The Auob Riverbed is a hotspot for birding. Peter Chadwick shares his top 10 birding specials to try and spot while in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Words and pictures: Peter Chadwick www.peterchadwick.co.za
The Kgalagadi landscape is a birding magnet after the spring rains. Here are the specials you could add to your checklist when birding the Auob Riverbed.
- Known as the most colourful bird in Africa, with 14 colours, the Lilac-breasted Roller (Gewone Tropant) is a common sight in the Nossob and Auob riverbeds of the Kgalagadi.
- The Northern Black Korhaan (Witvlerkkorhaan) differs from the Southern Black Korhaan by its white flashes on primary feathers. The two species are also distributionally separated.
- Chat Flycatchers (Grootvlieëvangers) hawk insectivorous prey in the air or on the ground and perch erect on low branches, scanning the surrounds for prey.
- The largest and heaviest bustard, the Kori Bustard (Gompou) has precocial young exclusively cared for by the female. It is a nomad in semi-arid and arid savannah and grassland.
- With nests in hollows of logs, the Common Scimitarbill (Swartbekkakelaar) lays two to four greenish-blue eggs. The species is capable of secreting a foul-smelling paste that helps deter predators.
- The Black-Breasted Snake-Eagle (Swartborsslangarend) feeds mainly on snakes up to about 2m long but will also take lizards, rodents, frogs and insects. It has also been recorded snatching fish from a water surface.
- Easily distinguished by its pink eyelids, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl (Reuse-Ooruil) is our largest owl, weighing up to 3kg. A highly capable hunter, it’s well known for feeding on other owl species.
- The omniverous Cape Crow (Swartkraai) has been known to attack and kill birds as large as the Helmeted Guineafowl that are pecked to death with the sharp dagger-like bill. It gathers in groups of up to 150 birds to perform aerial spiralling flights.
- The African Cuckoo (Koekoek) is an intra-African breeding migrant that parasitises the nests of Fork-tailed Drongos. The bird is shy and easily overlooked unless calling.
- The Groundscraper Thrush (Gevlekte Lyster) forages on the ground where it runs well, stopping occasionally to listen for insectivorous prey. It’s usually found in pairs and is a common resident of savannah woodland.
Add more of our birding checklists to your own as you travel the countryside.