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Heron, Grey
Shoveler, Cape
Rush-Warbler, Little
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Weaver, Cape
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Most recent submissions

2014-04-18Kletz, Graham
2014-04-17Kletz, Graham
2014-04-16Kletz, Graham
2014-04-10Miller, Selwyn Moorcroft
2014-04-17Archer, Tony
2014-03-07Steenkamp, Ronel
2014-04-14Craig, Yvonne
2014-03-21Matthee, Ruan
2014-04-15Peck, Lee
2014-04-15Bull, Graham
2014-04-15Peck, Steve
2013-04-02Swanepoel, Whilmien
2014-04-15Goetsch, Bruce Allan
2013-06-07Swanepoel, Whilmien
2013-07-18Swanepoel, Whilmien
2013-07-30Swanepoel, Whilmien
2014-04-15Lerm, Rion
2013-08-12Swanepoel, Whilmien
2013-08-05Swanepoel, Whilmien
2013-08-19Swanepoel, Whilmien
2013-09-04Swanepoel, Whilmien
2013-10-15Swanepoel, Whilmien
2013-10-15Swanepoel, Whilmien
2014-04-15Kletz, Graham
2013-11-13Swanepoel, Whilmien
2014-04-13Bullmore, Andrew
2014-04-14Lerm, Rion
2014-04-14van der Spuy, Richard
2014-04-13van der Spuy, Richard

Latest news

SABAP2 doing awesomely in 2014; today we celebrate the milestone of a "MiniProject"

2014-04-12 08:50:59

Fantastic achievement Team SABAP2 in Greater Gauteng! 50% of the 576 pentads in the Four Degree Squares region have been visited in 2014, and a total of 1019 checklists collected. What drives the passion to keep on collecting so much bird atlas data for the Four Degree Squares centred on Gauteng? Here’s the reason. In 1996, Gauteng was home to 7.8 million people, 19% of South Africa’s population. In 2001, the population had grown to 9.4 million people, 21% of the population. At the 2011 census, Gauteng alone had 12.3 million people, 24% of the population. Currently, in 2014, about a quarter of all South African’s live in Gauteng, and the proportion is predicted to increase steadily. This region is suffering a double whammy! The South African population size is increasing, and an increasing proportion of these are living in Gauteng.

50% coverage in the Four Degree Square region, centred on Gauteng, 12 April 2014Right now, about 30% of South Africa’s population lives within these Four Degree Squares. The development pressure is going to be huge, both as a result of population increase, and the general drift of people to the economic powerhouse of the region. If we collect large volumes of bird atlas data, we can detect changes in species composition, and we can detect when species are starting to drop out of the species list for a pentad.

Biodiversity represents quality of life. Biodiversity represents ecosystem services. Unless we document and quantify biodiversity and know how it is changing, we cannot tell whether we are losing it until it is all gone. That is why we drive this "Greater Gauteng" project with such enthusiasm.

This is the context to our mission to get lots of data for this region on an annual basis. We want to get as many of the 576 pentads in the area covered as possible each year, and we want lots of data for the region as a whole – we have set 3456 checklists as the target for 2014. This is an average of six checklists per pentad.

This snip from the coverage map shows the Four Degree Squares region, at 50% coverage, plus one ring of pentads all along the edge.

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There is one thing that SABAP2 does better than any similar project, anywhere on this planet

2014-04-11 08:33:17

BirdPix 448 European Rollar Dawie de SwrdtThere is one thing that SABAP2 does better than any similar project, anywhere on this planet, North America and Europe included. We measure the timing of arrival and departure of migrants with more precision over a wider area than anyone else does. In an era of global climate change, the bird species that are predicted to battle the most to survive are the long distance migrants. ADU PhD student, Elsa Bussiere, has completed an analysis of the SABAP2 data for 18 long distance migrants, some intra-African and some Palearctic. The results are fascinating, but the take home message for this news item is that the SABAP2 data are able to deliver the important results we have been claiming they can achieve. And no one else, anywhere, can do it as neatly as we can. So, as project leaders, we are absolutely certain that we are not asking you to waste your time and money going atlasing! We are collecting high quality information.

Over the next few weeks the final departure for many species will take place. If you go to the species information on the new SABAP2 website you will see that many species are starting to become less frequently recorded as they depart. It is 06h30 on 11 April now, and I am looking at the European Roller (go to this link) with 10 submitted records since 1 April, and the most recently submitted record was on 6 April, five days ago. SABAP2 is able to measure how the relative abundance thins out, and how departure takes place spatially within southern Africa.

