Working for birds in Africa

Preliminary survey of Taita Falcon in the Drakensberg escarpment region, South Africa

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Summary. The Taita Falcon Falco fasciinucha is a rare and poorly known species, with fewer than 40 known nest sites scattered across eastern sub-Saharan Africa. A survey was initiated to determine the size and conservation value of a possible population of Taita Falcons in northern South Africa, centred on the Mpumalanga / Limpopo escarpment region. In September 2006 a team of expert observers spent two weeks searching for Taita Falcon nest sites. Two new nests were located, in addition to two sites already known in the area. Three pairs of Peregrine Falcon F. peregrinus, 12 pairs of Lanner Falcon F. biarmicus, 23 pairs of Rock Kestrel F. (tinnunculus} rupicolus, five pairs of Verreaux's Eagle Aquila verreauxii and five pairs of Jackal Buzzard Buteo rufofuscus were also located. Not all possible or likely Taita Falcon sites were checked in 2006 because of time and logistical constraints. A repeat survey in 2007 is proposed, and a Pan-African workshop is suggested to discuss research priorities for this threatened species.

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