Courser, Three-banded

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Johan van Rensburg
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Courser, Three-banded

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg »

Three-banded Courser, Rhinoptilus cinctus

This secretive bird is generally encountered in dry thorn scrub, bushy grassland and sparse Mopane woodland. Our sighting was after an extensive search during the last of three night drives at Mapungubwe NP in the scrub bordering the riverine forest along the Limpopo.

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Large view

They are usually found singly or in pairs, less often in groups of up to six birds and are largely nocturnal. When we disturbed this bird, it flew for a short distance. How the guide saw where it landed remains a mystery to me. He backed up and we found the bird where it stood frozen in the spotlights allowing reasonable pix to be taken. Every now and then it would sneak a step towards the bush and when it eventually reached cover, it disappeared swiftly.

It roosts by day in shade of bush or tree.

Duning nighttime it feeds by catching insects on the ground.

It nests mainly in dry season, making a deep scrape under a bush or tree. A clutch of two eggs is partly buried in loose soil and incubated by both parents for about 25 – 27 days.

Although a scarce sighting in South Africa, it is wide-spread in its range north of the Limpopo.
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Re: Three-banded Courser

Unread post by Johann »

We saw a pair nesting near the Limpopo Forest Tented camp in the western section of Mapungubwe in August 2007. In the last pic you can see the two eggs in the background, just to left of the bird at about knee-height.
Seeing that they were nesting and probably less than 10m from the road we saw them basically every time we drove past the spot.

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Last edited by Johann on Fri Oct 17, 2008 5:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Three-banded Courser

Unread post by Rusty Justy »

Johann :D Very lucky, and great sighting indeed...Very sought after bird, to see them nesting and more then once :thumbs_up:
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Three Banded Courser

Unread post by jgs »

Hi everyone
On Big Birding Day 2000, we had a wonderfull sighting of a Three Banded Courser on the Mphongolo loop on our way to Pafuri. One and only tick for me of this beauifull bird. I know there are quite frequent reports from the Pafuri region but has anyone seen this species so far down south?
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Re: Three Banded Courser

Unread post by johanrebel »

jgs wrote:there are quite frequent reports from the Pafuri region ?
Correct, but they seem to be very picky about their preferred habitat.

Although sporadically encountered elsewhere, the vast majority of sightings in the Makuleke CNP are along a closed road called *** Boma (which runs more or less east from the H1-9, about 2 km north of Luvuvhu Bridge), and then specifically on a stretch some 2 km long. The vegetation here comprises of quite open shrub/woodland almost entirely dominated by Salvadora australis and Acacia tortillis. Grass cover is short and sparse, with large barren patches. The soils are alluvial.

The birds can be ridiculously common here from January through April, to the point where novice birders have a hard time believing that they are such a special sighting. A careful search will usually reveal up to a dozen birds right next to or very close to the road, day or night. They are rather confiding, freezing on approach, but cheerfully accepting a stationary vehicle at very close range. Secretive is the last thing I would call them.

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Three-banded Courser chick hatches at Pafuri, northern KNP

Unread post by johanrebel »

Observation of Three-banded Courser Rhinoptilus cinctus chick hatching

Observer: Simon Stobbs
Location: Pafuri, northern Kruger National Park
Date: 16 and 17 November 2012

Whilst at Pafuri Camp in November last year I joined former head ranger Simon Stobbs, on a number of birding drives.
One of the days was spent seeing how many species we could record in a 24-hour period, whilst the others were spent searching for some of the Pafuri ‘specials’.
One of the target species was Three-banded Courser as it is a bird which reaches the southern end of its distribution at Pafuri (there have however been sightings further south in the Kruger Park over the last few years).
As a result of its distribution, people often require it for their South Africa list.

On 16 November we set out on a morning game-drive. planning to spend some time in some of the mopane woodland habitats found at Pafuri in search of the Three-banded Courser.
We had found a nesting Three-banded Courser in November 2011 so we were all rather hopeful.

