Posted on the 3rd October 2017

Brian Vanderwalt produced this excellent report on a birding trip to the Tanqua Karoo - I chucked in some of my images to illustrate a few species

Did an overnight trip to Tanqua Karoo with 2 clients last week.
Left after lunch on Wed and slept over at Ceres so that we could be closer to Karoo Poort early in the morning.
We started in the afternoon on Wed by birding in the Witzenberg Valley. At the dams there we had a few duck species such as Yellow-billed Duck, Red Billed Teal and Cape Shoveler. Coot, Moorhen and Great-crested, Black-necked and Little Grebes were also present.
A Spoonbill and little Egret were investigating the shallows…of which there were many due to the drought. A stop in the pass produced Cape Rock-thrush, Orange-breasted and Malachite Sunbirds but no Rockjumpers this time. We stopped at a water seepage in the late afternoon and we had Cape Canary, Olive Thrush, Cape Turtle-Dove, Cape Bulbul, Cape Bunting and two special seedeaters, namely Streaky-headed and Protea coming in to drink and wash. The Protea Seedeater always ends the day on a high note.

Cape Rock-Thrush
Red-Knobbed Coot










Early start to try to catch the performing Cape Clapper Larks in the renosterveld was disappointing as there were no birds calling….they must be breeding. However a few Black-headed Canaries, always good to see and Yellow Canaries kept us entertained. Further down the road we stopped at a small dam where we saw a Grey Heron but the surprise and luck was a Black Stork feeding in the shallows amongst the rocks. A great bird to see anywhere!
On to Karoo Poort where the Karoo birding starts, we encountered more Black-headed, Yellow and White-throated Canaries, with Cape and Lark-like Bunting, Grey-backed Cisticola and Layard’s Tit-babbler calling from the mountain side. A female Mountain Wheatear came to investigate us, females always seem to be curious!, before we moved down to the riverbed where an African Reed Warbler was flitting about and eventually a Namaqua Warbler worked his way up the fragmites reeds calling his distinctive “spinning coin” call.

African Reed Warbler
Grey-backed Cisticola










At the Manor house scanning the fig and Acacia Karoo trees produced White-backed and Red-faced Mousebirds, Pied Starlings, Bokmakierie, Cape & Southern Masked Weavers, Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler. Acacia Pied Barbet gave its trumpet call from a dead tree with a small flock of European Bee-eaters calling and hawking from the overhead wires….lovely call!! Four SA Shelduck flew over with each female leading the way….maybe they are MRS GARMEN who always knows the way or do the males use them to break the wind for a smoother flight? In a small group of Acacia Karoo a lone Fairy Flycatcher was joined by a Long-billed Crombec and then we spotted MR ELUCIVE….Cinnamon-breasted Warbler who did not call as he had his mouth full of food !!! for his youngsters in the nest and after feeding he flew down towards us and gave number of good sightings as he scurried through the rocks looking for grubs etc. Another surprise was 4 Pale-winged Starlings sitting up on the rocks giving their parrot-like calls, not a common bird in this part of the Tanqua.
Moving into the Tanqua proper and as the shrubbery became smaller the specials popped up. Firstly Sickle-winged Chat then Pale-chanting Goshawk, with Karoo Chat doing his dipping flight away from us and showing his distinctive white outer tail feathers, before perching on a shrub. The red form of the Karoo Lark made his rattling call from the taller shrub before diving away behind a bush as we approached…… where he was most probably watching all our moves!

Cape Shoveler
Karoo Chat








As the area became more sparse, the only obvious birds were Trac-trac Chat and as usual all you saw was the white spot flying away from us before perching low down. The occasional Rufous-eared Warbler flitted low over the road with his long tail, landing and scurrying amongst the short dry shrubs and Rock Kestrel hovering in the wind. Our final bird for the morning was a lone Karoo Eremomela carrying food to some chicks in the vegetated gully. Still need to find that nest. As it was now getting hot we stopped at the Tankwa Padstal for a leisurely chicken burger and chips and proper coffee …..always a big surprise to the clients that this oasis in the dry desert also serves cold beverages!! Once the temperature had dropped a bit we birded further down the road where we encountered, Familiar and Karoo Chats, Large-billed Lark and 3 Karoo Korhaans next to the road…..what were they doing out at this time of the day!! In the distance a few Pied Crows were feasting on a dead sheep….the undertakers.
A slow drive back to civilization was another end to a great days birding in the Tanqua Karoo in the Tanqua Taxi.
Kind regards,
Brian Vanderwalt
Brians Birding & Ecotours
Cape Town
021 919 2192
082 9999 333
DEAT registered Guide
SABAP2 – 505

Large-billed Lark
Rufous-eared Warbler











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