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Recent Sightings - Other National Parks - 2006
Mapungubwe National Park – July ‘06
My wife and I had excellent, prolonged views in very good light of a Striped-cheeked Greenbul on the Limpopo River in Mapungubwe National Park a few days ago. It was seen in the dense, tall forest lining the Limpopo very close to the Limpopo Forest Tented Camp, foraging in the canopy of an Acacia tree (or should the tree now be called something else?). We had enough time to carefully exclude the other possibilities. These sightings might indicate movement of these birds from their usual distribution range up the Limpopo River.
Natworld showed no other sightings of these birds in that area.
The Stripe-cheeked Greenbul is a bird of montane forest in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe. Although some altitudinal movement is reported, this appears mostly local, with the closest Atlas records to Pafuri being some 250km away, and even further to Mapungubwe. As far as I am aware there are no South African records of this species, so these records would be very unusual. In fact a new bird for South Africa is a big deal. Some good photographs would be useful.
Stripe-cheeked Greenbul is typically a bird of misty Afromontane forests, but it is recorded moving down from the winter chills of its mountain haunts into more tropical lowland areas (such as some individuals that move from Zimbabwe's Eastern highlands down to the steamy Haroni Rusitu forests in mid winter).
Thus, there is the intriguing possibility that these sightings represent bird that have undergone such altitudinal migration (presumably in Eastern Zimbabwe) and then moved southwards along forested lowland river corridors to end up on the Limpopo. This is of great significance - so further sightings should be as clearly documented as possible (we'd have to tear Chris Roche away from watching the Pel's Fishing-Owls from the deck at Pafuri to concentrate on the riverine skulkers that could be moving through this area!)
Even though Limpopo Province is chronically under-birded (www.limpopobirding.com is always recommended if you're thinking about a birding holiday in South Africa), these greenbuls are relatively unlikely to have been completely overlooked in the past, so it might be a naturally rare event, or a recent phenomenon? Climate change, anyone? This is half said in jest, but it is important to document new distributional changes carefully. Enter Southern African Bird Atlas Project 2....
Enough speculation for now,
Table Mountain National Park – Newlands Forest – June ‘06
Isn't it funny that, when you go for a walk without your bins, all sorts of interesting stuff flies past
your nose. When you take them, the birds check you skeef and fly away. Last week I took my dogs for a walk sans bins in the Newlands Forest. I saw the most incredible white-fronted Black Sparrowhawk sitting out in the open, that I would have loved a great look of. I also saw a Red-breasted Spar, a possible Forest Buzzard, and a group of slightly-uncommon-in-these-parts Swee Waxbill.
I've taken my bins on three subsequent walks and seen nothing better than the odd White-Eye and Dusky Fly. Do you think there's an avian conspiracy operating on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain?
Marakele National Park – June 2006
I have to report on our 3 day visit to Marakele National park. It was our first visit and luckily just after the busy weekend of 16 June. This park is also a well hidden secret. Except for the wonderful birding around the campsite, the Pied Babblers close to the entrance and the many birds at the Towers on top of the Waterberg came as a big surprise to us. The tar road leading to the top makes this spot easy accessible and the view is spectacular. Here’s some of the specials:
And down at the vley
And Marico Sunbird at the 4x4 lookout point.
At the Waterberg Lodge (an affordable, luxurious lodge) we were invited to put our scope’s up at the best spot behind the house to watch the Cape Vulture Colony and see this magnificent birds coming in to roost for the night)
The ablutions at the campsite is new and very clean, like most of SANParks’ campsites.
We saw a Shikra on the telephone poles along the fence of the Marakele NR. This was only my third sighting of this species. Has anyone else seen it around that area lately?
I used to work on Welgevonden Private Game Reserve, which adjoins Marakele National Park.
Shikra (re Jeanette's question) were fairly common sightings, especially in the Sterkstroom River valley. The Sterkstroom valley, which also runs through Marakele, is also incidentally excellent for Grey-headed kingfisher in summer, and also for Shelley's francolin, both European and African cuckoo, Levaillant's and Jacobin cuckoo and the odd African finfoot, Mountain wagtail, Honey buzzard and African crake.
