The battle of birds and mice

Not many South Africans know that our country has overseas possessions. They are Marion and Prince Edward Islands in the Southern Ocean, 2 200km south-east of Cape Town. Completely uninhabited – save for a weather and research station on the larger Marion Island – the two sub-Antarctic islands are cold, windy, wet and inhospitable to humans. In marked contrast they are home to millions of seabirds and seals. Among this teeming life are thousands of albatrosses, some of which may be seen on birding tours out of Cape Town. John Cooper and Robyn Adams, of the Mouse-Free Marion Project, write about the islands’ albatrosses and the threats they face on Marion from diminutive House Mice.

Conserving one of our rarest waterbirds

A shy and elusive bird unlikely to be spotted by those not expressly looking for it, the White-winged Flufftail is a small ground-living bird that typically reveals its presence by its ghostly hooting call. It is, however, one the world’s most threatened and rarest waterbirds and as such BirdLife South Africa is involved in various wetland and waterbird conservation projects to play their part in protecting this and other waterbirds.
By DR KYLE LLOYD with contributions from MARLIZE MULLER
Photos by Dr Kyle Lloyd, Warwick Tarboton, Sergey Dereliev, and Philip Stapelberg

GREEN & GOLD: The jewels of our forests

Did you know that South Africa has its very own endemic parrot species, the Cape Parrot? The reason that many people don’t know this, or have never seen a Cape Parrot, is likely due to the fact that their distribution is limited to small patches of isolated indigenous forest in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces. Additionally, there are only an estimated 1 800 left in the wild.

Fighting for their lives

As scavengers, vultures are synonymous with death, and seldom receive the same level of respect as other birds of prey. Indeed, being branded a “vulture” is the lowest form of insult, used to describe anyone gaining from someone else’s misfortune. This is unfortunate, as the misunderstood and much-maligned vulture is arguably the most important bird of prey of them all. Linda van den Heever, Vulture Project Manager at BirdLife South Africa explains.

Support for the struggling secretarybird

Often described as a peculiar looking bird, with the body of an eagle and the legs of crane, the Secretarybird is a treat to spot – especially if you’re fortunate enough to witness their elaborate mating ritual. However, writes BirdLife South Africa’s Raptor and Large Terrestrial Bird Project Manager, Dr Christiaan Willem Brink, these birds are increasingly under threat and already labelled Endangered.

Get Ready to rock and roll(er)…

The migrant season is upon us! And there is not a more charismatic, colourful and easily recognisable migrant than the European Roller. Rollers are attractive

Braking for birds

Andy Wassung of BirdLife South Africa, Is an lover of all things birding and gives you the tips of how to bird in The Kruger.