(Our background research for the the developmentment of the birding brochure for the southern and central Karoo indicated a very impressive list of endemics and other specials. This brief overview is not comprehensive. - Ed.)
ENDEMICS AND OTHER SPECIALS OF THE KAROO
The popularity of the Karoo as a top birding destination is growing continually and increasing numbers of birders are spending time here mostly in search of these endemics. The Karoo National Park stands out as the flagship birding destination and most birders traveling through the Karoo use this as a 'port of call'. A huge diversity of endemic bird species and other much sought after 'specials' can be found in the Karoo.
Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk
As far as raptors are concerned Jackal Buzzard, Booted , Martial and Verreaux's Eagles, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Greater and Rock Kestrels, Black Harrier and Black-chested Snake-Eagle are fairly common. In summer vast numbers of migratory Steppe Buzzards and Lesser Kestrels and even Amur Falcons may be found. The more common 'garden bird' varieties are well represented by species such as Bokmakierie, African Red-eyed Bulbul, Cape Sparrow, Pied Starling, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Grey Tit and Cape Weaver. Popular gamebirds include Kori and Ludwig's Bustards, Double-banded Courser, Grey-winged Francolin, Karoo Korhaan, Namaqua Sandgrouse and Cape Spurfowl.
Many birds in the Karoo are described as elusive and non-descript, none more so than the so-called 'Little Brown Jobs' (LBJ's). Think of Ant-eating Chat, Grey-backed Cisticola, Eastern Clapper Lark, Karoo, Large-billed & Spike-heeled Larks and Cape Penduline Tit. Birds that one could look for along (mostly dry) acacia clad watercourses throughout the Karoo are Acacia Pied Barbet, Pririt Batis, Cape, White-throated and Yellow Canaries, Fairy and Fiscal Flycatchers, White-backed Mousebird, Karoo Scrub-Robin, Layard's & Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler, Cape White-eye and Cardinal Woodpecker. Birds associated with rocky slopes and mountainous areas include Pale-winged Starling, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Mountain Wheatear and Ground Woodpecker. Add to this some of the 'Karoo specials' or birds associated with the drier west and the list of endemics threatens to become overwhelming - Black-headed Canary, Karoo, Sickle-winged and Tractrac Chats, Karoo and Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Chat Flycatcher, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Grey-backed & Black-eared Sparrowlark, Namaqua Warbler and Rufous-eared Warbler. This list is by no ways comprehensive and merely serves to indicate the vast birding potential of the region.
Furthermore several species had only been described in the Karoo fairly recently and would previously have been accepted as vagrant to the region. These include Kurrichane Buttonquail, Desert Cisticola, Red-headed and Scaly-feathered Finches, Red-billed Firefinch, Northern Black Korhaan, Sabota Lark, Amethyst Sunbird and Orange-river White-eye. It gets even better as Bateleur, Golden-breasted Bunting, African Firefinch, European Nightjar, Yellow-throated Petronia, Drakensberg Rockjumper and Short-toed Rock-Thrush have recently been added. Add to this the Fynbos specials as found in the Swartberg region such as Cape Rockjumper, Protea Seedeater, Cape Siskin, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird and Victorin's Warbler. Many of these endemic species should attract far more birders to this highly underrated birding region.