Occurrence and abundance of waterbirds at an ephemeral pan in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa

  • Eric Herrmann Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
  • Mark D Anderson Northern Cape Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation, Private Bag X5018, Kimberley 8300, South Africa
  • Maitland Seaman Centre for Environmental Management, University of the Free State, PO Box 339, Bloemfontein 9300, South Africa
Keywords: waterbirds, ephemeral pan, Northern Cape


Bi-monthly counts of waterbirds were made between March and September 2003 at an ephemeral pan in the Northern Cape Province following the first substantial inundation since 1988. Bi-annual counts between 1991 and 2003 indicated that the pan infrequently supported waterbirds, with waterfowl and small waders generally being the dominant species. During the bi-monthly counts, a total of 50 waterbird species was recorded, with the most dominant species, both in terms of numbers and duration of presence, being Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus (max. 378), Cape Shoveller Anas smithii (max. 260) and South African Shelduck Tadorna cana (max. 200). Most other waterfowl and wader species were regular but in lower numbers. Species groups that occurred in limited numbers or for short periods include primarily herons, grebes, flamingos, ibises and storks. Species abundance and richness reached a peak one month after the pan was inundated, followed by a gradual decline over the ensuing two months.

Ostrich 2004, 75(4): 275–284

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-947X
print ISSN: 0030-6525