(Margaret posted this report on the capebirdnet on 15 September 2009).
A quick two night trip to the Tanqua with Brian van der Walt last week finally provided me with a bird I had searched this area for without any success for the past 4 years - 2 stunning Burchell's Coursers. Took us most of the day to find them, and when we did, we managed to follow them for a while and get decent scope views - somewhere on the P2250 road!
While searching for them, of course, we stopped for everything else and ended up with 80 species for one day. Plenty of Black-headed Canaries everywhere, yet only one Ludwig's Bustard. Large flocks of both Grey-backed Finchlarks and Black-headed Finchlarks as well, and we were lucky enough to find one Grey-backed female feeding a chick in a nest right by the side of the road. We snuck in quietly and quickly and now have great photos of one newly hatched Grey-backed Finchlark chick and 1 egg about to hatch. Interesting that there were two female Grey-backeds at this nest, the second one might have been assisting?
Both pale and dark morph Booted Eagles were seen, but no Snake Eagles on this trip, though we did have one pair of Black Eagles. Three Karoo Korhaans and plenty of Greater Kestrels. Many species were building nests and some appeared to be feeding chicks (or each other!) These included Layard's Titbabblers.
At Skitterykloof next morning, stunning views of Cinnamon-breasted Warbler right at the entrance to the kloof. The flowers have finished, but Ceres still has fields of Oxalis and snow on the mountain tops. An entirely succesful trip, I got my Burchells, Jansie got her CB Warbler, and the others in our small group all got more than one lifer. Brian did the atlassing, so it will all be recorded!
At the top of the Katbakkies pass, pools of water had formed in depressions on the side of the road where roadworks were taking place and there were large green frogs around the edges on the ponds. Afterwards I wondered if they were Karoo Toads turned green from the scummy water, as I couldn't find any large Green frogs in my frog book!
Just out of interest, my husband and I were in the Tanqua from the 2nd to the 4th September and saw well over 70 Ludwig's Bustards. We saw 50 in one patch! They were everywhere!
Such a special place!