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 Post subject: Birding: TANKWA KAROO
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 6:19 pm 
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Posted on the SA Bird Network by Japie Claassen 24/7/07

I paid a visit to the park during the weekend and birding was exceptionately well. Although the area received good early rains, the flowers are not as good as last year. The area up to Skitterykloof is very good and will have a good spell of flowers. The section from Skitterykloof to the Tanqua River is dry at the moment and if rain is not coming quickly, there will be very little flowers. From the Tanqua River the veld becomes better and as soon as you enter the park on the Middelpos road, the veld is more greener with more flowers. The area around the office at Roodewerf, Maansedam and Gannaga Pass is lush and there will be a lot of flowers in August.

Well, birding was very good. The Ongeluks River was in flood sometime ago and large pans of water are along the road. On Saturday morning hundreds of Namaqua Sandgrouses gathered here to drink. A few Blackheaded Canaries came to drink as well and in the pan was a very early Common Greenshank. Further along the road we saw some Greybacked Sparrowlarks and some more Blackheaded Canaries along the Tanqua River.

Soon after we entered the park we had a interesting juvenile Black Harrier sitting on a telephone pole with a black chest and whitish belly which first gave the impression of a Black-chested Snake-Eagle. When looking through the binocs, we saw that it was indeed a Black Harrier. Other raptors were Greater Kestrel and Pale Chanting Goshawk. Around Roodewerf and Maansedam Ludwig's Bustards are abundant, flying in groups of up to 10 birds. Larks are displaying like mad and Karoo, Largebilled and Spikeheeled Larks are every where. Karoo Korhaan is often heard calling and the other "normal" Karoo species are also enjoying the lush vegetation. This morning we also saw a Secretarybird.

The park's new wilderness camp at Elandsberg will be a good venue for birders and anyone who would like to see what it looks like can contact me direct for photos.

Unfortunately, we didn't see any coursers or Blackeared Sparrowlarks.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 2:54 pm 
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Tankwa Karoo National Park was recently expanded with the acquisition of Oudebaaskraal, which includes a large permanent dam and a non perennial river. This has meant a further 32 birds have been added to the park bird checklist. With accommodation now available in the park (previous farmsteads) and an additional wilderness camp opening soon Tankwa is a priority destination for avid twitchers as it is one of the more reliable places to record Burchell’s Courser and a host of other Karoo endemics. You can view the updated checklist at http://www.sanparks.org/groups/birders/ ... tankwa.pdf

Thanks to West Coast Honorary Ranger Japie Claassen for updating the list.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 11:20 am 
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Tertius Gouws recently visited Tanqua Karoo and its surrounds in the first week of June 2008. He posted some of his observations on the SA Bord Network:

Karoopoort area: Several Namaqua Warblers were calling in the reedbeds at a stop along the R355 well before reaching Karoopoort. Fleeting but good views were eventually had after patiently waiting for some to show. We were surprised to find a few Cape Siskins on the fence next to the stream, with one singing bird allowing excellent views. A large flock of Rock Martins foraged above. A stop at where the R356 splits from the R355 produced a female Dusky Sunbird and several colour variants of Mountain Wheatear.
Yellow-bellied Eremomela and Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler were visible in the thick scrub. The small rocky outcrop at the picnic site was alive with the calls of very agitated Layard¹s Tit-Babblers, White-throated Canaries, Cape Buntings, Familiar Chats, more Mountain Wheatears and a Fairy Flycatcher.
Closer inspection revealed an African Wild Cat that quickly scurried away amongst the rocks when it saw us.

Eierkop: A roadside stop along the R355 with Eierkop in the distance was one of the highlights of the trip. We first noticed a Grey Tit perched prominently on a low succulent which was soon followed by a succession of sought-after birds such as Karoo Chat, Karoo Eremomela, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Rufous-eared Warbler, Grey-backed Cisticola and Karoo Lark. They all foraged in a bird party through the low scrub and provided the UK birders with much excitement. Several Southern Pale Chanting Goshawks, a few Rock Kestrels and a lone immature Jackal Buzzard were the only raptors seen along the R355.

