What was supposed to be a day outing turned into a morning outing for the 11 perticipants. The morning breeze prompted some to wish they had brought along jerseys. The highlight of the outing was the sighting of two Verreaux's Eagle Owls.
If you have ever wondered why it is important to stay on pre-defined roads or tracks and not go off them here is a good example - an incident that occurred during the December holiday.
This White-fronted Plover had a nest (first row of photos below) near to a well-worn track. However some idiot had, for some reason or other, (perhaps to compensate for a miniscule-sized appendage), to drive off the track. The result of which can be seen in the second row of photos with the nest destroyed and eggs crushed.
"THANK YOU once again, to all who made the count possible! Without the loyal support of volunteers and sponsors, it could not have been done.
The 35th year of the count started of with a bang. On Saturday we had 80 volunteers and on Sunday, 68. The weather was perfect, high cloud with no wind. The extra, extra high tide did cause more than just wet feet, but the survivors were smiling!
As expected, the Lesser Flamingo numbers are down. We found 6 036 (but in January 2010, we had even less, when only 2 617 were recorded). From Botswana, I received a mail and photo showing hundreds of thousands of flamingos in Sua Pan. However, Greater Flamingos surprised with a high count of 43 001 (don’t forget the 1). That is the highest count the past 5 years. There have been a number of juvenile Greater Flamingos around for several months
Our most common wader, the Curlew Sandpiper (which spends our southern winter breeding in the high Arctic of Siberia), showed a surprisingly low count, with only 7 853 recorded. However, there are probably another few thousand amongst the 14 165 “unidentified” small waders. In February 2015, we had a total of 31 094.
Pied Avocet, easily identified and conspicuous, had the highest count for the past five years, with a total of 6 647. In January 2017, only 615 were seen. I assume the birds are back from their successful breeding season inland.
Terns, the birds that can boost a count by 30 000 to 40 000, were noticeably absent. With the seven species of terns we can find on our counts, we only recorded a total of 5 337, with another 3 228 as “unidentified”. In January 2004, we had a staggering 38 000 terns and most of them were Common Terns.
Some interesting vagrants were sighted and for many of the volunteers, they were “lifers”: the first time they had seen these particular visitors to our coast. They included the American Golden Plover, Common Redshank, Great Knot, Red Phalarope and Red-necked Phalarope.
The Sewage Ponds are spread over a large area and it is difficult to count between the small dunes because there is water everywhere and nobody wants to walk in THAT water. There were 2449 Lesser Flamingos and of interest, is a Glossy Ibis. Total birds recorded 4 524.
Many people assisted to make the count possible and I would like to thank our loyal caterers: Gisela, Klara and Bill for their continued support. Kevin is thanked for arranging a number of things.
THANK YOU to the following who have assisted over the years: Buccaneers Squash Club, Namib Marine Services, Probst Bakery, Radio Electronic and Namibia Breweries. Thank you to Ultimate Safaris, Wilderness Safaris, Mola Mola and Pelgrims Tours for support and use of their vehicles and other people who helped to transport the counters.
The count would not have been possible without the co-operation of Walvis Bay Salt Refiners. Most of the count took place in their property. The new evaporation pans have created ideal habitat for many water birds. They gave us unlimited access to their property and the use of the Keith Wearne Lookout."