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Counting Parrots- Report on the 2007 Cape Parrot Big Birding Day


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									Counting Parrots- Report on the 2007 Cape Parrot Big Birding Day, the 10th annual count.
Colleen T. Downs and Kate Meares School of Biological & Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, P/Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209, South Africa. Email: downs@ukzn.ac.za Members of the Cape Parrot Working Group This year marked the tenth anniversary of the Cape Parrot Big Birding Day (CPBBD). Numerous teams of observers were strategically placed in forests in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces in the hope of spotting some Cape Parrots. With the help of so many generous volunteers donating their time over the weekend of the 5th - 6th May, the 10th annual count was well supported and efficient. The weather was comparatively warmer than in previous years. Most importantly, the days were clear at many of the observation sites allowing for the best possible chance of observing Cape Parrots. The CPBBD’s primary aim is to estimate population numbers of Cape Parrots in the wild. These data collected by the observers are also later used be analysed distribution patterns and to estimate population viability. In addition to recording the numbers of Cape Parrots, observers record the presence of other rare bird and mammal species. As a result, the distributional data captured for Samango Monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis) and Southern Ground Hornbills (Bucorvus leadbeateri) will be mapped, thereby contributing much needed information on the distribution of these endangered species. The continuation of the CPBBD for 10 years is a notable milestone. Each year, the number of Cape Parrots observed in the wild has increased. However, this year has seen a marked decrease in numbers of Cape Parrots seen despite the number of observers remaining similar to those participating in recent years. This decrease highlights the need for continued studies of this species to ensure that any threats to the population (and its sub-populations) are identified. Adding to this we need to understand the movements of Cape Parrot between forest sites in order to better understand their ecology. This should be realized in the next few years with the recent donation of funds

from the World Parrot Trust. This new research will focus on improving our understanding of Cape Parrot distribution and demography in the northern Eastern Cape region, as well as improving our understanding of Afromontane forest ecosystem dynamics. We anticipate the Cape Parrot Birding Day will continue for many more years with the continued support of the volunteer observers in collecting data that will form a vitally important foundation for the interpretation of the Cape Parrot Action Plan. Results for 2007 The areas of South Africa that are covered by the count include the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo Provinces. In Limpopo, there is only a small remnant population of Cape Parrots. This year 252 volunteers were posted at 94 observation points in the three provinces. 542 parrots were seen during the afternoon count while 724 were seen the following morning (Table 1). Numbers are significantly lower than last year, however, in 2006 the numbers were up substantially from previous years suggesting that some parrots were counted more than once ie over estimated. Observers saw parrots at 61% and 62% on the localities for the Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning respectively (Table 1). It is thought that the major difference in numbers relates to the lower numbers seen in the Hogsback-Keiskammahoek area of the former Eastern Cape (Table 2). In 2006 large flocks were observed and it is possible that these were counted more than once. Table 1. Summary of results of Cape Parrot Big Birding Day (1998-2007).
Cape Parrots Year 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Weather Good Poor Good Good Good Mixed Good Good Mixed Good Observers 136 155 118 153 339 332 336 339 282 252 am Total 321 282 459 356 634 885 994 969 1332 724 Cape Parrots pm Total 179 237 460 316 476 717 1021 894 1108 542 Number of locations am 47 53 42 75 144 149 127 125 103 94 Number of locations pm 37 53 38 69 141 148 125 122 103 93 % obs. at locations am 64 53 69 57 44 46 68 58 78 62 % obs. at locations pm 38 47 66 52 41 45 58 56 65 61

Table 2. Comparison of Cape Parrots seen different regions during 2006 and 2007
2006 am 410 415 409 88 2006 pm 386 315 402 5 2007 am 295 265 129 35 2007 pm 193 129 198 22

