by Geoff Lockwood (Our Resident Bird Boff)
Few of the thousands of users that traverse all, or parts of the Jozi Trails pilot project area daily are aware of the incredibly diverse birdlife that shares these open spaces with us. Since July 2007, I’ve recorded an amazing 222 bird species in this area – to put that into context, that’s more than a third of the total number of species recorded in the entire Greater Kruger National Park!
I’ve been based at the Delta Environmental Centre in Delta Park since December 1981, and my total bird list for this wonderful park currently stands at 278 species. The great thing is that the larger parks – like Delta, Emmarentia and Albert’s Farm are easily seen by birds flying high over the city and act as magnets for these passing visitors. At the same time, the spruit system that forms the ‘spine’ of the trail system also acts as a movement corridor for birds and other wildlife – bringing all manner of surprises into the heart of the city. In recent years we’ve had sightings of Marsh Mongooses in Delta Park and also at Emmarentia for example.
Jozi’s ‘urban forest’ is steadily attracting a growing number of raptors into our suburbs, with many of these species now nesting in the area. I’ve recorded 28 species of raptor (kites, hawks, eagles, falcons, kestrels and buzzards) in Delta Park – including rarities like Sooty Falcon, Cuckoo Hawk, Secretarybird and Tawny Eagle, and have also recorded three species of owl.
While some of these have only been seen once or twice, others have become more common and the park now regularly is home to Black-, Ovambo- and Little Sparrowhawks and Black-winged (formerly Black-shouldered) Kites. The Long-crested Eagle is the newest raptor to follow this trend and I have been recording up to three birds in the park in recent months.