800 Southern African birds in 2011, for the Bustards

Dedicated to Mike Perrins, 29/4/1932 - 18/12/2010, may he rest in peace

800 birds in 2011: this is a target I set for myself. On the 15th October 2011 we set out from Drotsky's Camp in Botswana with 799 on my list. Pel's Fishing-Owl would be 800 if we found it. We found it and it showed itself magnificently!! Started and achieved (I will not say ended yet....) with an Owl.

#800 Pel's Fishing-Owl

Now I could not do all of this for no reason other than getting a good year list for myself, so I have been in contact with BirdLife South Africa, who under the current leadership of Mark Anderson, are doing truck loads for bird conservation and awareness in our country as well as further into the region. My effort needs to be focussed, and to this extent I have chosen the White-bellied Bustard project as the beneficiary of donations received.

The funds will go to BirdLife South Africa, and in particular will be channelled towards the White bellied Bustard project. Barrow’s Korhaan as “our” bird is known has been lumped with White-bellied Bustard, a bird more widely spread in the continent and touching our region in the Kunene River region of Nambia. Our particular bird, Eupodotis senegalensis barrowii is listed as Vulnerable on the Red data list, whereas the broader African population is listed as Least Concern. With all the threats and recent publicity in particular of hunting of Bustards in our region, it is important that we establish as much information as possible on the various populations of these birds. The public’s donations will assist in providing funding for amongst others, DNA analysis and satellite tracking of the birds. The tracking will help establish movement in the breeding and non breeding season, as well as monitor habitat use of pristine vs agricultural land. To give an idea of why this bird is becoming so endangered, as little of 2% of the extremely over exploited grassland biome is formally protected.

In my effort to achieve my target of 800 species, I intend to broaden awareness of birdlife, the bird’s plights, their benefits to the local communities in terms of bringing in eco-tourists, as well as in general the joys of the hobby of bird watching. I'd like to ask the birdwatching public to consider donating towards this worthwhile project. So please all of you dig deep, think of the birds and those poor Bustards, and happy birding in 2011. Donations towards the White-bellied Bustard project can be made into BirdLife South Africa's account:

Bank details of BirdLife South Africa:

Account name: BirdLife South Africa
Bank: First National Bank, Randburg
Account number: 62067506281
Current account
Branch code: 254005

Please quote “Bustards-your-name” as a reference and please drop me an email to niall@kitech.co.za

Should anyone like to nominate their favourite bird or a bird number on my list, they can email me that, and it will be linked as such on the website as it grows through the year. A list of donors will also appear on the site. My first donor was an American birder I met last March, who opened the proceedings with a $100 donation, and nominated bird # 745 to have his name against.

Read more about the White bellied Korhaan by clicking here.

Cheers for now, and watch this space.


The proceedings got underway, with African Wood Owl calling above my tent at 03h00 on the 1st January. From there, onto the slopes of Mount Gorongosa, picking up the specials such as Green headed Oriole (bird #36).

Some milestones during the year:

Bird #1 African Wood Owl - Mozambique
Bird #100 Southern Hyliota - Mozambique
Bird #200 Cape Glossy Starling - Mozambique
Bird #300 Common Sandpiper - Mozambique
Bird #400 Grey Wagtail - Gauteng
Bird #500 Wattled Starling - Northern Kruger Park
Bird #600 Karoo Prinia - Eastern Cape
Bird #700 Karoo Eremomela - Western Cape
Bird #800 Pel's Fishing-Owl - Shakawe

Home page