to 17 birds behind Bulford ranges.  A Hen Harrier was reported yesterday on the Centre and I saw one a week ago at Avebury.  I was on a Bee and insect walk on the Centre yesterday dodging mortar shells and finding butterflies (2 Clouded Yellow) as well as rare plants (Tuburous Thistle). On Saturday I resumed the monthly Imber Conservation Grouops walks and had a trip around Nelson's.  There were lots of Swallows feeding along with the odd House Martin.  Tits are forming in flocks and there are decent numbers of Linnet and Yellowhammer.  There are still plenty of Meadow Pipit and Skylark about and the occasional Tree Pipit.  Ringing on the Centre included a late Grasshopper Warbler as they should have gone by now.  Also gone are the Montagu's Harriers on the East.  This is the month that summer visitors depart and winter visitors start to arrive.  I have been around the County as well adding a few more birds to my County list but not Woodchat Shrike.


Gibraltar Ringer - Pre Blog

Red-Necked Nightjar from 2013

The second visit of a mixed bag of Service ringers will begin shortly and this early blog gives due notice of future daily notes and photos of the scheme to ring birds on the north and western face of The Rock. Working closely with the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society, we will gather data for approximately 2 weeks from this part of the Rock, similar to the 2013 expedition. Based at Bruce's Farm, the team of Julia and Robin Springett, Roger Dickey, Carl and Anne Powell, Mark Cutts and Steve Copsey will be using over 1,000 feet of mist nets to catch autumn migrants, downloading data daily into the computer at Jew's Gate on the eastern side. The road team are off in 2 days followed by Roger, Carl and Anne by air. Once all the heavy lifting has been done and nets erected, Mark will join us. Hopefully Martin Routledge will also be able to ring with us at some stage.

If all goes well, we should manage some reasonable photos of southern european passerines, local birds, and also the huge passage of raptors of all kinds that fly just below our ringing site. Ringing starts at the very end of September if all goes well.