Athlone Bird Count November 2015

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

November 2015 – by Dick Bos.

Male Yellow Bishop luring a female to inspect his nests.

photograph by Dick Bos.

The weather today was very good indeed and because the group was fairly small we did not split up as we routinely do. And, as usual, this count was going to present a few surprises.  We were pleased to see the water levels up to ‘normal’ again, evidence of this was that crossing the causeway made the (bottom parts of) our shoes wet, despite the stepping stones. But this was not to affect our mood at all.

Soon after that crossing we saw a new species for this plot. Some Banded Martins were resting on the fence. (Amazing how those sharp blades don’t seem to affect birds at all!) And not much later a number of White-rumped Swifts were seen, also new for Athlone.
Just a bit later we watched a busy male Yellow Bishop defending his territory. Every bird but one female was chased away. He had prepared a few nests for her and vigorously fluttering his wings he tried hard to lure her into a viewing.

As usual the area in and around the central basins was crowded with gulls, 99.9% Hartlaub’s. A few Kelp Gulls were in the group, easy to pick out of course. Thanks to our expert Ian we could make out a couple of Grey-headed ones. Even in non-breeding plumage one can still make out the difference between Hartlaub’s and Grey-headed. He pointed out the slightly bigger build, the somewhat heavier bill and the lighter eyes (yellowish) as compared to Hartlaub’s Gull (see the photograph). Noteworthy large numbers: 816 Hartlaub’s Gulls, 176 Greater Flamingos, 120 Pied Avocet and 94 Red-knobbed Coot. And just to name a few species that were also recorded (and seen regularly): ducks and teals, herons and egrets, Pied Kingfisher, Little Rush-warbler and Lesser Swamp-warbler, Water Thick-knee, Cape and Southern Masked weavers and Pin-tailed Whydah.

All in all it has been a good count with 52 species, of which two were new, and 1805 birds counted for MyBirdPatch and 26 species and a total of 1572 birds for CWAC.

Many thanks to Gerhard Bothma, Ian Rijsdijk and Beth Reitz for joining this count. Many thanks also to Mr Fred Cupido, Manager of Athlone WWTW, for permission to conduct these valuable bird surveys.

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