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Select Specials: Tanqua Karoo

Karoo Eremomela

This is a fairly common but oddly inconspicuous Karoo inhabitant. A co-operative breeder, it occurs in small, agitated flocks that remain constantly on the move, thoroughly gleaning low bushes before the birds follow each other onwards. It calls often, and indeed this is the best means of locating this species. Note, however, that only one of the two principal calls can be heard on the available commercial recordings. The other common call is a rapid ‘krrr-krrr-krrr’, rather reminiscent of Spike-heeled Lark. The classic site for these birds is around Eierkop in the Tanqua Karoo (p.77), but they are in fact widespread throughout this region and Bushmanland. There are also good sites close to the towns of Brandvlei (p.90), and Springbok (p.98).

Namaqua Warbler

Formerly classified as a prinia, this species has recently been assigned its own genus, Phragmacia, picturesquely named after its habitat of mixed Phragmites reeds and tall Acacia thicket. It is a much more secretive bird than the similar Karoo Prinia, but every bit as noisy. The closest place to Cape Town to see Namaqua Warbler is Karoopoort (p.76). It can also be abundant along the Orange River reedbeds (such as those at Upington, p.111); in the Augrabies Falls National Park, (p.112), in the campsite at the Karoo National Park (p.123), at the Shell service station in Calvinia (p.89), and in thickets around Leeu-Gamka and Three Sisters on the N1 national road from Cape Town to Johannesburg.

Cinnamon-breasted Warbler

A reticent and little-known inhabitant of arid, rocky hill-slopes, the Cinnamon-breasted Warbler is peculiar enough to have been accorded its own genus. Its behaviour most closely resembles that of a shy and diminutive rockjumper, bounding about sun-baked boulders and calling fervently before inexplicably disappearing for long periods (see also p.79). Katbakkies in the Tanqua Karoo is undoubtedly the best-known site for this species, but it is also reasonably accessible over the whole of Namaqualand (p.97), in the Karoo National Park (p.123), the Augrabies Falls National Park (p.112) and the Akkerendam Nature Reserve (p.89).

Pririt Batis

The rather curious name ‘pririt’ becomes much clearer if one attempts to pronounce it with a haughty French accent! The species was in fact named onomatopoeically by the intrepid 18th-century ornithologist François le Vaillant. The call can indeed be likened to ‘pree-ree’, a low, descending whistle often repeated ten or more times. Pririt Batis is inconspicuous when not calling, but is otherwise cocky and inquisitive, and is readily seen working its way through thorn trees. It is the only batis species found over much of southern Africa’s dry west, preferring acacia-lined riverbeds and arid woodland, and is reasonably common in such habitat throughout the Northern Cape Province.

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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