Birding Routes

BIRDING IN THE WITZENBERG REGION - INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS Show details

THE ENDEMIC AND OTHER SPECIAL SPECIES OF THE WITZENBERG REGION Show details

THE MOUNTAIN PASSES OF THE WITZENBERG REGION Show details

THE TULBAGH REGION 1 - GENERAL INTRODUCTION Show details

THE TULBAGH REGION 2 - THE TWEE JONGEGEZELLEN ROAD Show details

THE TULBAGH REGION 3 - THE THEUNISKRAAL ROAD Show details

THE TULBAGH REGION 4 - THE ROAD TO WOLSELEY Show details

BAINSKLOOF PASS AND BERGSIG WINE ESTATE Show details

BERGSIG WINE ESTATE TO WOLSELEY - AN ALTERNATIVE ROUTE Show details

WOLSELEY AND MICHELLS PASS Show details

BIRDING IN CERES Show details

CIRCLE ROUTES FROM CERES 1 - CERES TO KAROOPOORT Show details

CIRCLE ROUTES FROM CERES 1 - KAROOPOORT TO TANKWA FARM STALL Show details


From Karoopoort, the R355 extends for more than 200 km through the enchanting semi-desert landscape of the Tankwa Karoo to eventually end at Calvinia. The area is isolated and remote, therefore visitors are advised to take sufficient provisions, fuel and spare tyres along. The road's surface consists mostly of fair quality gravel, but take note that very sharp gravel is encountered, often resulting in the innumerable flat tyres that the Tankwa Karoo has developed a notorious reputation for. Caution and meticulous planning is highly recommended. Slow driving is suggested for yet another reason as birding along these arid plains is simply outstanding.

The CAPE BUNTING, WHITE-THROATED CANARY, KAROO CHAT and KAROO PRINIA are particularly numerous and the YELLOW CANARY and KAROO and LARGE-BILLED LARKS are very common. The LARK-LIKE BUNTING, BLACK-HEADED CANARY, YELLOW-BELLIED EREMOMELA, CHAT FLYCATCHER and LAYARD'S TIT-BABBLER are recorded occasionally. The SICKLE-WINGED CHAT and SOUTHERN BLACK KORHAAN are less common and may be tricky to locate. Several acacia-clad, mostly dry water courses, often host exciting species such as the PRIRIT BATIS, LONG-BILLED CROMBEC, FAIRY FLYCATCHER, WHITE-BACKED MOUSEBIRD, CHESTNUT-VENTED TIT-BABBLER and RUFOUS-EARED WARBLER. Watch out for the ANT-EATING CHATS at sandy areas. Myriad numbers of EUROPEAN BEE-EATERS occur in summer. Unmistakably, the JACKAL BUZZARD, GREATER KESTRELS and SOUTHERN PALE CHANTING GOSHAWKS are often prominently perched on telephone poles along the road. 
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Southern Black Korhaan  (Image by AO)
Large-billed Lark  (Image by AO)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karoo Chat  (Image by AO)
Ant-eating Chat  (Image by AO)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are some charming small dams to the right, some 5 km from Karoopoort, and these, as well as the large dam on the Inverdoorn Private Game Reserve, should be scanned by spotting scope for an interesting array of waterbirds. (S33° 06'43.42 E19° 46'06.69”). The water levels of these dams are often very low, but it is, however, worthwhile to walk down to the fence to scan the water's edge. The AFRICAN FISH-EAGLES often nest in a tree and birds found regularly are the PIED AVOCET, RED-KNOBBED COOT, YELLOW-BILLED DUCK, GREATER FLAMINGO, LITTLE GREBE, SOUTH AFRICAN SHELDUCK, BLACK-WINGED STILT and CAPE SHOVELER. The BLACK-NECKED GREBE and GLOSSY IBIS appear in small numbers. Surprisingly, the AFRICAN RAIL has also been recorded here. Sizeable numbers of NAMAQUA SANDGROUSE are frequently seen at the water. 

