This is only the second sighting of a white wagtail in South Africa with the first sighting reported in the Western Cape four years ago.
The rare sighting of a white wagtail in KwaDukuza at the weekend has the birding community all aflutter. The young bird landed near the Sappi Mill in Stanger on Saturday, where it was spotted by a twitcher who notified others through social media.
The white wagtail (Motacilla alba) is a migratory bird commonly found in southern Europe, Asia and seasonally migrates to some parts of North Africa.
This was only the second time the species has been seen in South Africa, with the first sighting being in 2018 at the Rooisand Nature Reserve in the Western Cape.
Bird watcher Gavin Walter of Amanzimtoti, who shared photos of the bird on the SA Rare Birds Facebook group, said there there were already about 30 to 40 bird watchers on site when he arrived on Sunday.
“There is a growing number of active birders, including many young people. Back in the day, bird watching was said to be for grumpy old men, but no longer,” he said.
How the bird came to land in KwaDukuza remains unclear. However, local bird expert, Chris McDonald, believes the bird probably got lost during migration. This is common with young birds as they are inexperienced in travel.
Walter believes the presence of social media and increased interest in bird watching means there are more eyes and more ears, which makes it possible for such moments to be experienced.
In October, another Caxton publication the Middelburg Observer, reported the sighting of a Madagascar cuckoo in Kranspoort, Mpumalanga. It was the seventh recorded time the bird was spotted in South Africa and birders from far and wide travelled to Kranspoort to see it.