RAVE (Ringing, Atlasing, Virtual-museuming Expedition) : Days 1 to 4 (27 to 30 November 2023)


The first data collection spot on the RAVE was the low level bridge across the Olifants River, a kilometer from the turnoff to Algeria on the N7 from Cape Town north towards Namibia. These low level bridges are precious to OdonataMAPpers, because you get close to the river. We found only two of the 17 species recorded for this grid cell (3218BD Oliewenboskraal). They were the two most common species, Red-veined Dropwing (left below) and Navy Dropwing (right below).

Both dragonflies were pointing their abdomens towards the sun to minimize the amount of solar heating. It was a warm day!


On the first four days of the RAVE, Monday 27 to Thursday 30 December, the ringers handled a total of 302 birds of 28 different species. The numbers of each species are in the table here:

Species Number
Three-banded Plover1
Laughing Dove19
Namaqua Dove1
White-backed Mousebird3
Red-faced Mousebird4
European Bee-eater1
Southern Grey Tit2
Red-eyed Bulbul2
Familiar Chat2
Cape Robin-chat3
Karoo Scrub Robin5
Lesser Swamp Warbler2
Namaqua Warbler1
Chestnut-vented Warbler2
Fiscal Flycatcher3
Cape Wagtail1
Southern Fiscal5
Southern Double-collared Sunbird8
House Sparrow7
Cape Sparrow73
Cape Weaver7
Southern Masked Weaver10
Red-billed Quelea2
Southern Red Bishop67
White-throated Canary2
Lark-like Bunting61
Cape White-eye7
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow1
Total for 28 species302

The species with BDI-style texts are highlighted in red. Click on the species name and you get taken to the species text.

The standout species were Cape Sparrow (73), Southern Red Bishop (67) and Lark-like Bunting (61). So almost exactly two-thirds of the birds belonged to just three species. From a sciency perspective,these three species will provide the most valuable data. The total number of Lark-like Buntings ringed on previous ringing trips to Botuin is seven. Birding in the district suggests that there has been an irruption of this species into this area, probably because the past winter has been the wettest in decades, so that conditions were good for breeding. Overall, across all species, a larger proportion of the birds we have handled have been juveniles. The past breeding season was productive.

Of the 25 species with small numbers handled, the most interesting was probably the Red-billed Quelea (which ought not to be here). From the “ooh-aah” perspective, the European Bee-eater was the most spectacular:

Virtual Museum

On the first days of the RAVE, contributions have been made to LepiMAP, OdonataMAP, ReptileMAP and BirdPix.

These records of Cape Wagtail, Capped Wheatear and African Sacred Ibis were made at the rubbish dump which we need to pass through on the way to the Vanrhynsdorp Sewage Works.

To read about Days 5, 6 and 7 of RAVE, go here!

Les Underhill
Les Underhill
Prof Les Underhill has been Director of the Animal Demography Unit (ADU) at the University of Cape Town since it started in 1991. Although citizen science in biology is Les’s passion, his academic background is in mathematical statistics. He was awarded his PhD in abstract multivariate analyses in 1973 at UCT and what he likes to say about his PhD is that he solved a problem that no one has ever had. He soon grasped that this was not the field to which he wanted to devote his life, so he retrained himself as an applied statistician, solving real-world problems.