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The Knersvlakte

This lowland expanse at the southern edge of Namaqualand, which consists of a mosaic of quartz-strewn plains and sandy dunes, is perhaps best known for the diversity of miniature succulent plants which survive on the seemingly barren, rocky plains. It is definitely worth a brief roadside stop to see these bizarre succulents, large numbers of which can be observed adjacent to the N7 national road — for example, opposite the ‘Douse-the-Glim’ sign (22.6 km north of Vanrhynsdorp). The name Knersvlakte, or ‘gnashing plains’, probably refers to the crunching noise made by pioneers’ wagon wheels as they crossed the expanses littered with quartz stones.

Greater Kestrel and Black Crow are regularly seen at the roadside in this area, their untidy stick nests conspicuously perched on telephone poles. Few birds are present on the stony plains, and the sandy areas offer the best birding. To reach an especially rewarding spot, travel along the N7 and, 14 km north of Vanrhynsdorp, take the road to the west signposted ‘Soutfontein’ (just before the Varsch River). Continue for 3.6 km. Among the more interesting birds you should see are Namaqua Sandgrouse, European Bee-eater (spring and summer), Clapper Lark (p.116*), Karoo Lark, Spike-heeled Lark, Cape Penduline Tit (see p.81), Ant-eating Chat and Rufous-eared Warbler. Check for Pririt Batis (p.85*) in the denser vegetation along the Varsch River. Note that from Vanrhynsdorp you can visit Nieuwoudtville (p.87) and, beyond that, Bushmanland (p.86).

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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