Skip to content

SANParks.org Forums

View unanswered posts | View active topics






Post new topic Reply to topic  Page 12 of 23
 [ 340 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 ... 23  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 2:08 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2006 12:44 pm
Posts: 114
Location: Out of my mind !!
Johan and the "Bashers" will give their accounts from a guest point of view but here is an insight into what goes on behind the scenes of a typical Balule Bash - for those of you who don't know what the Honorary Rangers are all about.

Bookings are made for the event 11 months in advance as that is the only way that we can book all six huts at the same time. Because Balule is so popular, we get up extra early to make sure we are first in the queue to book the accommodation as soon as it becomes available. The HRs then meet to decide the budgets and the price for the event (always based on eight people filling the camp). We check who is available to host each booking and we then go about the business of finding guests to fill the spots. As a new region we don’t have a wide database and are extremely grateful to our “regulars” who support us on an annual basis – JvR being one of them.

Closer to the time, we arrange the hire of the vehicle and secure the services of freelance guides. The honorary rangers are volunteers and give their time free of charge, which helps a lot to keep costs down. All profit from this fundraiser is ploughed back into conservation through the relevant SANParks channels.

A few days before the events - we shop! Trolleys get loaded to overflowing and it takes a good few hours to purchase the supplies, unload them and then repack into containers bound for Balule. Last minute shopping is done in Phalaborwa - we know our way around there quite well now, even where to find the best parking! Some of you may know that Balule has three gas fridges, two gas rings and two kettles – and that’s it! All crockery, cutlery, pots, pans, tablecloths, cooler boxes etc. is therefore brought in from our homes in Gauteng.

This year we did three events (JvR’s group was No.3). The first weekend hosts left two boxes at Balule for our use, while our second weekend co-host took the Weber, charcoal, wood, crockery crate and a few other odds and ends. Despite that, this is what our vehicle looked like – with just one bag for our clothes and a small space for camera and binocs.

In back of bakkie, note the 25l sponsored water (very heavy!).

Image

On back seat was a "Baobab" which kept us awake by pricking us all the time

Image

_________________
.....if you always do what you've always done,
you'll always get what you always got.....


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 2:38 pm 
Offline
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
User avatar
Award: Sighting of the Year - Birds (2013)
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:33 pm
Posts: 2259
Location: I'm the patty in Jam Street
Award: Birder of the Year (2012)
Scorpy!!!

:clap: :clap: :clap:

Huge honour having you post here, my friend. :thumbs_up:

Thank you so much for the sneak view behind the "curtains". From my many wonderful times spent in your capable hands I know how much effort and hard work goes into hosting such events. It is just awesome for you to share the behind-the-scenes story. I hope this was just a taste of the story still to come... :whistle:

Clever idea, that boabab :lol: (Red Bull works for me) :twisted:

"Idylic"... good and very apt word to describe the Bash experience, Trrp-trrrrrrrr!

Brenden, I think at the end of the trip report, we can list the specials. In the meantime I will highlight them as we go along with the account.

Thanks for your notes of appreciation barryels, addictedToBirds and yoda. Yoda, you should dust off those bird guides...

The Balule Bash List started from scratch at 14:00. In Olifants Camp we recorded red-winged starling, yellow-billed kite, yellow-billed hornbill, laughing dove. A rattling cisticola on route to the S92 punctuated an uneventful stretch. All the little drainage lines we crossed were running and stopping at each quickly added sightings…Grey heron, pied kingfisher, orange-breasted bush-shrike, Egyptian goose, Malachite kingfisher, three-banded plover and African pied wagtail all graced the first water crossing. In the surrounding habitat we got Southern black tit, golden-breasted bunting and a Sabota Lark mimicking allsorts… Where the S92 gets close to the Olifants River for the first time, we recorded a bateleur overhead, Southern masked-weaver male bird working away feverously at building a nest and yellow-billed and saddle-billed storks on the river. Scanning the wide expanse of shallow flowing water, we also got blacksmith lapwing and great egret. On the banks we recorded a single African pipit.