Other good birds to frequent the area, especially in winter, were Temminck's courser, Denham's bustard (very common on plateau) and Short-toed rock-thrush.
The Waterberg, and in particular Marakele & Welgevonden, provides such a brilliant mosaic of habitat types, including tall sour grassland, protea scrub-grassland, mesic savanna, arid savanna, forested gulleys and kloofs, which is well reflected by the great diversity of birds there, not to mention dramatic scenery. I recorded 6 pipit species, 9 kingfishers, 9 cuckoos, 8 owls, 5 nightjars etc etc, totaling 305 species in a little over a year. I must concur with Jeanette, it is such a wonderful birding destination and people are largely unaware of it.
Wilderness area– 24 June 2006
A long-crested eagle was reported on Wilderness heights.
Tankwa Karoo National Park – mid May
We paid a quick visit to the Tanqua Karoo last weekend and what a surprise was awaiting us!! From Skitterykloof you can see dams that are full and large patches of water on the plains. It is the first time that I saw all the main rivers of the Tanqua running.
We started off just out of Skitterykloof with KAROO EREMOMELAS enjoying the new green veld after the previous rains. The Doring River had a good stream of water and further on the road was still covered with water. Some parts look amazing green after the rains at the end of April. At first the birds were quite with only Sicklewinged Chat, Redcapped and Thickbilled Larks and
Pale Chanting Goshawk.
The Ongeluks River was also running wide and strong and I had to send one of my boys through the chilly water to see how deep it is and to look for any holes. Well, we got through. We stopped at the Tanqua River which was some what down, but still had a wide stream of water. The riverine bushes produce Common Waxbill, Karoo Prinia, Pririt Batis, Whitethroated Canary, Bokmakierie and Karoo Robin.
Further down the road at an already green spot we had a congregation of birds with 5 lark species, namely Karoo Longbilled, Spikeheeled, Karoo, Thickbilled and Redcapped together in a radius of 200 metres. They were accompanied by Yellow Canaries and Cape Buntings.
The Tanqua Karoo NP delivered some more Karoo Larks as well as Greater Kestrel, Karoo Chat, Rufouseared Warbler and Greybacked Cisticola. A stop along the Renoster River brought Fairy Flycatcher, Chestnutvented Titbabbler and Redfaced Mousebird. The Renoster River was flowing strongly and along the sides we saw Namaqua Warbler, Fiscal Shrike, Cape Bulbul, while a pair
of Black Eagles soaring overhead.
At the new office complex of the park that will be completed in the next month or two, we had Pied Barbet and Familiar Chat with Rock Martins.
Continuing on the main road towards Calvinia at a slow speed due to road conditions we added Cape Penduline Tit, Pied Crow and Rock Kestrel. We also had good views of the newly released Gemsbok as well as some Springbuck and a lot of Bat-eared Foxes using the daylight to look for insects after the rain. Just before leaving the park on the northern side we had a magnificient pair of Doublebanded Coursers next to the road.
A few km outside the park we had to turn around because the main road was washed away with a gully of about 2 metres deep and 3 metres wide. Well with the Tanqua receiving about 50 mm of rain on the plains and up to 100 mm in the Roggeveld Mountains, this area will be on its best this year. From mid July it will boost with flowers and lots of endemic birds.
Unfortunately, no Burchell's Coursers, but due to the roads we were not into their main areas.
West Coast National Park – 18 May 2006
On a brief working visit to the park, I popped into Geelbek Hide around 14h00. As I approached the hide on the boardwalk, an Osprey, with a fish in its talons flew by being mobbed by gulls.
Augrabies Falls National Park – mid May 2006
Augrabies Falls was spectacular with the huge volume of water flowing over it and Red Capped Larks were seen.
Brian Van der Walt
Tsitsikamma National Park – May 2006
Any Birders visiting the Southern Cape may well want to make a turn by Nature's Valley in the western section of Tsitsikamma.
The boardwalk (just after or before crossing the Groot Rivier) depending on which side you come in from is an open access universally accessible facility.
On a visit there the other day with a colleague from Kruger we came across loads of Knysna Louries/Turacos, and had great views of Cape Batis, Bluemantled Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Dusky Flycatcher, Olive Woodpecker and most thrilling of all, Striped Flufftail were calling eeringly from adjacent the walkway. Grey Cuckoo-shrike was also in attendence.
