Posted on the 17th August 2016

Hi All,

Twenty two members attended a TBC camp to Tanqua Karoo area from 29th to 31st July 2016 .

Our base was just outside Prince Alfred’s Hamlet (45k from Karoo Poort) and our accommodation were excellent cottages fully rigged out, so much so that we did not even have to take towels!!! Some pics included here. Some of the cottages had two single beds(one bedroom) and others had 2 bed rooms, one with a double bed en suite and the other with 2 single beds with own bathroom. The large house had 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms.
Many of us arrived just after lunch so had a few daylight hours to do some farmyard birding. There were orchards, a dam and also a stream near the mountain, so the habitat was varied. Some of the first bird seen were, Streaky-headed Seedeater, Swee Waxbills (always good to see!), a pair of Spotted Eagle-owls roosting in the gum trees, and a pair of Yellow-billed Duck gave good “reflective” views on the still dam. All too soon it was time to have, as the weather was good, a welcome braai at the main house, where the following days activities were discussed.

Yellow-billed Ducks
Grey-backed Cisticola









An early morning rise by Ionè and me see the meteor shower over the eastern sky was successful. With the naked eye it looked like a mist cloud but with binos and then the scope the shattered meteor could be seen. Some of the members saw it on Sunday morning….interesting happenings in the sky above us!!!!!!
At 7.30am we all met at the security gate, after doubling up in the larger vehicles and proceeded to Karoopoort for our first birding stop. Weather was mild and not cold at all…..well some of us thought so! The last TBC camp I remember had had snow! The ever present Cape Bunting, Grey-backed Cisticola, Rock Martin, Karoo Scrub-robin, Yellow Canary and a distant calling Bokmakierie welcomed us. Layard’s Tit-babbler called from the slopes of the mountain but not seen. Namaqua Warblers called from the fragmites reeds and most members had good views. We moved on to the Karoopoort toll house (national monument) and had a quick breakfast under the
leafless poplar trees. Here we encountered some regulars such as Cape Wagtail, Common Starling, Cape Sparrow, Cape Weaver, but this was disturbed by a soaring Verreauxs’ Eagle over the mountain. A walk along the road had us pick up Olive Thrush, Cape Robin-chat, Red-winged Starling, White-throated Canary, Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler. At the “picnic” spot just past Karoo Poort we tried for Cinnamon-breasted Warbler without avail, but a Mountain Wheatear and Fairy Flycatcher was appreciated by all.
We meandered along the road towards our next stop at Perdekoppies aka Eierkop, hearing Karoo Lark and Rufous-eared Warbler along the way. Inverdoorn Dam had NO water and it was sad to see at the end of winter. Wonder how they are going to manage their animals this coming summer!
Around Perdekoppies we did not expect many birds but the ones we saw were what you would expect from this dry area. Large-billed and Karoo Lark, Karoo Chat, Yellow and White-throated Canary, Southern Double -collared Sunbird and Karoo Prinia were the regulars but a Grey Tit, Pale Chanting Goshawk and Dusky Sunbird made their appearance. I haven’t seen a Dusky in the southern Tanqua for some time and maybe the hill had enough or maybe the only food for it in the area. A short stop at the Tanqua Padstal produced an unexpected Black-winged Stilt and Three-banded Plover in the Doring River puddle but we were also glad to see Karoo Eremomela, Karoo, Familiar and Trac-trac Chats and Spike-healed and Karoo Larks. On our way home another Pale-chanting Goshawk was seen perching on a telegraph pole.

Once at the farm a braai fire was lit and the discussion of the birds took place with comments “Where did you see that!” and “I did not see that”, Great bird” , “Have not seen that one before….lifer” !! Soon the coals were ready and we were braai-ing with talk quieting down as everyone tucked into their supper. A quick résumé of Sundays proposed activity and another bum day’s birding in Africa came to an end.

Spike-heeled Lark
Karoo Chat








Sunday we met at the gate at 8am in what promised to be a cool start but warming up later under a clear sky. First stop was to clean out my “Protea Canary” bird bath site up the Gydo Pass. No Protea came in to drink but many others did. We then moved on to the valley behind the Skurweberge where we made numerous stops at the pans of water and scrubby areas. At one scrubby area we came across 3 Blue Crane in a smallish field, unusual for the area? One wonders if the Crane count the previous day had covered this area, hopefully the info would be picked up from the atlas card that was being done. A pair of Cape Longclaw, Red-capped lark, Common Waxbill, Cape Canary and a flock of Red Bishops with many males already in breeding
plumage were also seen here. A small pan had a few Black-necked Grebe which was surprise but the flooded area kept us busy for some time as birds kept popping out from behind the flooded shrubs and grass, namely Southern Pochard, Red-billed Teals, Maccoa Duck and even 2 White-faced Whistling Duck. We scanned the pan for perhaps a Black Duck and there they were OR were they?? On closer inspection the male turned out to be Mallard hybrid (white collar) and we were not sure of the other bird……pity. On our return trip we stopped in the pass that takes you out of the valley back to Gydo Pass. Here we encountered Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted, S Double-collared and Malachite Sunbirds, Red-winged Starling (tried to make it into Pale-winged !!!!), Mountain Wheatear and an unexpected call drew our attention……Cape Rockjumper foraging fairly close to the road. Always a great bird to see!

All too soon we had to return to the farm and pack up and reminisce about
the “bad birding weekend we had had with the TBC”….hahahahah! In excess of
88 species were seen but many were area specific.

Brian Vanderwalt

Brians Birding & Ecotours
Skype: brian.vanderwalt
Cape Town
021 919 2192
082 9999 333
DEAT registered Guide.
SABAP2 – 505

Karoo Scrub-Robin
Grey Tit










(Images by Anton Odendal of BirdLife Overberg)


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