Crawling along the river bank the ticks flowed steadily: lilac-breasted roller in the trees, Wood sandpiper, common greenshank and reed cormorant spotted on the river through a gap in the bank covering vegetation. At this stage we encountered a little bit of a bird party, more disjointed than I’m used to, but contributing to the list at a quick rate: a “mosque” swallow turned into a pair of red-breasted swallows when they banked so that good light fell on them. A white-browed scrub-robin called from its concealed perch and it took some work to pinpoint the bird. Red-billed and yellow-billed oxpeckers shared a giraffe. I tried like mad to get a shot of both species on the longneck, but none came out OK. It is rather infrequent that one gets to see both species of oxpecker on a single host.

Image

Blue waxbill and long-billed crombec often join bird parties, and this was no exception. A Cape glossy starling completed the party guest list.

The very next moment someone shouted “Osprey!” Wow! Good bird for Kruger! For me this was the third trip tick added in the first hour of the Bash! Unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the vehicle and I failed to get shots. I know some of the other bashers were successful and on playback we could see that the bird was carrying some type of fish in its talons.

Where the S92 becomes S91, we met a small traffic jam. Some type of kill was lying just out of sight below the river bank. White-backed and hooded vultures hunched in the trees throwing long shadows over the lions that we could just make out; the flick of an ear, the swish of a tail…

In the past it would have been possible to turn onto the Balule low water bridge, a favourite vantage point, but the road that had been washed away during the floods earlier this year, has not been repaired. Continuing on to the Olifants Satara Road, we logged white-fronted bee-eater, African fish-eagle, black-backed puffback and grey go-away-bird. The road took us through a sparsely covered area and all of a sudden lark-like buntings were all around. Apart from being a trip tick, it is also a first for my KNP list! A red-crested korhaan applauded as we passed, turning onto the tar road. The bridge only yielded little swifts. Just on the other side of the bridge, there is a (no go) service road that we took, one of our favourite stretches on the way to Balule. Again it did not disappoint: white-throated robin-chat, African paradise flycatcher, chinspot batis, tawny flanked-prinia, emerald-spotted wood-dove, and Levaillant’s cuckoo. While we focused on a raptor overhead, (ID’d as a white-headed vulture) Tobie spotted a Temminck’s courser in the floodplain thinly covered with grass and shrub, another KNP special and trip tick. Flushing a Namaqua dove from the road, we now reached the opposite side of the river to where we first found the carcass. Scanning the opposite bank a good 800m distant, we saw what appeared to be a dead hippo, probably killed in a territorial dispute.

Our bird sightings continued with another trip tick: grey-rumped swallow were patrolling over the nearside bank. House sparrow, white-bellied sunbird, common waxbill, red-billed firefinch and giant kingfisher were noted along the Ngotso River. Brenden with his keen ears picked up the high-pitched song of burnt-necked eremomela and, knowing how keenly they react to their call, we had three of them buzzing around the vehicle in half an eremomela syllable!

We had arrived at Balule. The gate that is kept closed were opened for us and we drove through to sort out baggage and settle in to our huts.

The two-hour drive produced 60 birds of which six can be listed as specials!

_________________
664 Latest lifer: Ovambo sparrowhawk


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 9:22 pm 
Offline
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2005 4:43 pm
Posts: 3594
Location: The planning is on again.....
Still hooked here on your report, Johan :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Never saw yellow or red-billed oxpecker so far together :big_eyes:


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 29, 2013 7:10 am 
Offline
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2012 4:57 pm
Posts: 6828
Location: 2012 km..... to Paradise
FAC Member (2013)
Johan van Rensburg wrote:
The two-hour drive produced 60 birds of which six can be listed as specials!


:big_eyes: Awesome!!! :clap: :clap: What a :great: start.

_________________
“Nature is a volume of which God is the author.” ~ William Harvey

Kruger May/June 2014
Mokala June 2014


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 29, 2013 5:21 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Nov 29, 2013 12:37 pm
Posts: 4
Location: Standerton
Fortunately I was on the right side and managed to get a decent shot ofthe osprey :D
Image
This was my 3rd Balule Bash and I must agree with Brenden that it is right up there with
the best birding the KNP has to offer.
I am really enjoying your report Johan, I will try and add were i can but jou dont leave
much room for improvement!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 30, 2013 6:16 am 
Offline
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
User avatar
Award: Sighting of the Year - Birds (2013)
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:33 pm
Posts: 2259
Location: I'm the patty in Jam Street
Award: Birder of the Year (2012)
Mr T!

