Autumn in Tanqua - June 2008

I spent a short while in the Tanqua yesterday with a client and friend. Even though she had been there before and seen the normal Karoo birds she had never seen or heard the specials. She of course still needed the easy ones, Double-banded Courser, Burchells Courser and Cinnamon-breasted Warbler! Not much time was therefore spent on the “locals” and also we only arrived there at noon thanks to delayed flight from JHB.

We headed for the CBW sites first and ended off with Courser sites leaving only at 4pm for Cape Town! It was great to drive there again as the R355 has kept its upgrade and driving was a pleasure, they are even upgrading the P2250 from the R355 side and have progressed about 12kms. Sad that this only happens once the Tanqua Guest House is no longer.

Weather was mild, about 19C and there was a fair amount of activity and all the Chats namely Karoo, Mountain, Ant-eating, Sickle-winged and Trac-Trac were seen. Karoo, Large-billed and Red-capped Larks were foraging amongst the shrubs which looked fresh from the rain that had fallen. On the way there were a few Pale-chanting Goshawks, Greater and Rock Kestrels as well as Jackal Buzzard (white breasted form seen beyond Eierkop this time). The Black Harrier was not seen at its normal place but far down the R355 towards the Skitterykloof turnoff.

Skitterykloof still had a steam running from the springs and has kept the area looking good. We saw Black Eagle, Moorhen, Red-knobbed Coot, Dusky and Lesser-double Collared Sunbirds, Long-billed Crombek and an excellent sighting of Cinnamon-breasted warbler singing in front of us. We watched it for some time and again saw how inaccurate the field guides were in showing this great colourful bird.

Then it was off for Courser country and we found not one but two Burchells Coursers close to the road (50m). It was a great to watch them as both clients had not seen them before and mention was made of the white, nearly luminous legs and the white vent seen as they were feeding. When they eventually casually flew and landed about 200m away, the white trailing edge of the secondaries was clearly seen. We did not see Double-banded Courser though but they are normally more often seen over a wider area next to the road in the late afternoon over the whole Northern Cape, which will probable be the client’s next trip with us.

Again a great day was had in the Tanqua and the difficult birds had been seen.

Happy Birding!
Brian Vanderwalt