We were again visiting our wind farm site near Copperton during the first half of January 2013. Since our last visit the area had good rains and the veld is in an excellent condition.
On the way to Copperton we first stopped at the dam outside Victoria West. A lot of water birds on the dam like Maccoa Duck, Greater Flamingo, African Spoonbill, Cape Shoveller and some other ducks. A couple of White-winged Terns were hawking over the dam.
From Victoria West we took the gravel road via Vosburg to Prieska. Just remember that if you ever decided to bird in this area, the gravel roads are very bad. No repairs undertook since the first rains in October and definitely not recommended to sedan cars. Who can help us with the roads!!!? Outside town is lots of Lesser Kestrels feeding on all the insects in the lush veld. A pair of Verreaux’s Eagles soared over a dolerite hill and we saw a couple of Blue Cranes which you normally not find in this arid area. From time to time we saw Ludwig’s Bustards flying while Bradfield’s Sabota Larks perched all over on the old telephone wires to claim its territories.
At Copperton we saw our first Martial Eagle (a real beauty because it was a she) and a way out Lilac-breasted Roller. Larks are plentiful with Eastern Clapper, Bradfield’s Sabota, Spike-heeled, Fawn-coloured, Karoo Long-billed, Grey-backed Sparrow- and some Large-billed. For some or other reason the numbers of Stark’s and Black-eared Sparrowlarks have declined. Northern Black Korhaans are in its element and performing all over. We saw lots of Common Swifts in the early morning, foraging over the veld to disappear just as quickly as it arrived.
The pair of Verreaux’s Eagles that nest close by on a Sociable Weaver nest was still around the nest. Unfortunately according to the farm owner, someone picked up the chick in the road with an injured wing. Pygmy Falcons are common at the lots of Sociable Weaver nests.
On the way back we decided to take the gravel road to Carnarvon. We found the normal Karoo birds along the way and the pools of water mostly host SA Shelduck, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt and Egyptian Geese. We had one White Stork at one of these dams.
About 60 km south of Prieska we stopped at the salt works which has an adjacent pan with some water after the rains. There were a good variety of wader species at the pan including Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Ruff, Common Greenshank, Kittlittz’s and Three-banded Plover and Pied Avocet. We also spotted at least one Chestnut-banded Plover, while about 20 Lesser Flamingoes and the same amount of Greater Flamingoes occurred.
A couple of km’s further we found 7 Blue Cranes, some SA Cliff Swallows and Afr Black Swifts at the Boesak River. The dam at the farm Carelsgraf, about 40 km north of Carnarvon, is full of water with more water fowl which includes Maccoa Duck, Southern Pochard and Spur-winged Geese. There was also a flock of Red-billed Queleas feeding in the lush grass on the edge of the water and a Red-backed Shrike.
It was a very good choice to drive down the gravel road and we could collect a lot of data for SABAP, just awaiting all the ORF’s. The early rains turned the grey arid Karoo landscape into a beautiful picture and it is worth spending time in this area now.