Tuesday, 16 May 2017



Art. # 214


Brukkaros Birding

Photos and text by Stefan Rust

(In terms of the Geneva Convention the copyright of these texts belongs to Stefan Rust)

How many travelers en route from Cape Town to Windhoek only marvel at the mighty Mount Brukkaros, 1 590 m at its peak, to the west of the B1 between Keetmanshoop and Mariental?


This extinct volcano, formed by an explosion when rising magma struck underground water and boiled it some 80 million years ago, offers a convenient overnight stop for road-weary campers traveling through this Karas Region, Namibia.

The local avifauna makes the Brukkaros Mountain even more attractive. Good birding occurs here, especially birds of prey. Many of these birds are specials and this makes the Brukkaros Mountain, 650 meters taller than the surrounding and with a crater diameter of about 3 km, a birder’s oasis in the middle of this great thirstland.
This short Brukkaros birding excursion yielded 27 species of birds:

Acacia Pied Barbet (3)
Bokmakiri (4)
*Booted Eagle (4)
Cape Bunting (1)
*Cape Eagle-Owl (1)
Common Ostrich (7)
Dusky Sunbird (5)
Familiar Chat (3)
*Grey-backed Cisticola (2)
Grey-backed Sparrowlark (16)
Lark-like Bunting (8)
Laughing Dove (2)
Little Swift (3)
Long-billed Crombec (2)
*Long-billed Pipit (1)
*Mountain Wheatear (2)
Namaqua Sandgrouse (3)
Pale-winged Starling (22)
Rock Kestrel (3)
Rock Martin (5)
Sabota Lark (2)
Scaly-feathered Finch (2)
*Sociable Weaver (±60)
Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk (2)
Speckled Pigeon (±20)
Verreaux’s Eagle (2)
White-throated Canary (3)

18.02.’14  West cliff of south canyon  Booted Eagle (4) Two color forms occur of this smallest brown eagle in southern Africa, a pale and a dark. The pale morph forms ±80% of the population. At Brukkaros one dark form and three pale forms were seen. From the three pale birds one was a juvenile. It is possible that the Brukkaros birds form a breeding population and that they even overwinter here.

18.02.’14  Southern slope inside crater  Grey-backed Cisticola (2) Seven subspecies occur in southern Africa. Most probably the Brukkaros birds belong to the Cisticola subruficapilla karasensis, the group of subspecies with the smallest distribution area of all seven. These two birds were seen carrying nest material.

18.02.’14  Plains of crater  Sociable Weaver (±60) In the central depression with a diameter of about 3 km (47.124 km2) grow about 250 quiver trees. They form the only structures used by the Sociable Weavers to build their large nests. Sociable Weaver nests occupy about 25 of these trees, giving a nest density of 1 nest/1.88 km2. If every nest houses 50 birds (altogether 1 250 individuals), conservatively calculated, it comes down to 26.53 birds/km2, being quite a high population density for an area that receives 50-100mm annual average rainfall. These large nests protect these birds from the extreme temperatures that occur here.

18.02.’14  Southern slope inside crater  Long-billed Pipit (1) In southern Africa 5 subspecies occur. The Brukkaros lies more or less on the border line of the Anthus similes leucocraspedon (northern subspecies) and the Anthus similes nicholsoni (southern subspecies) distribution area.

18.02.’14  West hangs of south canyon  Mountain Wheatear (2) Although the Brukkaros mountain is situated on the border of the distribution area of the two subspecies occurring in southern Africa, the Oenanthe monticola monticola and Oenanthe monticola atmorii, the observed birds (male and female) belong to the former subspecies.

19.02.’14  Upper four camp sites  Cape Eagle-Owl (1) Classified as generally uncommon, this species is more numerous in Namibia than expected. The Brukkaros complies absolutely the habitat demands of the Cape Eagle-Owl.

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