This tour takes you north of Swakopmund to the quartzite gravel plains to search for the arid-adapted and cryptic Gray’s Lark. This pale-colored desert Lark can be difficult to locate as it blends in perfectly to the expansive gravel plains which it frequents in the true Namib Desert. Here they scurry around in small family parties uttering a soft contact whistle all the while. It is this call that we will be listening out for when searching for this elusive little bird. The birds call actively during predawn and early evenings when they do their courtship display flights, avoiding the scorching heat of the day.
The other target species that we will be looking for are the pale-colored coastal form of Tractrac Chat, Red-capped Lark and Rufous-eared Warbler.
Here we may also see Spotted Desert Lizard, Namib Sand Snake and with luck Horned Adder.
From the gravel plains we travel to the wetlands near the Swakopmund salt works and depending on the time of the year we may encounter large flocks of both Greater and Lesser Flamingos, a variety of waders including White-fronted Plover, African Oystercatcher, Ruddy Turnstones, Common Greenshanks, Curlew Sandpipers, Little Stints and on occasion common Redshank and other unusual species like Greater or Lesser Sandplover, Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Franklin’s Gull.
We also scope the guano platform with its thousands of Cape Cormorants for the rarer Bank Cormorant here at its northernmost range. Kelp and Hartlaub’s Gulls are common here and in the summer there may also be large numbers of terns including Swift, Damara, Sandwich, Common, Arctic and with luck Black Tern.
We also visit a small wetland in the Swakop River where Kittlitz’s Plover is fairly common as well as a Chestnut-banded Plover and a few other waders. Occasionally Cape Teal, Egyptian Goose, Rock Kestrel, Black-winged Kite and Peregrine Falcon may be seen.
If time permits we have a quick visit to the dunes and look for some of the specially adapted lizards, insects and with luck the desert Namaqua Chameleon and Peringuey’s Adder (Sidewinder).