Skitterykloof: A lunch stop at the picnic site attracted the attention of the local and decidedly familiar Familiar Chats, Cape Robin-Chats, Cape Weavers and Bokmakieries. Other good birds were Streaky-headed Seedeater, Karoo Scrub-Robin, Fairy Flycatcher, Pririt Batis and Karoo Thrush. The cliffs were eerily silent and it was only late the afternoon of the second day that we heard a Cinnamon-breasted Warbler call high up along the ridge to the right (north) of the pass above the picnic site. The bird only called once and we were very lucky to flush it as we were scrambled up the ridge.
As always, it only provided two second views at a time as it constantly moved away from us over, under and between the rocks. As an added bonus, we found Layard¹s Tit-Babbler to be quite common on top of the ridge.

P2250 road: The recent rains resulted in a few scattered puddles along the road and the plains were covered in a thin green carpet of sprouting annuals. Many of the mesembs were in flower and some areas were covered in a yellow flower carpet. All the endemic chats were present as well as a few flocks of Black-headed Canaries. Larks consisted of Red-capped and Large-billed Lark, Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Karoo Lark and a few groups of Spike-heeled Larks. A single Ludwig¹s Bustard flushed next to the road and provided awesome views as it flew past. Several pairs of Double-banded Courser were found but dedicated searching for Burchell¹s Courser proved unsuccessful. Raptors consisted of Greater Kestrel (both immature and
adult) and a few Jackal Buzzards (including one pale form bird). Pairs of Bat-eared Foxes were seen twice along this road, and a lone Steenbok was another mammal highlight.

Gannaga Pass and Lodge: We stayed at the newly established Gannaga Lodge at the top of the pass and were heartily entertained by the Scotsman and his able crew. The next morning dawned crisp and cool with an icy wind that silenced all but a few Pale-winged Starlings that sunned themselves on the rocks above the lodge. We descended the pass to spectacular views of the Tanqua plains below with a lone Verreauxs¹ Eagle as company. The cold wind was not conducive to birding but a few Klipspringers kept the excitement going.

Tankwa National Park: An adult Black-breasted Snake-Eagle was present along the road from the Park Office to the Gannaga Pass the first day, but gone the next. This road is also good for Brants¹ Whistling Rat and several were seen in the early morning sunning themselves at burrow entrances. The road between the Park Office and the Paulshoek Cottage produced no less that five Karoo Korhaans. At first a nervous pair was flushed but a short distance further a very confiding group of three birds (male and two females) was found. While appreciating the Korhaans we noticed a large raptor sitting on a telephone pole in the distance that turned out to be a magnificent adult
Martial Eagle.

Tertius Gous
Somerset West
South Africa
T: 082 941 2801
E: tagous@iafrica.com


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 Post subject: Re: Birding: TANKWA KAROO
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 12:55 pm 
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Posted on SA Bird Network on 6th October 2008 by Callan Cohen:

Hello all,

The Black-eared Sparrowlarks arrived in the Tanqua a few weeks ago and are certainly breeding now. If you're still looking for this species, and hoping to catch the end of the flowers and spring in the Tanqua, then it is still an ideal time to visit. Plenty of other nomadic species such as Black-headed Canaries are common, and the Burchell's Coursers have large chicks now. The best areas to bird are the traditional sites, as well as further north along the R355 towards the park, and along the P2250.

All the best
Callan


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 Post subject: Re: Birding: TANKWA KAROO
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 12:22 pm 
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Posted on the SA Rare Bird Network on August 10 2009:

Other records of regional interest in the province received over the last few days include a GABAR GOSHAWK in the Tanqua Karoo in an Acacia tree along the river very close to the old Tanqua Guest House


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