You might be interested to know that my checklist of the birds of the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve has just appeared in Ornithological Observations, the on-line journal published by BirdLife South Africa and the Animal Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town. It is available for free download at:http://oo.adu.org.za/content.php?vol=5

or directly from

http://oo.adu.org.za/content.php?id=130

It’s a 3mb file, but I hope most servers can deal with that easily enough nowadays!

Birds of the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve by Mike FraserAs well as individual accounts of the 279 species that have been recorded, the article provides a detailed background to the Reserve, including climate, geology, the marine and terrestrial environments, and the birds of various habitats. There is also a systematic checklist with status codes for quick reference, and a comprehensive ornithological bibliography.

The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve is a prime birding destination for visitors to the Cape, and a popular spot with local birders. It supports a number of Cape fynbos endemics, and is one of very few places where you have a chance of seeing Hottentot Buttonquail. It is also renowned as one of the best spots in the world for land-based seawatching, with the likes of Wandering and Northern Royal Albatrosses, Atlantic Petrel, and Little Shearwater on the list, together with many other pelagics, often seen in spectacular numbers and close to the shore. The Reserve’s rarity tally is pretty impressive and includes two seconds for Africa, a sprinkling of firsts and seconds for South Africa, and numerous species new to the south-western Cape.

All the species are described in terms of their historical occurrence, my own observations from the time that I spent at the Cape in 1984-96, and contemporary sightings by local birders. This approach will allow rarities and new colonists to be put in context, and changes in the status of a number of the Reserve’s birds (including the recent sharp decline of some resident species and Palaearctic migrant waders), to be monitored in the light of climate change, habitat management (notably fire regime), and visitor pressure.

I hope the publication will be useful if the CoGHNR is a place that you already visit, or are planning to visit as part of a birding trip to the Cape. I am also presently working on a condensed, illustrated version of the list aimed at more casual birders and general visitors. This will be published as a free ebook. I’ll let you know when this is available.

Mike Fraser, an ornithologist, ecologist and writer, obtained an MSc in ornithology at the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town after graduating with a BSc (Hons) in Biology at the University of Stirling. He lived in Cape Town for more than 10 years before returning to Scotland. He and his wife  Liz (nee McMahon), who is an artist and the illustrator of their three books, were awarded the Marloth Gold Medal of the South African Botanical Society for their contribution to the conservation of the unique and endangered Cape flora through their books ‘A Fynbos Year’ and ‘Between Two Shores’ (David Philip Publishers/New Africa Books).Their third book,‘ The Smallest Kingdom’, is also about the Cape Floral Kingdom. It was a recent finalist in the ‘Inspirational Book of the Year’ category of the Garden Media Guild Awards.

Mike is a conservation officer with the RSPB and a member of the advisory panel of ‘Birdwatch’, the UK’s top birding magazine. Apart from birding, he enjoys gardening, the history of scientific exploration, collecting natural-history books, and islands. He is an honorary conservation officer of Tristan da Cunha, where the Upland Inaccessible Bunting Nesospiza acunhae fraseri, is named after him.

Viv