I returned from 2 short trips with clients to Tanqua and Namaqualand during the past 2 weeks.
The Tanqua is magnificent and a carpet of flowers. The flowers are in all colours and that make the birds very active. Karoopoort produced Namaqua Warbler, Black Eagle and performing Karoo Larks. Skitterykloof hosted Layard’s Titbabbler, Cape Canary and Booted Eagle to name a few, but no Cinnamon-breasted Warbler could be finding. Towards the Tanqua NP we had excellent views of Karoo Eremomela, Greater Kestrel and Tractrac Chat.
Inside the park the Oudebaaskraal area had the most Ludwig’s Bustards and the dam, which is still overflowing, has the normal water birds including Great Crested Grebe, Afr Fish Eagle and Greater Flamingoes. Alpine Swifts were roaming the sky. Surprisingly we saw lots of Common Quails in the shrubby veld, while Cape Clapper Lark is performing around the Gannaga Lodge.
Towards the Volmoesfontein area we saw inter alia Karoo Korhaan, Black Harrier, Karoo Long-billed, Large-billed, Karoo, Red-capped & Spike-heeled Larks. The first Black-eared Sparrowlarks also arrived and will probably influx the area soon. The big sadness was to see that Work for Water has cut down the Bluegum tree at Biesjesfontein which host the Martial Eagle nest. To cut such a tree where a vulnerable bird species was breeding successfully over a couple of years, was reckless.
Big “spot” was an Aardvark during the middle of the day about 200 meters from the road near Maansedam. Not always that you will see it, but it is my third time in Tanqua.
Proceeding to Sutherland, we had a beautiful Martial Eagle soaring over the plains, while a dam hosted several water birds like Cape Teal, Cape Shoveller, Yellow-billed Duck and Pied Avocet. The road between Middelpos and Sutherland is very bad and should been taken with care and slow speed. Just north of Sutherland we tracked down a Cinnamon-breasted Warbler and Afr Black Duck in the river.
The trip to Namaqualand started in Velddrift and on the way there we saw Greater Striped Swallow between Porterville and Piketberg and 2 Double-banded Coursers along the tar road about 14 km east of Piketberg. We had a very early (over wintering?) Steppe Buzzard near Rocherpan. Other good birds towards Vanrhynsdorp in drizzling conditions were Secretarybird, Banded Martins which were back, Black Harrier, Glossy Ibis, Booted Eagle, Purple Heron, Cape Clapper Lark, Southern Black Korhaan and lots of Jackal Buzzards.
When we reached Vanrhynsdorp, we had more sunshine and going up Gifberg Pass delivered Protea Seed-eater in the burnt down Proteas and a pair of Black Sparrowhawks in a clump of bluegums. In Vanrhynsdorp we had some Orange River White-eyes and to the east a flock of 20 Blue Cranes. In the area were also Banded Martin and several Common Quails. We overnight in Vanrhynsdorp.
Next day we headed to Springbok and saw the common Namaqualand birds towards Garies. In Garies a pair of Afr Harrier-Hawks was chased by a Booted Eagle. On recommendation of the tourist people in town, we headed east out of town to Leliefontein via the Studer’s Pass. Along the way we picked up Grey Tit, Pale-winged Starling and Layard’s Titbabbler. The biggest surprise was to find a pair of Double-banded Sandgrouse walking slowly across the road in front of us. That is very far out of its normal range. The flowers in the mountains were spectacular, but the roads bad after the rain.
The best flowers were around Springbok, especially in Goegap Nat Res., in Okiep, Nababeep and on the road to Concordia. In Goegap we saw Karoo Eremomela, Dusky Sunbird and Black-eared Sparrow-larks to name a few. Grey Tits were almost every where.
The Skilpad area in Namaqua Nat Park has also beautiful flowers and birds like Black Eagle, Sth Black Korhaan and our first White-throated Swallow of this summer.
On the way back we saw more White-throated Swallows near Elands Bay and a Yellow-billed Kite just outside Velddrift.