16 October 2009

Swartberg Pass…(South Africa): October 1, 2009

This day was all about spectacular mountain scenery. We finished our time in Wilderness during the morning where we blazed a trail through rich Afromontane forest, (that held a couple of Olive Bush-shrikes and a nice Narina Trogon), although by the end of the morning we had climbed out of this coastal forest belt, and moved inland and upwards into the Swartberg mountains. Low alpine fynbos vegetation took over the landscape (that brought us a couple of fynbos specials in the form of Victorin’s Warbler and the scarce Protea Seedeater), which became dramatically craggy, with steep rocky outcrops, and breathtaking vistas. Just the kind of treeless landscape that you would not expect to find a woodpecker, although that is what we had come here for. Southern Africa has a strange endemic species of woodpecker that exists in areas devoid of trees, in dramatic landscapes like this one at Swartberg Pass. It is aptly called the Ground Woodpecker, and it does indeed spend most of its time on the ground or hanging out on rocks, one of just a handful of ground-dwelling woodpeckers on the planet (along with Campo and Andean Flickers of South America). After jumping out of the car we noticed a Cape Rockjumper perched up on a jagged boulder looking down on us, and after a bit of searching we found one magnificent Ground Woodpecker. The scenes above are taken from the 1 436m (4 875ft) high pass, (that was constructed by convicts in 1888), although the woodpecker shot was taken at the arid Karoo NP the following day.

1 comment:

Jana said...

Wow, what a different world from O-hi-o.