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Kalaharikind: the quest continues


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Meob Bay lies between Walvis Bay and Luderitz in the Namib Naukluft Park, and you need a permit to visit it. It used to be a whaling station; these days the  Oranjemund Angling Club manages it and organises maintenance and research visits there, usually accompanied by students from the University of Namibia. Fishing is catch and release, and all fish caught are measured, weighed and tagged. Johan and about 25 other boys men were booked to visit last year, when, a day before they were to leave, the tour leader came down with Covid; the next day Namibia's government put a stop to all gatherings of more than 10 people.


The boys Villiersdorpers were gutted. The bakkies were packed, they had their Covid passports, and then suddenly - nothing (except wailing and gnashing of teeth).


Why not still go? I asked. Plenty of places to go fishing along the coast. A bit of muttering, lots of WhatsApping and the next day, Johan and two friends left for St Nowhere. They had an amazing time, and returned a week later with lots of stories about the big ones that go away. 


Earlier this year the tour leader contacted the group with new dates and the whole  cycle of excitement, planning meetings, furious sending of WhatsApps and packing started again. The boys men left early in July, to meet the tour leader in Aus, where they would spend the night, then drive the 300 kms to Meob, sleeping in the desert for a night and then do whatever happens on a Meob trip. 


What on earth, you may ask, has this to do with my Big Year? Absolutely nothing, except that the Meob trip would combine well with our Namibia holiday. I would drive from Villiersdorp to Aus, meet Johan there and then we would see where the road took us, and I would see how many birds I could photograph, keeping in mind that would not be in the best birding spots Namibia has to offer.


I left town a lot later than planned the Thursday - because work! - and, having driven about 700 km, reached the border at about 5 that afternoon. My plan was to camp the night at Amanzi, take it easy along the river road, buy food and wine at Rosh Pinah and then camp at at Klein-Aus Vista. 


Amanzi is a lovely campsite, that has had to be rebuilt twice this year after after the Orange River came down in flood. After the camp manager had helped me to put up the roof top tent (I can lift the front section of the roof, but the rear section is simply too heavy for me), I lit a fire, braaied some wors, had a well-deserved glass of wine, and fell asleep with the sound of the Orange flowing past.


I didn't spend too much time birding the next morning - it was going to be another long day - but here's the bag for the day: 


72Orange River White-eye          Gariepglasogie        Zosterops pallidus



The  Afrikaans name refers to the San name for the Orange River, so here you have a Gariep Glasogie drinking from the Gariep Rivier, and an Orange River White-eye drinking from the Orange River...




73Karoo Thrush          Geelbeklyster          Turdus smithi



If the camp manager had not pointed me in the right direction, I would have missed this lifer:

74Spotted Eagle-Owl          Gevlekte Ooruil          Bubo africanus




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It does not get much better that when you get the bird in the place it is named after. Even the river has taken on an orange hue.

Well done on the Eagle Owl.

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What a treat, birding in my preferred country! Excellent start and looking forward for many more!

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On 11/6/2022 at 8:30 PM, Kalaharikind said:

@Dave Williams Absolutely sure about the Hamerkop - one of those birds that can't be anything else. Also one of two (Bokmakierie being the other) that I can think of now where the English and Afrikaans names are the same. @Peter Connancan you think of any others?






A couple, if you are prepared to ignore spelling and second names.

Hadeda Ibis



And perhaps Myna?

Lovely shots of the Glasogie and the owl.

Edited by Peter Connan
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Dave Williams
16 hours ago, Peter Connan said:


A couple, if you are prepared to ignore spelling and second names.

Hadeda Ibis



And perhaps Myna?

Lovely shots of the Glasogie and the owl.


Pot,Kettle and Black would have been sufficient response Peter!

My attempt at injecting a little much needed humour nowadays failed on the majority but well spotted you! 

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks, Peter! Also for the list - but yes, only Hamerkop and Bokmakierie in their pure forms.


I hope everybody had the Christmas they'd been looking forward to. I've been an absent and inactive BY participant this year - that dreaded W-word interfered with life... But, as a freelance, hay must be made while the sun shines, and the sun shone pretty bright this year, so not too many complaints from my side.


