Roberts No 197
by Pompie Burger
I always thought of myself as being a rather greedy birdwatcher, leaving the ‘little brown jobs’ to the guys with long beards and thick glasses. Fortunately this has changed, thanks to mister Hartlaub. The bird, that is, not the man.
The reason was that since Hartlaub’s is one of Namibia’s 14 endemic bird species, I thought I should at least try to get a decent picture of it. The obvious place to start looking was at Hobatere Lodge, where Steve Brain is always more than enthusiastic to look for any bird (or share a bottle of red wine) that might be of any interest to anyone.
Apparently these birds are quite shy and not easily flushed out. Our first expedition to the boulder outcrops at Hobatere was not successful, but what it did do was stimulate a definite interest in this smallest of all of Southern Africa’s spurfowls. As with so many birds, once you’ve seen or heard it, it suddenly seems so much easier to find.
Our next trip was planned much better and we were sure that we would get what we were looking for. When we were eventually ready and everything was in position, I realised that our tape recorder’s batteries were flat! I was certain there was no way we would be able to find these elusive little creatures without calling them. While we were sitting there in the veld, with me feeling sorry for myself, I suddenly heard them call, looked up and saw a male Hartlaub’s sitting on a rock in the open, not 20 metres away. Needless to say, I’d finally found what I was looking for!
The Hartlaub’s male and female stay together throughout the year, and they are relatively territorial.
This article appeared in the Dec ‘07/ Jan ‘08 edition of Travel News Namibia.
Based in Windhoek, Pompie Burger is an orthopaedic surgeon whose part-time passion is photography, in particular wildlife, and specifically birds. This regularly takes him to the most remote corners of the country, resulting in riveting images and articles.
Pompie is the author and photographer of the coffee table book Birds of Namibia, which was published in 2008. The book contains articles and photographs which attest to the insight and knowledge of an accomplished observer.
Read more of his articles in our Birding Section.