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Greater Frigatebird recorded in Gauteng!!

Greater Frigatebird recorded in Gauteng!!

On Monday 20 October, Peter Wilgenbus reported what he believe to be a Greater Frigatebird flying over Centurion, just South of Pretoria. Needless to say, many birders were somewhat sceptical about the presence of bird which is normall found on Oceanic waters, and specifically off Northern Mocambique. On Sunday 27 October, Rodney Cassidy chanced upon the Frigatebird at Rust de Winter Dam. The Birders network was soon buzzing, and by the end of the day on Sunday 27th several people had had excellent views of this special bird. I got to the dam at 6:45 on Monday morning, 28 October, and was able to locate the bird perched in a tree. Excellent scope views showed virtually all black plumage with a greeny-bronzy sheen on the back, and a dull orange gular sac - not easily visible.

Soon afterwards the bird took off and soared gracefully about the main bay of Rust-de-Winter dam. It seemed to spend a lot of time in the far distance, sometimes diving down to the water, and sometimes soaring up into the clouds. Periodically it would be mobbed by a view Grey-headed Gulls, allowing for a sense of the size and grace of the bird.

The flight appears slow and graceful, but it moves with speed. Every once in a while the bird would circle around and return to bay where watchers waited patiently.

On Sunday, Selwyn Rautenbach reported it collected fish pieces which were thrown out. Birders believe that the bird is most certainly in some sort of trouble, and arrived here due to the strange weather patterns which occurred over the last 2 weeks, including strong north-east winds.

Some debate took place in relation to the identification of this frigatebird, which is almost certainly a Greater Frigatebird. However the identification of male frigatebirds is extremely difficult and while the probability is very small that this is indeed another species, this chance still exists.

View Frigatebird photo pages.

Etienne Marais

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Web Site Updated 16 October 2003© Indicator Birding