Weaver news

ADU Citizen Scientist Weekend, BLSA Centre Wakkerstroom, 17-18 Sept 2016

2016-09-20 (742)

The 23rd ADU Citizen Scientist Day was held at the BLSA Centre Wakkerstroom on 17 September 2016. On Friday afternoon, driving with Peter and Sandra Greaves, we surveyed the weaver nests along the R35 Bethal to Morgenzon, to Amersfoort and to Wakkerstroom. We found 7 colonies of 1 or 2 old nests on barbed wire fences and 4 colonies of 1-3 nests in trees. The fences provide new nesting sites for Southern Masked Weavers in grassland areas.

Nest on fence, PHOWN 24250
Habitat of same fence nest

On Saturday there was an early morning ringing demonstration for attendees. Rina Pretorius, Arjen van Zwieten, Sylva Francis (with Bradley Gibbons) and myself caught birds around the BLSA centre. The Cape Weaver males have much more orange on the head than those in Cape Town. One of the highlights was a Red-throated Wryneck.

Cape Weaver male
Red-throated Wryneck

There were about 50 people for the morning talks, and Brian Guerin, chair of the bird club, welcomed everyone. The speakers and talks were:

  • Peter Greaves - Go BIRPing
  • Peter Lawson - SABAP2: a personal adventure
  • Dieter Oschadleus - A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
  • Peter Lawson - The Greater Kruger Park Challenge
  • Dieter Oschadleus - Virtual Museum
  • Malcolm Hepplewhite - Wild flowers of the Grassland region

Arjen ringing a Red-throated Wryneck
Brian Guerin's welcome

The Wakkerstroom Bird Club provided teas and a great lunch! After lunch Peter Greaves ran a workshop on how to contribute to the Virtual Museum, and it was very well attended. In the afternoon some of the ringers set up nets at the Amersfoort bridge in Wakkerstroom.

The next morning some of the ringers again set up nets at the Amersfoort bridge in Wakkerstroom. A large number of Southern Masked Weavers were caught. It was freezing cold - Brian's thrmometer showed 4C! Brian and Brenda brought hot coffee which saved us from the cold. In addition to many Southern Masked Weavers, there were a few Fan-tailed Widows but the males of the widow were not in breeding plumage yet.

Southern Masked Weaver male
Fan-tailed Widow male
Snow near Volksrust at Sunday lunch

Ringing totals by species for the weekend (includes recaptures):

Species English Totals
238 Three-banded Plover 1
431 Black-collared Barbet 1
453 Red-throated Wryneck 1
545 Dark Capped Bulbul 1
576 African Stonechat 2
581 Cape Robin Chat 1
604 Lesser Swamp Warbler 4
606 African Reed Warbler 1
646 Levaillant's Cisticola 3
686 Cape Wagtail 5
703 Cape Longclaw 1
707 Common Fiscal 4
722 Bokmakierie 1
746 Pied Starling 2
799 Cape Weaver 6
803 Southern Masked Weaver 70
805 Red-billed Quelea 6
808 Southern Red Bishop 12
816 Fan-tailed Widow 6
843 Common Waxbill 1
  Totals 129

There were a few recaptures: BH65106 was recaptured by Rina at the Bridge - I had ringed it here as an immature male Southern Masked Weaver on 20/03/2010, 6.5 years previously. There were also 3 Southern Masked Weaver retraps from 2012 and one from 2016 January.

BirdLife Northern Natal invited me to speak on Bird Migration in Newcastle on 19 Sept.

Thanks to the Wakkerstroom Bird Club for a really well organised Citizen Scientist day! Special thanks to the hopsitality of Brian and Brenda Guerin. Thanks to BLSA for the venue. Thanks to the speakers and participants from KwaZulu-Natal (Ladysmith, Dundee, Newcastle), Mpumalanga (Wakkerstroom, Standerton, Nelspruit) and Gauteng. Thanks to the ringers for persevering in the cold.