New Holme guest farm (Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve) lies lies halfway between Cape Town and Johannesburg, just off the N1. Les, Karis and I visited from 10-12 November 2019 to test out ringing there, and take Virtual Museum photos en route.
Mistnetting at weaver colonies
We put a few nets around the farm house on Monday, and also before breakfast on Tuesday, and caught 86 birds. Top of the list was Cape Sparrow with 42 birds ringed (30 males, 12 females). Second was Southern Masked Weaver, partly due to a large colony in some reeds – there were many green nests, and at least 8 males in the colony – 1 juvenile, 15 males in full breeding plumage, and 8 females (two with brood patches) – it seemed as if breeding only started recently.
Ringing at swallow nests
A Greater Striped Swallow pair had a nest under the roof and White-throated Swallows were feeding juveniles near their nest. The swallows could be targeted by mist-netting near their nests. Flocks of Barn Swallows forage over the karoo veld.
Six Pied Starlings were caught in the mist-nets, but there is potential to catch hundreds! Spring traps and drop traps may be effective to increase the catch.
Night spot lighting
The surrounding karoo veld hosts the usual larks, chats, flycatchers, starlings, buntings and other specials – night spot-lighting could be used effectively to catch and ring these.
Cape Sparrow weights vary by region, as shown in the figure below. These birds are lighter in arid regions as represented by Namibia (Nam) and the Northern Cape (NC) compared to other regions in South Africa. The dots show the average and the vertical lines show the extreme ranges. A better analysis would be to separate males from females, but this shows the value of ringing very common species, and large numbers can be ringed at New Holme.
The river is within walking distance from the farm houses, and hosted many Three-banded Plovers. Mist nets here could catch these plovers and possibly other water birds.
Table – total number of birds ringed at New Holme, 10-12 November 2019
|African Reed Warbler||Acrocephalus baeticatus||4|
|Southern Fiscal||Lanius collaris||1|
|Pied Starling||Lamprotornis bicolor||6|
|Cape Sparrow||Passer melanurus||42|
|Southern Masked Weaver||Ploceus velatus||25|
|Red-billed Quelea||Quelea quelea||3|
|Southern Red Bishop||Euplectes orix||5|
|Karoo Prinia||Prinia maculosa||1|
Visiting and ringing in the Karoo is special! Thanks to PC and Marisca Ferreira and their staff for hosting us incredibly well! Thanks to Karis and Rozaan for help with the ringing!
|If you would like to ring birds in the Karoo, book a trip with Dieter at Birds4Africa (in conjunction with BDI)!|
(this blog first appeared here).