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ADU page in African Birdlife, July –August 2014 

ADU page in African Birdlife, July-August 2014

Les Underhill

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2014-08-08 Megan Loftie-Eaton 

TGIFF - Thank Goodness it's FLUTTERBY FRIDAY! This stunning butterfly is a Little Pansy (Junonia sophia) -- the Little Pansy is a butterfly in the Nymphalidae family. There are two subspecies of this beautiful butterfly, namely: -- Junonia sophia sophia (Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon) -- Junonia sophia infracta Butler, 1888 (Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, eastern Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, western and central Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi, northern Zambia)

The Little Pansy prefers forest and savanna habitat. The larvae feed on Paulowilhelmia sclerochiton, Hypoestes verticillaris, Brillantaisa lamium, Sclerochiton paulowilhelmina, Asystasia, Barleria, Justicia, and Ruellia species.



2014-07-18 Dieter Oschadleus 
Weaver nests with long entrance tubes 
phown 5189 phown 1028 phown 5320 phown 11499 phown 5338 phown 8416

Several weaver species regularly build nests with long entrance tubes, although some individual nests have shorter tubes:
Baya Weaver phown 7442
Black-throated Weaver
Nelicourvi Weaver
Dark-backed Weaver
Black-necked Weaver
Spectacled Weaver
Gola Malimbe
Cassin's Malimbe
Red-bellied Malimbe
Ibadan Malimbe
Rachel's Malimbe
Red-vented Malimbe
Red-headed Weaver

Often long tubed nests are built by solitary, monogamous weavers. This group of weavers usually consists of a pair and they build the nest together. In some malimbes, a group of birds help build a nest. The long tube probably reduces predation but does not stop some predators. In the polygnous weavers it is usually the male that builds (although the female lines an accepted nest) and males want to build many nests in a breeding season, rather than spending energy on building nests with long tubes.

Thanks to the observers who submitted these records! Please record and submit your record of weaver nests to PHOWN (PHOtos of Weaver Nests) via the Virtual Museum upload site.  


2014-07-08 Les Underhill 
Greater Kruger National Park Challenge – 2014 – the mid-year progress report says "Outstanding" 

Greater KNP The Second Southern African Bird Atlas Project has selected a few key areas for special annual attention. This reports on excellent progress with the Greater Kruger National Park Challenge for 2014.

Although the Greater Kruger National Park Challenge was set up at the start of 2014, we have not made a big deal of it.

This challenge supplements the annual atlasing effort on the Four Degree region, centred on the Johannesburg and Pretoria conurbation. This constitutes the Greater Gauteng challenge area and it is important because about 30% of South Africa’s population lives in it. The Kruger National Park and its environs are important because this is the premier conservation region in southern Africa. In the Greater Gauteng area, we need to monitor intensively because we fear that development will impact the birds. In the Kruger National Park, we need to monitor intensively because we hope that there will be little change to bird species composition through time. If there are changes, then it is due to causes other than “development.”

The underpinning paradigm for the Greater Kruger National Park Challenge is the same as for the Four Degrees region. We aim to go as wide as we can (ie to get full protocol checklists from as many pentads as possible) and we aim to go as high as we can (ie to build the stack of checklists on each pentad as high as possible).

We defined the region for the Greater Kruger National Park Challenge as every pentad east of 31°E and north of 26°S (and inside the South Africa border with Mozambique). This includes quite a lot of territory outside the park, but this is important because it enables “inside-outside” comparisons to be made. See the map below. There are a total of 671 pentads in the region. In 2013, atlasers visited 326 of the 671 pentads (48%) and accumulated a total of 1154 checklists. So for 2014, we decided that aiming to visit 350 pentads, and making 1250 checklists were realistic targets

How has Team SABAP2 Greater Kruger National Park fared? They have done remarkably well. By 8 July they had visited 283 pentads (that is 80.9% of the target). It looks as if we will be able to adjust the coverage target upwards! Already, 680 checklists (54.4% of the target) have been submitted. Just beyond the halfway stage of the year, this as pect the challenge is on track.

