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Limpopo Birding Routes was excited to be an exhibitor at the vibrant Limpopo Tourism stand at the World Travel Market in Cape Town from 18 – 20 April. Lisa Martus and David Letsoalo were there to meet tour operators from around the world and promote our fantastic array of birding sites and accommodation establishments.
In conjunction with Limpopo Tourism Agency, eight international tour operators were then taken on a four-day educational tour of some of Limpopo’s birding and cultural highlights.
In April 2018 Jody de Bruyn was birding in the Makotopong area, about 25km north east of Polokwane on the Capricorn-Letaba Birding Route. It was early morning and he was just about to leave when he spotted a peculiar-looking warbler foraging on the outside of a bush.
“The bird looked very grey and had a dark lengthy tail. These are some more features that I managed to see while photographing the bird... It had dark blue-grey legs and feet and a predominantly yellow-orange bill, which looked fairly long with a wide base. It seemed to have some white eye-ring and I didn't notice an eyebrow stripe going past the eye. It had plain lores, with plain cheeks. It had white outer-tail feathers and very slight white tips to the tail. There was uneven spacing of the tertial feathers and a noticeable white wing panel on the secondaries.
I tried to match this bird to any of the common migrant warblers that we find in our region, but none of them seem to fit the features and general "giss" of the bird. Puzzled at what species this could be I sent an e-mail to a few local experts, who in turn sent e-mails to experts around the world. The overall feeling was that this bird was an Upcher's Warbler, which was confirmed by warbler expert Peter Kennerley, co-author of the book "Reed and Bush Warblers".
The Upcher's Warbler spends its wintering months in East Africa and commonly migrates to countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania. This means that the bird I spotted was about 3,500km away from where it should be found, making this a remarkable record. So, there we have it – the second confirmed sighting of an Upcher's Warbler in the Southern African region!” – Jody de Bruyn
The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas BirdLasser Challenge focuses on the network of 112 sites identified by BirdLife South Africa’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) Programme. These IBAs are critical for the long-term survival of bird species that are globally threatened, have a restricted range or are confined to specific biomes or vegetation types. It is believed that the national IBA network holds more than 750 bird species, the challenge is see how many can be recorded in one year. It is hoped that valuable data about the distribution of birds within the IBA network will be collected. IBA’s in Limpopo are: Mapungubwe National Park, Kruger National Park and adjacent areas, Soutpansberg, Blouberg, Wolkberg Forest Belt, Polokwane Nature Reserve, Waterberg System, Nyl River Floodplain and Northern Turf Thornveld. To find out more about each IBA, go to http://birdlife.org.za/conservation/important-bird-areas/iba-directory
To take part, go to: