Thursday 22 August 2013

Par for the courser!

A couple of days into our southern Africa trip and we have notched up four new species.

Our first was Blacksmith Lapwing as the plane taxied to the terminal at Johannesburg airport. We have seen many pairs since.
Blacksmith Lapwing, Vanellus armatus: Garingboom Guest house, Free State Province, South Africa.
The second was another lapwing, Crowned Lapwing. These we saw along the roadside heading south to a beautiful place called Garingboom Guesthouse in Free State Province.

We were being taken there by Sue Oertli with whom we have been planning this trip along with her brother Peter Sharland and his wife Jenny. We cannot begin to express our thanks adequately for what these people have done for us in planning and executing this trip.

Crowned Lapwing Vanellus coronatus: Gariep Dam, Free State Province, South Africa.

The owners of this little piece of heaven are Jan and Riette Griesel, we had a splendid dinner, a comfortable, and much needed, good night's sleep and in the morning Riette took us birding after a super breakfast to Gariep Dam Nature Reserve. Here we got our first photographs of both Blacksmith and Crowned Lapwings.

Here's the team: Riette, Elis, Rick and Sue. Jan took the picture.
Another new bird for the quest here was a firm favourite for me, Kittlitz's Plover. This bird has been in my sights since I first ever heard of it many moons ago, and there, not 5m from the car was my first, with a second close by.

Kittlitz's Plover Charadrius pecuarius: Gariep Dam, Free State Province, South Africa.

Kittlitz's Plover Charadrius pecuarius: Gariep Dam, Free State Province, South Africa.

But the object of our 5 hour journey south was none of the above, it was the incredibly rare and hard to find Burchell's Courser. Riette knows where to find these birds and if you are in the area and want to see them you could do a lot worse than to stay with her and have her take you to look for them, it worked for us, as you can see.

Burchell's Courser Cursorius rufus: Gariep Dam, Free State Province, South Africa.

Burchell's Courser Cursorius rufus: Gariep Dam, Free State Province, South Africa.
Once we had seen these birds we headed back along the highway for our long journey back to Jo'burg. We arrived with just enough light to check out a park near our friend's house where we didn't connect with any new species, but did see another Crowned Lapwing or two.

Crowned Lapwing Vanellus corontus: Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa.

We spent the night at Peter and Jenny Sharland's house and prepared for the long 10 day trip around Botswana and Namibia.

How often we'll get to blog from now on is anyone's guess, but we'll do what we can.

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