Anton Odendal’s Top 10 birds in the Tankwa Karoo
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.