The Birds Practical was held at Borakalalo over the weekend 25 to 27 October 2019. The team started gathering at Fish Eagle from early afternoon on Friday and there were only eleven students that were able to make it. As the others, sadly, had prior commitments.
Tents were erected with ease after much practice over the past months. The fires were prepared and lit by Rodney with his normal efficiency and all, sitting around the fire, enjoyed a very pleasant evening.
The camp started rising from about 04h00 on Saturday, as the first “bird watchers” walk was to begin at 05h00. Ulrich Oberprieler and Ian Wagstaff were to be our team leads and we were indeed privileged to have two such knowledgeable people to guide us. Ulrich gave us a short introduction of the events to follow and explained that we were “bird watchers” as we would not just tick off the birds that we identified, which is what “birder’s” do but we would study the birds in some detail to gain a better understanding of the birds and their habits.
Follow the leader. (Is this a common bird behavior)
The group was divided into two smaller teams and off we went on foot from the camp at 05h00
A Walking we will go
The two teams returned to camp at about 09h30, hot and tired but having identified a good number of birds as well as spoor and droppings.
We were then free until 15h00 to do whatever we wanted to. Some people went to the entrance gate where Quartus was able to get a signal on his cell phone and watch the Rugby World Cup game between England and New Zealand. Others listened to the game broadcast on Radio 2000 under the shade of a large acacia tree
The afternoon activity consisted of a drive out to the Klipvoor Dam situated on the Moretele river, where we identified many water birds and had sundowners.
Some dam Birds
Our drive back to camp was largely uneventful other than Ulrich stopping the convoy to show us a Shepherd’s Bush Tree.
We arrived back in camp at sunset and after freshening up we again gathered around Rodney’s fire for drinks, chatting and braaing our meals. A wonderful day was had by all and most people were early to bed to prepare for the Sunday morning walk, which again would start at 05h00
Sunday morning had us all out walking at 05h00, which was nice and cool after the previous day’s intense heat. The team leads, Ulrich and Ian, swopped teams and once more a most enjoyable time was had by all and many more birds were identified. We returned at about 10h00
Ulrich called us to a closing meeting where we proceed to do a bird count audit under the guidance of Ulrich. The two teams had identified a total of 91 birds, over the weekend.
In closing, Ulrich said that we had three choices now that the Bushveld Mosaic Course was reaching an end. One, we could have a general knowledge of all the aspects (Jack of all trades and master of none), two, specialize in a couple of areas and lastly, specialize in a few areas for a year or two and then select a few new areas. The choice, clearly is ours
Once again we all had a thoroughly enjoyable and informative weekend. A big thank you to Bushveld Mosaic and all involved.
Ed’s Note: Thanks very much to student Peter M for providing us with a succinct report on the activities of our birds practical weekend.