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Springbok - Kamieskroon: Aardvark Kloof

Aardvark Kloof is one of western South Africa’s great endemic bird sites. Here, sandy spits from the open Bushmanland plains to the east meet the rocky Namaqualand interior, creating a mosaic of gentle, sandy-bottomed valleys flanked by boulder-covered slopes. At Aardvark Kloof, this diversity of habitats supports a bird community that will leave any desert-bird enthusiast twitching with indecision about where to look first. Here, the sharp calls of confiding Cinnamon-breasted Warblers (p.85*) echo through the roadside boulders, while Red Larks (p.96*) display a mere 50 m away!

Aardvark Kloof lies near Gamoep (see map, p.97), southeast of Springbok, and can be reached via the R355 (note that Springbok is your last source of petrol and water). Follow the R355 straight past the final Airport/Goegap Nature Reserve turnoff, at the point where the tarred road turns to gravel. The unsurfaced roads in this region can be rather poor in places and should be negotiated with caution. Continue for 67 km beyond Springbok, to Gamoep, a small cluster of houses. Ignore the turn-off here (signposted ‘Pofadder’, ‘Aggenys’ and others) and continue for a further 2.6 km before turning right towards Kamieskroon. Follow this road for 2.1 km and bird the area just beyond the livestock grid in the road.

Red Larks is found in the small bushes on the right-hand side of the road. Such open areas (especially back towards Gamoep) support plains birds such as Thick-billed and Karoo Long-billed Larks, and Karoo Eremomela (p.85*). The rocky jumbles on the left-hand side of the road are home to Cinnamon-breasted Warbler and other endemics, including good numbers of Southern Grey Tit, Mountain Chat, Layard’s Titbabbler, Fairy Flycatcher, Pale-winged Starling, Dusky Sunbird and White-throated and Black-headed Canaries (p.105*). Small groups of Ground Woodpecker (p.105*) may be found on rocky slopes throughout the area. Scan the skies for Black and Booted Eagles and Jackal Buzzard. Glossy Starling is common here; Pririt Batis (p.85*) and Acacia Pied Barbet inhabit the acacia-lined watercourse on the right-hand side of the road.

Aardvark Kloof is also the start of an excellent scenic drive that winds its way back to the N7 at Kamieskroon, taking in spectacular landscapes that hold all the rock-loving hillside birds mentioned above (see map, p.97, although note that the road is unsurfaced and slow-going in places). You may wish to extend the scenic drive by turning towards Leliesfontein to head south through the Kamies Mountains and Studer’s Pass before eventually arriving at Garies on the N7. Interestingly, these mountains, an elevated island of higher rainfall deep in the Namaqualand semidesert, support relict patches of fynbos (see p.5). Most of the land along the way is communally owned by the local pastoral people.

Although the mountains of central Namaqualand are a stronghold of Cape Eagle Owl (p.105*), we do not recommend extensive night driving along the unsurfaced mountain roads. However, you may wish to take a short nocturnal excursion along the gravel route that leads from Kamieskroon towards Leliesfontein (follow the signs from Kamieskroon). Scan for the owl on the telephone poles along the first 10 km of this road. Also listen out for Freckled Nightjar, which frequents rocky areas in this region.

The tar road between Springbok and Kamieskroon is by far the quickest way to travel through Namaqualand, and offers great scenery. Should you be in the position to drive this road at night, do check the roadside telephone poles and conspicuous boulders for Cape Eagle Owl, which occur in the rocky areas along the entire length of the road. Karoo Lark and Karoo Chat may be found in the flatter areas between the hills.

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4 Crassula Way, Pinelands, 7405, Cape Town, South Africa

27/09/09: Dalton Gibbs reports back from Gough Island! Read the blog!

26/09/09: New Cape Town Pelagics trip report from trips of 12 and 19 September 2009.

30/08/09: British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water proved very successful, with sunny weather and over 20,000 visitors. Callan's "Birding Namibia and the Okavango" was the most highly-attended lecture on the Saturday, with over 240 people. Congratulations to the winners of the Birding Africa competition and the African Bird Club raffle that we helped sponsor!

12/08/09: New Cape Town Pelagics trip reports from August and July 2009. Highlights: Little Shearwater and more!

07/08/09: The sub-adult Black Sarrowhawk visits our garden again! Read on about Raptor Research in the Western Cape.

27/07/09: Cape Town's Verreauxs' Eagle Chick has grown! And its sibling never had a chance to hatch. See the pictures of the chick, its nest and the breeding pair. Find out more about the Western Cape Raptor Research Programme.

27/07/09: To follow modern nomenclature and systematics, we've adopted the IOC World Bird List, Version 2.1.

13/07/09: The 8th African Bird ID Challenge has launched! Win a 50% discount on a Cape Town Pelagics trip, a copy of Southern African Birdfinder, or African Bird Club membership for 1 year.

6 July 09: Cape White-eye research in our garden.

2 July 09: Cape Town's Verreauxs' Eagle Chick has hatched! See the pictures of the chick, its nest and the breeding pair. Find out more about the Western Cape Raptor Research Programme.

2 July 09: Campbell Fleming, a Cape Town scholar, avid birder and photographer, joined Birding Africa last month as an intern. Click here, to see what he got up to.

2 July 09: New pelagic trip reports from the Cape Town Pelagics trips in June 2009. Highlights: Slenderbilled Prion and Leach's Storm Petrel

30 july 09: Our latest Cape Fynbos and Karoo trip reports feature Hottentot Buttonquail, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler and other fynbos and Karoo endemics...

26 June 09: Tungsten mining threatens RAMSAR site, South Africa's Verlorenvlei. Read the Media Release.

22 June 09: Claire Spottiswoode, one of the Cape Birding Route founders, was part of the exploratory team at Mount Mabu. The mountain is part of the newly discovered largest rainforest in Southern Africa.

11 June 09: A colour-ringed Black Sparrowhawk visits the Birding Africa office garden. Read why it's a 10 months old male!

14 June 09:
Wildlife at the office of The Cape Birding Route, Birding Africa and Cape Town Pelagics.

31 May 09:
Michel Watelet wins the 7th African Bird Club & Birding Africa ID Challenge. Test your African birding skills and WIN a Birding Africa Cape town day trip or a copy of the Birdfinder!

30 May 09: A tragedy unfolds at Kommetjie south of Cape town as 44 beached False Killer Whales were shot. Click here for more details and pictures.

14 March 09: Raptor Watch in Cape Town on 14 March 09