It is considerably cooler since my last visit, well it is winter here, and there was a distinct chill in the air this morning as we met for our 7am walk. It is always a nice place to start as there are plenty of lifers for everyone and I think we did very well during our 80 minutes outing, where we walked just a few hundred metres from the hotel entrance! From an aesthetic point of view the stunning Crimson-breasted Shrike perched on top of an acacia for several minutes was the star bird, although a Bradfield’s Swift flying overhead was much more satisfying to my mind! As the day began to slowly warm up there was more bird activity and we saw Familiar Chat, Black-chested Prinia, Fork-tailed Drongo, Cape Wagtail, Marico Sunbirds, a few Southern Masked Weavers, several close White-browed Sparrow-Weavers, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow and lots of Cape Glossy Starlings. We walked around to an open area and then in a very short space of time we were watching an Acacia Pied Barbet, Pririt Batis, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Rufous-vented Tit-Babbler, Grey-Go-Away Bird, lots of African Red-eyed Bulbuls and several cute Blue (Cordon-bleu) Waxbills.
Then, following a nice buffet breakfast we headed off in a southerly direction before turning off the paved road and onto the ‘gravel’ road we would soon become accustomed to. Along the way we stopped to admire our first Tawny Eagles and several White-backed Vultures, whilst a single Lappet-faced Vulture just passed by too quickly, a Marico Flycatcher was scoped and we saw the first of many Burchell’s Starlings to be seen today..
The scenery was getting better and better, changing from typical ‘bush country’ to rocky gorges as the day went on and I really don’t know where the time went today, as it went way too fast for our liking. It was easy roadside birding all day and we picked up several Pale Chanting Goshawks, both Lilac-breasted and Purple Rollers and Common Fiscal early on. We stopped to admire a huge Social Weaver colonial nest in a large tree and a male Pygmy Falcon appeared nearby, along with flocks of weavers and Scaly-feathered Finches. Moving on we saw our first Helmeted Guineafowl, before stopping on a bridge over a dry riverbed, where one small pool was inviting lots of Lark-like Buntings and a single Green-winged Pytilia. Short-toed Rock-thrushes were numerous today and we probably saw at least 9 throughout the day – compared to April’s visit where we only had one distant view on our penultimate day.
Lunch was taken at a quaint roadside restaurant and whilst waiting for our food we walked around the gardens getting our first Blacksmith’s Lapwing, Sabota Lark, Dusky Sunbirds, Kalahari Scrub-Robin, Familiar Chat, brief Black-throated Canary, Ashy Tit and a flyover Namaqua Sandgrouse. Both Tractrac Chat and Chat Flycatcher were seen shortly after leaving our lunch stop as well.
The scenery became more rugged from here on and we searched for Herero Chat without any luck, but did get nice views of a group of 5 Monteiro’s Hornbills, Mountain Wheatears, lots of Chacma Baboons, Klipspringers and Black-backed Jackal.
A Bokmakierie was perched on top of an acacia as we drove past but disappeared as we all jumped out of the minibus. As the road dropped down to the valley floor a beautiful red sunset greeted us and 3 Ludwig’s Bustards striding sedately across the grassland was a fine way to end our birding.