Saturday, 19 April 2014

WIndhoek to Solitaire

A pre-breakfast walk from the hotel gave us much the same birds as yesterday, but after a refreshing night’s sleep I think we all appreciated them a little more this morning. We did add Common (Eurasian) Swift to our list, along with a pair of Blue (Cordon-bleu) Waxbills, Cardinal Woodpecker and Rock Kestrel were new for us as well.

After a superb buffet breakfast we headed to Avis Dam, just a short drive away where we spent a nice couple of hours. At the edge of the car park a Black-faced Waxbill appeared as soon as we arrived, and several White-rumped Swifts showed much better than yesterday. 

Red-headed Finch

The acacias nearby held Grey Go-Away Birds, a flock of Red-headed Finches, Common Waxbills, and Southern Red Bishop – all new birds for us. A Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler also appeared, whilst an Acacia Pied Barbet was also much appreciated. Out on the water, there was White-breasted Cormorant, a pair of Egyptian Goose, an African Fish-Eagle flew across, and later on we saw a Great White Pelican as well. Walking onto the dam itself, several Greater Striped Swallows showed amazingly well when they landed right below us, a Gabar Goshawk flew over and several Alpine Swifts appeared. A Cape Wagtail and some Red-billed Firefinches were seen in the damp areas below us, and a few people saw a Yellow Mongoose as well. 

Pearl-spotted Owlet

Walking on we called in a Pearl-spotted Owlet which came in close and was promptly mobbed by an Acacia Pied Barbet and a Brubru. Returning towards the minibus, we had a Great Spotted Cuckoo and shortly after a Diderik Cuckoo as well. Then a group of Red-billed Quelea flew down to a small pond to drink, and we saw a playful group of South African Ground Squirrels.

Leaving here we set out on the long journey to Solitaire, but it was birding all the way with many, many stops for some quality lifers. The first 90kms were on a paved road before turning off onto a ‘gravel’ road for the rest of the journey, passing through great open scenery interspersed with rocky canyons – finally arriving at our brilliant lodge around 6pm! 

We birded here.......

The road to Solitaire
Crowned Lapwing

Anyway, there were lots of birds today and we made our first stop when a pair of Pale Chanting Goshawks and Rattling Cisticola were seen, and from then on we made frequent stops. Amongst many goodies we saw Red-billed (Spurfowl) Francolin, Pygmy Falcon, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Chat Flycatcher, Sabota Lark, Capped Wheatear, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Crowned Lapwing, Three-banded Plover, Blacksmith Lapwing, Common Fiscal, many colonies of Social Weavers, and Southern Grey-headed Sparrow.

Pygmy Falcon

Sociable Weaver

A pair of Double-banded Coursers actually on the road in front of us was my personal highlight today, and this sighting was made even more memorable when a displaying male Northern Black Korhaan flew right over us.

Double-banded Courser

As the scenery changed from the open, acacia plains to rocky canyons we tried a couple of times for Herero Chat, which never appeared. However, we picked up Lanner, White-throated Canary, Lark-like Bunting, and a Mountain Wheatear for a couple of us, plus a troop of Chacma Baboons and a few Klipspringers

Lark-like Bunting

As we dropped back down into the lowlands a Black-chested Snake-Eagle was a great spot by Charly and some Greater Kudu were rather impressive. And as we got closer to the lodge, Jenny spotted a female Northern Black Korhaan and our first Helmeted Guineafowl and Springbok were seen. 

Greater Kudu

After settling into our rooms nestled at the base of some hills we had a fabulous buffet dinner, were entertained by the staff singing some local folk songs and then had a quick night drive, seeing some Spotted Thick-knees. What a great day!

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