Farmer Liohan Giliomee (a member of the Nuwejaars SMA) saw them for the first time at 2.30 in the morning. He was preparing his land to plant grain on it. A keen birder himself, he realised these 5 cinnamon-coloured birds were not the normal LBJs (Little Brown Jobs) we see on the Nuwejaars.
When he finally identified them, he realised all they could be were: Temminck’s Coursers. Temminck’s Coursers aren’t threatened birds. But they have RARELY been spotted in the Western Cape. They usually occur in northern South Africa, and then further north into Africa.
Two more sightings of a Temminck’s Courser have been recorded in the Nuwejaars. One was 15 years ago – certainly before technology allowed us to communicate the way we do today. More recently, Liohan spotted them two years ago.
News of the latest Temminck’s Courser sighting spread fast. By the afternoon, the first twitchers came to photograph the birds for their records.
They had settled on an agricultural land very close to the Nuwejaars River, and in the area where we are working with WWF to improve and expand bird habitat. It’s close to the Palmiet and Berzillia riparian wetland where teams are removing invasive plants.
(This WWF-funded project is specifically focused on improving the integrity of the wetlands and surrounding areas, to support the special and regionally endangered bird species that occur here).
The next day, Eugene and the Nuwejaars team set up guided tours to the Coursers – to allow birders to tick this bird off their list. Keen and well-known birders such as Trevor Hardaker joined the group on voting day. Three tour groups joined us on Wednesday to see the birds.
At this stage, the 5 Temminck’s Coursers have moved on to their next destination. Here they could remain in relative anonymity – unless a keen farming eye like that of Liohan notices them.
Images: Trevor Hardaker and Michael Mason.