In the hobby (or should I rather call it a sport?) of bird watching we mostly "study" our subjects through a pair of binoculars or even a spotting scope over some distance. Sometimes they are out in the open and you can watch their behaviour at length, jot down notes and even take photos of them. Other times they are just a flash of colour and a call as they are flitting between branches and leaves – obscured mostly from view but for a few splits of a second. When you have the privilege as I have to be not only a bird watcher, but to be training to become a bird ringer it is so much more of a delight to have a bird in hand to study it.
A week ago we netted a Jacobin Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus – Rob 382) just north of Aliwal North – recorded in pentad 3035_2645. It was a beautiful specimen of the dark form of this bird, which is quite uncommon in our area. This specific bird now carries ring - 4H08114. And after all its measurements had been taken, it even posed gracefully for a photo or two. Strangely enough we did not hear it call (normally they are noisy at the start of the breeding season) – if it had not landed itself in the mist net, it could have gone totally unnoticed.
It was the first record of this species in the southern Free State in our current bird atlas project (SABAP2) and for me the first record for the atlas (and our region) as well. This just shows that bird atlasing and ringing can complement each other.