cape birding route > birding spots > tanqua karoo > eierkop to katbakkies
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Eierkop to Katbakkies

As you head north from Eierkop along the R355, the landscape becomes progressively more arid until, approaching Katbakkies, bushes are few and far between and the ground gleams with the mineral patina of the desert pebbles. This is classic Tractrac Chat country: birds are most often spotted, 10—15 km north of Eierkop, as they flush near the road, and display their white rumps as they fly a short distance to perch again on a fence or low bush.

The commonest larks of this stretch of road are Thick-billed and Red-capped. Spike-heeled Lark is also regularly seen. It is worth keeping an eye out for pairs of superbly camouflaged Karoo Korhaans, although they have become scarcer here in recent years. Listen for their frog-like calls at dawn, and check in the shade of the occasional roadside tree at midday. Drainage lines with slightly denser scrub are good areas to search for small, restless flocks of Cape Penduline Tit, best detected by their soft, inconspicuous call.

Pale Chanting Goshawks are reasonably common throughout the Tanqua Karoo, and Greater Kestrels frequently wander into the area. If you are lucky enough to visit after recent rain, you will see that pools forming close to the road invariably attract South African Shelduck, drinking flocks of Namaqua Sandgrouse and irruptive seedeaters such as Lark-like Bunting.

Twenty-one kilometres from Eierkop, turn left at the road signposted ‘Kagga Kamma; Op-die-berg’, to the small picnic spot and legendary birding site popularly known as Katbakkies.

Another worthwhile detour on a return trip from Katbakkies takes in the less-travelled road linking the R355 to the R356. Five kilometres north of the turn-off to Katbakkies on the R355, turn right (east), onto an unnumbered road signposted ‘Sutherland’. Before turning off here, it is well worth continuing north along the R355 for about 500 m and birding the patch of acacia thicket at a lay-by on the left-hand side of the road. Pririt Batis is almost guaranteed here, along with Cape Penduline Tit, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Titbabbler and sometimes Namaqua Warbler.

The un-numbered Sutherland road to the R356 offers a chance at Karoo Korhaan, Greater Kestrel, Double-banded Courser, Namaqua Sandgrouse and Tractrac Chat. When you reach the R356, turn right (south) and you will ultimately join the R355 at 2 on the map on p.76. Fourteen kilometres south of the junction between the un-numbered road and the R356, there is a hillock (Fonteinskop) a little way to the west of the road which is also good for Karoo Eremomela. (Note, however, that this loop is about twice the distance of the direct return to Karoopoort on the R355).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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