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Karoo: Birds

Addo, Camdeboo, Karoo, Mountain Zebra

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huntsman
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Karoo: Birds

Unread postby huntsman » Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:15 pm

I keep driving past this park on the way to Cape Town and was convinced by a pal to spend a few nights, which I plan to do later this month. :D

I will be camping, and take it that it will be freezing at night? No matter, I've made the booking and will take what I receive, but I would like to know what birds I am likely to see, and where to spend time birding if anyone can help?

Also, I do not have a 4x4, so will my visit be very limited?

Any other tips or advice is welcomed... :dance:
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Re: Going Birding in Karoo Nat Park...(help?!)

Unread postby lion queen » Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:35 am

Huntman, you're going to enjoy every minute!!

The mountain loop is a stunning road and you'll see lots of bird there. We saw a Black Eagle having a feast on that road beginning of the year.

Have a look here for more birding info in Karoo.

While birding on the plains route, larks and chats are prominent. Karoo Korhaan, Ludwig’s Bustard and Namaqua Sandgrouse should also be looked for. The park’s best birding occurs in and around the campsite. Acacia Pied Barbet, Red-eyed Bulbul, Karoo Scrub Robin, Cape Robin-chat, Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler, Layard’s Tit-babbler, Yellow-bellied Eremomola, Pale-winged Starling, Southern (Lesser) Double-collared and Dusky Sunbird and Redheaded Finch are all ever present. Karoo Eremomela, Namaqua Warbler (Prinia) and Pririt Batis are regional specials to be looked out for. Raptors to look out for include Booted Eagle, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Rock Kestrel and large numbers of Lesser Kestrel in summer. The park also has a high concentration of Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle.
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Re: Going Birding in Karoo Nat Park...(help?!)

Unread postby huntsman » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:09 am

Thanks lion queen!

Do you happen to know if the campsite has braai grids available or should I bring my own? Is there boerie available for sale? I will be travelling on business in an overloaded Quantam, so the less I need to carry, the better! :)

This will be my first overnight trip with my new camera, so those poor Black Eagles are going to be shot repeatedly! :cam: :mrgreen:

It's good to read that the birding is so good in the campsite...I've found many lifers that way.
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Re: Going Birding in Karoo Nat Park...(help?!)

Unread postby lion queen » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:19 am

We've never camped there, but I'm pretty sure the braai should have a grid.

I do know that the little shop had meat for sale, but if you can't find boerie in the shop, B-West is only a few minutes drive out of the gates.
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Re: Going Birding in Karoo Nat Park...(help?!)

Unread postby wildtuinman » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:42 am

It is one of my favourite reserves and birding is great, but you will need lots of patience. Karoo birding is tough but very rewarding if you are patient.

In the reserve there are enough roads to drive along to look for birds without a 4x4. Karoo Long-billed Lark, Karoo Scrub-Robin and Karoo Chat is common. Dusky Sunbird and Cape Penduline-tit can be picked up along the main entry road by listening to their calls. As a matter of fact, knowing the calls of the Karoo birds is mega important! Layard's Tit-Babbler (beware confusion with the more common Chestnut-vented cousin) is also present. Look especially along gullies for this special. Keep an eye out for the nomadic Black-eared Sparrowlark, Double-banded Courser and Karoo Korhaan on the drive to the picnic spot.

The picnic spot is good for Southern Tchagra.

The boardwalk is good for Namaqua Warbler, but check out reeds near waterways such as at the bird hide for it as well. The drive up the mountain (excellent road) is great and at the top Grey Tit, Pale-winged Starling, African Rock Pipit and Ground Woodpecker can all be found.

The camping ground is a hotspot for birds - White-throated Canary, Fairy Flycatcher, African Red-eyed Bulbul and Pririt Batis.

If you have more time to your disposal the drive up the Molteno pass outside the reserve is highly recommended. It is an excellent birding drive and hosts most Karoo National Park specials including Black Harrier, Booted Eagle, Lanner Falcon, Verreaux's Eagle, Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Sickle-winged Chat and further along the much sought after Karoo Eremomela.

Beaufort West dam is great for Black-necked Grebe and the plains to east of Beaufort is superb for Ludwig's Bustard, Namaqua Sandgrouse (also common along Prince Albert drive later afternoon), Double-banded Courser and Tractrac chat.

This is a brief overview. If you want more detailed info, just let me know. ;-)
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Re: Going Birding in Karoo Nat Park...(help?!)

Unread postby DotDan » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:46 am

Hi there Huntsman

We camped there a few years back during winter, first off, take an extra blanket with.. it gets really cold there at night.. My sleeping bag broke the first night in and I battled to get any sleep for 3 nights due to the cold.

The Braai does have a grid.

The camping area is awesome.. some great birding can be done there with White Throated Canaries, Bokmakierie, Karoo Prinia, Pirit Batis, Karoo Scrub-Robin all easily seen in a walk about in the camp site.

The drive up the mountain is a must and the best place to find Grey Tit's, Pale Winged Starlings, White Necked Ravens and perhaps Ground Woodpeckers at the lookout point on top of the mountain.

The various drives on the bottom plains are good for Pale Chanting Goshawks, Karoo Long-Billed Lark, Namaqua Warlber , Cape Bunting, Grey Backed Sparrowlark, Karoo Chat, Laylards Tit-Babbler (watch out for chestnut vented which also visit the area).

Visit the picnic spot and lookout for Southern Tchagra.

If you really want to bird like a king and you have some time I recommend to also bird outside the park a bit.

