Just a quick report on a trip made by Gordon Botha, Shaun and Che Overmeyer + me on last Sunday. (1 November 2009)
We made an early start from Cape Town and hit Karooport at 6 AM. We stopped quickly and got the Namaqua Warbler there. We continued slowly towards Skitterykloof and picked up African Shelduck, Karoo Chat, Cape Penduline Tit, Neddicky, Grey Backed Cisticola, Ant-Eating Chat, Black Harrier and numerous Pale Chanting Goshawks, Jackal Buzzards and Rock Kestrels on the way. By the time we entered Skitterykloof, the sun was already shining harsh. We picked up a couple of Namaqua Sandgrouse just after we took of from the main road. The first we saw at Skittery Kloof was a Rock Kestrel attacking a Booted Eagle. Other than that besides Layards Tit Babbler and Fairy Flycatcher, Skitterykloof was quite disappointing this time.
Back on the main road towards the P2250, we saw a single Karoo Koorhan and a Lanner Falcon. The first stop at the P2250 revealed a few confiding Karoo Eremomela + Rufous Eared Warblers. We did not see a single Sparrowlark on the P2250, just a few Spike-Heeled, Thick-Billed and Red-Capped. At roughly the 10K mark, Shaun called the Burchell's Courser warning from the car behind. He had detected 3 of them fairly close to the road. By the time Gordon and I got sight of them they were a distance away, but I still manged to get some "blurry, long distance shots" of them. Needless to say, this was the highlight of the day. At that time the temperature had reached 35 degrees. Heading towards the park, we did not pick up much more than a few Tractrac Chats. At the river crossing just behing the Tanqua Karoo Lodge, we picked up a male and female Pririt Batis + a few Namaqua Warblers. We also saw our only Sparrowlark of the day there. This was a male Grey Backed.
On the way out we did not pick up anything interesting at all. I assume the hot weather would account for the relatively low numbers of birds we saw, especially at Skitterykloof and the P2250. We missed target species suh as CB Warbler, Dusky Sunbird, Ludwig's Bustard (maybe too late?) and Black-Eared Sparrowlark. The Coursers were a lifer for all of us and really saved the day. Besides that Gordon picked up 7 or so lifers and Che roughly 20.
The Courser were the last one of the Tanqua specials missing for me although I still need a photo of a Black-Eared Sparrowlark (so I might be back next year) :-)