I went back a couple of days later with one of the Honorary Rangers. Didn't hear the flufftails, but a Sharp-billed Honeyguide was in full pomp. Chorister Robin-chat, Olive Thrush and Narina Trogon were things present that we didn't pick up on the first trip.
My advice is to move slowly aroung the now complete loop (which is only a couple of hundred metres) a couple of times and try a bit of spishing to entice birds out of the undergrowth.
Mapungubwe National Park – early May 2006
I have just returned from a 3 night birding trip to Mapungubwe with 6 other birders. The birding was spectacular to say the least. Top birds included Bronze-winged and Three-banded Coursers, Dusky Lark, cracking views of Collared Palm-thrush, African Golden Oriole, Square-tailed Nightjar, Allen’s Gallinule, Grey-hooded Kingfisher, Burchell’s Sandgrouse, Kori Bustard and Greater Painted Snipe. Many summer migrants were still around including 2 juvenile Lesser Spotted-eagle at a Quelea colony, Barn Swallow, Banded Martin, Red-breasted Swallow, Great Spotted, Klaas’s (male and female) and Le Vaillant’s Cuckoos. Woodland Kingfishers not vocal, but still present on the Limpopo on 6 May. Grey-hooded Kingfisher also seen several times from the Maloutswa Pan Hide, where a cracking male Painted Snipe showed itself nicely.
On the plains near the Maloutswa pan hide, there were many Kurrichane Button-quail and a few (apparently all male) Harlequin Quails as well.
Other good birds included Saddle-billed Stork, Several Black Storks, near Ratho, at Mapungubwe (east) and near their nest site which is visible from the main road between Alldays and Pontdrift. One of the group felt sure he saw a Southern Hyliota in riverine woodland along the Limpopo, but no-one else managed to pick up the bird. We saw Great Sparrow, Cut-throat Finch, many Eastern Paradise-whydah in full breeding plumage, Grey Tit-flycatcher, Rets Helmet-Shrike, and Barred Owl along with common Limpopo birds such as Meve’s Starling, Tropical Boubou and Yellow-bellied Greenbul
The biggest find of the trip was undoubtedly a Eurasian Reed Warbler in the wetland at Den Staat, which was very well seen and identified by its gizz, behaviour, shape, wing extension and classic fuscus colouration. If anyone would like a detailed report on the bird I have circulated such to Richard Montinaro, Trevor Hardaker, Geoff Lockwood and a few others for comment. The bird was compared with numerous African Reed Warbler, which are all over the wetland.
Another major highlight of the trip was that the area between Limpopo Tented Camp and Maloutswa had a quelea colony in full swing. About 15 ha of dense thornveld was absolutely packed with the little blighters and I must say that experiencing this exhibition of the full power and glory of nature is an absolute must for any birder! Not only does the sound of millions of begging mouths overwhelm one as you get close, but the smell is reminiscent of a chicken farm. The ground under the trees is covered with egg-shells and the quelea air-control tower somehow arranged that the outgoing stream of parents flew just below the returning stream – a remarkable sight to behold! The quelea colony was in it’s final days of breeding, with most young already clambering out of their nests and around the upper branches of the trees. The colony had attracted a couple of raptors and we saw Lesser Spotted Eagle, Shikra and Bateleur in the area.
Little Muck is a superb locality, privately owned by De Beers, this old style private lodge is very comfortable, superbly situated on the top of a hill overlooking the Limpopo valley and a great place for a group to stay, while the parks accommodation at Limpopo Forest Tented Camp and especially at Leokwe is perhaps the best designed accommodation anywhere in a national park.
Richtersveld National Park – end of April 2006
Birding in the Richtersveld plays second fiddle to the landscape and vegetation but nevertheless in the park we saw;
European & swallow-tailed bee-eater, red-eyed bulbul, Cape turtle dove, Egyptian goose, goliath & grey heron, pied kingfisher, moorhen, red-faced mousebird, feral pigeon, Cape robin chat, pale winged starling, lesser double collared sunbird, Cape & pied wagtail, and Cape white-eye.
