Birds of prey – Read more here

Pidwa is lucky enough to be visited by a huge variety of bird of prey species including eagles, buzzards and vultures. Some of these birds are endangered or threatened and their populations are in a rapid state of decline. Vultures in particular are suffering from declining food availability, loss of foraging areas, electrocution on electricity pylons and use in the traditional medicine trade. Current research shows approximately 160 vultures are sold for traditional medicine in eastern South Africa every year.

Many of these species stay in South africa all year round but others migrate here for the summer months only, travelling from areas as far away as Northern Africa or perhaps even Europe. When these birds arrive and leave each year varies and often depends on ecological factors. This information can therefore be useful to indicate trends in weather conditions and the season that can be expected ahead. The EWT (Endangered Wildlife Trust) monitors birds of prey through their working group and a sceintific organisation named ‘Saeon’ is currently co-ordinating a nationwide programme called the “Bird’s eye view” project. This project relies on citizen participation and encourages efforts from all areas of the country to assist with research into the migratory patterns of birds. Data is then collated on a coutry wide scale to assist with the research.

Project aims:

Firstly to monitor all birds of prey using our habitats. Historical records will be used to predict trends and can be shared with the EWT.

Secondly to contribute to the “Bird’s eye view” project by collating data on migratory species, not all of which are necessarily birds of prey.

What’s being done?     

All birds of prey seen are identified and recorded. Nesting sites in particular are marked and information collected on when chicks are born and how many individuals are seen at the nest site. Data is also collected on all requested migratory species and sent to the relevant research groups.

The role of volunteers:

  • Bird ID & data collection – Data is only taken if we can be 100% sure of the species. Therefore volunteers learn how to identify the different species and then record the necessary data.
  • Migratory species work – This is particularly important during the spring and summer months when volunteers must be on the look-out for particular species. We must record their first day of arrival that season as accurately as possible to make a valid contribution to the project. Birds of particular interest for this data include certain roller, buzzard, kingfisher, and starling species to name a few. Again data is collated and sent to the ‘Saeon’ science programme. Currently Askari is the only provider of this data within the Gravelotte area so our contributions are much appreciated. We have since been asked to also assist with data relating to the flowering times for flowers and trees.

 

© Askari Wilderness Conservation Programme

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