It is a great privilege to have you onboard and posting your first post here. And what a shot it is too! :clap: :clap: :clap:

@ Pumbaa: Further north one sees them together on large buffalo herds, but a sighting on the same animal is a rare photo opportunity that I have not managed to clinch as yet.

At 17:00 we were ready for more... a sunset drive around Balule, including a stop on the main bridge for sundowners started our bird list growing again. In camp we recorded Natal spurfowl and the high-pitched chattering at the gate helped us to pin-point a green-backed camaroptera. Helmeted guineafowl and Swainson’s spurfowl are usually easy to find in the cooler evenings and they were plentiful. Some of the more common species made their way on to the list: fork-tailed drongo, Cape turtle-dove, southern grey-headed sparrow, magpie shrike and arrow-marked babbler.

A southern white-crowned shrike marked the turn onto the S89, the Ngotso weir Road. At the first crossing over the Ngotso River we added water thickknee and we had the first of many sightings of the iconic woodland kingfisher… What would summer be without the laugh of this brilliantly coloured intra-African migrant?

Turning onto the Olifants Satara tar road, this endearing sight (did I say “endearing” about a hyena? :lol: ) kept us captivated and thoroughly entertained.

Image

We soon had the bridge over the Olifants River all to ourselves. The task of trying to catch sight of squacco heron as they flew to their hunting grounds for the night were interrupted when T bird spotted a pair of white-backed night-herons alighting directly underneath us on a sandbank. The light was still good enough for good views through the binoculars, but pictures were out of the question. A Verreaux’s eagle-owl landed close by to slake its thirst after enduring a scorcher in its day-time hide-out.

During the drive back to camp we caught a few nighjars in the spotlights, but none would allow sightings from which one could make an ID. The only bird we could add was a pearl-spotted owlet, bring our total to 75.

_________________
664 Latest lifer: Ovambo sparrowhawk


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 30, 2013 8:54 am 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:46 am
Posts: 1930
Location: Pretoria North
Hallo Johan and the other Balule Birdies!

Don't know how I missed this thread! It took me two days, but I read it all right from the beginning! I could just picture it all in my mind and had great fun enjoying every moment and sighting you guys have had!

Now the big question: who do I have to know, what do I have to do to ever be able to join in this great adventure in the future?

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!

Rhino poached 2013 - 951, 2012 - 668, 2011 - 448, 2010 - 333, 2009 - 122, 2008 - 83.
Total 2600!


Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!

Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 30, 2013 11:48 am 
Offline
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2012 4:57 pm
Posts: 6828
Location: 2012 km..... to Paradise
FAC Member (2013)
Johan van Rensburg wrote:
A southern white-crowned shrike marked the turn onto the S89, the Ngotso weir Road. At the first crossing over the Ngotso River we added water thickknee and we had the first of many sightings of the iconic woodland kingfisher… What would summer be without the laugh of this brilliantly coloured intra-African migrant?

:hmz: "Pretty quiet and a bit boring... me thinks." :lol: :wink:

Great sightings and total is rising nicely. :thumbs_up:

_________________
“Nature is a volume of which God is the author.” ~ William Harvey

Kruger May/June 2014
Mokala June 2014


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 30, 2013 12:46 pm 
Offline
Forum Assistant
Forum Assistant
User avatar

Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2007 6:39 am
Posts: 6921
Location: Pretoria SA
FAC Member (2012)
Thank you for insight into what goes on behind the scenes of a typical Balule Bash Scorpy! Clearly no easy task! :clap: :clap:

Welcome to the Forums T Bird! Great shot of the Osprey! So glad you were on the right side of the vehicle! :clap: :clap:

The Hyena mom feeding the babies is indeed an endearing sight Johan! :dance: :dance:

_________________
"Happiness, I have discovered, is nearly always a rebound from hard work." - David Grayson


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 8:16 am 
Offline
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
User avatar
Award: Sighting of the Year - Birds (2013)
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:33 pm
Posts: 2259
Location: I'm the patty in Jam Street
Award: Birder of the Year (2012)
Welcome to reliving the Bash with us, Super Mongoose. Send me a PM with your email addy so that I can add you to the database. When next we organise a SANParks birding event, you’ll get to hear of it at the initial announcement, with equal opportunity to join such adventure.

Trrp-trrrrrrrr wrote:
Johan van Rensburg wrote:
What would summer be without the laugh of this brilliantly coloured intra-African migrant?

