Specials: Tanqua Karoo
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).
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.
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
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 Africas dry west, preferring acacia-lined
riverbeds and arid woodland, and is reasonably common in such
habitat throughout the Northern Cape Province.