We started our trip to Namaqualand with a visit to the West Coast National Park, where we stayed in the Duinepos Camp. This allowed us the opportunity to see the wild flowers at Postberg (along with many visitors from Cape Town, as it was a Saturday) and also to look out for local birds. Being late winter, the migrant waders were still absent, so we had to be content with the resident population. This still provided plenty of species and we started off with a good few.
After two nights we proceeded up the coast to Velddrif, where we again concentrated on water birds, before heading north to Rocher Pan. There was virtually nothing to see there, so we set off for Kamieskroon and the Kamieskroon Hotel, where we were to spend 5 nights.
On Monday I had only one thing in mind and that was to see a Barlow’s Lark. This meant driving all the way to Alexander Bay, a round trip of 640 kms. Sadly, we did not find one so the trip was in vain, however we did see 21 Greater Kestrels along the road to Port Nolloth, along with about 200 Pied Crows! The road from Steinkopf to Port Nolloth is 90 kms long and there are around 900 disused telephone standards along the way. There must have been around 400 crow’s nests on these poles and many were occupied. There were also a few Cape Crows and we even saw 6 Ludwig’s Bustards, which was pleasing.
That night we were joined by Richard and Jeanette West and we were amazed to find that our good friends, David and Elaine were also at the hotel, along with another couple. All of us had lived at Kleinsee, so we had a great reunion!
Next day we visited the Namaqualand National Park. Whereas we had not yet seen any flowers in the area, we were delighted with the display at Skilpad, where there were wonderful fields of Namaqua Daisies and many Heliophilas. A drive to Soebatsfontein revealed good succulents and we were once again pleased with what we saw on the road back to Kamieskroon.
On Wednesday we undertook another long journey; this time to Kleinsee, via Hondeklipbaai and Koingnaas. It was interesting to see the homes we had lived in, and we spent a while in the old squash club – scene of many raucous parties in our youth – chatting to the new owners, who have converted the pub into a restaurant. We returned to Kamieskroon via Komaggas and the Spektakel Pass to Springbok, pleased to find a new tar road all the way from Komaggas, where previously there had only been a very rough and stony section.
By Thursday, I needed some new birds, so we set out for Gamoep in Bushmanland, in the hope of finding a Red Lark. It was a very interesting drive with spectacular scenery and many Kokerboom trees. Strangely, we did not find Gamoep, despite driving right through it, not did we find the Lark. We ended up having to return via Springbok, so searched once more for the Cinnamon-breasted Warbler (also without success!) before returning to our hotel.
Our trip netted no less than 146 bird species, which was pleasing, even if we missed out on a few specials that we were searching for.