Posts Tagged ‘wildflowers’

Back in September I went with the Somerset West Bird Club on an outing to Koeberg Nature Reserve and Intaka Island.

Koeberg Nature Reserve is part of the grounds of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station and consists mainly of Strandveld-one of the four types of vegetation associated with the Cape Floral Kingdom. The weather was grey, cool, & windy; nevertheless, we had some good sightings–including wonderful (if fleeting) views of a Black Harrier.

Can you spot the Black Harrier (Circus maurus) in the centre of the above photo? (I definitely need a longer lens!)

Being spring, there were many flowers:




















Best birds of the morning included: Long-billed Crombec (Sylvietta rufescens), Bar-throated Apalis (Apalis thoracica) and Chestnut-vented Titbabbler (Parisoma subcaeruleum)–and of course the Black Harrier. It was cool so few reptiles seemed to be out, but we did spot some Angulate Tortoises (Chersina angulata).

Leaving the Nature Reserve we headed for Intaka Island. Intaka Island is a wonderful wetland environment in the heart of the very urban Century City shopping complex. Breeding was in full swing and we saw breeding:

  • African Spoonbill (Platalea alba)
  • Black-headed heron (Ardea melanocephala)
  • Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
  • Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
  • African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)
  • Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
  • Red-knobbed Coot (Fulica cristata)
  • White-breasted Cormorant (Phalcrocorax lucidus)
  • African Darter (Anhinga rufa)
  • Brown-throated Martin (Riparia paludicola)

Best bird of the day for me was my first African Purple Swamphen (Porphyria madagascarensis).
































African Spoonbills nesting.

African Sacred Ibis and White-breasted Cormorant nesting–notice the urban environment!

White-breasted Cormorant

Nesting Purple Heron – very private!







































Southern Red Bishop (Euplectes orix) male.


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Tankwa Karoo 2

Last year my wife and I travelled to the Tankwa Karoo in spring to look at the wild flower display & for me to keep an eye out for new birds. Here are some pics from that trip. It is interesting that there were definitely differences in the flowers that were in bloom from one year to the next. We left much later than planned so did not actually make it to the Tankwa Karoo National Park itself; nevertheless we had a great time.

Typical Tankwa Karoo landscapes.

White-beaded Vygie (Monilaria moniliformis) [Vygie is an Afrikaans word meaning succulent plant. See Wiktionary entry.]

Sorrel (Oxalis sp.)

Unknown succulent.

Unkown Drosanthemum sp.

Namaqualand Arctotis, (Arctotis fastuosa).

Common Felicia (Felicia australis).

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Back in September, two friends – Weiers and Adrian – and I, made a trip to the Tankwa Karoo National Park. The Tankwa Karoo area is renowned as a great birding spot and also in spring, for its wildflower display. I had travelled once to the area in with my wife in 2006.

Part of the Karoo, the area is flat & dry and forms part of the Succulent Karoo Biome. Geologically it is very old.

Typical Tankwa Karoo landscape.

We left Somerset West at 6am and headed along the N1, turning off onto the R46 before Touwsriver. We then travelled along the R355 – (in)famous as the longest stretch of road in South Africa without a town – 250kms (yes I’m aware that this is nothing when compared with Australian distances!) towards the national park. Map here. We saw a number of birds along the way – although nothing new – including good numbers of various raptors: Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk (Melierax canorus), Yellow-billed Kite (Milvus parasitus), and Jackal Buzzard (Buteo rufofuscus). Our first stop was Eierkop – a rocky outcrop close to the side of the road where we spotted Yellow Canary (Serinus flaviventrus), Brimstone Canary (Serinus sulphuratus), and one of the target species for the trip, Black-headed Canary (Alario alario). Weiers spotted a Black-headed Canary nest & I was able to get some shots of the female, though not of the male.

Also spotted were Rock Kestral (Falco rupicolis), Cape Bunting (Emberiza capensis), Dusky Sunbird (Cinnyris fuscus), & Familiar Chat (Cercomela familiaris). There was a fantastic display of flowers including carpets of yellow daisies – Gazania lichtensteinii – Yellow Gazania.

We then turned onto the P2250 where we spotted Red-capped Lark (Calandrella cinerea) and Large-billed Lark (Galerida magnirostris). We had an unexpected mammal sighting soon after – a pair of Bat-eared Foxes (Otocyon megalotis):

Other target bird species included two bustards – Karoo Korhaan and Ludwig’s Bustard. We missed Karoo Korhan (Eupodotis vigorsii) but had good views of a number of Ludwig’s Bustards (Neotis ludwigii). They were not easy to photograph though (well I need a bigger lens, a 300mm just doesn’t cut it).

Just inside the gates of the park itself we spotted two more of our target species: Double-banded Courser (Rhinoptilus africanus) and Namaqua Sandgrouse (Pterocles namaqua). No pics of the Double-banded Courser, but here is one of the Namaqua Sandgrouse:

Once in the park we headed up over the Roggeveld Escarpement. We passed this old cemetery on the way:
The view from the top was spectacular and there were more wildflowers blooming:

We didn’t see all the birds hoped for but unexpected bonuses like the Bat-eared Foxes and of course the superb display of wildflowers made it a fantastic trip.

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