Namaqua Sandgrouse (Pterocles namaqua)
The Namaqua Sandgrouse, also known as the Ganga Namaqua, is a species of ground-dwelling bird in the sandgrouse family. It is found in arid regions of south-western Africa, especially Kalahari Gemsbok Park.
The sandgrouse is a medium-sized bird with a plump body, small head and short legs. It grows to a length of about 28 centimetres (11 in). The male has an orange type buff head, throat and chest and has a conspicuous narrow band of white and dark brown. The colouring of the female and juvenile is more of generally various shades of brown patterned with white specks.
The birds converge on watering holes in the early morning and several dozens or even hundreds of individuals may congregate in one place. They also tend to spend the night in groups, congregating about an hour before dusk. They split up during the day into much smaller groups to feed.
Their principal diet is seeds but they also eat leaves, flowers, small fruit, insects and molluscs. They forage by exploring loose soil with their beaks and flicking it away sideways.
The nest is a scrape in the earth, lined with dried plant material. Incubation lasts about 22 days. The female does the incubation by day and the male does a longer shift at night, starting about two hours before sunset and finishing two hours after dawn. The chicks are able to leave the nest on the day they are hatched. The male brings them water absorbed on the specially adapted feathers of his breast. The chicks grow rapidly; they are fully feathered at three weeks and able to fly at six.
These birds were photographed early morning at a water hole in the Kalahari Gemsbok Park….
These little fellows called on us very soon after watching us unpack the vehicle and move into the tent… Now I know feeding animals in parks is frowned upon, but how can you resist the visitation of such a cute animal with the look of “what have you to offer?”
My son is no better than me, as our hearts go out to all animals, and so often one wants to interfere in nature taking it’s course. Yet these animals have used their natural God given gift to appeal to you for a snack, and why not… these little fellows entertained us for a good few hours…
Their tails are used as a shade cover as well as a camouflage… looking at this top view of the squirrel, from above, to an eagle, he could so easily be a leaf..
They obviously enjoyed our company and started to dig in… or maybe it was just to cool themselves off with sand….
The cutest of little animals….
This pride we came across lying on the road… in no hurry to make way for traffic…
We waited for this vehicle to pass and we moved up next to them to get a few close up photos… My son was on that side of the vehicle and was the closest.. Linda in the back .. she chirped like a chicken calling her chicks.. “close the window, lets move, that lion is going to come through the window.” We took the photos and generally ignored her…
They pretty well ignored us .. and the cameras continued to click.. it’s not that often that such an opportunity arises….
Is there a difference between Lion in the Kalahari Gemsbok Park and say those of the Kruger National Park? According to the experts the Kalahari Lion have adapted to the arid conditions. To me they have a difference in colour and maybe even size, not that I was prepared, in either case, to vacate my vehicle with a measuring tape and scale.
The Lion of the Kalahari appear bigger or fatter, almost cuddlier, again not a theory I was prepared to test, but below are two photos I took of Lion, the left, of one in the Kruger and the right, one of the Lion in the Kalahari.. The Kalahari being on the West side of the country and the Kruger on the East side..
The colour is definitely different and that of the Kalahari looks better fed… not that I was going to take a closer look on foot in either case..
But where the Lion is persecuted and shot for its skin in so many parts of Africa… are these not a thing of beauty that should be enjoyed, rather being shot with a camera.??
An early morning start before the sun rise, we were on our way…. in fact so early 60 km. later the sun was still not up and we had reached the entrance gate… we had to wait for opening time… but the excitement was high and the parks aromas could be detected… what was that smell? Had the sewage pipe burst.?? No it was something I had passed .. pure excitement….
When the sun gave just enough light I snapped the building for memory …
and in we went after all the necessary documentation had been done…… and straight off we started to see what we had come for… animals and birds amid the sand dunes of the Kalahari….
We had only travelled about 20 kilometres and this was going to change all the plans we had made..
The idea was to travel to Nossob and then across to Mata Mata which is on the Namibian border… this would never work out, there was just too much to see and enjoy. We would have to take another road across the sand dunes between the two rivers.
Nossob is on the one dry river in the east of the Kalahari Gemsbok Park that is the division between South Africa and Botswana. There is a huge area in Botswana that is part of the Park, and it is this that makes the Kgalagardi Transfrontier Park, a park double the size of the Kruger National Park….
896 000 km² is the size of the Kgalagardi Transfrontier Park…. we only planned to stay in the Kalahari gemsbok Park… so tomorrow we will continue to Mata Mata…
I will be doing more blogs of only the selected animals, birds and raptors after we have finished the tour… these photos are just a taste of things to came…
SEE YOU TOMORROW ON OUR WAY TO MATA MATA OUR CAMP SITE…