Two drives I can highly recommend for species you can find easier than inside the park is

1. Get on the R332 just outside Beaufort Wes. (-32.437208, 22.733061). Turn right at the first road and also drive thsi road for a few KM's. It is all gravel roads that traverses through much of the same habitat as the Park but you are more likely to find Karoo Long-Billed Lark, Ludwigs Bustard, Trac-Trac Chat, Double Banded Courser, Lark Like Bunting, Grey Backed Sparrowlarks.

2. Molteno Pass just before you get into Beaufort.
(-32.211425, 22.557125)

The road is also gravel and should be fine to pass in your car.. Up this road Alpine Swifts, Pale Winged Starlings and Ground Woodpeckers are almost guaranteed. Look out for Booted Eagle and Verraux's Eagles. This area is also good for Rock Pipit.

If you are after more trickier species such as Karoo Lark, Cinnamon Breasted Warbler etc I would recommend hiring the local guide in Beaufort Japie Claasens which will show you all the Karoo species as he is an expert of the area and can take you into areas of private farm lands etc.. Just google his name and you will find his contact details..

Hope this helps and happy birding.. the Karoo is one of my favourite places to bird!!

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Re: Going Birding in Karoo Nat Park...(help?!)

Unread postby DotDan » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:47 am

LMAO.. Ja WTM.. :twisted: Beat me to it!!

Amazing how our experiences of the place is so similar :lol:

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Re: Going Birding in Karoo Nat Park...(help?!)

Unread postby DotDan » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:50 am

Being patient does help and it is a good tip from WTM. In January 2012 I sat for two hours in 44 Degrees heat waiting for a Double Banded Courser to show itself. I lost 5 kgs that afternoon.

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Re: Going Birding in Karoo Nat Park...(help?!)

Unread postby huntsman » Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:12 pm

Wonderful replies - thank you!

I've downloaded a bird list off two sites, but nothing beats a personal critique and it was really nice to see you two sharing so many experiences. :mrgreen:

Wildtuinman - that was already detailed, but if you have even more I will never refuse! :dance:

DotDan - I've had another recommendation for Japie as a guide, and I plan to use him when I go down again in Feb, but will self-guide this time. I will be there for two full days, and expect a totally different experience, with, as you all agree, emphasis on patience.

From a practical point of view, I'll put your suggestions to good use, studying up on the birds you mentioned as well as their calls (an area of the hobby at which I really do need improvement!)

Oh yes...and there will be lots of :cam: taking place! :thumbs_up:
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Re: Going Birding in Karoo Nat Park...(help?!)

Unread postby Bushbuddies » Mon Aug 12, 2013 8:55 pm

Great read here! :clap: Will also be visiting Karoo National Park for the first time, but in summer (14-16 Dec), and hoping to add a few birdies to the list there. Never really birded in the Karoo before - so a lot of the birds mentioned here still need to be spotted by us!

Hope you have a good time, huntsman - please let me know how you experienced the birding! Just makes me more excited about our trip! :dance:
13-19 June 2015 - Lower Sabie
20-23 June 2015 - Satara
24-25 June 2015 - Olifants
26-28 June 2015 - Letaba


13 Dec 2015 - Nossob
14-15 Dec 2015 - Grootkolk
16 Dec 2015 - Nossob
17-18 Dec 2015 - Mata Mata
19 Dec 2015 - Twee Rivieren

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Re: Going Birding in Karoo Nat Park...(help?!)

Unread postby huntsman » Mon Aug 12, 2013 9:43 pm

You betcha, Bushbuddies -

I purchased the Roberts App for the trip and have been following the advice of learning some calls - it's actually easier than a visual ID in many cases! :wink:

Hopefully wildgardenman will add some more info but I'll definitely post a short trip report on my return. I think you might need a big esky in Summer... :mrgreen:
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Re: Going Birding in Karoo Nat Park...(help?!)

Unread postby wildtuinman » Tue Aug 13, 2013 5:41 am

I would love to make it as easy as possible for you. If you have a target list of birds, give it to me. In the meanwhile, let me see what other species I omitted from my advice.

DD, you are a vaakboef! :twisted:
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Re: Going Birding in Karoo Nat Park...(help?!)

Unread postby huntsman » Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:40 am

Hey wtm -

I think you did an extremely good job with your last post, :mrgreen: and together with your vaakboef (??) buddy and lion queen have given me some good groundwork. :thumbs_up:

Having never been birding in the area, I am completely open and have no specific targets, but being a greedy soutie, I am targeting 12 lifers visually/audibly and 36 new photographic species. (Not too difficult when my photo count sits on 25 total!)

I guess if I'm honest with myself, I will have one eye searching for Black Harrier at all times having missed it in the Devon area in June... :?
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Re: Going Birding in Karoo Nat Park...(help?!)

Unread postby Waterbuck » Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:57 am

Hi huntsman
I have not gone through all the posts to this thread as I just happened to stumble across it and only have a few minutes to respond. I don't know the Karoo park well, but stopped over last year for one night with much the same idea as you have. The birding was great. The mountain loop was good. Early in the morning before I left I made my way down to the picnic site at Bulkraal. There was nobody in the picnic site and I must have ticked more than 15 species just strolling between the growth and around the picnic site for 20 minutes.
When I returned I got some help from a Beaufort West birder on some ID's. His name is JAPIE CLAASSEN from
KAROO BIRDING SAFARIS. He really knows the park and its birds back-to-front. It may well be worth contacting him (karoobirding@beaufortwest.net or at cell +27837247916).
Hope you enjoy the park :thumbs_up:
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Re: Going Birding in Karoo Nat Park...(help?!)

Unread postby huntsman » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:09 am

Hey Waterbuck -

Good, common sense approach to birding! I will be in a Gauteng Taxi, so will drive as little as possible, spending most of my time on foot, so I'm sure to nail most birds in the camp.

Er.....let me re-phrase that... :mrgreen:
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