It also means a lot of catching upto do, so let's get back to Amanzi in June.


75) Swallow-tailed Bee-eater          Swaelstertbyvreter          Merops hirundineus




76) Common Moorhen          Grootwaterhoender          Gallinula chloropus



And in the Slightly Better Birds section, a dapper Cape Wagtail, strutting  around:




From Amanzi, I took the river road to Rosh Pinah. Dirt all the way, and in a really good condition. It had been badly damaged by recent floods, but the grader operators worked their magic, and it was a pleasure to drive.

This was the one part of the solo drive to Aus that had me worried: there's no way that I could change a flat tyre on my own, and I kept a very sharp eye on the road for sharp stones. So, not much birding happened (apart from the Red-eyed Bulbuls that seemed to lock on to the bakkie to accompany me), but it was a joy seeing the Orange River snaking alongside the road.

These were spotted on the low-level bridge across the Fish River:


77) African Spoonbill          Lepelaar          Platalea alba




I waited on the bridge, hoping they would show their bills, but they refused to budge. 


And another SBB:



Shopping done in Rosh Pinah, I was on the home stretch to Aus. The C13 must be the one of the most beautiful roads in Namibia, and after the rains/floods, the entire countryside was covered in grass. What is normally red soil and bare rocks was hidden under a carpet of golden grass. It looked as if the earth was moving and swaying in the wind. I was rushing to get to Aus, and wish I had stopped more often to really look and enjoy that incredible scenery. But I will always remember it.


Next stop, Aus!

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Have a good 2023, everybody!


Klein Aus Vista camp site. A camelthorn tree, heavy with a huge and actve Social Weaver nest. A bakkie parked a few metres away from the tree - no doubt because the driver is worried that snakes might launch from the nest to the rooftop tent in search of a warm place to sleep, or something to eat, other than eggs. The camp site picnic table is laden with shopping bags and ammo crates; a lone camper is busy transferring groceries from the bags to the ammo crates. A camera lies on a chair, close at hand, but out of harm's way.


Camp site regulars - weavers, starlings, sparrows, chats, birds waiting to be identified, and even the odd hadeda - all get their turn to be photographed. (Well, all except the hadeda.)


A fire burns at night, with the camper sitting next to it, drinking some wine  and wishing the liquor store had had a greater selection other than plonk. Soon the smell of meat being braaied fills the air. An hour or three later, the fire has died down and the camper climbs up to the roof top tent.


The next morning, after coffee, the camper starts exploring the environment, taking pictures - mostly birds, but also of the surroundings - as she wanders around.  A few hours later, another dirty bakkie stops at the campsite. Four men get out. They had not shaved for a week, and look as if they had spent the night sleeping in the desert. Excited talking and laughter follow. Then three men climb back into the bakkie, excited by the week away from home, excited about going back home.


My time alone at Aus had come to an end. Johan was back, and we'd move on to Helmeringhausen after supper at the lodge restaurant and a quick drive-around the next morning. 




Stop the storytelling - where are the birds? I hear you ask.


I wish I knew.  I lost every image taken at Aus, except for this Sociable Weaver nest.


Oh well, onwards we move, to Helmeringhausen, probably the shortest leg on our holiday.






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At Mount D'Urban, outside of Helmeringhausen, a bitterly cold wind was blowing. The owners (friends of ours) invited us to stay with them, instead of camping. Solid stone walls are sooo much better than heavy-duty ripstop to keep out the wind, and it didn't take much persuasion for us to accept their kind offer.


I did manage to do some birding, but not as much as I had hoped for.


78Pale-winged Starling          Bleekvlerkspreeu          Onychognathus nabouroup




79) Mountain Wheatear          Bergwagter          Myrmecocichla monticola
(grey morph)



80Rock Martin          Kransswael          Ptyonoprogne fuligula




81Lark-like Bunting          Vaalstreepkoppie          Emberiza impetuani




82) Great Sparrow          Grootmossie          Passer motitensis


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Our next camp, from 14-17 June, was at Tsauchab River Camp, and what an amazing place in which to do absolutely nothing!


