An­ton Oden­dal’s Top 10 birds in the Tankwa Ka­roo

South African Country Life - - Birding Hotspots -

1. An en­demic species oc­cur­ing in the western half of the coun­try, the Ru­fous-eared War­bler (Rooioor­lang­stertjie) of­ten for­ages on the ground, run­ning swiftly be­tween bushes and scrubs.

2. The Cape Rock-Thrush (Kaapse Kli­plyster) has a typ­i­cally hor­i­zon­tal stance and is a lo­cally com­mon en­demic that oc­curs in rocky ar­eas in grass­land and fyn­bos, tend­ing to move from higher el­e­va­tions in win­ter.

3. Sea­son­ally abun­dant at the wa­ter masses in the Tankwa Ka­roo, the Pied Avo­cet (Bon­telsie) is un­mis­tak­able, with its long, thin, up­turned bill, red eye and black and white plumage. They are gre­gar­i­ous and no­madic, mov­ing around de­pend­ing on wa­ter qual­ity, and frighten eas­ily when ap­proached.

4. The Ver­reaux’s Ea­gle (Witkruis­arend) hunts by stoop­ing from great heights or swoop­ing around cliff faces, and preys pre­dom­i­nantly on dassies. It rarely feeds on car­rion and is lo­cally fairly com­mon.

5. The only pre­dom­i­nantly beige rap­tor in South Africa, the Greater Kestrel (Grootrooivalk) is, in­ter­est­ingly, the only kestrel in the world whose adult has a pale eye. It hunts mostly from a prom­i­nent perch and of­ten catches prey un­der grass tufts and stones.

6. The Grey-winged Fran­colin (Berg­pa­trys) is an en­demic that typ­i­cally oc­curs in fyn­bos in rocky and moun­tain­ous habi­tats in the Tankwa Ka­roo re­gion. It is hugely sought-af­ter by in­ter­na­tional bird-watch­ers and tends to keep in cov­eys of three to eight birds. It feeds on in­ver­te­brates, bulbs and roots.

7. A lo­cally com­mon en­demic oc­cur­ring in

Ka­roo scrub and renos­ter­veld, the South­ern

Black Korhaan (Swartvlerkko­rhaan) is de­clin­ing in num­ber, and they are now re­garded as Vul­ner­a­ble. The fe­male is cryp­ti­cally cam­ou­flaged, so the male is seen most of­ten.

8. The plumage of the male Moun­tain Wheatears

(Berg­wagter) varies from black to pale grey (the bird il­lus­trated) and they all have a white shoul­der patch, rump and outer tail feath­ers, with some sport­ing a white cap. Fe­males are dark brown. They oc­cur in rocky hill­sides and road cut­tings.

9. The Na­maqua Sand­grouse (Kelkiewyn) with an Afrikaans name re­fer­ring to its well-known call, is a near-en­demic species oc­cur­ring in the arid western parts of the coun­try. It typ­i­cally flies for one to two hours in search of wa­ter, and gath­ers wa­ter droplets in its chest feath­ers.

10. The Ka­roo Scrub-Robin (Slangverk­likker) is an en­demic species that prefers Ka­roo scrub­lands and dry fyn­bos, and is usu­ally found in pairs. It is known for its var­ied and melo­di­ous calls and also tends to mimic other species.

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