Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Faansie Peacock - The Name to Trust for Pipit ID

When your name is "Faansie Peacock" I suppose your career options are limited. Either you can become an exotic dancer, or you can write the definitive field guide to the pipits of Southern Africa.

Luckily for us, he chose the latter! Pipits make gull/sparrow/shorebird ID seem easy.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cape Town Twitch

In the past we have not put much effort into chasing rarities when birding abroad. Usually the local birds are enough to keep us occupied. But when we got the report that a Northern Rockhopper Penguin had been spotted on the Atlantic side of Cape Peninsula just south of Hout Bay, we thought to ourselves "why not?"

African Penguins are declining breeders in the Western Cape, but any other penguin is a vagrant. This particular penguin is likely to have originated from Tristan da Cunha some 3000 km to the southwest.

When we arrived at the spot we couldn't find him at first which got us worrying. After waiting about 20 minutes we caught our first glimpses and eventually he came into full view. This was a juvenile bird, distinguishable by the diminutive head plumes, weaker bill and less extensive black in the throat. This bird was molting, and some knowledgeable locals informed us that a molting bird will not enter the water until the molt is complete; a process that would take about two weeks. The bird disappeared the day after we saw it, suggesting that either it succumbed to a predator, or was captured for its own safety for later release. Someone even suggested that perhaps the local aquarium had captured it for one of their exhibits!

For those wondering how Northern Rockhopper can be morphologically distinguished from a Southern Rockhopper, the Northern Rockhopper supposedly shows less extensive white in the underwing, as illustrated in the above photo.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

New OFO Decals

It has been a few years since OFO window decals were mailed around to members and my last one has started to peel away from my car window. So I am pleased to say that a new batch has been produced and will be mailed with the February issue of OFO News.

The quality is not quite 100% what I was hoping for in terms of the image quality. For some reason these things are bothersome to procure which is part of the reason why it has taken so long to produce a new batch.

Anyway, they may not look that good on close inspection but I am satisfied with how they look once applied to a car window so hopefully others will be reasonably happy with them too.