83) Familiar Chat          Gewone Spekvreter          Oenanthe familiaris

flying off with lunch



and for a size comparison, posing next to a tin mug:



84Verreaux's Eagle          Witkruisarend          Aquila verreauxii






85) Grey Go-away-bird          Kwêvoël          Corythaixoides concolor

How can a bird so loud be so good at hiding?





86) Acacia Pied Barbet          Bonthoutkapper          Tricholaema leucomelas




97) African Red-eyed Bulbul          Rooioogtiptol          Pycnonotus nigricans

This is for @xelas, of course




88) Common Waxbill          Rooibeksysie              Estrilda astrild




Oops, I'm running flying late for the branch meeting...


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Best wishes for the new year to you, too! I just love the name 'lark-like bunting' for a bird that fails to inspire any other, more colourful, description ;). Those Verraux's Eagles are truly majestic.

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And then there is the Nightingale Thrush, @PeterHGone of my field guides describes it as having no outstanding characteristics...


As elsewhere, the Lark-like Buntings were plentiful: here's a postworthy one:





89) Pririt Batis          Priritbosbontrokkie          Batis pririt





Luckily, the female was around to confirm ID:




If I had not seen these last year (oops, year before last), I really would have struggled with the ID:

90) Wattled Starling          Lelspreeu          Creatophora cinerea





91Black-throated Canary          Bergkanarie          Crithagra atrogularis

Blackish throat just about visible



92) Dusky Sunbird          Namakwasuikerbekkie          Cinnyris fuscus
That raised foot is worthy of a Halloween costume




And a slightly less-spooky one:



Getting this one to still to get even a half-decent image was a day's work:

93) Yellow-bellied Eremomela          Geelpensbossanger          Eremomela icteropygialis



94Red-billed Quelea          Rooibekkwelea          Quelea quelea

There were, of course, multitudes and multitudes of them, but not the really big swarms we saw later on



I like to put out drinking water for the birds. This dark-morphed Mountain Wheatear decided that it needed a bath more than a drink:


Right, let me first give myself a good soak and a scrub...



and then air-dry myself



before jumping in again!




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95Lesser Kestrel          Kleinrooivalk          Falco naumanni          






96Common Scimitarbill        Swartbekkakelaar          Rhinopomastus cyanomelas




97) Three-banded Plover          Driebandstrandkiewiet          Charadrius tricollaris




98) Yellow-billed Stork          Nimmersat          Mycteria ibis
I looked up at just the right time, for this fly-past:




99) Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler/Warbler          Bosveldtjeriktik          Curruca subcoerulea
Another ants in the pants bird...



And so we get to:

100Crimson-breasted Shrike          Rooiborslaksman          Laniarius atrococcineus

Slightly better than the one I posted in 2021, but still not good, unfortunately.



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A few more from Tsauchab before we move on to Solitaire.


101) Kalahari Scrub Robin          Kalahariwipstert          Cercotrichas paena





102) Shaft-tailed Whydah          Pylstertrooibekkie          Vidua regia



The two birds that really drove me to yet another G&T, in one image:



Great Sparrow, M and F, this time:




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Peter Connan

Baie geluk Kalaharikind!


Lovely bird for the century.

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Congratulations on getting to 100!

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Thanks, everybody!


A last one from Tsauchab: 


103) White-throated Canary          Witkeelkanarie          Crithagra albogularis




Onwards to Solitaire - an unplanned overnight stop. A dead - not just flat - but a completely dead battery meant that we had to wait for the Tsauchab owner to jump start us. We arrived at Solitaire minutes before it closed, bought some food and settled in. We were simply too tired to cook, so supper was a meat pie each (and coffee with tripple tots of Amarula).


CEB, because EBC: swarms of them:




Sunset went from the ethereal




to the apocalyptical



This one ccame to greet us while we were having coffee (this time sans Amarula!):


104Marico flycatcher          Maricovlieëvanger          Melaenornis mariquensis




The rainfall calendar:




It was lovely to see grass and green trees, instead of the usual red sand:




A bit of dune peaking out:




From Solitaire we drove to Henties Bay - where it was friends and family time - before moving on, destination to be decided.


