The atlasers for SABAP2 did a sterling job by submitting the first quarter million records by 18:00 tonight (27 July 2008). Below is a screenprint of this milestone - read previous post as well... it tells more of the milestones.
On Tuesday 22 July 2008 just after 14:00 the SABAP2 website (http://sabap2.adu.org.za/index.php) had received a 100 000 hits. It was in the 13th month of the bird atlas project that this milestone had been reached.
After the 21:00 update tonight (25 July 2008) the project needed a mere 1 088 records of sightings to reach a quarter million records. If it is considered that the average number of records per day is just over 1 000, the quarter million mark should be reached by 21:00 on Saturday 26 July. Once again in the 13th month of the project.
Why don't you join us in the fun and start submitting your atlas records. Visit the SABAP2 website to find out more and how you can contribute to the research on the distribution and conservation of birds in Southern Africa.
Atlasing in July had been rather slow … and there had been little new experiences to share while out atlasing. Therefore I want to share some of the real special moments while out ringing birds.
Training is done under supervision of a qualified ringer and I am still in training. At the last ringing session at Oliewenhuis Art Museum in Bloemfontein I ringed two of the smaller endemic species in Southern Africa. I've observed both of these species in the district of Aliwal North - and in my own garden at home.
The larger of the two is the Orange River White-eye (Zosterops pallidus). These small birds weigh in at an average of 9,3g and are a mere 10-13 cm long from tip of bill to tip of tail. The Orange River White-eye is distinguished from the Cape White-eye by the peach-buff wash along its flanks. They feed on "insects, spiders, spider eggs, nectar, fruit, fleshy flower petals and sepals, honeydew from aphids; also orange pulp, sugar and jam from table or feeding tray" (Roberts' Multimedia V3). These busy little birds are regularly seen in our own garden, but much more difficult to photograph as they barely sit still long enough to focus the camera. When you have one in the hand, when ringing it, you realise how very small these little creatures really are. They are real little gems to watch while flitting around in the branches of shrubs and trees to glean their food from the plants.
The smaller one of the two, is the
Fairy Fly-catcher (Steno-stira scita).
It lives on small insects and has a very conspicuous call – many times you hear the bird calling before spotting it. This particular bird in the pic weighed only 5g – the average being 5,9g – they may reach a weight of 8g. Their total length can be 11-12 cm. The Fairy Flycatcher is just as difficult to photograph as it too never sits still for a moment and once again having it in hand gives you the rare opportunity to study it carefully and see the beautiful salmon pink spot under the belly and the white mascara on the bottom eyelid.
To ring the birds they are caught in a mist net which is set up amongst the vegetation in a suitable area. The nets are checked very regularly and birds are removed and ringed as quickly as possible to cause them minimum stress. Measurements are taken carefully, birds are weighed and the details of ringed birds are recorded carefully and logged against the unique ring number.
SAFRING is the body governing bird ringing in South Africa – more info: http://safring.adu.org.za/safring_about.php If it happens that you find a ringed bird (injured or dead) please contact SAFRING with the details of your find.
Acacia Pied Barbets (Tricho-laema leucomelas) are quite abundant in the gardens in our home town - Aliwal North. Unfortu-nately they have never set up home in our own garden. So we (the kids and myself) decided to put up a sisal log and see if we could invite them to come and nest in a tree in our backyard. The log was put up about 3 m from the ground in a leafless White Stinkwood (Celtis africana). The log is quite visible from far off and we hope the birds will spot it and excavate a nest before the onset of spring when the leaves of the stinkwood will sprout out again. According to literature these birds breed from August to April so we trust that the new site was put up just in time for the new season.
We'll keep you posted if the Barbets pick our log for their new nesting site – so come back and make sure you keep yourself updated.
(Photo by Mark Anderson - Courtesy: www.savetheflamingo.co.za)
The Lesser Flamingos breeding for a first season (one of only six localities left in the world) on an artificial island in Kamfers Dam near Kimberley need all the help they can get. Kamfer's Dam is one of the very few places remaining in the world where this exceptional birds are breeding ... and the success story behind their survival is one of the most amazing conservation stories of the last few years. BUT ... now this species is threatened by a town development on the shores of the Kamfer's Dam, as well as the deteriorating water quality in the dam due to raw sewerage flowing into the dam. There are other localities for the property development - which will worsen the scenario of the raw sewage in the dam if it is permitted to go ahead.
For more information on this whole story and the threats to the survival of the birds in Kamfer's Dam follow this links: http://www.savetheflamingo.co.za/On this site you will also find ways to support the campaign to save the flamingos.