Further afield: Birding near Vanrhynsdorp

There can’t be too many places that have Namaqua Warbler as a garden bird. Botuin, in Vanrhynsdorp, is one of those places. I heard the distinctive call of this bird on my first evening visiting the site.

Salome, the proprietor at Botuin, is a keen birder and can point visitors in the right direction for quality birding. The farm can be very productive. Here I saw Namaqua Warbler, Fairy Flycatcher, Grey Tit, Fiery-necked Nightjar and Spotted Eagle Owl.

A Spotted Eagle-Owl roosts quietly in a tree.
Spotted Eagle-Owl (Graeme Hatley)

Gravel road birding is also very good. Most of my time dedicated to birding was spent on a loop on the outskirts of town. Many of the commonly seen Karoo birds are not regulars in the Overberg. The chats are well represented by Familiar, Sickle-winged and Karoo Chats. Karoo and Cape Clapper Larks were calling in abundance while performing their display flights. Red-capped and Large-billed Larks were also seen. The call of the latter being a continuous part of the soundscape.

Some personal target species included Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark, Lark-like Bunting, and the Damara (Black-headed) Canary. 

A Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark scans for food on the ground.
Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark (Graeme Hatley)
A Cape Bunting takes off from some Karoo scrub.
Cape Bunting (Graeme Hatley)
A Karoo Lark performs a display flight.
Karoo Lark (Graeme Hatley)
A Damara Canary sits in a farm fence.
Damara (Black-headed) Canary (Graeme Hatley)

Raptors also provide good viewing. Rock Kestrels and Pale Chanting Goshawks were added to my trip card.

My birding outings in the area only covered a small part of the landscape. But there looks like there is much more to explore. This area is also a hotspot for flowers. The early rains have been good. It bodes well for a great season!

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