Thursday, 24 July 2014

Solitaire - Walvis Bay

Got woken up at 1.30am by a howling gale outside and I feared the worst for the rest of the day, but as I stepped out of my room at 6.30am I was confronted with the remarkable sighting of a Karoo Thrush sitting on a rock beside the pool right in front of me. I couldn’t believe my eyes and rushed around to get everyone. Once we were all assembled and seen the thrush, a short walk despite the high winds turned up a few goodies, such as Cape Wagtail, Helmeted Guineafowl, Red-billed Spurfowl and a Common Scimitarbill seeking shelter in a dense acacia right next to us. After breakfast a few Black-throated Canaries joined numerous Lark-like Buntings at the drinking pool, and then we left this wonderful lodge and drove out into the wilderness.

This Karoo Thrush was a big surprise outside my room at Solitaire

Continuing our run of good luck, the first of 20+ Ruppell’s Korhaans to be seen today was spotted close to the road. 

Ruppell's Korhaan

Then at our secret location, in the space of ten minutes, we quickly nailed the scarce Cinnamon-breasted Warbler that was creeping around a rocky hillside with a Cape Bunting. When a Bokmakerie began calling I couldn’t believe it when a quick scan produced a stunning pair calling back at us from the top of a large boulder. They came in a little closer to inspect us but never too close for a photo but boy the scope views were awesome! Then Dave spotted some movement in a close tree and just to show, when your luck is in – it really is in, it proved to be a Layard’s Tit-babbler. Wow!

Not a very good pic of a very, very good bird - Layard's Tit-babbler

So with that done we set off on the 250km drive to Walvis Bay, notching several Chat Flycatchers and Tractrac Chats as the scenery became more arid. A very productive drive towards the coast turned up many new birds for us, with Ostriches, Black-chested Snake-eagle, Lanner, Greater Kestrel, Three-banded Plover, Northern Black Korhaan, Cape Sparrow and both Cape & Pied Crows. We got stuck into the larks as well today with Spike-heeled, Stark’s and Gray’s showing well, but best of all were at least 4 Dune Larks – Namibia’s only true endemic.

Black-chested Snake-Eagle

Dune Lark was an easy find

Greater Kestrel

A good run of mammals included Steenbok, Oryx, Springbok, Mountain Zebra and along a ‘side road’ at Charleys’ special site we had our first Giraffes. Now if you’ve never been to Africa it is a very special moment when you see some of this continent’s larger mammals and we soaked up the views in the scope of ten animals feeding below some tall acacias.

Stunning landscapes are the norm in Namibia - this was our first Oryx...

As we reached the coast our first Cape and Hartlaub’s Gulls were nice, and in the distance Greater Flamingo’s and White Pelicans were seen. Then we spent the evening in the bar watching the world cup final. What a day!

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