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The Ringing Unit members, Lee Silks, John and Gail Maberly, Ettienne Kotze and Rocco Nel, have been active with their regular Wednesday morning ringing activities. Due to illness Gail has unfortunately not been able to join a few outings. On behalf of the Club we wish her a speedy recovery.
Because the nets must be up pre-dawn, the birders need to rise very early during summer to catch the proverbial worm. We alternate weekly between our regular sites Tygerberg Nature Reserve, Durbanville Nature Reserve, Botterblom Park, Uitkamp at D’Urbanvale, Groot Phesantekraal Farm, Goedeontmoeting Farm, Avondale Gardens, Brackenfell Nature Reserve and more recently also Nitida Wine Farm. By regularly visiting these sites and submitting our records to SAFRING at UCT, a history is built up of which species occur in what numbers at these sites as well as breeding success and longevity of birds, etc.
Besides the regular species captured and ringed we have recorded a few special
catches recently. A juvenile Lesser Honeyguide at Botterblom, a female Orange-
Breasted Sunbird at Uitkamp (this one raised the eyebrows of Brigid not believing it occurred there) and a Layard’s Warbler at Tygerberg Nature Reserve.
It is also uncanny that some birds never learn their lesson and keep on flying into our nets. A White-backed Mousebird has flown into our nets at Uitkamp on 5 occasions within the space of three years. A Cape Robin Chat at Durbanville Nature Reserve has also been in our nets on 5 occasions. The first time in 2015 and the most recent on 21 February 2024. The most fascinating recent retrap was a Namaqua Dove originally ringed by Lee Silks at Rocher Pan in October 2018 and retrapped near Waterberg in Namibia in November 2023. An amazing distance of over 1300 km from Rocher Pan. 

In the first week of February Lee Silks and Rocco Nel attended a Bird Ringing course in Vanrhynsdorp presented by the Biodiversity and Development Institute (BDI) and led by the very experienced Les Underhill and Dieter Oschadleus. We were exposed to different techniques of rigging mist nets, taking measurements of birds, etc. The venue was at Botuin an olive farm on the eastern outskirts of Vanrhynsdorp owned by Salome Willemse, an avid nature lover and gracious host. Ringing took place in the olive groves on the farm as well as outings to Vanrhynsdorp Sewage Works, and to the lower slopes of the Gifberg. During the week a total of 288 birds of 37 different species were ringed including retraps. Some of the species ringed, which we do not normally find in our normal haunts were:  Little Stint – a ringing lifer for Lee. Not many lifers for her after more than 30 years of ringing. Large Billed Lark, Karoo Chat,  Stonechat, Rufous-eared warbler (unique happening when two Rufous-eared warblers were caught in a spring trap simultaneously with only one mealworm in

one of the 2 Rufous eared Warblers_edite

the trap),Namaqua Warbler, Fairy Flycatcher and Lark-like Bunting. Many more birds could have been trapped during the week as the ringing was limited to only a couple of hours daily due to extreme heat and heavy wind. Temperatures of 45 degrees were  experienced for a couple of days and not much cooler at night. Lee and I were allotted to a guest house in rooms without air  conditioning, and only fans to stir the heat around and compete with the mosquitoes. 

Early risers are invited to join us on a Wednesday and enjoy a bird ringing
TBC Ringing Unit

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