Karoo National Park – 14 to 17 April 2006
I visited the Karoo during the Easter weekend and although it had not much rain lately, birding was good. I first took the Beaufort West - Fraserburg road via Oukloof. This road runs alongside the Karoo Nat Park's boundary from the N1 for 60 km and you will get good birding on this road.
A stop near Sand River (the first river on the road you cross) revailed Blackheaded, Yellow and Whitethroated Canary, Yellowbellied Eremomela, Longbilled Crombec, Pririt Batis, a very late Steppe Buzzard and Rufouseared Warbler. The plains produced Karoo Chat, Karoo Longbilled Lark and Chat Flycatcher. Fairy Flycatchers were moving through the trees and near Leeu River we had Pale Chanting Goshawk and Lanner Falcon.
As you enter the foothills of the Nuweveld Mountains, we stopped at a little dam where we picked up Greyheaded Sparrow, Pied Barbet, Palewinged Starling and Karoo Robin. Further along the road we had Rock Kestrel, Longbilled Pipit, Layard's Titbabbler and Greybacked Cisticola.
We drove up to Oukloof Pass, a narrow kloof through the Nuweveld Mountains and probably the best place in SA to get Cinnamonbreasted Warbler. A few pairs occupy the kloof and I have never been there without picking them up. The dolorite boulders with large bushes are ideal habitat for these illusive birds. Except for CBW we got Hamerkop, Larklike Bunting, Whitethroated Canary, Greywing Francolin and Ground Woodpecker in the kloof and a lot of small birds coming down to drink at the pools. Black Eagle is also a common bird here.
Back we entered the Karoo Nat Park. The new picnic site along the Gamka River is a jewel with grass amongst the trees and braai places. We pick up 22 bird species here in about 15 min with the specials been Southern Grey Tit, Pririt Batis, Karoo Thrush, Common Waxbill, Fairy Flycatcher and Chestnutvented Titbabbler. On the Lammertjiesleegte Loop we also had Karoo Longbilled, Spikeheeled, Bradfield's (Sabota) and Largebilled Larks, Cape Penduline Tit, Larklike Bunting and Sicklewing Chat.
The riverine bush produced Southern Tchagra, Redeyed Bulbul, Fiscal Flycatcher and others.
30 km north of Beaufort West we had Gabar Goshawk in sweet thorn trees.
Interesting was no Greybacked or Blackeared Finchlarks along the Fraserburg road while the grass is excellent for them. Perhaps they are still trapped in the Kalahari with its lots of rain.
Well, the Karoo will never let you down.
Mapungubwe National Park – 22/23 April 2005
Just a quick report on our visit to Mapungubwe this weekend:
Over 102 species recorded just on the western side with virtually no waterbirds (not as good as Ettienne Marais a month ago - thanks for your trip report)
1. Dwarf Bittern at Maloutswa Pan (superb views on two days)
2. Greater Painted Snipe - male and female at Maloutswa Pan (superb views on two days)
3. Bronze-winged Courser still quite active (4 seen)
4. Barred -, Scops -, Giant Eagle owls excellent sightings
5. 105 Marabou Storks congregated on the plain
Vaalbos and Augrabies Falls National Parks – end March 2006
Vaalbos is a lovely reserve with good roads and decent self catering accommodation. The open grasslands produced half a dozen or so Northern Black Korhaans, numerous displaying Eastern Clapper-Larks, a calling Desert Cisticola and a Buffy Pipit.
Several barer patches on the sides of the road with redder soil and greener but sparser grass were productive and held numerous Yellow Canaries and Shaft-tailed Whydahs, Violet-cheeked Waxbills and a Marico Flycatcher. A lone Kalahari Scrub-Robin was observed from a prominent perch on the side of the road. We flushed a Greater Kestrel as we left the park gate.
The falls were a great spectacle with 1,200m3/sec flowing over them. A Peregrine was found perched on the cliff just downstream of the main falls. I unfortunately only managed to get a brief view of two bee-eaters in one of the dry river beds but they could have been Blue-cheeked or even Madagascar. Several further trips to the area revealed nothing. Other interesting birds seen (from a Durbanite’s perspective) were a few Tractrac Chats and a couple of Karoo Long-billed Lark.
