Bird Ringing at Vondeling Wine Farm, June 2023

We had a few excellent days of bird ringing at Vondeling Wine Farm, from 8 to 11 June. We occupied two comfortable cottages, recently transformed into visitor accommodation. The farm is on the eastern edge of the Paardeberg, and the closest large town is Wellington. Our previous ringing visit was in April, and is summarized here.

We are still exploring the enormous potential at Vondeling for long-term bird studies, and we have only scratched the surface of the available opportunities. We chose new sites for our mistnets on this trip. Some of the senior staff of the farm live in neighbouring cottages, so there is lots of bird activity on the “werf”. Putting seed on the ground quickly brought weavers and sparrows into a nearby net.

Vondeling Wine Farm, Paardeberg
Yellow-billed Ducks flying over Vondeling Wine Farm. Our cottages are in the “werf” under the grove of oaks and pines in the foreground. The vineyards, where the peafowl feed, have just lost their autumn colours as we head into winter. On the slope above the vineyard is an olive grove. The backdrop is the fynbos-covered Paardeberg, a big granite dome. There is a track to the top! (The ducks are in the BirdPix section of the Virtual Museum, record 256506)

The farm nestles up against the edge of the Paardeberg, so there are opportunities to do studies of fynbos birds. Mistnets on the slopes just above the vineyards produced a Cape Grassbird, five Bar-throated Apalis, and an interesting variety of other species.

In addition to some regular mist-netting, we also tried catching birds in special nets with a larger mesh … …

… … Indian Peafowl

At least 60 Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus live ferally at Vondeling. The Vondeling peafowl were already present when the farm changed ownership three decades ago. Because they have not been fed or looked after in any way during this entire period, they are considered feral. Studies of introduced species in their new location are rare. For example, there is not a single full-length scientific paper on the other species famously introduced from India, the Common Myna Acridotheres tristis! So this represents another interesting opportunity.

We tried herding some peafowl into the large mesh nets on three occasions and caught one female, and had several close catches. We are learning! They roost in a small grove, consisting mostly of large oak trees, pine trees and other exotics. In the early morning the peafowl fly directly out from the trees to the vineyards where they forage during the day, so this makes catching in the morning unlikely. In the evening they walk back to the trees slowly and then fly up into the trees to roost. However, their slow and cautious walk results in them spotting the nets, and simply walking around them. If they are disturbed they simply go back to the vineyards or fly up. But we will be back and try again!

The bird we caught was ringed, measured and weighed, the first to be ringed in southern Africa, and probably a first for Africa. The weight was 2.5kg!

… … Spotted Eagle Owl

Both Spotted Eagle Owl and Barn Owl were heard at Vondeling. An adult Spotted Eagle Owl was caught in one of the large mesh nets early one morning. The owl weighed 760g.


Both Cardinal and Olive Woodpeckers are recorded at Vondeling. A female Olive Woodpecker was caught, a species I have never ringed before! Several Cardinal Woodpeckers have been ringed at Fynbos Estate, a farm diagonally over the Paardeberg from Vondeling. Cardinal Woodpecker is the most commonly ringed woodpecker in southern Africa (904 ringed), while the total for Olive is only 178 after this bird.

To join a future ringing event, see here.

Birds ringed at Vondeling, 8 to 11 June 2023

The species with links have texts with photos on the website of the Biodiversity and Development Institute.

3161Ring-necked Dove
3681Spotted Eagle Owl
3912White-backed Mousebird
4521Olive Woodpecker
5815Cape Robin-chat
6181Cape Grassbird
6225Bar-throated Apalis
6653Fiscal Flycatcher
7072Common Fiscal
7091Southern Boubou
7846House Sparrow
7861Cape Sparrow
7998Cape Weaver
80318Southern Masked Weaver
8101Yellow Bishop
8671Streaky-headed Seedeater
10211Indian Peafowl
11724Cape White-eye
41391Karoo Prinia

Dieter Oschadleus
Dieter Oschadleus
Dieter Oschadleus leads the BDI bird ringing expeditions, and is able to organise bird ringing courses (having run many courses in South Africa, and some in the Seychelles). Dieter is also a registered bird guide in South Africa, and has birded widely in Africa and the Indian Ocean islands. Dieter is able to act as a bird guide for day trips in Cape Town, and is able to customise birds tours in South Africa and beyond.