Shortly after entering the first patch of mopane woodland, Allon, one of the guests, yelled that we had just driven past a Three-banded Courser right next to the road. Simon reversed the vehicle so we could get a good view, but parked some distance away as we did not want to frighten the bird which was sitting on a nest. This was interesting to note as two other Three-banded Courser nests at Pafuri have been found right next to the road, one of these being the nest seen in November 2011. In his book “Nests & Eggs of Southern African Birds”, Warwick Tarboton makes mention of the fact that Three-banded Coursers often nest on road verges. There could be something in this, or it could simply be due to the fact that it is a tricky bird to see and one typically tends to view it if only if it is close to the road.
We all trained are binoculars on the bird and after a while it briefly stood up. This allowed us to notice that the bird had a tiny chick beneath it.
When the bird stood up a second time we all had a view of an egg on the ground.
Here was a Three-banded Courser right next to the road with a recently hatched chick and an egg that was still to hatch! When the bird stood up for the third time, I saw that the chick inside the egg was busy hatching.
Not wanting to miss this, we sat patiently and watched as events unfolded.
After a few minutes, the bird stood up again and this time we had our first views of the newly-hatched Three-banded Courser as it lay in the scrape of a nest.

We now had a view of both chicks together

By this time, the non-incubating adult bird had appeared.
The incubating bird proceeded to carry the pieces of egg shell away from the nest and the non-incubating bird began to eat them.


The bird that had been incubating the egg then returned to the two chicks.
She immediately sat back down covering the newly-hatched chick beneath her wings.
The chick that had hatched first now stood in front of the incubating bird

After a short while, it headed beneath the safety of the adult’s wing to join its recently hatched sibling.
Simon took the picture of the adult bird with both chicks beneath it at 6:46 am which meant that all of this had happened in the space of 15 minutes.

We decided that we would head off as we did not want to place too much stress on the birds.
We agreed that we would return the following morning to see what had transpired.
We arrived at the site of the nest at 6:30 a.m., but there was no sign of any of the birds.
We slowly drove back down the road and then spotted the Three-banded Coursers about 70 meters from where we had seen them the previous day.
They were still in the Mopane woodland.
We initially had views of two adult birds, but as we looked closer, we managed to spot the two chicks.
One of them was lying beneath an adult bird and the other was huddled up next to a small branch.
We watched them for a while and left them in peace when they both curled up beneath an adult bird.

Johan
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Re: Three-banded Courser chick hatches at Pafuri, northern K

Unread post by Johann »

We found some incubating birds in 2007 in the western part of Mapungubwe NP. They were also right next to the road but unfortunately we didn't have the privelege to observe this.

8) Awesome!
Thanks for posting Johan.
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Re: Three-banded Courser chick hatches at Pafuri, northern K

Unread post by Elsa »

Incredible and interesting sighting and observations Johan. :thumbs_up:
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Re: Three-banded Courser chick hatches at Pafuri, northern K

Unread post by wildtuinman »

A very rare and enormously special sighting! Super stuff.
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Re: Three-banded Courser chick hatches at Pafuri, northern K

Unread post by Philip1 »

:clap: Thank you for sharing pics and educating Tr :thumbs_up:
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Re: Three-banded Courser chick hatches at Pafuri, northern K

Unread post by johanrebel »

My pleasure.

I also saw some newly minted Bronze-winged Courser chicks in the middle of the road and in bright daylight one afternoon. Some of the funniest looking birds I've ever seen! I don't carry a camera, and am still waiting for pics I've been promised. Should I get hold of them I shall post them in a topic in this forum.

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Re: Three-banded Courser chick hatches at Pafuri, northern K

Unread post by Tilandi »

Wow! Thanks for sharing this lovely 'happening'. :thumbs_up:
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Re: Courser, Three-banded

Unread post by wildtuinman »

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Re: Courser, Three-banded

Unread post by DotDan »

Cracking find and shot buddy!! :D
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