The Cape Bird Club had their monthly outing to Worcester at the Karoo Desert Botanical Gardens on Sunday, 16 August 2009. A great group of 25 members enjoyed the pleasant weather and gardens and of course the Karoo birds. Speckled and Red-faced Mouse-birds made their appearance at the car park. Many Aloes were in flower and Cape Weavers looked rather bright from all the pollen collected when feeding on the flowers. Bar-throated Apalis were doing their duet calls as we ventured into the brail trail with Guinea fowl patrolling the grass edges. A lone Streaky-headed Canary called from a shrub that it was feeding on and gave great views. Bokmakierie and Pied Barbet were feeding their way through the low Karoo scrub followed by a rather concerned Karoo Scrub-Robin which was building a nest. Malachite and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds were of course very active amongst the tubular flowers of the tree parasites. After seeing a Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler on the brail trail, we heard a Long-billed Crombek calling near the nursery which we investigated and the bird of the reserve, namely Southern Tchagra made it’s appearance but unfortunately not seen by all. Always a great bird to see!
After a brunch on the grassed area we made our way along the pathway around the side of the hill. Here we had hoped to see Cape Siskin but no such luck, however a Fairy Flycatcher and Layard’s Tit-babbler which was building a nest close to the pathway, gave great views. Grey-backed Cisticola and Familiar Chats were also very active and the Cisticola was giving it’s display flight.
On our way down were saw Alpine Swift, a first for the season for many. The pale phase Booted Eagle was also a first for the season or was it one of those that breed here? A second dark phase Booted was seen on the way out of the Gardens. A total of 43 species were seen on a very enjoyable day in these beautiful and interesting gardens.
On our way to the reserve we had a great view of a Black Harrier quartering near the poultry farm on the N1.