I returned from a trip with a South African and his 2 friends from the UK on a round abound through the Tanqua, Bushmanland, Kalahari and Namaqualand. We saw 188 bird and 26 mammal species.
We started off in Cape Town and travel to the Tanqua, picking up most of the specials of the area like Karoo, Spike-heeled and Red-capped Lark, Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Tractrac & Karoo Chat, Layard’s Titbabbler, Cape Sugarbird, Namaqua Sandgrouse with chicks, White-throated Canary and a flock of not less than 50 Pin-tailed Whydahs (male & females) together.
A stop at the Oudebaaskraal Dam in Tanqua Nat Park produced Great Crested, Black-necked & Little Grebes, Hamerkop, Afr Spoonbill and Greater Flamingo together with a couple duck species.
Raptors on the first day included Secretarybird, Jackal Buzzard, African Harrier-Hawk and Greater Kestrel.
We stayed Paulshoek in Tanqua with beautiful sunset and millions of stars. A Spotted Eagle Owl entertained us in the early morning with its song.
Day 2 was set of early on drive in the park and adding Karoo Korhaan, Rufous-eared Warbler and Karoo Eremomela to the list. On the way to Calvinia we saw more Secretarybirds as well as a magnificent Martial Eagle soaring, Booted Eagle, Namaqua Doves and hundreds of Yellow Canary.
A stop at Calvinia’s nature reserve delivered another Martial Eagle and Grey-backed Cisticola, while the dam hosted SA Shelduck, White-breasted Cormorant and Southern Pochard. We proceeded to Brandvlei in very hot weather and were surprised by 9 Blue Cranes on a wheat field near the old Sak River Station.
We stayed at Oom Bennas Guest House along the road to Kenhardt. It can be highly recommended as it is well equipped with friendly hosts and the whole farm available for birding. This area got some rain a week or so before our visit and that makes the birds more active. The dam close to the guest house had some water and hosted African Spoonbill, Spur-winged Goose, Afr Sacred Ibis, Yellow-billed and SA Shelduck, Grey Heron and in the late afternoon, even a Black Stork.
A drive on the farm delivered Scaly-feathered Finch, Double-banded Courser, Ludwig’s Bustard, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Dusky Sunbird and Bradfield’s (Sabota) Lark.
On the way to Kenhardt we found the first Sociable Weaver nests which were amazing for my clients. Such a heep of grass hanging from a pole or tree!! A stop at Kenhardt’s sewage works add Pied Avocet, Cape Teal, Kittlitz’s Plover, Chat Flycatcher and Black-chested Prinia to name a few.
We stayed at Kalahari Monate Lodge near Spitskop Game Reserve outside Upington. It has lovely facilities with Kalahari birds such as Crimson-breasted Shrike and Red-headed Finch on your doorstep. A visit to Die Eiland to show my clients the longest date lane gave us Orange River White-eye, Karoo Thrush and Black-throated Canary.
Before we proceed to the Kgalagadi Park the next morning, we visited the Spitskop Game Park. We saw lots of Lark-like Buntings, Northern Black Korhaan, Lesser Grey Shrike, Eastren Clapper and Fawn-coloured Lark, Kalahari Scrub-robin, Black-eared Sparrowlark and Kori Bustard.
We arrived at Twee Rivieren after midday and on an afternoon drive collected more Secretarybirds, the first of hundreds of Kori Bustards inside the park, a pair of Spotted Eagle Owls, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater and the wonderful sighting of a Leopard in a tree next to the road. On the way back to camp we had a couple of Burchell’s Sandgrouses in the road.
The next morning we went to Nossob camp for a 3 night stay. En route we had good views of an adult Verreaux’s Eagle Owl with a big chick, 3 African Wild Cats chasing each other, lots of Fawn-coloured Larks, a Gabar Goshawk chasing off a Lanner Falcon, an Eurasian Hobby near Leeuwdril windmill, a couple of Zitting Cisticolas displaying in tall grass which almost forms a small wet area after the rain next to the road and beautiful Tawny Eagles of all colour variation. Near the Melkvlei picnic site we found a juvenile African Harrier-Hawk and some Black-chest Snake Eagles. We also found 2 Ludwig’s Bustard accompanying some Kori Bustards.
At Dikbaardskolk picnic site tens of Yellow-billed Kites came to drink at a pool in the Nossob River. The waterhole at Nossob camp hosted even more Yellow-billed Kites, but also some Abdim’s and White Storks. Nossob camp had all the locals including Pearl-spotted Owlet, Common Scimitarbill and Yellow-billed Hornbill.
To the north of Nossob camp the veld is lush and except for lots of Kori Bustards (sometimes up to 10 birds together), we had Red-necked Falcon, Brubru, a surprise of 8 Red-billed Teals in the middle of the road, Cardinal Woodpecker, more than 50 Red-footed Falcons with a few Amur Falcons and Bateleurs.