Kimberley, Christiana and a Pygmy Falcon

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7 years 10 months ago #20527 by Doug
Doug created the topic: Kimberley, Christiana and a Pygmy Falcon
I had the opportunity to work for a client in Kimberley this weekend. The plan was for Sunday and Monday so I set off early on Saturday morning so as to get an extra day in the area for birding.

Nearing Christiana the sun started to rise and so I decided now was as good a time as any to start birding. As soon as I left the N12 I was struck by the beauty of the area as it started to reveal itself as the sun crept ever higher. The sunrise was made that much more pictueresque by the sparse clouds from the cold front that had passed over the evening before.

Sunrise near Christiana - Freestate/Northern Cape

In fact it was not long before raptor after raptor started to insist on having their pictures taken. All I could do was oblige and got this one of a Black-shouldered Kite.

On I pressed and was amazed at the diverse range of habitats along the network of sand roads to the east of the N12 between Christiana and Kimberley. Habitats range from dense acacia woodland on right red sandy soils much like Zaagkilsdrift to lush grassland on browner soils typical of the Freestate and finally drier areas on whiter stony soils. That little corner of the world has so many habitats. I saw traditional bushveld birds such as Crimson-breasted Shrike right through to more traditional dry area birds such as Fawn-coloured Lark and the large-billed race of Sabota Lark.

As I got into the drier areas I saw both Desert Cisticola and Cloud Cisticola.

Desert Cisticola near Boschoff

Cloud Cisticola near Kimberley

As the habitat became drier, the birds I was seeing changed and it was not long before Chat Flycatcher became the order of the day.

Chat Flycatcher

Raptors were however the ones to surprise. Halfway between Boschoff and Kimberley I was amazed to see two Eurasian Hobby soaring ever higher after swooping across the road just in front of me. That however was soon to be outdone. ust 9 Km outside of Kimberley I saw a strange little bird. I was not sure what it was and though a shrike maybe? It was quite a distance so I reached for my binoculars.....
I had finally seen a bird that was on my wish list of birds I have always wanted to see.
PYGMY FALCON!!! And just outside Kimberley?

I finally ticked Pygmy Falcon!

I arrived at the De Beers Benfontein farm and although camping is a lot less rustic than I am used to with mowed lawns and electrical plug points at each site, I found it quite to my liking.

Camping at Benfontein

I set off for a birding drive around the farm and what an experience. It was not long before a Kimberley Pipit afforded short views. I added many other interesting birds on my short drive and here are a few that were kind enough to pose.

Spike-heeled Lark

Double-banded Courser

North western race - Grey-backed Cisticola

What was amazing to see though was the thousands of young African Bullfrogs that were coming out for the evening.

That afternoon I had to do the touristy thing and stopped at the big hole which is open again. Took a few nice pics.

White-backed Mousebird at the Big Hole

And the chance to just play with the camera at the big hole and its historical town.

The Big Hole at Kimberley

Inside an old tram

An old fence

All in all a really awesome time and with still some more work to do and then the drive back I may get some more photos.

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