Free State (South) – Philippolis and surrounds

About the Birding

Birding along wooded drainage lines could deliver Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler (Warbler), Pririt Batis, Ashy Tit, Brown-crowned Tchagra and Common Scimitarbill which are all relatively common. Dusky Sunbirds are attracted to flowering plants while Black-headed and White-throated Canaries and other seedeaters are attracted to water. Roadside birding could include sightings of Blue Crane, Ludwig’s Bustard and Secretarybird. The extensive, flat plains with grassland areas are home to several lark species such as Large-billed, Spike-heeled, Red-capped, Pink-billed and Melodious Larks, while both Buffy and Plain-backed Pipits are regular.

Both Grey-backed and Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark can be abundant at certain times, often forming large flocks.

The hilly areas with rocks, stacked boulders and scattered trees are the preferred habitat of Grey-backed Cisticola, Grey Tit, African Rock and Nicholson’s Pipits, Layard’s Tit-Babbler (Warbler), Eastern Long-billed Lark and Short-toed Rock Thrush. Pale-winged Starling is also present, especially in areas closer to the Orange River. Small pans and farm dams attract Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, South African Shelduck and occasionally flamingos, while calling flocks of Namaqua Sandgrouse coming in to drink are one of the avian spectacles of this area. Closer to the Orange River and at smaller watercourses with reedbed vegetation, Namaqua Warbler may be encountered. African Pied Wagtail is common in rocky areas along the Orange River.

Key species:

Blue Crane, Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler (Warbler), Pririt Batis, Grey Tit, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Common Scimitarbill, Pink-billed Lark, Melodious Lark, African Rock Pipit and Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark

About the Birding Site

The Philippolis area is characterised by typical karoo habitat and karoid associated bird species (a number of which are endemic to South Africa). These areas include sweet thorn and karee dominated drainage lines in grassland or karoo veld, as well as isolated hilly areas with dominant wild olives and other tree species. Philippolis is a perfect halfway stop between Gauteng and the Western Cape.

Key species:

Blue Crane, Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler (Warbler), Pririt Batis, Grey Tit, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Common Scimitarbill, Pink-billed Lark, Melodious Lark, African Rock Pipit and Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark

Other Related Information

Directions:
Philippolis can be reached traveling from Bloemfontein via Jagersfontein (R706) on the “Philippolis Road” or from the N1 at Trompsburg on the R717. There is a network of gravel roads to explore the area.

The R717 is a quiet road connecting Colesberg via Philippolis to Trompsburg, also providing a shorter route than travelling the N1, with great birding potential.

Other related information:

GPS Co-ordinates:
Philippolis: -30.264483, 25.274178
Orange River: -30.502847, 25.200997

Recommended accommodation nearby:
Die Groenhuis, Die Stal, Aunt Baby se Huis
Cel:+27 (0)84 581 0149
Email: vrystaatkaroo@gmail.com

Kanon Guest House
Tel: +27(0)51 773 0088 or
Cell: +27(0)82 371 4524

Local guide information:
No BirdLife Recommended Tour Operators or local guides are currently available in the wider Philippolis area.

Text prepared and edited by:
Dawie de Swardt
Martin Benadie | Specialist Birding Guide

Key species:

Blue Crane, Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler (Warbler), Pririt Batis, Grey Tit, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Common Scimitarbill, Pink-billed Lark, Melodious Lark, African Rock Pipit and Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark

Contact details:

For further information contact:

Die Groenhuis Guest House
Tel: +27(0)84 581 0149
Email: vrystaatkaroo@gmail.com
Website: http://philippolis.co.za/

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