Self-driven birding route along public dirt roads, just off the N3, near Harrismith. One can expect to see Botha’s Lark, Blue Korhaan, Bald Ibis.
We run a ‘Birder Friendly’ B&B in Harrismith and one of the requirements is to have routes for patrons and to know what is happening, birdwise, in the area.
One of the routes that I send people along; is what we call the Botha’s Lark route, for obvious reasons.
You could also get other good birds along this route, such as: Blue Korhaan, Pink-billed Lark, Quail Finch, Bald Ibis and Eastern Clapper Lark.
How to get there:
Travelling south on the N3 Toll Route, 20km short of Harrismith you will get an info ‘brown’ board that states “STAR STOP MONTEVISTA 10km”. A glance to your right and you will see the Eeram grain silos. 200m After this brown sign turn left onto the S792 (28 06’ 02”S 29 02”24.6”E). At the T-junction (28 06’ 00.7”S 29 02’42.3”E) turn left onto dirt; and travel for one kilometre then turn right (28 05’34.6”S 29 03’03.6’E). Take a reading on your odometer, as you need to then travel for three kilometres. The area that is full of Botha’s is between the two windmills, one on the left of the road (28 06’02.4”S 29 04’ 40”E) and then you will see another further along on the right hand side of the road ( 28 06’13.2”S 29 05’16.9”E).
We find the birds in the overgrazed field on the south of the road, between the two windmills. I often see a number in the road; so make sure that you are constantly scanning before disturbing. Listen for the call, a musical ‘tsiree’ and then look for the white unstreaked belly and most importantly the white outer tail feathers and heavily streaked backs. Be sure to grip these features because we also have Pink-billed in this area, identical in size and gizz but is overall a more buff bird with buff outer tail feathers. By the way, they are both small larks with pink bills.
Once you have gripped this special, you can either do a U-turn, and head back to the N3 Toll Route or continue along this route. At (28 06’35.6”S 29 07’07.3”E) is a good area for Long-billed Lark and Eastern Clapper Lark. You will eventually get to a T-junction (28 07”06”S 29 07”47.5”E) where you will turn right and this tar road will return you to the N3 Toll Route just outside Harrismith.
This is one of the most productive drives around the Harrismith area as it passes through climax Themeda (Rooigrass) grasslands. This combined with two wetlands offers great variety. We have counted up to 12 Blue Korhaans and 6 species of Lark, the 4 mentioned plus; Red Capped and plenty Spike-heeled.
Should you get lost, or are feeling “all shagged out” after a stressful tick, give me a call, David 083 303 4230. I can put you onto some other high Grassveld specials should you need them, or offer you a comfortable bed for the night.