Eurasian Blackcap Causes Suburban Chaos
Just hours after frigid temperatures brought snow to the Western Cape mountain ranges, the sky cleared, and with the sun came an unbelievable rare bird sighting out of the town of Durbanville. A Eurasian Blackcap was photographed on a feeder in the garden of David Hall, in the suburb of Vierlanden. A rare bird alert was sent out to its presence at around midday on Sunday, and saw twitchers from around the greater Cape Town area swarm to the quiet suburb in an attempt to twitch what is a provincial first.
Cars lined up along both sides of the small Vierlanden roads, as individuals filtered through the home of the residents, who were kind enough to open it up to birders who were attempting to twitch. The first on the scene were those living in close proximity, primarily residents of either the Northern Suburbs or Stellenbosch. The bird was picked up with ease after a short period of waiting, with the initial twitchers getting excellent views of the bird.
Around 50 people lined the patio of the house, as the gathering continued to increase in numbers. Despite being in-and-out of the garden, the bird was considered to be fairly reliable. That was until it remained ‘out’ for an hour, then two hours…
Despite the large number of twitchers present, only a small handful of the first who arrived had managed to see the bird. As the light began to dim, so did the faces of those who had made the — in many cases, lengthy — drive through to Durbanville. The sun set without the bird returning to the garden.
The following day, Monday the 17th July 2017, the bird was once again picked up at around 11am. The house owners had opened up their garden once again between 11:00 and 13:00, to allow for the chance at another crack at the bird. It didn’t take long before it was picked up by those who were there early. The alert went out and the suburb was soon, once again, filled with cars lining the streets. Perhaps even more visitors than the first day, both the patio and the garden were lined with individuals, bins and cameras in hand.
The events of the day, for those who had again not been there immediately, felt eerily similar to that of the day prior. The crowd waited for the full time period, but the bird again did not show. The twitchers filtered out at 13:00 as requested, most of whom left with the same sinking feeling they had the night prior.
** Eurasian Blackcaps are rare vagrants to Southern Africa with less than 30 records for the subregion. The are typically seen in summer, so a winter bird is even more peculiar. This record was the first for the Western Cape province.