Many species of larks are one of the big treasures of southern Africa. Visits to the Western Cape and the Northern Cape Province provide the best chances for arid country specials like larks. If you want to see an excellent selection of larks in Continental Africa, you have to go for the western and northern part of the Republic of South Africa (RSA). The western part is located along the West coast. The central and northern part is the Bushmanland. Leaving cape town for 200 km, the landscape is characterized by a vast and sparsely populated semi-desert of impressive beauty. Continuing from Clanwilliam northeast towards Loeriesfontein or Brandvlei, you will notice the landscape becoming markedly more arid until you enter Bushmanland. Roadside birding in the morning is always rewarding. Bushmanland stony plains are scattered with low bushes, punctuated by broken country and the occasional dune field. The keen birder can appreciate a great selection of Larks as well as some other southern African endemics. The diversity of larks is marked with more than a dozen species occurring regularly. There are Spike-heeled Lark (Chersomanes albofasciata), Karoo Long-billed Lark (Certhilauda subcoronata), Black-eared Sparrow-Lark (Eremopterix australis), Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark (Eremopterix verticalis), Sabota Lark (Calendulauda sabota), Red Lark (Calendulauda burra), Sclater’s Lark (Spizocorys sclateri) and Continue reading Larks in the Cape Provinces of South Africa
…. A pre-adult Thick-billed Lark (Ramphocoris clotbey) was the next mornings highlight. After spending the night not too far away from the town of Boumalne, I started the day already at dawn. Behind the village, the road winds back to a plateau. Because I missed the turnoff, I drove on and finally stopped in an area that looked very promising due to its rocky, stony surface. First I saw the otherwise ubiquitous Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae). When I was taking photos, I realized a movement underneath my car. This discovery came out as a real winner: a juvenile Thick-billed Lark (Ramphocoris clotbey), which I had never seen photographed so far. Great! Some shots, then the bird disappeared.
Despite this success soon I had to realize that this was not the described direction to move further south to the sandy desert to see more larks and other desert specialists.
So I had to go back and focus myself strictly to the mileage-data in the reports and the road signs – or what I regarded as road signs. Than I started to ask the people on the road for a place called Ikniouin, a destination said to be in the wider environment. But the Bedouin, I ask, were not very helpful. They merely wanted to smoke something. Finally I decided to simply take the next driveway and follow the direction of my GPS. Driving in this stony flat desert Continue reading Looking for larks in Morocco, PART II
On the southern edge of the western palearctic, in Egypt, south of the Sahara, in southern North Africa are living some strange bird creatures which touch the borders of the western palearctic only. Sometimes they occur as a rare breeding species in countries like Morocco or Egypt or you can see them as a strangler on the Canaries, in southern Europe or Northern Africa. Unlike Nearctic species, which are put on the wall especially in fall, because then there is a high influx of birds from Northern American, you do not see the southern specials on a regular basis. But for the keen birdwatcher of western palearctic birds these species are highly though-after mega birds.
To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer birds of the western palearctic from science & public customers Bird-Lens is proud to present a wide range of pictures shot in Tanzania, Malawi, Namibia and the Republic of South Africa (RSA). Are you interested? A first impression you will find in the gallery here. There you will find 42 pictures of various bird species. Continue reading African specialities on Bird-Lens
Many species of larks are one of the big treasures of Morocco. If you want to see the most larks in the Western Palearctic (in quality and even in quantity) you have to go for that north-african country which besides the larks offer much more birdingwise. Beginning of June might be regarded as already quite late to look for birds in a desert called Tagdilt, Morocco. But the Temminck’s Lark (Eremophila bilopha), a bird of dry open country, preferably semi-desert is hatching the offspring at that time of the year. Thus a good chance to take images of adult and young birds of this species. When I arrived on a barren stony desert near the town of Boumalne du Dades I a saw an adult species first. After a while I found a juvenile individual still with white ear-feathers in the same area, too. From inside the SUV I could photograph these usually shy birds from the immediate vicinity, although – after feeding – they always ran away pretty quickly. Again and again I had to move & stop the jeep. I only had a chance, if I could catch the moment when they to come to feed the chick. Here you see more!
Fortunately the spring 2002 had been quite rainy and the desert was still green enough to provide this nice lark with enough insect prey. Looking for larks, I spend a whole afternoon on a plateau at 1,600 m above sea level at the edge of the mountains called Ibel Sarhro when first Continue reading Looking for larks in Morocco, PART I
Beginning of June might be regarded as already quite late to look for birds in the deserts of Boumalne du Dades (called Tagdilt), Morocco. But The Cream-colored Courser (Cursorius cursor) a bird of dry open country, preferably semi-desert is hatching the offspring at that time of the year. Thus a good chance to take images of adult and young birds of this species. Here you see more!
Fortunately the spring 2002 had been quite rainy and the desert was still green enough to provide this very special wader in the pratincole and courser family with enough insect prey which is typically hunted by erratic running on the ground. Looking for larks, I spend a whole afternoon on a plateau at 1,600 m above sea level at the edge of the mountains called Ibel Sarhro when I stumbled over a pair of the Cream-colored Courser which explored the area with young chicks. After a while I found a juvenile individual in the same area, too. From inside the SUV I could photograph these usually shy birds from the immediate vicinity, although they always ran away pretty quickly. They moved on to the rocky, stony ground even faster than the Greater Hoopoe-Lark (Alaemon alaudipes), I had photographed some minutes before in more or less the same area. Again and again I had to move & stop the jeep. I only had a chance, if I catch the moment when they to come to an abrupt stop. This worked best with the parents, because the young were even more mobile.
These coursers are found on the Canary Islands, too. There I saw 3 individuals on Fuerteventura in October 2011. These birds have long legs and long wings. They have slightly downcurved bills. The body plumage is sandy in colour. Some short description you will find here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cream-coloured_Courser
To track birds like larks or coursers in the endless deserts of Morocco is looking like the proverbial needle in a haystack. I had heard it before I left my hometown, and the initial experience confirmed this statement just too much. But the results so far of a photo safari through Spain and Morocco with my SUV in 2002 were very rewarding. With the help of fellow ornithologists, good maps and trip reports from the Internet, I had been in the High Atlas and photographed mega birds as Bonelli’s eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus), Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris atlas, the southern form of the chemical also found in Scandinavian style), Continue reading Cream-colored Courser with young in Morocco