The riveting INVERDOORN GAME RESERVE is located along the R356 between Karoopoort and Sutherland. (33° 11'06.80”S 19° 81'24.94'E). This 10 000 ha game reserve hosts an abundance of diverse mammals and features a bird list exceeding 165 species. Game drives in open 4X4 safari vehicles end with enthralling sunsets from a look-out point and “the clear skies with myriads of stars are absolutely breathtaking”. The reserve offers a lodge with ten luxurious chalets and two family houses. The restaurant serves modern French Cuisine with a unique South African touch. There are many other enjoyable recreational facilities at this upmarket venue and many bird-watchers, both domestic and international, use it as a base to explore the birding delights of the Ceres Karoo and beyond. Visit their website at the dropdown menu below or contact them at info@inverdoorn.com
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Red-knobbed Coot  (Image by AO)
Cape Shovelers  (Image by RM)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The EIERKOP AREA is reached roughly 14 km beyond the Karoopoort picnic site along the R355 (S33° 03'29.84” E19° 46'22.46”). Two tillite hills straddle the road and the one on the right hand side is popularly known as Eierkop. The main target species here is the KAROO EREMOMELA and the base of the hill should be searched for small parties of these very active birds moving rapidly through the bushes. Other birds in this general area, or along the track leading to the hill, are the LARKLIKE BUNTING, FAMILIAR and KAROO CHATS, GREY-BACKED CISTICOLA, KAROO LARK, GREY TIT and RUFOUS-EARED WARBLER. The NAMAQUA SANDGROUSE and TRACTRAC CHAT are surprisingly uncommon here. The endless plains around Eierkop hold the BLACK-HEADED and WHITE-THROATED CANARY, DOUBLE-BANDED COURSER, KAROO KORHAAN, LARGE-BILLED and RED-CAPPED LARKS, CAPE PENDULINE-TIT and MALACHITE and SOUTHERN DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRDS. The SOUTHERN PALE CHANTING GOSHAWK and SECRETARYBIRD feature regularly. In late winter and spring, LUDWIG'S BUSTARD is moderately common on the plains.
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At Eierkop  (Image by AO)
Karoo Eremomela  (Image by Japie Claassen)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grey Tit  (Image by AO)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The barren landscape becomes increasingly more arid as one travels north from Eierkop towards the Tankwa Farm Stall. The target species along this stretch of road are the TRACTRAC CHAT, KAROO KORHAAN and CAPE PENDULINE TIT. The TRACTRAC CHAT often swoops around near the road – watch out for their pure white rumps as they fly short distances to the next perch. The enigmatically camouflaged KAROO KORHAAN often hides in the shade of the sparse bushes along here towards midday. The more dense vegetation along the drainage lines host species such as the PRIRIT BATIS, FAIRY FLYCATCHER, WHITE-BACKED MOUSEBIRD, CHESTNUT-VENTED TIT-BABBLER and RUFOUS-EARED WARBLER. This is the type of habitat where small groups of very energetic CAPE PENDULINE TITS are most often found. Other species to look for include the KAROO CHAT, KAROO EREMOMELA, LARGE-BILLED, RED-CAPPED and SPIKE-HEELED LARKS and MOUNTAIN WHEATEAR. 
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Karoo Korhane with chick (Image by LA)
Rufous-eared Warbler  (Image by AO)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A visit to the TANKWA FARM STALL that is found a short distance past the turn-off to the Katbakkies picnic site is strongly recommended (32° 52'14.42”S 19° 46'32.49”E). Birders should ensure that at least an hour is added to their itinerary to investigate this unique watering hole and sample their divine meal of the day. The following text was provided by the owner: “The R355 is the longest dirt road between two South African towns – 280 kilometres of bliss with only one stop to make: The Tankwa Farm Stall. This farm stall is a shop to the local farmers and workers of this community that stocks everything from new bicycles to pregnancy tests. For those visiting one of the many overnight destinations, this is a last stop to stock up on wood, food, tyre repair kits and information on the best places to visit and the right roads to take. Visitors can choose from a variety of locally manufactured produce such as preserves, hand-made goodies and hand craft works. It serves delicious home-made meals and a drink can be enjoyed at the bar, or try their famous homemade ginger beer. The kids can enjoy the splash pool and jungle gym, and if they are lucky the locals will take them on a donkey-cart ride. A visit to this haven will change your view on farm stalls forever. Come for the day. Come for the weekend. Come for a long weekend. Come for a serious break-away. Some people come once and never leave this beautiful place in the Karoo." The stall is closed on Wednesdays. There is also no cell phone or landline. Contact co-owner Hein Lange at: hlange@breede.co.za

(Note that there are links to more information, trip reports and the like below the photographs that may be used to further plan a visit to the area).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Images of Tankwa Farm Stall provided by owners, Piet Coetzee & Fraser Mackintosh)

CIRCLE ROUTES FROM CERES 1 - KATBAKKIES TO OP-DIE-BERG Show details

CIRCLE ROUTES FROM CERES 1 - OP-DIE-BERG TO CERES Show details

CIRCLE ROUTES FROM CERES 2 - SWAARMOED PASS & BO-SWAARMOED FARMING AREA Show details

CIRCLE ROUTE FROM CERES 2 CONTINUED - THE DROEHOEK ROAD TO GYDO PASS Show details

THE TANKWA-KAROO NATIONAL PARK - THE P2250 GRAVEL ROAD Show details

THE TANKWA KAROO NATIONAL PARK 2 - OUDEBAASKRAAL AND SURROUNDS Show details

THE TANKWA KAROO NATIONAL PARK 3 - THE INTERIOR ROADS AND ACCOMMODATION Show details

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Show details