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For people passing through the Karoo who have time to spare, roadside bird watching can prove very interesting. Obviously main roads, with their high volumes of traffic, are unsuitable - the secondary gravel roads are the ideal as these have not been altered for many years and pass closed to stock watering points, farm houses and cultivated lands, often with telephone lines adjacent.

1. This is an ideal way to see many of the "LBJ's" - Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Black-eared Sparrowlark (in the North West of the region) and Lark-like Bunting are often conspicuous as they fly around.

2. Find a water source, particularly at mid-morning, and watch to see what arrives - species could include White-throated Canary, Black-headed Canary, Namaqua Dove and even Namaqua Sandgrouse. Egyptian Goose and South African Shelduck use even the smallest dams.

3. Fences and telephone lines are used as hunting perches and often one sees Greater Kestrel, Rock Kestrel, Jackal Buzzard, Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Common Fiscal, Pied Crow and White-necked Raven on them. An occasional Martial Eagle is a possibility.

4. Farmhouses and cultivated lands are the usual habitat of swallows, sparrows and weavers. The exotic tress in these situations may harbour Gabar Goshawk. Figs and other fruit trees will attract White-backed Mousebird, Red-faced Mousebird, Olive Thrush, Red-winged Starling and Pied Starling.

5. In the open veld listen for the calls of Karoo Korhaan, Southern Black Korhaan, Rufous-eared Warbler and Grey-backed Cisticola. Stream-side vegetation could produce Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler, Namaqua Warbler, Fairy Flycatcher and Pririt Batis.

Dave Brown 1998



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