19 October 2009

Into the Karoo...(Karoo NP, South Africa): October 2, 2009

Leaving the rocky crags of Swartberg behind and the rich swathe of Afromontane rainforest on the coast at Wilderness we moved into a markedly different landscape-the almost barren looking Karoo. Stunted shrubs and low-lying vegetation were in marked contrast to our previous few days birding. The place is great for both birds and also an under appreciated mammal venue. The good birds of the day included an unobtrusive African Rock Pipit working its way through the boulders, an extremely confiding Layard's Tit-Babbler (see photo), a Lark-like Bunting doing its best to look anything but a bunting, a Short-toed Rock-thrush, a few Karoo Korhaans, and finally a Cinnamon-breasted Warbler relented, and decided to co-operate with us and hopped around on the burnt orange boulders just a few feet away.

Mammals were good too with some Klipspringers (see photo) encountered along the way, perched on the very tips of their hooves as is their odd and unique way, and the night drove produced one of the animals of the trip with a superb Aardwolf loafing across the Karoo in the spotlight, in additon to a Caracal, and a single Gemsbok (Oryx). We also wondered where the hell all the Cape Mountain Zebras had been that magically appeared out of the ether post-darkness, even chomping on vegetation just acros from our cabins, that had been mysteriously hidden (in this open terrain) during daylight hours!

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