And over the next few weeks there are lots of public holidays. Atlasers, please make submitting a few checklists over this period a priority. It does not matter how many checklists the pentad already has. The data collected now help us to quantify the timing of departure in autumn 2014. The old data are important, because we can measure change by comparing this year’s data with the old data. But this is our only shot at collecting data in autumn 2014!

And finally, after voting for the candidate of your choice on 7 May, you should plan to do an atlas list, and vote for as many species as you can find in your favourite pentad. You ought not to be able to vote for many of the migrants, but that is critically important information, because it tells us that they have gone.

The picture is a European Roller from the BirdPix Virtual Museum (Dawie de Swardt, Soetdoring Nature Reserve, Free State: see the full details of this record). So a final request. Please take your camera with you, and if you get a chance to make records of mammals, reptiles, butterflies, scorpions, spiders, dragonflies, etc, for the Animal Demography Unit’s Virtual Museum (, please do so. The Virtual Museums have a new, overarching, page on Facebook.

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You are awesome, Team SABAP2. You have made 20000 checklists for the Western Cape

2014-03-26 08:42:53

Cape Sugarbird Sue-Lesley Norgate BirdPix1544

SABAP2 - Second Southern African Bird Atlas Project − is the most important bird conservation project on the go at present. Its results are fundamental to all conservation initiatives. We need to know bird distributions and how they are changing in order to do conservation effectively, and to set priorities. Please join us in celebrating the milestone reached by the citizen scientists who contribute to SABAP2 in the Western Cape − they have submitted 20000 checklists of birds. As the sugarbird says: "Awesome!"

Atlasers in the Western Cape and atlasers visiting the Western Cape boosted the total number of full protocol checklists in the province past the 20000 milestone earlier this week, and it has already ticked along to 20010!

What this means in practice is that detailed analyses of changes in species composition, year-by-year through the duration of the project are feasible. This is especially important because the Western Cape includes most of the Fynbos biome, and parts of the Karoo. Well done to everyone who has contributed, both those who have submitted lots of records, and those who have contributed just a handful of checklists. It is the power of small numbers that enables us to reach this massive total.

But the Western Cape cannot rest on its laurels. We have set a target for visiting 700 of the 1837 pentads in the province in 2014, and making a total of 2500 checklists in the year. At present we are on 232 pentads (33% of target) and 475 checklists. It is the 475 which is the worry; this is only 19% of the target − to keep pace with the target we ought to be on 25% by the end of March, so we are quite a way behind. The targets were set in relation to the number of checklists submitted last year.

The fynbos endemic in the photo, a Cape Sugarbird at Silvermine in the Cape Peninsula National Park, was submitted by Sue-Lesley Norgate to the BirdPix Virtual Museum. See here for the full record in its virtual museum context. Learn how to submit records to the Virtual Museum, by looking at this set of instructions.

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Citizen Science Week : Saturday 8 March to Sunday 16 March

2014-03-09 11:18:30

Citizen Science Week 8-16 March

Ultimately, the goal of all the data collection by the ADU’s citizen scientists is to have an impact on biodiversity conservation. The wealth of data and information contributed by our citizen scientists, collated and curated at the ADU, and analysed by our students and staff and by many other people, has improved biodiversity conservation in southern Africa. Together we are making a difference!

Citizen Science Week celebrates the participation and involvement of citizen scientists in building our digital biodiversity databases, totalling some 18 million records. The objective of our "Citizen Science Week" is to give all citizen scientists a chance to become a community with the objective of collecting and submitting as much biodiversity data in digital format as we are able during the week. Citizen Science Week runs from Saturday 8 March to Sunday 16 March, so it includes two weekends.

We want to involve as many of our existing citizen scientists as possible. We want to recruit new people to our citizen science team. We want to collect as much biodiversity data as possible: so we will try to count the total number of records entering the various databases, and try to determine the total number of different species we record. We want to encourage Team Citizen Science.

We would be delighted if our citizen scientists participated in more than one project, and especially if they participated in one they had not been involved in before. So we want our bird atlasers to participate in LepiMAP, The Atlas of African Lepidoptera, our bird ringers to take pictures of weavers' nests for PHOWN, PHOtos of Weaver Nests, and our CAR counters to give bird atlasing a try, etc. We particularly want to grow awareness and participation in the growing family of virtual museums: see

This is also a great opportunity to try to expand the citizen science team. The best way to do this is to invite someone new to join you atlasing, ringing, counting, virtual museuming. And to show them the project protocols – for example, exactly how to go about bird atlasing.

These celebrations honour you, the citizen scientist. Thank you for your on-going support from all of us at the ADU.

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