On Saturday 14 April 2018, nine of our club members ventured out to Hout River Dam and 'Larkville' (the Chebeng grasslands), hoping for a good day of birding and, if lucky, some lifers. So, I guess you could say, we got lucky.
We arrived at the dam, put on our gumboots and off we went. On our way towards the inflow of the dam we found a pair of Yellow-billed Ducks, Namaqua Dove, African Stonechat and Cape Longclaw. As we approached the dam we could hear some Lesser Swamp Warblers calling, there were loads of Red-knobbed Coot, Little Grebe, Three-banded and Kittlitz's Plover and we also saw a Purple Heron, a pair of African Swamphen, Red-billed and Hottentot Teal. Searching the reeds produced Orange-breasted and Common Waxbill as well as Levaillant's Cisticola. We were surprised to see a Goliath Heron fly up and perch in a nearby tree. On the way back to the cars, we had excellent views of the Orange-breasted Waxbills, even finding a pair mating.
Back at the cars, we exchanged our gumboots for our 'tekkies' and moved along to the southern shore to enjoy a cup of coffee. Whilst drinking our coffee, we saw Red-capped Lark and Spur-winged Goose and even a glimpse of an African Snipe. As we slowly walked along the dam, we found a lovely pair of Temminck's Coursers. We also walked along the reeds searching for a nice photo opportunity of the elusive Quailfinch - let's just say they were camera shy.
Off we went to Larkville, with a couple of us hoping for that lifer. On the way we found a beautiful Greater Kestrel. We arrived in 'Larkville', expecting to find ourselves some larks. Instead, we found Plain-backed Pipit, African Pipit, another Plain-backed Pipit, and another Plain-backed Pipit and wait, what's that, another Plain-backed Pipit! I guess we took the wrong road and ended up in Pipit Plains! We stopped to look at another pipit: what's that on the ground? Probably another... oh, wait… it's a lark! Our first lark, a Spike-heeled Lark, the first of many for the day. We got some good views of them during our walk.
Heading through the grass we found a little surprise - a Northern Black Korhaan chick. We didn't stick around, as we wanted the parents to return before their chick became a meal for something else. Moving along, we found Desert Cisticola, Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark, Cape Penduline Tit and along a small valley, a Long-tailed Widowbird. Heading back to our cars we found more Spike-heeled Larks, Sabota Lark and an Ant-eating Chat.
We enjoyed a well-deserved cold drink and started heading back to the tar road. We stopped once more on the way out and this delivered Violet-eared Waxbill and a single Short-clawed Lark.
We had a lovely morning of birding, finding more than 70 species, and quite a few lifers for a couple of the group members. As I said, we got lucky. Thanks to Richter Van Tonder for organising the outing.