I found a male Red-winged Starling at the main camp. I looked through the bird atlas and noticed that it was not seen anywhere near Augrabies and was wondering whether anyone else had seen it?
Mapungubwe National Park – 29 March to 2 April 2006
To follow up on Etienne Marais’ recent observations in Mapungubwe National Park, the three-banded coursers are still pretty reliable after dark on the Limpopo Forest Tented Camp access road - Plenty of Bronze-wings too. The Dwarf Bittern he heard from Maloutswa Hide was showing well at the pan on Saturday morning. There were also 2 green-backed herons present, so it was nice to compare the size and plumage differences.
Other appealing sightings included:
Cut-throat Finch, Yellow-bellied Eremomela and Meyer’s Parrot at Leokwe Camp
Plain-backed Pipit on the Khongoni Loop
A pair of Horus Swift active over the river and under the hide at the Limpopo River Hide at the end of the canopy boardwalk.
Lesser Honeyguide near Poacher’s Corner
All 3 indigo birds in both sections of the park.
Greater Honeyguide, Pygmy Kingfisher on the Tented Camp River drive
Burnt-necked Eremomelas very prominent and feeding youngsters in Limpopo Tented Camp
7 owls heard calling over 2 nights at the tented camp – including Pel’s during the dawn chorus.
Maloutswa Plain was teaming with Chestnut-backed Sparrowlarks, Harlequin Quails and the like.
3 adult Ground Hornbills were seen in a huge Nyala Tree at start of Maloutswa Plain.
The Limpopo is flowing strongly and the park is very lush. A far cry from the dust bowl up until late last year. One negative is that the baboons have discovered the canopy boardwalk is an excellent place to “roost” for the night, so despite the boardwalk being swept regularly, at dawn the boardwalk is a minefield of faeces!
Golden Gate Highlands National Park – end March 2006
Our visit to Golden Gate & QuaQua NPs was good with great weather and lots of water round.
All the regulars were seen, with VERY CLOSE Cape vultures flying just over our heads near the Vulture restaurant. Same place Black Harriers Male and juvenile Eastern (Amur) & Western Red-footed Kestrels, Orange-throated ( Cape) AND Yellow-throated (not on their list) Longclaws. Missed the Lammergeier unfortunately.
One interesting sighting that may arouse comment was an African Red-eyed Bulbul with a YELLOW eye ring. It is a camp scrap-eater so we saw it many times and the ring was yellow and not the pink of a juv.
It has been suggested that the yellow eye-ring could be pollen from the birds probing flowers for nectar.
Mapungubwe National Park – 13-16 March 2006
Go to http://www.birding.co.za/feature5.htm for full report, photos and trip checklist
With the recent rains, Mapungubwe was very green and on arrival the weather was cool and overcast and the bush alive with activity. Fawn-colored Lark were seen - here in a much more orange-red form than the birds in Gauteng. Soon afterwards we ran into some bird parties which hold a range of species such as Crombec, Chin-spot Batis, Burn't necked Eremomela and Brubru. In areas of open flattish woodland with small trees, Monotonous and Sabota Larks are very evident, along with Carmine Bee-eater and Red-backed Shrike.
Leokwe Camp and the Eastern Sector
Leokwe camp is set amongst rocky outcrops, and the small valleys between the outcrops have mopane scrub and mixed woodland. The camp is in a wonderful setting and the design, spaciousness and atmosphere of the self-catering units here sets a new standard for Parks accommodation. We stayed in a family unit and were presently surprised at the luxury of the unit and particularly enjoyed the open-air showers! The rock formations and wilderness feel of the camp are also wonderful. By far the dominant bird in this area is the Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting.
The camp area itself produced numerous excellent views of Verreaux's Eagle, Purple Indigobird, Tropical Boubou, Mocking Cliff-chat, Rock Kestrel and Wahlberg's Eagle. At night Freckled Nightjar were heard around the camp.
The woodland between Leokwe and the Confluence View sight was also very productive, and one tree had three species of Woodpecker and Scimitarbill in it.
