Birds Practical Weekend 27th – 29th October 2017

The Birds practical weekend took place at Borakalalo from 27th to 29th October 2017.  Although a storm welcomed us to Borakalalo on Friday night, it did not stop us from having a good old South African braai and enjoying the excellent company.

Both Saturday and Sunday mornings entailed a three hour bird-watching walk near the river, which we started nice and early at 06:00.  In order to ensure we were all able to attain knowledge from both our team leaders, we divided into two groups. Group one went with Ulrich and group two with Ian on the Saturday, and then the leaders were switched over for Sunday’s walk.

The group (including North West Parks Ranger Peter who joined us for both walks)

On Saturday afternoon we went to observe water birds next to the dam and camping site.  On this occasion we spotted an Osprey, with a fish in its talons.  It was an amazing spectacle and was awarded the most interesting sighting of the weekend.  We concluded Saturday with sundowners and snacks at the dam.

It went that way. No I think it went that way

During these sessions we certainly learnt a lot, and saw or heard 101 different species, from a variety of bird families.

All Bird Photos by Estelle Erasmus

Between Ulrich and Ian we learnt many interesting facts about birds, for example

  • The Pearl Spotted Owlet has feathers coloured to appear like eyes on the back of its head. It is active in the day and at night.
  • The Black-shouldered Kite is often seen perching on telephone poles.
  • We learned about some differences between Swallows and Swifts e.g. Swifts cannot fly from the ground, they have to hang from surfaces, drop and then fly off.
  • The Greater Honeyguide will indicate to people where honey can be found, but not the Lesser Honeyguide.

Apart from the birds, Saturday was full of incidents: with one of the picnic-site taps being “relocated” by a student’s vehicle and another who managed to lock himself in the bathroom for an hour. He eventually had to free himself through the window. Luckily for all no one was injured during these escapades.

The Bird weekend was certainly most enjoyable and educational.

Ed’s Note: Our thanks to student Petra Bester for providing us with this account of the Bird weekend, and her friend Estelle for all the bird pictures.

Ulrich has also kindly provided the list of 101 birds seen or heard over the weekend. This list will be submitted to the Birds in Reserves Project, (BIRP) and if anybody wants a copy please let me know.

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