(Brian Vanderwalt posted this report on 25 October)
We had 2 excellent days in the Tanqua and Ceres surrounds on Wednesday and Thursday with Johannesburg clients. Their brief was: Protea Seedeater, Black-headed Canaries, Karoo Eromomela, Black-eared Sparrow-lark, Victorin's and Cinnamon-breasted Warblers!!!!!!!!!!
Firstly we tried for the Black-headed Gull at Paarl but nothing there, but Black-headed Canaries were feeding in the road at Karoo Poort - first for the afternoon and Karoo Eremomelas were at Eierkop in the late afternoon and finally Protea Seedeater was at their usual bird bath. Not a bad afternoon's birding.
Early next morning Black-headed Canaries were again found feeding in Karoo Poort which seemed to herald a good day. Cinnamon-breasted Warbler was called down from his lofty perch and came and fed amongst the rocks near us before flying over the ridge where we found him again. The views were stunning and we eventually had to leave. Next was a call to Eierkop again for my client to check on the eye colour of the Eremomelas. He had seen some with dark eyes which I suspected were juveniles. They were easily found and confirmed that there were light and dark eyed birds. Off to our next spot for "black butterflies" - Black-eared Sparrow-larks. Firstly we only found 2 but once we walked around they erupted around us, at least 20 birds. Some of the males sat on shrubs around us giving excellent close-up views. This was only at 10h00. Back to Ceres and we decided to try for the Gull again, but first Victorin's Warbler. The "protea" bird bath was stopped at as I had seen VW there before in the late afternoon. The only bird that arrived was Protea Seedeater which did not even give me time to clean out the bath. Off to the next likely spot and after a few minutes of whistling a VW arrived and seemed to be allergic to thick tangle and sedges as it only sat on dead sticks in full view singing his heart out! What a trip 6 out of 6!
Tried for the Gull again but I think it has left. Other birds seen included Black Harrier, two dark-phase Booted Eagles, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Karoo-, Sickle-winged- and Trac-trac Chats, Fairy Flycatcher, Namaqua Warbler, SA Shelduck, Mountain Wheat-ear and a number of red formed Karoo Larks. We also saw two White-winged Terns at Inverdoon on Thursday 23 October.