Edited by Kalaharikind
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We hardly ever make any bookings ahead of time, and this time was no exception. I normally keep a couple of camping guides to Namibia in the bakkie, and use that to decide on the next camping spot. We also try to mix up old favourites with unknown places. Madisa, like Tsauchab, was one of the "unknowns".


105) Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill          Geelbekneushoringvoël          Tockus leucomelas

I wonder if there's some correlation between the broken bill and the damaged stonework?



A Namibian endemic, and a lifer for me:

106) Carp’s Tit          Owamboswartmees          Melaniparus carpi


107) Cape Glossy (Cape) Starling          Kleinglansspreeu          Lamprotornis nitens



108White-browed Sparrow-Weaver          Koringvoël          Plocepasser mahali




109) Cape Turtle (Ring-necked) Dove          Gewone Tortelduif          Streptopelia capicola



110Namaqua Dove          Namakwaduifie          Oena capensis






111Namaqua Sandgrouse          Kelkiewyn          Pterocles namaqua

(One of the "lost" Aus species that I could, thankfully, replace.)




Madisa had birds in huge numbers, but actually not a great variety of species. I'm not going to post duplicates, but I think this Lanner fall in the SBB category:





Edited by Kalaharikind
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When we left Madisa on 22 June, at was 3 degrees C at 8ish in the morning - and I was dressed in my summer finery. The same temperature at home would have had me huddled under at least three duvets and feeling bitterly sorry for myself. The joys and mysteries of travel!


We were on our way to Etosha, and again had a choice of camping at either a "known" camp site - Etosha Safari Camp - or an unknown one. We had a look at the unknown site, and although the images on their website looked lovely, it didn't appeal to either of us, so we returned to ESC, got settled and just sat around, holiday style. Well, I did walk around a bit, to see what birds I got photograph, but like all birding on this trip, it was done in a random and haphazard way. 


I'm going to post all the ESC birds, and then the ones photographed inside Etosha itself. One of the first birds I spotted, turned into a lifer:


112) Lesser Honeyguide           Kleinheuningwyser           Indicator minor




113) Cinnamon-breasted Bunting          Klipstreepkoppie          Emberiza tahapisi



Followed soon after by another bunting:


114) Golden-breasted Bunting          Rooirugstreepkoppie          Emberiza flaviventris






116) Fork-tailed Drongo          Mikstertbyvanger          Dicrurus adsimilis



Loadshedding in five... I'd better post this now.


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117Red-billed Spurfowl          Rooibekfisant          Pternistis adspersus


Mr, Mrs and Junior



Spurfowl - off the ground? Really?



One of my favourites from the trip:



118) Groundscraper Thrush          Gevlekte Lyster          Turdus litsitsirupa



119) Chinspot Batis          Witliesbosbontrokkie          Batis molitor



120Green-winged Pytilia          Gewone Melba          Pytilia melba





A slight improvement on this one, taken at Helmeringhausen:




121) Short-toed Rock Thrush         Korttoonkliplyster         Monticola brevipes




122Black-chested Prinia          Swartbandlangstertjie          Prinia flavicans




123Grey-backed Camaroptera          Grysrugkwêkwêvoël          Camaroptera brevicaudata





While the Yellow-billed managed to snag itself lunch, the Monteiro's had be content with what was dropped on the ground:


124Monteiro’s Hornbill    Monteirose Neushoringvoel    Tockus monteiri


A lifer for me, of a Namibian endemic



This Damara dikdik was a daily visitor, always appearing late afternoon.




Next up, Etosha itself.



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Check the flanks on your male Batis. That could be a male Pririt with the black spotted flanks.

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Great additions. The Golden breasted Bunting is beautiful 

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Belated congrats on getting past #100, well done! Very funny photo of the Chat taking off with your food. :) Many beautiful additions in your latest posts.

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Congrats on #100!!

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