The Confluence look-out has a number of viewing decks which provide great views across the rivers below and give a birds-eye view of this beautiful area. Here we saw species such as Grey-headed Bush-shrike, Rock Martin and Grey-backed Camaroptera. It was very overcast and given sunny weather would no doubt provide far more raptors - indeed the whole area with its rocky valleys and rugged rock outcrops interspersed with large Baobab and riverine forest trees looks like a raptor paradise.
In the surrounding area Meyer's Parrot are common and so were Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Red-backed Shrike and Meve's Starling.
The Limpopo River itself was in full spate and although waterside birds were few, we did see African Fish-eagle, Wire-tailed Swallow and Common Sandpiper.
The aerial boardwalk which goes to the hide overlooking the river is a wonderful place to do some riverine woodland birding, and the birding was good here, with large numbers of Meve's Starling, Broad-billed Roller, Barred Owlet, Retz Helmet-shrike, Ashy Flycatcher, Violet-backed Starling, Brubru, many White-fronted Bee-eaters and an Icterine Warbler.
Limpopo Tented Camp and the Western Sector
The Limpopo Forest Camp is set in the middle of an extensive area of riverine forest, and offers good birding too. It also offers easy access to a great variety of habitats, including areas of grassland and thornveld savannah.
A late return from a drive found us out at dusk and we had a remarkable session of Courser viewing, which included at one point about 5 Bronze-winged Coursers and 4 Three-banded Coursers at the same time.
Three courser species in one afternoon makes this one of the best places anywhere for coursers!
After dark had fallen, four species of owls were heard calling from Limpopo Tented Camp which included Scops (by far the most common), Southern White-faced, Barred and Pearl-spotted. Monotonous Lark and Kurrichane Button-quail where both also heard calling during the night.
The dawn chorus in the grasslands on the way to the Maloutsa Pan hide was rather special, with wonderful backing from many Monotonous Lark, bass from hundreds of Kurrichane Button-quail and a family group of Ground Hornbill, a medley of percussion from Harlequin Quail and electric guitar solo's provided by punk-rocker Wattled Starlings, which hurried busily about the plain nest building and courting.
The walk to the Pan hide took us through a lot of ephemeral wetland habitat, which was mostly fairly quiet, but we did hear Dwarf Bittern calling from a section of the pan which is out of sight.
Other birds recorded in this area included Grey-hooded Kingfisher, Crimson-breasted Shrike, African Mourning Dove, Greater Honeyguide and Olive-tree Warbler.
Typical species around the Limpopo Forest Tented Camp included White-browed Robin-Chat, Woodland Kingfisher, Grey-backed Cameroptera, Ashy Flycatcher, Tropical Boubou and Yellow-bellied Greenbul.
Open, drier areas held Temminck's Courser, Scaly-feathered finch, Chestnut-backed Sparrowlark, African Pipit and Lesser-Grey Shrike. The large numbers of Wattled Starling are commencing breeding in an open area towards the pan hide and this might act as an attractant for raptors in a few weeks.
Raptors in the Limpopo Tented "Sector" included several African Hawk Eagle's, a pair of Gabar Goshawk, both Snake eagles, a number of Amur Falcons and a single female Red-footed Falcon. Overall a fantastic weekend birding with 240 species recorded, 183 within the Mapungubwe area in just two days of birding, which is remarkable considering that water birds, herons and shorebirds were hardly represented.
Etienne Marais and Pat Adams:
Knysna National Lake Area – 13 March 2006
A Pectoral Sandpiper was recorded at Woodbourne Pan in Knysna on 13/3/06. For those interested, the co-ordinates were: S 34 deg 03' 55.6" E 23 deg 04' 19.2"
The bird was still present on the 20th. Photographs can be viewed at http://www.zestforbirds.co.za/pecsand14.html.
Golden Gate Highlands National Park - mid-March 2006
I had a bout of Tickbite fever while on holiday, so I didn’t put in to much birding. I have however seen a juvenile Lammergeier the first morning at the vulture rest. together with 35 Cape Vultures. Possible Bush Blackcaps from behind the campsite.
I was a little disappointed in not finding a Buff-streaked Chat. However, two stunning Black Harriers more than made up for it. One seen on each of the loops you drive of the main road in the park.
Mammals seen included a single African Wildcat (mammal highlight), Mountain Reedbuck, Black Wildebees, Zebra and a Black-backed Jackal.
