27 April 2024

Karoo to Highveld

06 January 2024 - Colesberg to Midrand; Day 16

Not a breathe of air when I woke at sunrise, so a quick dash out on the sand road to the farm gate with camera and bins before breakfast. 

This Ant-eating Chat was an obliging subject in the early morning light with a nice Karoo backdrop

Ant-eating Chat (Myrmecocichla formicivora)




I was hoping for a Blue Korhaan flyby like last year, but instead got a single Blue Crane

Blue Crane (Grus paradiseus)




This was followed by a Black-chested Snake Eagle being mobbed by some irritating Pied Crow

Black-chested Snake Eagle (Circaetus pectoralis)


The Eastern Clapper Larks were already out and displaying, it is a song and display synonymous with the Karoo

Eastern Clapper Lark (Mirafra fasciolata)






I had a little better luck with the Black-headed Canary's, but could never get quite close enough

Black-headed Canary (Serinus alario)







Zitting Cisticola was also more vocal this morning

Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis)




Driving back for breakfast, I explored a smaller dam and had a good number of Shelduck with their distinctive honking call amongst some of the other ducks - always a good bird to see

South African Shelduck (Tadorna cana)






We then all met for a hearty breakfast, before heading back to Jozi and the highveld for the last stretch of the journey in much heavier traffic.


Coast to Karoo

05 January 2024 - Hermanus to Colesberg; Day 15

I had to pack like a jigsaw puzzle, as we had an extra passenger for the journey home, but eventually it all came together and we were on the road by 5am. This time we headed straight to the N1 hoping that the traffic wouldnt be too bad - it wasnt and we arrived at our overnight stop at Kuilsfontein Stable Cottages in Colesberg at 1pm, much earlier than we had planned.

An afternoon in the Karoo, gave us time to prepare ourselves to getting back to Jozi - so we had a leisurely lunch with drinks and later in the afternoon I explored the farm, which I am now familiar with. Unfortunately, a late afternoon storm also built up and we got hammered by the wind - which I thought we had left behind. 

Kuilsfontein Landscape


The big dam which was full last year, was now dry, but as the wind picked up, so the birds hunkered down or were hanging on to any perch. Driving out from the stables, I picked up a small flock of Wattled Starlings - this is the first time seeing one, since I returned from Kuwait in 2020. I believe they are quite nomadic, so can pop up anywhere.

Wattled Starling (Creatophora cinerea)


The Black-headed Canary's I had seen last year were still present and spent most of the time sheltering on the ground - but when incoming guests drove in, they flew up and perched on the fence and leaned into the wind!

Black-headed Canary (Serinus alario)





Same with the African Pipit

African Pipit (Anthus cinnamomeus)



And the many Yellow Canary's in a variety of plumage variations

Yellow Canary (Crithagra flaviventris)




The Eastern Clapper Lark's were in full song and displaying all around - this wasnt the case with the hoped for Cape Clapper Larks around Cape Agulhas

Eastern Clapper Lark (Mirafra fasciolata)




A unexpected bonus was a lone male Lesser Kestrel

Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)








A Yellow Mongoose dashed across the road, gave me the once off and then continued across the plain

Yellow Mongoose (Cynictis penicillata)


We didnt get any rain, but the storm continued around us and only abated after we had gone to bed


Last day in Hermanus

04 January 2024 - Hermanus; Day 14

I needed to add a few species to boost my 2024 list, so had an early morning drive to a few different sites on the outskirts of Hermanus. First stop was at Vermont Pan, no images as light and conditions were poor - but did get a few decent species. Next stop was the opposite end of Hermanus stopping at Prawn Flats on the road to Stanford. I had a distant Whimbrel on the exposed mud flats

Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)


And a few Cape Bulbul which seem much more skittish than our local Dark-capped

Cape Bulbul (Pycnonotus capensis)



A stop in town to pick up breakfast supplies gave some better views of White-necked Raven

White-necked Raven (Corvus albicollis)





And a dramatic view of the Overberg across the bay

Overberg


Back at the apartment, the sun came out and I found this Skimmer basking in the flower bed - it is either Julia or Cape?

Julia or Cape Skimmer




Later in the morning, we caught up over coffee at the Wooden Barrel with some old friends from Kuwait, Sean and Adi Lynch and a late seafood lunch at The Bistro with Guy and Sonja overlooking the bay. Then it was back to the apartment to start packing for our early departure tomorrow morning.


Migrants and invisible Ele's

09 January 2024 - Mabula; Day 3 Only the boys opted for this morning's drive and were entertained with these two Dung Beetle's tryin...