Namaqualand – Knersvlakte

About the Birding

The first place to look, would be the Knersvlakte Nature Reserve, proclaimed only in 2014 and covering over 80 000ha, this reserve is home to an overwhelming number of succulents. Over 1500 species of plant occur here, and almost 200 are found nowhere else in the world and most are at risk of extinction, thankfully these are now being formally protected.

From the outset, the area might look rather desolate, but the closer you look, the more you’ll see.
Often perched out on the roadside fences and telephone poles, Greater Kestrel, Rock Kestrel and both Pied and Cape Crow can be seen. Booted Eagle and Yellow-billed Kites often grace the skies, whilst European Bee-eater, Common Swift and Barn Swallows join them in the summer months. Scanning the uniquely adapted vegetation, especially in the sandy dunes, one might spot Namaqua Sandgrouse, especially in the shady areas beneath shrubs in the heat of the day. These more vegetated areas also house Cape Clapper Lark, Karoo Lark and Spike-heeled Lark, the former best picked up by its characteristic display flight from which the name is derived. Ant-eating Chats are often perched on the roadside, their white wings conspicuously seen in flight. Listen out for Rufous-eared Warbler which is common in the area, and in the denser bush along the Varsch River, situated 14km north of Vanrhynsdorp, one might find Pririt Batis, Yellow Canary, Acacia Pied Barbet and other dry thornveld species.

Key species:

Southern Black Korhaan, Bokmakierie, Greater Kestrel, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Cape Clapper Lark, Karoo Lark, Spike-heeled Lark, Cape Penduline-Tit, Rufous-eared Warbler, Pririt Batis

About the Birding Site

Located at the southern end of the Namaqualand, the Knersvlakte (meaning ‘grinding flats’ from the sound made when walking on the gravel) is characterised by its quartz-strewn plains and sandy dune system. Although the birding in the area is overshadowed by its high diversity of small succulents, it is still worth scanning the area for a few of the specials that are on offer, especially in spring when the area comes alive in the flower season.

Key species:

Southern Black Korhaan, Bokmakierie, Greater Kestrel, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Cape Clapper Lark, Karoo Lark, Spike-heeled Lark, Cape Penduline-Tit, Rufous-eared Warbler, Pririt Batis

Other Related Information

Access and facilities:
The Knersvlakte is situated in the Succulent Karoo Region which is very arid and due to this, extreme temperature fluctuations can be experienced. Pack sufficient warm and light clothing to accommodate for this.

Important information:

  • Although this is a low risk malaria area, consult your doctor/chemist.

Other related information:

Directions:
Accessing the Knersvlakte is easy, only requiring a three-hour drive north of Cape Town along the N7. You’ll find yourself in the heart of the area at -31.2774 18.5590.

Recommended accommodation nearby:
There are a number of private Bed & Breakfasts and lodges in the Vanrhynsdorp area, which are all available through online booking sites. There are no BirdLife Recommended Accommodations listed for this area.

Local guide information:
There are no community bird guides available for this site. However, there are a number of BirdLife Recommended Tour Operators that can supply guides or guided tours for this site, Unearth Safaris.

Text prepared by:
Justin Rhys Nicolau (Unearth Safaris)

Key species:

Southern Black Korhaan, Bokmakierie, Greater Kestrel, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Cape Clapper Lark, Karoo Lark, Spike-heeled Lark, Cape Penduline-Tit, Rufous-eared Warbler, Pririt Batis

Contact details:

N/A

Download Checklist