Atlasers, if you visit this region, please become part of Team SABAP2 Greater Kruger National Park, and help to monitor bird populations in one of Africa’s most important protected areas. SABAP2 is unique in being able to provide a broad-brush monitoring of all bird species across this large area.


2014-07-06 Les Underhill 
Two-thirds coverage in 2014 of the Four Degrees of Greater Gauteng reached on 5 July 

66.67% coverage on 5 July for the Four Degrees

Celebration time for the Second Southern African Bird Atlas Project! It is only a couple of days after mid-year. But 'Team SABAP2 Greater Gauteng' have already achieved two-thirds coverage of the Four Degree Squares defined as Greater Gauteng. This is the area inside the Red Square on the 2014-only coverage map. So there are almost six months left to tackle the final one-third, inevitably the more inaccessible and challenging pentads to reach.

In detailed numbers, 384 of the 576 pentads in this region have already had a full protocol checklist made in 2014. We also set ourselves the target of an average of six checklists per pentad for the year. That is 6 × 576 = 3456 checklists. Team SABAP2 Greater Gauteng is already at 1848, 53.5% of the target, just nicely ahead of schedule.

Three pentads are shaded PURPLE – astonishingly this means that they already have more than 50 checklists. Another 11 are RED, and they have more than 25 checklists. Is this really a celebration. Yes, it is, and it is a reason for celebration because the statisticians who analyse these data thrive on large sample sizes. Many of the little biases that bedevil analyses with small samples are averaged out by large sample sizes. These large samples will enable us to detect changes in species composition more easily.

This is the area where stuff is going to happen. 30% of South Africa’s population lives and works and plays in the Red Square. The development pressure is huge and is going to continue to be huge. The pressure on biodiversity is going to be huge, and it is only as we have lots of good solid quantitative data to back up the conservation agenda do we have a chance of mitigating the impact of development.

The map also includes a half-degree broad band around the edge of the Red Square. Please don’t neglect this region. Some of it does not yet have four checklists in total since SABAP2 began seven years ago.


2014-07-06 Les Underhill 
90000 records uploaded through the Virtual Museum website 

90000th Virtual Museum record

The critical first requirement for the Red List assessment of a species is a good and up-to-date distribution map. Without this map, the assessment for a species becomes “Data Deficient” which is an admission of failure: “We do not have enough information about this species to be able to decide where to place it along the spectrum: Least Concern, Near-threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered.”

Even if you do not know your butterflies, your moths, your scorpions, your reptiles, your spiders, your starfish, etc, you can help to build these 21st century distribution maps which are so crucially important. You simply take photographs and upload them into the ADU Virtual Museum. They will be identified by the expert panel for the group.

The ADU’s MammalMAP project is currently partnering the EWT and SANBI to undertake the re-evaluation of the Red List for mammals in South Africa. Our responsibility is to produce the maps on which the assessments are based. If you have photos of mammals, large or small, abundant or rate, from inside nature reserves or (even more valuable) from outside them, please upload them to the Virtual Museum and they will contribute to the Red List assessment. In other words, you are not powerless when it comes to biodiversity conservation. You CAN make a difference.

And each of the other groups will also get their turn to be Red Listed, and re-Red Listed. So please do upload your photos. Start at the Facebook page called ADU Virtual Museum. Click on the cover photo, and it will take you a series of links to slides shows that explain how to do this.

The photo below was the 90000th record to be uploaded to the ADU Virtual Museum through the website upload system. It is a butterfly with the delightful and descriptive common name of Scarlet Tip. Its scientific name is Colotis annae annae. The record was made in 5 July 2014 and uploaded to the Virtual Museum on the same day by Richard Johnstone. The photo was taken at the Zimango Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal. Go to LepiMAP record 49146 to see this record in its Virtual Museum context.

Please help build the 21st century distribution maps. Your photos are needed for completing the big jigsaw puzzle we are steadily constructing.