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ILSE AND CARIN CELEBRATE THE BIRDING IN THE KGALAGADI

Posted on the 16th March 2016

(BirdLife Overberg members Ilse Bigalke and Carin Malan were part of a group of ladies that visited the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park recently. Ilse reports briefly and the article is illustrated with some of Carin's images. It's time to make your reservations folks. - Ed.)
According to folklore there are only two kinds of people who leave the Kgalagadi after their maiden visit: Those who return time and time again, and those whom the Kagalagadi won’t see again for dust.
I definitely belong to the first category.
With Carin Malan joining us as “an old timer”, our recent tripwas nothing short of memorable.
Carin and myselfwere accompanied by two friends who had attended Anton’s Flight for Birders course at Inthaka Island and they were awestruck by the expert knowledge of our guide. It was my first visit to the park and Carin’s fifteenth. We resided in the Nossob and Twee Rivieren camps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The excitement started well before the park as we inter alia spotted a plethora of communal Sociable Weaver nests (Birdlife South Africa’s bird of the year) and Pale Chanting Goshawks along the way. Other notable species included Black-shouldered Kite, the cute Pygmy Falcon, White-backed Vultureand Greater Kestrel.

On the way to the Kgalagadi and back we searched unsuccessfully for the evasive Red Lark in the vicinity of the gravel roads around Brandvlei – it only occurs in a very small area around there. We did, however, manage to spot a few lifers (for me): Black-headed Canary, Karoo Scrub-Robin, White-throated Canary, Black-chested Prinia and Scaly-feathered Finch. The latter became my firm favourite during the trip.

Sociable Weaver
Scaly-feathered Finch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pygmy Falcon
Ashy Tit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burchell's Starling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We overnighted in Calvinia and at the Kgalagadi Lodge, where we were greeted by Ground-Scraper Thrush amongst others.
We entered the park at the Twee Rivieren Gate and the first day was mainly spent driving to Nossob. We were amazed at how green the park was after the recent rains – the red dunes, usually speckled with gemsbok in those iconic photographs – were replaced by an expanse of green vegetation.
At the watering holes and picnic sites we were entertained by Namaqua Dove, Lanner Falcon swooping down on hapless Cape Turtle Dove,amazing swarms of Namaqua Sandgrouse and some Burchell’s Sandgrouse, the beautiful Crimson-breasted Shrike, Sociable Weaver, the various sparrow species and White-browed Sparrow Weaver, amongst others.
Although Carin is used to the Cape Ground Squirrel, I was fascinated by them and the way they hold tiny bits of grass and other morsels of food in their little “hands” while eating. We saw lots of Gemsbok, Springbok, Red Hartebees and Blue Wildebeest, but the Kalahari Tent Tortoise, Barking Gecko (which makes a helluva noise throughout the night) and the Ground and Tree Agama made us gawk.
Our exceedingly hot three days at Nossobwere made bearable by the swimming pool and a thunder storm during the last night. The accommodation was grubby and sun-bakedand it did not help that the power was cut at 22:00, thereby disempowering the ceiling fans. We melted in the heat.

Red-necked Falcon 1
Red-necked Falcon 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lions at night
and in daytime

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Nevertheless, the hide at Nossob more than made up for it. The pecking order of both birds and animals at the water hole is something to behold. It all starts off with a flight of doves hogging the hole, later joined by Sandgrouse, Shaft-tailed Whydah and Wattled Starling. This serene scene was disrupted frequently as a juvenile Gymnogene and Lanner Falcon searched for their evening meal. We did not have to wait long before two lionesses made their way to the water and everything in sight, including the jackals, disappeared from sight. Early the following morning we were privileged to see eleven members of a lion pride at the water, as well as two beautiful males making their way there.
The absence of owls during the trip was surprising, but we did hear Pearl-Spotties and encountered a Barn Owl in flight in the camp at night.
Other bird species which delighted us during our stay at Nossob and Twee Rivieren included Ashy Tit, Striped Kingfisher, Black-chested Snake-Eagle, Martial Eagle, Pygmy Falcon, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Red-necked Falcon, Swallow-tailed and European Bee-eater, Red-headed Finch, Abdim’s Stork, Black-cheeked Waxbill,screeching Southern Black Korhaan, Kori Bustard and lots of Secretary Birds parading all over the place.

Kalahari Scrub-Robin
Groundscraper Thrush

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The accommodation at Twee Rivieren was great and (jay) the aircon was on throughout the night. Bats pooing on Carin’s bed and keeping us awake at night were minor irritations as we thoroughly enjoyed the “garden birds” such as Ashy Tit, Golden-tailed Woodpecker and Scaly-feathered Finch.We could even say: There’s a (Marico) Flycatcher on my stoep!
Then it was time to greet the big, big skies of the Kgalagadi. The number of roadkillson the way back was devastating, but our feathered friends once more provided lots of entertainment: White-backed Vulture, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Lilac-breasted Roller (dead, unfortunately, but our first roller!), juvenile Martial Eagle and many more.
Can’t wait to plan our next trip to this neck of our woods!
 

Kori Bustard
Immature Swallow-tailed Bee-Eater

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Immature African Harrier-Hawk
Shaft-tailed Whydah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMENTS

2229
JILL MORTIMER (posted: 2016-03-21 10:32:33)
Fabulous - lucky you. Thanks for the pics and write-up. What a pity about the poor accommodation at Nossop.
ANNABIE KUHN (posted: 2016-03-17 06:50:02)
Excellent report and stunning pictures. Thank you Ilse and Carin!
DI PARKER (posted: 2016-03-16 14:51:21)
It\'s a fabulous place - can\'t wait to go back! Lovely report - thanks
CAROL VAN HOOGSTRATEN (posted: 2016-03-16 14:50:53)
Lucky ladies to have had the rains before your trip. Thank you.
LOUIS ALBERTS (posted: 2016-03-16 11:25:25)
Stunning photos backed by beautiful report
MICHELE PAPKE (posted: 2016-03-16 10:46:00)
Stunning photos!
ANTON ODENDAL (posted: 2016-03-16 10:11:15)
Brilliant girls. Thank you very much. Elaine