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DECEMBER BIRDING TRIP TO THE TANQUA KAROO

Posted on the 2nd January 2011

I returned from a 2 day trip to the Tanqua with clients. We had a good spell of birds and luckily for my clients it was not as hot as normally this time of the year. That was probably the influence of a cold front passing the Cape.

In total we saw 131 species from CT and back. As we left CT we picked up several Yellow-billed Kites and Steppe Buzzards, around Hermon several Blue Cranes and at Tom's Abattoir pass Hermon was a huge congregation of White Stork, White Pelican, Kelp Gull and White-necked Raven. There were some Lesser Kestrels near Wolseley and Protea Canary was waiting for us at the drinking place in Gydo Pass. We saw also Cape Sugarbird, Olive Thrush, orange-breasted Sunbird and Cape Grassbird in Gydo Pass. A dam near Prince Alfred Hamlet hosts Southern Pochard, Great Crested Grebe and Glossy Ibis.

In Karoopoort a female Afr Paradise-Flycatcher was seen in the poplar trees and towards the picnic site we could add Fairy Flycatcher, Alpine Swift, Dusky Sunbird and Red-faced Mousebird. We had a look for Cinnamon-breasted Warbler at the picnic site without success, actually for that day. The Inverdoorn Dam has still water, but the edge is now very far from the fence. Except for the couple of hundred Red-knobbed Coots, there was nothing very special on the dam. Towards Skitterykloof we saw our first Larklike Bunting and Karoo Eremomelas as well as Booted Eagle and Greater Kestrel.

We searched in Skitterykloof for the CBWarbler again and not even walking through the water could turn up any. It was midday, so the birds were not very active and the most interesting was a Spotted Flycatcher in the large bushes against the cliffs as you enter the kloof. There were a couple of the common birds of the kloof like Longbilled Crombec, Cape Spurfowl and Layard's Titbabbler. On the way back to the main road we found some Namaqua Sandgrouses in the road and at the water pools in the Doring River, a Common Greenshank, Little Stint and Spurwinged Goose.

The Tanqua had lovely rains a week ago (up to 100 mm) and the plants start getting green. Red-capped Larks were plentiful and there were some Namaqua Doves and Yellow Canaries. We had a look for the Burchell's Coursers without any luck. They probably thought it was the Big Flood again with all the rain and disappeared. We paid a quick visit to the Oudebaaskraal Dam and all the water birds were on the far side. We saw Black-necked Grebe, Afr Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo and Brown-throated Martins flying over the water. Along the way we had Secretarybird, Greybacked Sparrowlark and Large-billed Lark. Near the Park's office we found a flock of Black-headed Canaries. As it became cooler, we found much more birds between the Park's office and Gannaga Lodge where we overnight. These include Larklike Buntings, White-throated Canary, Black Harrier, plenty of Karoo Larks, several groups of Karoo Eremomelas, Grey Tit, Mountain Wheatear and Grey-backed Cisticola.

For those who do not know the area, Gannaga Lodge is excellent if you don't want to go self-catering. Food is traditional and you can get some cold stuff to help against the heat. Early on Friday morning the resident group of Grey-winged Francolins was calling and we had good views of them. We started early for the return trip to Cape Town and in Gannaga Pass we had good views of Layard's Titbabbler. Down on the plains we saw Rufous-eared Warbler, Lanner Falcon, and Secretarybird, probably the same Black Harrier of the previous day and Jackal Buzzard. A drove to the Elandsberg Camp gave more views of Rufous-eared Warbler, Tractrac & Sickle-winged Chat, and some Grey-backed Sparrowlarks with a couple of Black-eared Sparrowlarks with them.

At the Rhenoster River close to the Park's office we saw Eur bee-eater, Diderick Cuckoo and Namaqua Warbler. At the Tanqua River we had again good views of Namaqua Warbler, but another search for Burchell's Courser did produce anything. Just as we thought we can loss on the Karoo Korhaans, we found a pair at the turn off at the main R355 road. Not very far and we had another group of them. We made another stop at the picnic site in Karoopoort and that time we were successful with the CBWarbler which gave good views for a few seconds before it disappeared amongst the rocks. We retracted it again before it went into the bushes and wouldn't show it again.

A very good trip for December bird wise!! If you are interested in the "Larks and Pipit" trip or the Mapungubwe / Kruger trip, please contact me.

JAPIE CLAASSEN

KAROO BIRDING SAFARIS

BOX 112, BEAUFORT WEST, 6970

TEL +27 23 4142980

FAX 086 6060267

CELL +27 83 724 7916

E-MAIL: karoobirding@beaufortwest.net

WEB: www.karoobirding.wetpaint.com.

DEAT & FGASA REGISTERED

SABAP2 Observer nr 039

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