Ra­re bi­rd sig­htings in­tri­gue lo­cal club mem­bers

Graaff-Reinet Advertiser - - Voorblad -

Four y­e­ars ago, a pair of G­reen­win­ged Py­ti­lia we­re re­cor­ded on Mooi­fon­tein ne­ar Graaff-rei­net for the first ti­me in the Eas­tern Ca­pe by Rod­dy and Jen­ny Fur­long.

Two y­e­ars ago, a­vid bi­r­ders Alan Col­lett and Rob and An­ne Boyd re­cor­ded a sin­gle ma­le in the Cam­de­boo Con­ser­van­cy.

On 31 Ju­ly this y­e­ar, Col­lett - a mem­ber of the Graaff-rei­net Bi­rd Club - a­gain re­cor­ded a pair on S­hol­to Kroon’s farm, K­lip­drift al­so in the Cam­de­boo Con­ser­van­cy.

As the G­reen-win­ged Py­ti­lia is a soug­ht-af­ter bi­rd a­mong Eas­tern Ca­pe bi­r­ders, a number of pe­op­le ca­me to see it w­hen the bi­rd - al­ong with nu­me­rous young on­es - was re­cor­ded e­very ti­me. Ac­cor­ding to the lo­cal bi­rd club, this can on­ly me­an that the­re is a bree­ding po­pu­la­ti­on in the a­rea.

W­hen a dis­co­ve­ry li­ke this is ma­de, it im­me­di­a­te­ly rai­ses que­s­ti­ons: did they co­me from el­se­w­he­re?

The bi­rds' clo­sest strong­hold is just south of Bloem­fon­tein, so, in or­der for them to get to Graaff-rei­net, they would ha­ve had to cross the a­rid Ka­roo which is not their ha­bi­tat. The­re are al­so no re­cords of them in the Ka­roo.

A­not­her the­o­ry that pre­vails is that they mig­ht ha­ve been he­re in very low num­bers for a very long ti­me. It is well kno­wn that the Cam­de­boo Con­ser­van­cy was bad­ly de­nu­ded 100 to 200 y­e­ars ago and the­re cer­tain­ly would not ha­ve been grass in that ti­me. The­se bi­rds need grass seeds to eat and to build their nes­ts. Pos­si­bly a small po­pu­la­ti­on sur­vi­ved and it has ta­ken this long for them to in­cre­a­se to the point w­he­re they are now being spot­ted. A thi­rd sce­na­rio is that they are es­ca­ped ca­ged bi­rds. This, of cour­se, ma­kes the pre­vi­ous spe­cu­la­ti­ons ir­re­le­vant, but w­hat is not im­ma­te­ri­al is that the cur­rent po­pu­la­ti­on is thri­ving re­gard­less of how they ca­me to be he­re.

Why are they thri­ving?

The Graaff-rei­net Bi­rd Club be­lie­ves that it is be­cau­se far­mers, such as S­hol­to Kroon, are ma­na­ging their veld well and the first thing that hap­pens w­hen the veld is well ma­na­ged is that the grass co­ver in­cre­a­ses.

It is a clas­sic ex­am­ple of how bi­rds can in­di­ca­te the he­alth of e­cosys­tems and far­mers can be­ne­fit the bi­rds with the way they ma­na­ge their veld.

The W­hi­te-bro­wed S­par­row-we­a­ver and the S­ca­ly-fe­at­he­red Finch are a­not­her two spe­cies that de­pend on grass and they ha­ve al­so ma­de a re­ap­pea­ran­ce in re­cent ti­mes.

The G­reen-win­ged Py­til­lia

Newspapers in Afrikaans

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.