This is a target I have set myself. To my knowledge only the legendary Ian Sinclair has done it before and publicly announced it, although there are a handful of others who have quietly achieved this target, at least one person has done it twice! Will I do it? I don't know, but I am going to give it a damn good go. My past achievements with this in mind are as follows:
2008: 701 birds - target was 700, achieved with a 6 day dash around the country to get the last 12 birds. #700 was Pygmy Falcon near Prieska. An Orange River White-eye topped it off at 701.
2009: Target: see 800 birds over 2 calendar years. Total achieved for 2009, 744. Total achieved for the two years, 814.
2010: Too busy, birded Choma for the Chaplin's Barbet, Uganda for an expansion on 2 days birding done in 2009 when on a business trip, and Debbie and I visited Peru for another mind blowing visit plus an expansion of my South American bird list (in one country) of 570. Somewhere in the late 600's achieved on the year list in Southern Africa.
2011: THIS IS THE YEAR!
Now I could not do all of this for no reason other than getting a good year list for myself, so I have been in contact with Birdlife South Africa, who under the current leadership of Mark Anderson, are doing truck loads for bird conservation and awareness in our country as well as further into the region. My effort needs to be focussed, and to this extent I have chose the White-bellied Bustard project as the beneficiary of donations received.
The funds will go to Birdlife South Africa, and in particular will be channelled towards the White bellied Bustard project. Barrow’s Korhaan as “our” bird is known has been lumped with White-bellied Bustard, a bird more widely spread in the continent and touching our region in the Kunene River region of Nambia. Our particular bird, Eupodotis senegalensis barrowii is listed as Vulnerable on the Red data list, whereas the broader African population is listed as Least Concern. With all the threats and recent publicity in particular of hunting of Bustards in our region, it is important that we establish as much information as possible on the various populations of these birds. The public’s donations will assist in providing funding for amongst others, DNA analysis and satellite tracking of the birds. The tracking will help establish movement in the breeding and non breeding season, as well as monitor habitat use of pristine vs agricultural land. To give an idea of why this bird is becoming so endangered, as little of 2% of the extremely over exploited grassland biome is formally protected.
In my effort to achieve my target of 800 species, I intend to broaden awareness of birdlife, the bird’s plights, their benefits to the local communities in terms of bringing in eco-tourists, as well as in general the joys of the hobby of bird watching.
Cheers for now, and watch this space.