Bird Stardom

The surprise sighting of an extremely rare feathered visitor to Namibia has had avid local and South African birdwatchers aflutter over the past two weeks.

News that an Irish birdwatcher living in the United Arab Emirates spotted a red-throated pipit (species Anthus cervinus) during a visit to the Avis Dam in Windhoek on 7 January has caused such great excitement among birdwatchers that some have travelled from other parts of Namibia and South Africa to get a chance to see this species in person, the chairperson of the Namibia Bird Club, Gudrun Middendorff, said yesterday.

Some birders travelled by car or flew in from as far as Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg for the rare chance to see the bird, which would normally not be found in southern Africa and has never before been photographed in the region, she said.

The only previous sightings of the red-throated pipit in southern Africa have been at Swakopmund, in Kwazulu-Natal, and in Zimbabwe many years ago, but none of those birds were photographed, Middendorff said.

The red-throated pipit is a species that breeds in northern Europe and northern Asia, and migrates to parts of western, north-central and eastern Africa during the northern hemisphere winter.

Photographer Niall Perrins, who took these photos of the Avis Dam’s star visitor, and two fellow birders drove from Durban to Johannesburg, took an early-morning flight from there to Windhoek, and after seeing and photographing the bird at the dam, flew back to Johannesburg the same day.

He and his fellow ‘twitchers’ would do it all again if a similar opportunity presented itself, Perrins said yesterday.

Source : The Namibian