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Birding Day 2013 - Barred Owlet in the Eastern Cape

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Birding Day - Kariega Game Reserve South Africa 

In celebration of National Birding Day today we would like to share some information on a rarely spotted bird that was recently photographed at Kariega Game Reserve by our headranger Jason Friend.  The Barred Owlet is known for it's scattered and isolated populations, and their occurrence in the Eastern Cape is particularly intriguing. 

They were first documented in the Eastern Cape in 1834 however it was only 150 years later in 1980 that they were again documented in the region. Barred Owlets take cover in the dense euphorbia trees of the Eastern Cape and are virtually impossible to find. Documented sightings in the area continue to be rare. It is thought that they prefer to keep a low profile due to predation threats from larger birds.

Another interesting fact about the Eastern Cape population is that the next closest occurrence of Barred Owlet is found 800km away. The population in the Eastern Cape is extremely isolated and they also differ in looks from the northern populations (also referred to as the Ngami Barred Owl and occur in relative abundance from the Kruger Park into Zimbabwe and Botswana). 

Barred Owlet Eastern Cape Kariega Game Reserve3

Barred Owlet photographed by Adri Barkhuysen along the Bushman's River in 2008.

In 2008, Adri Barkhuysen spent some time exploring the area between Bushman's, Kariega and Kowie Rivers in order to establish whether the Barred Owlet still occurred in the Eastern Cape. After a lot of searching, he finally found and photographed the elusive bird along the Bushman's River (pictured above) Download the full article here for more insight into Adri's experience and the behaviour of the cryptic Barred Owl. 

Recently, headranger Jason Friend captured these images and commented: "Had my first birding assessment today. We got some amazing stuff including barred owlet. Can almost guarantee it."

Barred Owlet Eastern Cape Kariega Game Reserve

Barred Owlet Eastern Cape Kariega Game Reserve2