The accomodation at Nossob is excellent, the chalets have high ceilings with thick thatched roofs which make them nice and cool inside plus they are air conditioned. The girls decided to take advantage of this and opted to stay at the camp while my son Michael and I set off for a known Burchells Sandgrouse hangout just north of Nossob with the quaint name of Cubitje Quap. It is a small waterhole where the sandgrouse come to drink every day at around 7h30.
Just before we got to the actual waterhole we came across a Lanner Falcon that had a fresh dove kill and was busy devouring it in a dead tree. This was my first decent view of a wild Lanner.
|Lanner Falcon with prey|
I thought that this was an excellent sighting which would soon be surpassed beyond my wildest expectations... As we rounded a bend in the road at the waterhole we sighted a Lanner that had just caught a Cape Turtle Dove which was still alive and twitching in the grip of the Lanner.. The following photo sequence shows the Lanner quickly dispatching the hapless dove with a bite to the head and then plucking and disembowling its prey until it is light enough to carry off and consume on a nearby tree.
After the Lanner had left we continued the 100m or so to the waterhole. You could see why the Lanners were using this place as a hunting ground as there were doves everywhere around the water, on trees, in the air, on the ground and at the water as well. They were extremely skittish and flushed every few seconds just in case..
|Mayhem at Cubitje Quap|
|Cape Turtle Doves|
In the distance a young Gabar sat and watched the doves coming and going possibly hoping for an opportunity to catch one!
|Gabar Goshawk Immature|
At about 07h43 the first sandgrouse started appearing, first were the Namaqua Sandgrouse.
|Namaqua Sandgrouse female|
|Namaqua Sandgrouse, male and female (note male soaking the specialised belly feathers to take water to their chicks)|
|Namaqua Sandgrouse Male|
Then the stars started to arrive, flocks and flocks of Burchells Sandgrouse adding to the melee around the waterhole. First small flocks and then larger and larger flocks until the Burchells outnumbered the doves at Cubitje Quap.
|Flocks of Burchells Sandgrouse approaching the waterhole (3)|
|They come in with speed and land right in the water (2)|
After drinking their fill they started to strut their stuff, some came so close to me I couldn't get them focussed.
|Female Burchells Sandgrouse (2)|
|Male Burchells Sandgrouse (4)|
After the sandgrouse began thinning out there was still a lot of birds to keep our attention. As the day began to heat up some of the smaller species came down to drink.
|Sociable Weaver with Scaly-feathered Finch (note Red-headed Finch in the background)|
Eventually a Male Bataleur flew in for a look but did not stay for a drink. I think that this would have been a great opportunity if he had landed for a drink. These birds are beautifully coloured in their adult plumage which takes them 8 years to obtain.
|Adult male Bataleur Eagle|
|Jackal being chased away from the waterhole (2)|
|The herd comes down to drink|
After the herd had finished and wandered off again the jackal could drink in peace. There were a few jackal that came up to our fireplace in the camp to beg for food.
Finallly a male Namaqua Dove flew in, looking around nervously before drinking his fill..
|Male Namaqua Dove|
After an afternoon nap during the heat of the day we set off again on the road south of the camp to Maries Gat to look for the Red-necked Falcon. We didn't see any falcon but discovered a Wildebeest carcass near the well. Seeing as the kill looked fresh we stuck around to see if the predator was still around but after an hour decided that it must have died from natural causes. The only animal we saw was a jackal that tasted a bit then trotted off again. Later we told the ranger at the camp who suggested that it might have died from a snake bite??
|Wildebeest carcass with Black-backed Jackal looking rather nervous?|
At the well itself were some more small birds..
|Non-breeding Shaft-tailed Whydah|
|Two Tawny Eagles in the distance.|
And so ended another great days birding, back at the camp the nightjars had moved to outside the camp fence so we barbequed and sat listening to the barking geckos late into the night. This is a magic place!!!