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PAPER: Weavers in Vilanculos

2014-09-29 (575)

Read C, Tarboton WR, Davies GBP, Anderson MD, Anderson TA. 2014. An annotated checklist of birds of the Vilanculos Coastal Wildlife Sanctuary, southern Mozambique. Ornithological Observations 5: 370-408.

New range record for Black-winged Bishop
shown as red circle
Abstract. The Vilanculos Coastal Wildlife Sanctuary (VCWS) lies on the San Sebastian Peninsula, Inhambane Province, southern Mozambique. The dominant terrestrial habitat is low miombo Brachystegia savanna. Less extensive terrestrial habitats include sand forest, dune forest, dune thicket, and open scrub. Freshwater wetlands form the area's most outstanding feature and include a large number of closed pans, permanent lakes, ephemeral and permanent marshes. Salt water habitats include large expanses of tidally-influenced sand-flats, salt marshes and mangroves in the Inhambane Estuary and along the northern and north-western shores of the peninsula. Based on three surveys (conducted in 2002, 2012 and 2013) and miscellaneous observations (2003 to 2013), a total of 285 species have been recorded, as well as an additional 23 unconfirmed species, giving a total species count of 308 species for the VCWS. Significant populations of Greater Flamingo, Crab Plover, Olive Bee-Beeeater, and Lemon-breasted Canary occur within the VCWS. Other noteworthy records include Wattled Crane, Greater Frigatebird, Cape Teal, Long-toed Plover, Southern Banded Snake Eagle, Sooty Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Common Black-headed Gull, and Green-backed Woodpecker, all species that are rare in southern Mozambique. New records for Sul do Save include Pallid Harrier, Lesser Noddy and Black-winged Bishop. Despite incomplete counts, it is evident that large numbers of Palaearctic charadriiforms and other waders are present in summer. Breeding evidence is confirmed for only 22 species, with equivocal evidence for another nine species, but notably includes large breeding colonies of Olive Bee-eater. The wetlands in the Sanctuary were inundated by Cyclone Leon-Eline in February 2000, Cyclone Japhet in March 2003 and Cyclone Favio in February 2007. A progressive drying out of the freshwater wetlands in the Sanctuary has been noticeable since the cyclonic inundation episodes with a associated decline in waterbird numbers. It is possible that episodic recharging of wetlands by tropical cyclones is an important and overlooked ecological factor in creating suitable habitat for breeding waterbirds in Mozambique. Miscellaneous behavioural and ecological notes are also included.

This study includes the following weavers:
Thick-billed Weaver
Dark-backed Weaver
Spectacled Weaver
Village Weaver
Southern Masked Weaver
Lesser Masked Weaver
Eastern Golden Weaver
Red-billed Quelea
Southern Red Bishop
Black-winged Bishop - a male was seen in January 2004, which is a new range record (see species text).
Fan-tailed Widowbird
White-winged Widowbird
The Southern Brown-throated Weaver and Red-headed Weaver have been recorded from the area, but not from Vilanculos Coastal Wildlife Sanctuary.

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