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Eremomela, Karoo

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa
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Johan van Rensburg
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Eremomela, Karoo

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Wed Dec 07, 2016 8:42 am

On this day my birding pal BB and I went looking for the fairly common but oddly inconspicuous Karoo Eremomela, Eremomela gregalis, after first fruitlessly crawling over Bains Kloof Pass looking and listening for Victorin’s warbler. We headed north into the Tanqua Karoo along the R355 gravel road to Eierkop, the “classic” Karoo Eremomela site labelled in some literature as “arguably the best site in the world” to locate this southern Africa endemic that prefers arid and semi-arid bush on flats and hillsides. BB and I have sporadically gone birding together for around nine years. We have never chased the same species together, so finding the eremomela was a first for us...

Eierkop stands on the right, a little off the R355, a two-spoor road marking access. Except for a Karoo scrub-robin, we couldn’t find any other bird here, in spite of thoroughly working the Eierkop slopes on foot.

Some years ago, someone told me to look at the larger drainage lines for this tricky bird that is said to hide rather than flush when disturbed. After all, water is a big thing for everything that lives in the Karoo! So, as we continued on our way north along the R355 that runs alongside the dry Doring River bed, we stopped at some of the more substantial drainage line crossings, albeit them being bone dry. Also, having had the experience of top notch sound byte responses from other eremomela species, we tried a quick playback of the Karoo eremomela calls. I always put down my iPad to have hands free in case a photographic opportunity is sprung. At a small bridge over one of the main tributaries of the Doring River (also waterless, but well marked by acacia) I played the Roberts MM sound byte. The next moment I had a small, agitated flock of Eremomela all over the iPad!


This longer-tailed Eremomela moves around in small parties from one bush to another, entering at the base of the bush and moving towards the top, gleaning small insects as they go. It mainly eats invertebrates, gleaning them from shrubs and tree branches and occasionally plucking prey from the ground.
Last edited by Johan van Rensburg on Thu Dec 08, 2016 8:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Eremomela, Karoo

Unread post by hilda » Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:17 pm

Well done again Johan and BB! Beautiful picture of this pretty little bird! :clap: :clap:

This one brought you very close to 700! :dance: :dance:
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Karin Mitton
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Re: Eremomela, Karoo

Unread post by Karin Mitton » Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:30 pm

Wonderful sighting, thanks for sharing!

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