Monday, 31 January 2011

My first CAR!

I drove my first CAR on Saturday.

“What?” I hear you say. “Surely you've had your licence for years?”

Not a car – a C.A.R. - or Coordinated Avifaunal Roadcount. The CAR project is coordinated by the Avian Demography Unit at University of Cape Town. The aim is to count large terrestrial birds deemed to be of conservation significance. These include cranes, bustards, korhaans, storks and the Secretary Bird.

I was approached by Donella Young, who coordinates the whole project, to ask if I would be interested in doing a route. Of course! These routes are hot property amongst birders of the kind who like to be involved in citizen science. So she drew a line on a map, emailed it to us, and hey-presto, I suddenly find myself as the proud 'curator' of a 43.8km stretch of the Winterhoek road (that runs between the Baviaansberge and the Willowmore-Steytlerville road). It's Bustard Big 5 territory – Kori Bustard, Denham's Bustard, Ludwig's Bustard, Karoo Korhaan and Southern Black Korhaan are all possibilities here. Four were seen during our first count – as well as a bunch of other interesting birds. Here is a selection from the day out I did with my dad as chauffeur.

CAR poster boy - an adult Blue Crane

Karoo Korhaans calling. Just a token photo since they always seemed to be miles off.

Lark-like Bunting

Ludwig's Bustard. We encountered a small flock on the way back.

a remarkably obliging Steppe Buzzard. 

Steppe Buzzard taking off. 

Some had things other than birds on their minds...

For more information on the project, contact Donella at or go to

PS they were going to call the CAR Project – CARP – but a fish just isn't a good image for a large bird survey.

PPS I made that up.

1 comment:

  1. I do the CAR with Donella herself here in Villiersdorp, always a fun Saturday morning. You are lucky to have so many large birds on your route... we have lots of Blue Cranes and one lonely Southern Black Korhaan and last year we spotted a couple of Openbills, but the rest are Black headed herons.


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