Every different habitat has its own particular set of birds (not always exclusively) and so it is in the Karoo. Brightly coloured birds are scarce in the Karoo as most of them are designed to blend with the browns, greys and blacks that are the dominant colours of most Karoo landscapes. The so called LBJs (little brown jobs) are often depicted as being drab and boring but if you look at them closely you will see that many of them have a myriad of shades of the aforementioned colours and beautiful, intricate patterning that make them far from dull and boring.
There are certain families that are prominent in the Karoo. The Bustards, Larks, Pipits and Cisticolas are the ones that are made for the Karoo and there are a good selection of species amongst them. Birding the Karoo poses different challenges. Because of the sparse, low vegetation the birds can see you coming a mile off but if you manage to get closer it also means they do not have much place to hide. When the morning activity has abated it is often productive to find a trough or a dam and let the birds come to you. However you decide to bird the Karoo it is always soul enriching to be out in wide open spaces with nothing to listen to but the distant whistle of a Clapper Lark or the guttural tones of a Korhaan.
Birding hot spotsA: Nqweba Dam: Great Reed Warbler, Africa Reed Warbler, Greater and Lesser Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, good variety of Ducks, Waders and Waterfowl. Rare: Yellow-billed Stork, Abdims Stork, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Short-toed Thrush, Osprey, Baillon’s Crake. B: Valleyof Desolation: Black Eagles, Rock Kestrel, Pale-winged Starling. C: Kleinkloof: African Olive Pigeon, Green Wood-hoopoe, Red-billed and African Firefinch, Black-headed Oriole, Southern Tchagra. D: Koedoekloof: Layards and Chestnut-vented Titbabbler, Black- headed and White-throated Canary, Dusky Indigobird, Cardinal Woodpecker. Long-billed Eastern Clapper and Spike-heeled Lark in the flats getting there. E: Ferndale: Black Eagles, Black Sparrowhawk, Red-winged Starling, Black Duck. F: Welgemoed: Drakensberg Rockjumper, Sentinal Rock Thrush, African Rock Pipit, Ground Woodpecker, Cape Longclaw. G: Roodebloem: Black Stork, Pririt Batis, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Mocking Cliff-Chat H: Dalham: Little Bee-eater, Black Sparrowhawk, Green Woodhoopoe, Big dam with good water birds. General: Two of the most rare sightings of 2014 were made early in the year namely: Eurasian Blackcap (in Graaff Reinet) and Thrush Nightingale(at Adendorp)
BLACK EAGLE GLIDE TOURS
(Verreaux’s eagle) Black Eagle Glide is a one day tour of Black Eagle nests on a circular route from Graaff- Reinet to Nieu Bethesda and back via Nardau Mountain. The route is marked in red and the black dots are visible nest sites. The nests are not all active but at the time of writing three of them have chicks.
The letters on the map denote birding hot spots as the tour is not just about Black Eagles but includes all the other Karoo birds. The tour is made for avid Black Eagle fans and for also for anyone who just enjoys being in the wide open spaces of the Karoo with its breath taking vistas.