Weaver news

Levant Sparrowhawks hunt Quelea near Arusha

2012-02-29 (194)

On Tue 28 Feb James Wolstencroft posted an email to AfricanBirding:

"Dear All,
The link at the bottom of this note should take you to four, from-the- hip, photos by Martin Goodey of two first year Levant Sparrowhawks that were hunting queleas (both Q. cardinalis and erythrops) in the Rift Valley north of Mto wa Mbu which, as many must know, is on the main road from Arusha (and the rest of the world) to Tanzania's Crown Jewels - the Ngorongoro 'Conservation' Area and Serengeti National Park.

There were at least six LSHs in the Ol Mesera area [Ol Mesera map below and web page] - the performing stars - with a supporting cast of several other resident and migrant raptor species.

As hinted at, in the brief blogpost, it seems likely to me that regional climate anomalies, together with massive alterations in human land-use over the past ten years, have attracted large numbers of quelea into this part of the Rift Valley. These birds bred during late 2011 and the migrant accipiters have followed them into the area to prey on the hapless juveniles.

Perhaps Levant Sparrowhawks have habitually followed the breeding queleas, yet they have hitherto remained in those parts of north- central Africa where very few foreigners have dared to venture. Areas where there has never been, with the possible exception of the highly exceptional Admiral Lynes, a single serious birder."

The Levant Sparrowhawk photos may be viewed here.