The Unexpected Local Twitch !

Posted: 20/01/2021 in Birding
Tags: , , ,

It started last Wednesday afternoon.

I was sitting quietly reading a (rather good) book and very much minding my own business.

Jan rushes into the room in quite an agitated state …… “Where’s your phone?” “Have you seen your phone?”

A little bemused I wander into my office where that irritating thing, my phone, is on charge, pick it up and see a message.

[16:22, 13/01/2021] Jean Blake: GIGA ALERT!!!!
[16:24, 13/01/2021] Jean Blake: Madagascar Cuckoo now, with Jonathan Francis!

Fenella Drive, Monavale now

Well that, very quickly, removed any of the lethargy I had previously been enormously enjoying !

Let me explain to you folk out there that Fenella Drive is a 30 minute drive across the city so Jan and I were in quite a state of excitement when we arrived there 20 minutes later. And we were now the fifth car to park, haphazardly, on the varied grass verges in this normally tranquil suburb.

Jean and Jono are still there and Jean flourishes his camera in my face –

Now – let us try and put this in perspective – Peter Ginn heard one of these birds on January 12th 1998 at Seldomseen in the Bvumba. Sadly for Peter, this record was purely on the call with no sighting so this first record for Zimbabwe was not accepted. And it’s the 13th – only a day out on the 1998 record – weird !

All is well so far but, apart from size, why is that not an African or common Cuckoo ?

So here we are in a leafy Harare suburb listening to a cuckoo calling – a highly distinctive four note call, reminiscent of the Red-chested Cuckoo’s “Piet my vrou”, but deeper toned and always the fourth note is much less strident. No doubt about it – this is Madagascan !!!

And, like all Cuckoos, it loves caterpillars.
A bit damp – so we need to dry off !

We were back the next morning and the crowd was even bigger.

Then to please everybody the bird was extremely co-operative

That is Jan in the red trousers !!

I need to do some thank you’s and acknowledgements. Thank you to Barbara Vittoria, Katy Lanas and Eleanor Shadwell for alerting the birding community that ‘there was something strange in the neighbourhood.’ The photographers – Roger McDonald, Piet Zwanikken, Barry Launder, Ali McDonald, Jean Blake, Innes Louw and Asher Dare. Maybe this blog should actually be a celebration of the amazing quality of the photo’s captured by these birders with cameras. Well done all of you.

The final proof ! Madagascar Cuckoos are known for fanning their tails !

I would like to interject here, to say I can finally tear all the Cuckoo pages out of my bird book !! I have now seen them all in southern Africa !!

Well I guess it’s time to go



  1. Andrew J SCOTHERN says:

    why is Jan the only person using a face mask

  2. Protecting ourselves ! Others believe they are bullet proof. Seriously a mistake.

  3. Janet wood says:

    Such good twitch. feel very lucky to have been a part of this. Thanks for sharing some amazing shots of the bird. There can certainly be no doubt !

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