Far West – Willowmore, Klaarstroom and Rietbron
About the Birding
The vast plains that dominate the area are rich in ‘LBJ’s’ and dedicated birders should find the Karoo Long-billed, Large-billed, and Red-capped Larks, Grey-backed Sparrow-lark, the African and Long-billed Pipits, the Karoo and Sickle-winged Chats and Lark-like Bunting. Karoo Lark occurs in neighbouring parts of the Western Cape but has yet to be discovered in the Eastern Cape. Top prize within this area are the rare and highly-nomadic Sclater’s Lark and Black-eared Sparrow-lark.
About the Birding Site
Much of the north-western area of the Eastern Cape consists of extensive karoo plains, in the rain shadow of the Baviaanskloof Escarpment. Riverbeds, which are dry for most of the year, descend sharply from the escarpment and meander across the flat plains to join the Sunday’s River. The harshness of the landscape is reflected in its overall climate: the climate is one of extremes with temperatures ranging from -15 °C on the plateau in winter to highs of more than 40 °C on the plains in summer.
Other Related Information
From Graaf-Rienet – head south along the N9 through Aberdeen to reach Willowmore. From Willowmore, turn west along the R407 to reach Klaarstroom. The detailed network of unpaved roads to the north of here – in the direction of Rietbron – offers the best access to the area.
Access and facilities:
The area is sparsely populated, and birders should be well prepared when planning to visit this remote region of the Eastern Cape. The nearest towns are Klaarstroom and Willowmore, where it is possible to refuel and buy supplies.