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An irruption of Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea in the Western Cape province, South Africa

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The Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea has been steadily expanding its range into the Western Cape province. The earliest record is of a vagrant in 1946. The next record came from 1986 in the Karoo and since 1997 there have been annual reports of the species in the province. It has become resident in the Karoo, especially in the Beaufort West to Leeu Gamka area. In April and May 2007 there was an invasion of Red-billed Queleas in the Western Cape province, particularly on the Cape Peninsula and Overberg region. Sixty-eight percent of records were within 5 km of the coast, over a stretch of 1 000 km of coastline. Adult males in breeding plumage were frequently observed, indicating that this irruption was not limited to post-juvenile dispersal. This influx was not repeated in 2008, but from April 2008 to January 2009, monthly records of queleas were higher than the combined monthly totals in years prior to the influx. The increasing occurrence of queleas in the Western Cape province is a potential threat to a major wheat-producing area and continued monitoring is required.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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