If you are headed out to the Northern Cape, around the Kimberley region, these are the top 10 birds you should be looking out for.
If you haven’t read it already, you might like Tania Anderson’s report on the birding at Dronfield nature reserve and Kamfers dam, both near Kimberley in the Northern Cape.
10. Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler (Bosveldtjeriktik)
A cheeky, brave lightweight, the Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler (Bosveldtjeriktik) mobs owls and other birds seen as a threat. It has a cheerful song and a call that sounds like ‘cherri-tik-tik’, the origin of its Afrikaans name tjeriktik.
9. Crimson-breasted Shrike (Rooiborslaksman)
Taking the prize for boldest red breast and not for most camouflaged, the Crimson-breasted Shrike (Rooiborslaksman) finds its daily water needs in a diet of insects and ants. A rare form with a golden breast is sometimes seen here.
8. The White-backed Vulture (Witrugaasvoël)
One of the flying, clean-up crew, the White-backed Vulture (Witrugaasvoël), is at grave risk of extinction. A pair raises only one chick per year and the breeding success of this species, and survival rate of fledgelings, are low. They are important to our ecosystems by removing carcasses and keeping diseases in check.
7. Fawn-coloured Lark
The common, beautiful Fawn-coloured Lark (Vaalbruinlewerik) has various shades of browns, greys and whites, and patterns on its wings. Its song makes it easily identifiable.
6. Desert Cisticola (Woestynklopkloppie)
The tiny, hyperactive Desert Cisticola (Woestynklopkloppie) is heard more than seen, calling while flying fairly high. The various Cisticolas are identified by their characteristic calls and flight patterns.
5. Lappet-faced Vulture (Swartaasvoël)
Very powerful, the Endangered Lappet-faced Vulture (Swartaasvoël) uses its large bill to tear open the hides of carcasses, enabling other vulture species to feast on the inside. Once all are satiated, this vulture cleans up the bits left behind.
4. Lesser Flamingo (Klenflamink)
The Lesser Flamingo (Kleinflamink) spends most of its time in water, but the highly saline pans and estuaries it depends on are some of the harshest environments. They either have great breeding success or dramatic failure if the water dries up and the chicks can’t get across to the water.
3. Orange River Francolin (Kalaharipatrys)
Even light rain might not put off the Orange River Francolin (Kalaharipatrys) from making itself heard, repeatedly calling ‘kibitele kibitele’. Common in open grassland and dry savannah,
it eats bulbs, seeds, berries and insects.
2. Chestnut-banded Plover (Rooibandstrandkiewiet)
Foraging on mudflats and water edges often with similar-sized Kittlitz’s Plovers, the shy, little Chestnut-banded Plover (Rooibandstrandkiewiet) prefers saline pans and lakes and sometimes breed at Kamfers Dam after it rains in summer. Habitat decline means it’s Near-threatened, and is seen regularly only at ten sites.
1. Lesser Kestrel (Kleinrooivalk)
In summer a large population of Lesser Kestrel (Kleinrooivalk) roosts and feeds in open grassland around Kimberley. They hunt locusts, mice and spiders, and leave us in April for the Mediterranean, Central Asia and China to breed.