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20-22 may 2011 - west coast national park

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Friends of ours from the UK, Mike Richardson and Sarah Winch, were out on a trip tavelling around the western part of South Africa and so we decided to join them for the weekend at the West Coast National Park. We booked ourselves into the Duinepos Chalets there which would be our base for the weekend. As Mike is particularly keen on mammals and reptiles, the plans was to try and find as many of these as possible even although the time of year was not great. His biggest want was a Caracal, an animal we still needed for the challenge as well, but these can be particularly tough, so we didn't hold out too much hope! After meeting up with them on the Friday evening in the park and introducing them to their first braai, it was off to bed and then up early on Saturday morning to head out looking for reptiles. We had quite a successful time in the park picking up a reasonable number of species, given the time of year, and also managed to find Southern African Pygmy Mouse in the morning as well. The rest of the day was spent patrolling the park looking for Caracal without any success, but we did manage to reel in a number of birds and some other mammals as well as a few more reptiles too. A night drive on Sunday didn't produce any Caracal either, but we did have lots of Spotted Eagle Owls.

The next morning had us heading off to another spot where we managed to find a couple more reptile species, but still no Caracal! Back at the chalets, it was time to pack up and check out and, once all of this was done, I suggested we head back to Abrahamskraal Waterhole to try and find African Rail for them - I was of course secretly hoping that we might bump into a Caracal, but I was now really starting to get concerned that we were going to miss it. Arriving at the waterhole and heading into the hide, we weren't in there for 2 minutes when I spotted some movement in the grass, lifted my bins to look at it and was blown away to see a Caracal! Chaos ensued as I tried to get everyone on to it, almost taking off Margaret's nose in the process! Fortunately, everybody was able to see it, but, by the time I got my camera on to it, it had gone to lie down in very long grass and so the photos leave a lot to be desired (although good enough for the challenge...just!). After this huge excitement, it was time for a celebratory lunch at the restaurant in the park before finally saying our good-byes and heading our separate ways. All in all, a very successful weekend...

Karoo Sand Snake
Mike with a Cross-marked Grass Snake
Spotted Eagle Owl
Black Crakes
Bush Karoo Rat
Full list of species recorded on the pelagic trip
Links to pages with additional photos highlighted in red
Common Name Scientific Name
Birds - 93 species  
Common Ostrich Struthio camelus
Grey-winged Francolin Scleroptila africanus
Cape Spurfowl Pternistis capensis
Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca
South African Shelduck Tadorna cana
Cape Teal Anas capensis
Yellow-billed Duck Anas undulata
Cape Shoveler Anas smithii
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber
African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus
African Spoonbill Platalea alba
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus
Cape Gannet Morus capensis
Crowned Cormorant Microcarbo coronatus
Cape Cormorant Phalacrocorax capensis
White-breasted Cormorant Phalacrocorax lucidus
Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus
African Marsh Harrier Circus ranivorus
Black Harrier Circus maurus
Jackal Buzzard Buteo rufofuscus
Rock Kestrel Falco rupicolis
Southern Black Korhaan Eupodotis afra
African Rail Rallus caerulescens
Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostris
African Swamphen Porphyrio madagascariensis
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata
African Black Oystercatcher Haematopus moquini
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
Blacksmith Lapwing Vanellus armatus
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Kittlitz's Plover Charadrius pecuarius
Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris
White-fronted Plover Charadrius marginatus
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
Common Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Red Knot Calidris canutus
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Hartlaub's Gull Chroicocephalus hartlaubii
Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus
Swift Tern Thalasseus bergii
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis
Rock Dove Columba livia
Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea
Cape Turtle Dove Streptopelia capicola
Spotted Eagle Owl Bubo africanus
Fiery-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus pectoralis
Little Swift Apus affinis
White-backed Mousebird Colius colius
Bokmakierie Telophorus zeylonus
Common Fiscal Lanius collaris
Pied Crow Corvus albus
Grey Tit Parus afer
Cape Penduline-Tit Anthoscopus minutus
Large-billed Lark Galerida magnirostris
Cape Bulbul Pycnonotus capensis
Brown-throated Martin Riparia paludicola
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Rock Martin Hirundo fuligula
Lesser Swamp Warbler Acrocephalus gracilirostris
Little Rush Warbler Bradypterus baboecala
Grey-backed Cisticola Cisticola subruficapilla
Levaillant's Cisticola Cisticola tinniens
Karoo Prinia Prinia maculosa
Bar-throated Apalis Apalis thoracica
Long-billed Crombec Sylvietta rufescens
Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler Parisoma subcaeruleum
Cape White-eye Zosterops capensis
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Wattled Starling Creatophora cinerea
Pied Starling Spreo bicolor
Cape Robin-Chat Cossypha caffra
Karoo Scrub-Robin Cercotrichas coryphoeus
African Stonechat Saxicola torquatus
Fiscal Flycatcher Sigelus silens
Southern Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris chalybeus
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Cape Sparrow Passer melanurus
Cape Weaver Ploceus capensis
Yellow Bishop Euplectes capensis
Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild
Cape Wagtail Motacilla capensis
Cape Longclaw Macronyx capensis
Cape Canary Serinus canicollis
Yellow Canary Serinus flaviventris
White-throated Canary Serinus albogularis
Cape Bunting Emberiza capensis
Mammals - 17 species  
Rock Hyrax Procavia capensis
Southern African Pygmy Mouse Mus minutoides
Striped Mouse Rhabdomys pumilio
Bush Karoo Rat Myotomys unisulcatus
Caracal Felis caracal
Small Grey Mongoose Galerella pulverulenta
Bat-eared Fox Otocyon megalotis
Cape Mountain Zebra Equus zebra
Red Haartebeest Alcelaphus caama
Blue Wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus
Bontebok Damaliscus dorcas
Springbok Antidorcas marsupialis
Steenbok Raphicerus campestris
Common Eland Taurotragus oryx
Greater Kudu Tragelaphus strepsiceros
Common Duiker Sylvicapra grimmia
Gemsbok Oryx gazella
Reptiles - 13 species  
Angulate Tortoise Chersina angulata
Striped Dwarf Leaf-toed Gecko Goggia lineata
Karoo Girdled Lizard Cordylus polyzonus
Large-scaled Girdled Lizard Cordylus macropholis
Gronovi's Dwarf Burrowing Skink Scelotes gronovii
Silvery Dwarf Burrowing Skink Scelotes bipes
Variegated Skink Trachylepis variegata
Cape Skink Trachylepis capensis
Spotted Skaapsteker Psammophylax rhombeatus
Karoo Sand Snake Psammophis notostictus
Cross-marked Grass Snake Psammophis crucifer
Common Egg-eater Dasypeltis scabra
Puffadder Bitis arietans