Birding in the Tankwa Karoo with Let’s Go Birding: A Feathered Adventure
The Tankwa Karoo, located in the heart of South Africa, is a vast and arid landscape that may seem desolate at first glance. However, for avid birdwatchers, this seemingly barren terrain is a hidden gem teeming with unique and captivating avian species. Join us on a three-day adventure with Let’s Go Birding as we explore the breathtaking Tankwa Karoo and uncover some of its most sought-after avian treasures.
Day 1: The Journey Begins
Our birding expedition begins as we set out early in the morning from the charming town of Cape Town. Armed with binoculars, cameras, and expert guidance from Jacques Giliomee, we eagerly anticipate the remarkable birdlife awaiting us in the Tankwa Karoo. The Karoo received so much rain that it was a carpet of colour as the flowers were blooming as far as the eye could see.
- Ground Woodpecker was a great surprise along the side of the road.
- Karoo Korhaan (Eupodotis vigorsii) Our first sighting of the day is the majestic Karoo Korhaan. With its distinctive call, this bird is a true symbol of the Karoo region. We’re off to a great start!
- Karoo Lark (Certhilauda albescens) As we traverse the semi-arid grasslands, the melodious song of the Karoo Lark fills the air. These small, brown birds are well-camouflaged but provide a harmonious backdrop to our adventure.
- Karoo Long-billed Lark (Certhilauda subcoronata) The Karoo Long-billed Lark, with its long, slender bill and cryptic plumage, is another remarkable find. It’s always a challenge to spot these birds amidst the shrubbery, but our experienced guides make it look easy.
Day 2: Exploring the Karoo Wilderness
The Tankwa Karoo’s rugged terrain offers a unique opportunity to encounter a diverse range of bird species, both resident and migratory as well as other wildlife and flowers/plants
- Mountain Wheatear (Oenanthe monticola) As we venture into higher elevations, the Mountain Wheatear graces us with its presence. With its bold black and white markings and cheerful disposition, it’s a delightful addition to our growing list of sightings.
- Pale-winged Starling (Onychognathus nabouroup) Amidst the rocky outcrops, we spot the stunning Pale-winged Starling. Its iridescent plumage shimmers in the sunlight, making it a dazzling sight against the Karoo’s stark backdrop.
- Pririt Batis, The Pririt Batis, with its distinctive black eye stripe and white breast, graces us with its presence in the shrubby thickets. This charming little bird is a testament to the area’s unique biodiversity.
- Grey Tit (Parus afer) The Grey Tit, with its subdued grey plumage and cheerful disposition, is another delightful find. Its playful antics provide a lighthearted contrast to the rugged Karoo landscape.
- Fairy Flycatcher (Stenostira scita) As we approach the end of our journey, we’re fortunate to encounter the Fairy Flycatcher, a dainty and enchanting bird that flits among the branches, capturing our hearts with its grace.
- Spike-heeled Lark (Chersomanes albofasciata) Our final birding highlight is the elusive Spike-heeled Lark. This ground-dwelling species is known for its distinctively long hind claws and superb camouflage, making it a challenge to spot.
- We also found many waders and water birds, like three-banded plovers, ducks, kingfishers, etc., that you would not typically find in the Karoo, and it was a great surprise.
Day 3: The Final Stretch
On our last day in the Tankwa Karoo, we continue our quest to uncover the region’s hidden avian treasures on the way home.
- Ludwig’s Bustard (Neotis ludwigii) Today, we’re treated to the sight of Ludwig’s Bustard, a large, ground-dwelling bird known for its distinctive white neck and striking plumage. Observing this regal creature in its natural habitat is a true privilege.
Our three-day birding adventure in the Tankwa Karoo with Let’s Go Birding has been a truly remarkable experience. With 101 bird species recorded, including the Karoo Korhaan, Karoo Lark, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Ludwig’s Bustard, Mountain Wheatear, Pale-winged Starling, Pririt Batis, Grey Tit, Fairy Flycatcher, and Spike-heeled Lark, the Tankwa Karoo has proven itself as a birdwatcher’s paradise.
We also saw many special and unique plant/flower species, meerkats, hares, mongeese, mice and other little critters.
This unique and rugged landscape may seem harsh, but it holds a fragile and diverse ecosystem that is home to an array of incredible birdlife. Jacques made this journey both educational and exhilarating, leaving us with a newfound appreciation for the beauty and resilience of the Tankwa Karoo and its avian inhabitants. If you’re a bird enthusiast seeking a one-of-a-kind adventure, the Tankwa Karoo should be at the top of your birding bucket list.
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