I took 2 clients on an overnight trip to Tanqua Karoo via Betty’s Bay.
After all the rain on last week, the weather was kind to us the thereafter. Cape Siskin performed well along Clarens Drive close to the road. No wind at Rooi-els so birding was pleasure with great views of Yellow Bishop, Neddicky, Cape Rock-thrush as well as two fairly good sightings of Cape Rock-jumper. A Cape Grassbird called well and loud from the top of a shrub. Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens was also windless and Victorin’s Warbler gave great views.
Fairly big groups of Blue Cranes at Botriver with Red-capped and Large-billed Larks with hundreds of Cape Canaries & Cape Sparrow filling in the gaps. Malachite Sunbirdreally looking spectacular feeding in the exotic acacias.
An adult Martial Eagle was seen on the way to Villiersdorp hunting over Renosterveld. Going through Villiersdorp a lone Grey-headed Gull scavenged through town, with a pair ofWhite-backed Duck on one of the pond on the Worcester side of the town.
An early start at Ceres was chilly at 5 degrees, but “wait there is more” once we topped Therons Pass the gauge said -0.5 degrees!!!!!!!!!!!! Grass was white and stiff and the puddles were sheets of glass! No wonder the Cape Clapper Lark gave an unusual call in the rising sun.
Down to Karoo Poort where we spent 2hrs birding the various habitats. Black-headed and Yellow Canaries, Layard’s Tit-babbler, Grey-backed Cisticola, Namaqua Warbler, Long-billed Crombeck, Mountain Wheatear and a pair of SA Shelduck , with the male bringing up the rear as usual, flying past. At the Karoo Poort manor house Pied Starling, Streaky-headed Seedeater, Bokmakierie, Hamerkop, Red Bishop, Red-faced Mousebird, seen whilst eating a packed breakfast. Once through the poort the wind eased down and White-backed Mousebird, Rock Kestrel, Fairy Flycatcher were seen.
The Fairies gave really good displays as they fed in the shrub around us. Whistled for the Cinnamon-breasted Warbler and silently and suddenly it appeared on the rock close to us and gave its high pitched strong song. Soon disappeared and called again from on top of the hill, still clearly heard. A large group of Alpine Swifts flew low over the rocks. One of the last birds to be seen in this pentad was a Sickle-winged Chat.
Near Inverdoorn Dam the resident Fish Eagle appeared on the far bank of the dam with a pair of Yellow-bellied Eremomela feeding in the low bushes. I found this unusual as they normally use taller bushes, but with the Tanqua being very dry for this time of the year, any habitat will do I suppose! Quickly found the Karoo Eremomela at Eier/perdekop with the weather becoming very comfortable.
Spike-heeled Larks and Trac-trac Chats were seen on the road to the pit stop at Tanqua Padstal. Strangely no Karoo Larks or Rufous-eared Warbler were seen or heard up to then which was quite strange. This changed after lunch and Rufous-eared Warbler, Karoo & Trac-trac Chat and Karoo Lark and a very obligingPririt Batis pair were seen. With the area being very dry we did not see many Canaries or Black-eared Sparrow-larks at this end of the Tanqua.
On the way back we encountered a pair of Karoo Korhaan. After walking a short distance away from the road, the one sat down amongst some rocks but not sure if it was on eggs. It was fairly close and this was unusual for them to sit down as they normally walked away slowly. Did not want to disturb the bird by flushing it.
African Black Ducks and a Spotted Eagle-owl were seen at Slanghoek Valley on the way home at dusk.
Another great day in the Tanqua Karoo. Could almost call it a “warbler run”. Total of 106 species seen.