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Klipkolk is a small livestock farm situated close to the Namibian border in the far Northern Cape Province. Most dry-west specials can be found in the Karroid Kalahari Bushveld (or Nama Karoo) and riverine woodland, while the seasonal dam at Klipkolk attracts unusually large numbers of waterbirds for this area. The potential bird list is around 150 species, with up to 70 species possible in a single day in summer. The guesthouse and camping facilities provide an alternative stop-over on the way to or from the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and Namibia.

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Specials

Waterbirds of special interest that have been recorded include Chestnut-banded Plover, White-fronted Plover, Greater Painted-snipe, Spur-winged Goose, Maccoa Duck and Collared Pratincole,. Specials characteristic of the dry west include Ludwig's Bustard, Karoo Korhaan, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Karoo Chat (white-rumped race), Dusky Sunbird, Rufous-eared Warbler and Pririt Batis. Layard's Tit-Babbler has also been recorded.

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Habitats

The farm has three main habitat types, namely the gravel plains with shrub and grass layer components, the dam itself and its adjacent floodplain, and a dense stand of riverine woodland (sweet thorn Acacia karroo) downstream of the dam wall. Secluded within this woodland are three semi-natural water pools fed by the dam.

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Facilities

There is a comfortable guesthouse and camping site available at a very reasonable fee. One is free to walk around the dam and its surroundings, while the riverine woodland has a number of exploratory paths and picnic facilities. There is also a circular drive of about 5km, which is best driven in the early morning (note that sedan vehicles may not be able to traverse the stretch of dry riverbed).

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Birding

1. The dam supports a surprising list of waterbirds during summer and up to 25 species can be seen in a single day, including Cape Teal, Cape Shoveler, Southern Pochard, Red-billed Teal, Little Grebe, Greater Flamingo, Grey Heron, Black-headed Heron, African Sacred Ibis, Red-knobbed Coot, Common Moorhen, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper and Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Ruff, Common Greenshank, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Kittlitz's Plover, Common Ringed Plover and Blacksmith Lapwing.

2. The seasonally flooded area around the dam may deliver Montagu's Harrier, Lanner Falcon, Steppe Buzzard, Wattled Starling, Red-capped Lark, Capped Wheatear, African Pipit and Grey-backed Sparrowlark. It is also worth exploring the wooded drainage channel at the head of the dam that supports similar species found in the riverine woodland below the dam wall.

3. The short walks in the riverine woodland may yield many typical birds such as Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler, Acacia Pied Barbet, African Red-eyed Bulbul, Red-backed Shrike, Pririt Batis, Spotted Flycatcher, Long-billed Crombec, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Southern Masked-Weaver, White-backed Mousebird, Black-throated Canary, White-throated Canary and Yellow Canary. Species which are out of field guide or atlas distribution range include Layard's Tit-Babbler, Karoo Scrub-Robin, Fiscal Flycatcher, Pin-tailed Whydah, Common Waxbill, Green-winged Pytilia, Willow Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Lesser Swamp-Warbler and African Reed-Warbler. Many species come to drink at the pools and it is worth sitting quietly and scanning the vegetation fringes for birds (the third pool from the dam wall is a particularly good spot). Owls that have been recorded include Spotted Eagle-Owl, Barn Owl and African Scops-Owl, while Rufous-cheeked Nightjar is often flushed from the beneath the trees during the day. Booted Eagle has also been seen.

4. A circular drive, which starts and ends at the dam, takes one through the typical vegetation of the gravel plains but also through the dry riverbed. Along this route one can see the specials of the area such as Karoo Korhaan, Ludwig's Bustard, Karoo Chat, Karoo Long-billed Lark and other species such as Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Lark-like Bunting, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Namaqua Dove, Chat Flycatcher, Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Sabota Lark and Spike-heeled Lark.

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General

A small fee is payable for day visitors not using the guesthouse or camping facilities. To reach Klipkolk farm from the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, travel along the R360 from Twee Rivieren for 60 km until the four-way intersection at Andriesvale is reached. Continue straight over this intersection following the signs to Inkbospan on the R360 for another 20 km. Turn right here at the T-junction on the old R31 towards Rietfontein; Klipkolk Guesthouse is a further 46 km on the left side of the road (1.5 hrs from Twee Rivieren). From Upington, travel the R360 to Andriesvale (190 km), then turn left at the four-way intersection towards Inkbospan; further directions are as above (3 hrs from Upington). From Namibia via Rietfontein, travel along the old R31 that passes through the small village of Philandersbron for 15 km (10 min). It is advisable to enquire about the status of the dam’s water level prior to your visit, as the dam may be dry in some years.

Eric Herrmann 2007



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