Agulhas National Park area – 10 March 2006
I had four Madagascar Bee-eaters at Die Dam near the southernmost point of Africa this afternoon (Friday 10 Mar). My attention was drawn to the typical call and initially one bird was seen in flight. Soon after another three birds flew past. All were heading in an easterly direction towards Cape Agulhas.
Tankwa Karoo National Park
I visited the southern parts of the Tanqua Karoo today. We left early morning and we had beautiful views of Barthroated Apalis, Layard's Titbabbler, Thickbilled Lark and Greybacked Cisticola in Theronsberg Pass. Jackal and Steppe Buz zard posed on the telephone poles.
At a water trough at Karoopoort we had a gathering of birds with Yellow, Whitethroated and Blackheaded Canary, Namaqua Dove, Cape Bunting, Redwinged Starling and weavers, all coming to drink. At the picnic spot we saw a Cape Rock Thrush, while Pied Barbet and Redfaced Mousebirds roam the fig trees. A beautiful Black eagle flew over and in the short vegetation was some Yellowbellied Eremo mela.
The Tanqua is still very dry and hot with very few birds active. Pale Chanting Goshawk scanned the area from the telephone poles and we saw a few Karoo Chat, Yellow Canary and Rufouseared Warbler. We found a group of about 8 Karoo Eremo melas near Eierkop.
Further down the road we had Karoo Korhaan walking in the road, Pririt Batis, Fairy Flycatcher, Spotted Prinia and some more Karoo Eremo mela.
Skitterykloof was hot, but with the running water the river bed is green. It produced Streaky-headed Canary, Pririt Batis, Common Moorhen, Common Waxbill and a Black Eagle. No Cinnamon-breasted Warbler!
On the return we stopped at Gydo Pass where most of the vegetation was destroyed by fire. We got Protea Canary and Cape Siskin coming to drink water. A first for the area was a Black Sawwing Swallow in Gydo Pass.
A most enjoyable day with 87 species.
West Coast National Park – 24 February 2006
The Common Redshank was still around at Geelbek today.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – 16 February 2006
A Red (Grey) Phalarope was photographed at the 14 th borehole in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and can be viewed on line on the rarities page at www.zestforbirds.co.za
West Coast National Park – 7 February 2006
Black-tailed Godwit from the hide at Seeberg in the West Coast National Park today (7 Feb).
This represents the 7th record of this species for 2006 (that I am aware
of...) and the 44th individual reported in Southern Africa in 2006. Just some useless stats...
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – 3 February 2006
A Long-toed Lapwing was reported on 3 February 2006 at the Geinab waterhole near Union's End in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Northern Cape. These birds are normally restricted to the northern and eastern parts of the sub region. A photograph is available on www.zestforbirds.co.za under regional rarities.
Mapungubwe National Park – 27-29 January 2006
A periodic Coordinated River Bird Count on the Limpopo River in first Mapungubwe National Park and then northern Kruger by a team from Limpopo/Soutpansberg Birding Route took place over the last weekend in January. Full details at www.limpopobirding.com
In Mapungubwe itself the highlights were: Olive Tree Warblers, European Honey Buz zard, Saddle-billed Stork.
The Coordinated Waterbird Count revealed 214 birds and 32 species
149 species were recorded by the team in the park.
West Coast National Park – 21 January 2006
GULL-BILLED TERN was photographed a single bird near Seeberg in the West Coast National Park on 21/01/06. Photo available on http://www.zestforbirds.co.za/gullbill8.html
(The bird was seen again during the course of the weekend in the vicinity of Geelbek Hide in the park.)
Addo Elephant National Park – 21 January 2006
A Marabou Stork was sighted in the Nyathi area of the park near the first river crossing – don’t have GPS coordinates unfortunately. The area is known as Woodlands (old farm name, probably) but not to be confused with Woodlands waterhole in the main game area of the park. The Nyathi area of the park is not open to the public, except those who take our horse trails, and there are two private lodges that use the area for drives.
West Coast National Park – 6 January 2006
COMMON REDSHANK - a report of a bird seen and photographed at the Geelbek hide in the West Coast National Park on 6 January. Photo available at http://www.zestforbirds.co.za/redshank9.html
Jan Du Toit