Athlone Bird Count January 2016

A working partnership with the City of Cape Town and the Cape Bird Club.

January 2016 – by Dick Bos

Ian Cranna, Jessie Blackshaw, Gill Ford, Fay Linder, Moegamat Fakier-Abdol, Dick Bos, Enver Manuel.

photograph by Clifford Dorse.

The afternoon was very Cape summer-like, hot and with a strong wind. The southern ponds mainly gave the regular results, the large flight of Pied Avocet was there again (110), as were the Greater Flamingo (114). The most Blacksmith Lapwing had moved from the northern ponds into the southern (83).
Today most of Hartaub’s Gulls were in the northern ponds, their total numbers for all of Athlone back to a more normal level compared to the previous six months of 666 (last month gave 1656!).
Even though the country is suffering from a serious drought, the levels in the Athlone ponds were quite high. High enough even for most of the stepping stones we use to cross the causeway to be under a rapid flow of water. This meant shoes off for the crossing….
Unfortunately for the birds Athlone has gone through a phase of clearing of the water vegetation. This meant that the section where we normally record birds like bishops, weavers, warblers, cisticolas and prinias was basically without any vegetation and thus without birds. Of course we understand the need to keep the ponds in a state that purifies the water, but for birdlife this proved rather disasterous: no birds in that section whatsoever. This is reflected in the low total for ‘Bushbirds’: 16 compared to mid-20’s over the last months.

Some other noteworthy observations: an African Darter and two White-breasted Cormorants -both species not common in Athlone – and an unusually ‘high’ number of twelve Reed Cormorants. Also six Little Egrets compared to the normal one or two.

All in all 43 species were reported for MyBirdPatch and 1672 birds from 27 species for CWAC. Considering the clean-up not bad at all for another enjoyable count. Many thanks to Clifford Dorse, Jessie Blackshaw, Ian Cranna, Gillian Ford and Fay Linder for joining. Many thanks also to Mr Fred Cupido, Manager of Athlone WWTW, for permission to conduct these valuable bird surveys and to Mr Enver Manual for his support during the first part of the count.

This data is submitted to the Animal Demography Unit’s CWAC and MyBirdpatch, projects.

Counts take place on the third Thursday of every month and start at 13:00.
Anyone wanting to assist should contact;
Dick Bos on 021 423 2546 or alternative