KZN Transkei Former E.Cape Limpopo

The variability in results between years and the discrepancy between the morning and afternoon counts result from many factors including poor weather, double counting, and inadequate coverage. Also, when birds are concentrated at feeding sites, they give a false impression of abundance. Table 3. Summary of results of the Cape Parrot Big Birding Day 2007 pm 5th and am 6thMay) by area and province.
Area Zululand Boston Bulwer Byrne Dargle Karkloof Creighton (KZN) Creighton (Trans) Weza Glengarry Umtata Transkei Coast Stutterheim FF-Hogs-Keis Limpopo Total Cape Parrots Cape Parrots in morning in evening 0 0 8 4 43 43 0 0 12 12 11 0 172 104 116 49 49 30 6 18 137 56 6 6 61 63 68 135 35 22 724 542

This year the parrots were again observed feeding at sites away from forests on the census day and during recent months, often in areas where they have not been seen previously or have been absent for many years. Furthermore, like last year the parrots fed in many areas on exotic pecan nuts before they ripened and visited orchards earlier

than previous years. This suggests that there is little suitable natural fruit available in the indigenous forests. Acknowledgements We are most grateful to all those who participated in the CPBBD, particularly for the enthusiasm and continued support of the co-ordinators (Appendix 1) and volunteers, many of whom have participated for 10 years. This is particularly rewarding. Many of the areas where people observe are remote localities, and again we are grateful that they continue to participate and bear the costs of getting to these sites. In addition, the contribution of the DWAF, Sappi and Mondi foresters, Indwe Security (especially Gary Harvey and Bertus Bouwer), and E. Cape Nature Conservation and KZN Wildlife officials is greatly appreciated. Special thanks to Mazda Wildlife for their continued support. Postscript: In last years report mention was made of Colleen’s grandfather who was turning 100 years old. Sadly he was murdered in March this year and so this report is dedicated to him and his love of the outdoors.

The 11th CPBBD will be held in 2008 on the Saturday afternoon of the 4th May and the morning of the Sunday 5th May. Please diarise this and contact one of the co-ordinators in the area where you would like to assist (see Appendix 1).

Appendix 1. Contact persons for Cape Parrot Big Birding Day 2008- 4 & 5 May
Area Overall co-ordinator Newcastle (Ncandu) Karkloof Dargle/ Nottingham Rd/ Balgowan Byrne Valley Boston Bulwer Creighton/Donnybrook Weza/ Glengarry Mpur/Glengarry Name Prof. Colleen Downs Tony Roberts
Robinson, John & Jenny

Tel 033 260 5127; 0829202026 034 2125585 082 8217779
033-5029090 082-4433805

Email downs@ukzn.ac.za trtours@dundeekzn.co.za tomrob@mweb.co.za adamjnr@mweb.co.za mmanderson@mweb.co.za

Adam Robinson Malcolm Anderson Barbara & Glyn Bullock Russell Hill Malcolm Gemmell Colleen Downs Louis Marx Christie Potgeiter Stuart Charlton Dan Dekker Pat Lowry Gary Harvey

033 2344484 0726146081 033 2122744 082 5723455 033 997 1783 039 8320053 082 9239649 039 8331029 082 7895000 039 6821468 039 553 0401 083 662 1423 039 7479050 039 7273844 0834520883, 0436422791h, 0406350283w

carolhill@futurenet.co.za buttonbirding@futurenet.co.za

jeanmarx@telkomsa.net christiep@hansmerensky.co.za stuartc@hansmerensky.co.za dekkerd@xsinet.co.za lowry@kznwildlife.com starsec@mweb.co.za

Mthatha Langeni / Matiwane Ngcobo

Hogsback Stutterheim Wild Coast (Port St Johns) Mbotyi KWT/Alice

Jane Pledger


Neill Harvey Kathryn Costello John Duff Gertie Griffith

043-6832384 047 5641240 083 657 8764 043 7352195

alliedin@eci.co.za outspan@wildcoast.co.za


Peter Mather-Pike Northern Province David Letsoala Cathy Dzerefos Kobus Pienaar Coenraad van Zyl

043 7403566 0829248514 083 568 4678 015 2762704 083 7462239 015 2765003 082 809 8875 082 801 0014


cathy@dzerefos.com pienaarAJ@ledet.gov.za Coenraadvz@TelkomSA.net

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