:hmz: "Pretty quiet and a bit boring... me thinks." :lol: :wink:


:lol: :lol: :lol:

That was a rhetorical question, Trrp-trrrrrrrr, but I cannot agree more with your answer! :thumbs_up:

I also agree with Hilda and hold thumbs for more from scorpy and T bird. I am keenly awaiting some contributions from the other Bashers as well.

And right here and now is where an enhancement will be very handy…

The HRs had Welcome to the Bash cocktails set out invitingly. The dining table was laid beneath the large tree in the centre of the camp, lit up with hundreds of little blue-white lights. The paper bag candles that have become a trademark at the Balule Bash lined the important walkways, accentuating the surreal tranquility that is Balule.

My camera flash refused to pop up and I have no record to show of the fruits of their labours… :redface: :redface: :redface:

Anyhow, let me not dwell on a failure… but let us hope for an enterprising basher to safe the day…

We had a short discussion about the itinerary for the next day. The yellow wagtail that Brenden saw at the Mooiplaas windmill on route to the Balule Bash became the focus of our plans for the next day. Alarm clocks were set for 03:30 so that we could be out the gate by 04:00. We tucked into the scrumptious meal, chattering excitedly about the new day’s prospects.

_________________
664 Latest lifer: Ovambo sparrowhawk


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:03 am 
Offline
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
User avatar
Award: Sighting of the Year - Birds (2013)
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:33 pm
Posts: 2259
Location: I'm the patty in Jam Street
Award: Birder of the Year (2012)
With daybreak but a vague promise on the eastern horizon, we high-fived Pooh Bear from the vehicle as we drove out the camp gate. It would be an hour later before there was sufficient light for us to start adding to the Bash list: wattled starling, red-billed quelea, crested francolin and Marabou stork we got at the Nhlanganini crossing just south of the bridge over the Letaba River. The stretch of the Mopani Letaba Road running along the bank of the river produced Hadeda, palm-swift and white-rumped swift and stunning views of a grey-headed kingfisher. On the other side of the road strutted a Kori Bustard.

Image

The bridge over the Letaba River was abuzz with thousands of swallows and swifts, an unbelievable number that seemed to be grey-rumped swallows, a species of which I do not have any pictures. In flight these rapid movers were tough to shoot, but I tried. Out of about fifty attempts, none turned out to be grey-rumped swallows, but rather juvenile common house martins…

Image

…or little swifts…

Image

Brenden asked me what I made of a wader below us on the sandbanks.

Image

I initially thought Kittlitz’s plover but I quickly changed my mind on closer inspection… the bird was another KNP special: white-fronted plover.

The ticks continued to flow: black-winged stilt, green-backed heron, common sandpiper and African jacana with a calling dideric cuckoo flying over.

We continued listing birds as we continued northward: crowned lapwing, black-bellied bustard, tawny eagle and a rufous napped lark typically calling from a prominent perch. Red-billed buffalo-weaver, southern black flycatcher, grey hornbill and European bee-eater were the last birds on the tar road before we turned onto the access road to the Mooiplaas windmill.

_________________
664 Latest lifer: Ovambo sparrowhawk


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 2:28 pm 
Offline
Forum Assistant
Forum Assistant
User avatar

Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2007 6:39 am
Posts: 6921
Location: Pretoria SA
FAC Member (2012)
Wow! This sounds wonderful Johan! The ticks just rolled in! Beautiful White-fronted Plover! :clap: :clap:

_________________
"Happiness, I have discovered, is nearly always a rebound from hard work." - David Grayson


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 11:47 pm 
Offline
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2005 4:43 pm
Posts: 3594
Location: The planning is on again.....
Thanks so much for more stunning birdies, Johan,

but also love your hyena shot :thumbs_up:


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 5:44 am 
Offline
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 8:47 pm
Posts: 10580
Location: meandering between senility and menopause
FAC Member (2013)
I have been without power for a while and doing catch up.

What a thoroughly enjoyable report. 8) I am really more and more :( that it was not possible to pick up my bags and jump in.

This is not a wonderful picture, but I did manage to get a :cam: of a buffalo with both species of Oxpecker on one host. I took this on the S39.

Image

:popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

_________________
The bird doesn't sing because it has answers, it sings because it has a song.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 6:02 am 
Offline
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2012 4:57 pm
Posts: 6828
Location: 2012 km..... to Paradise
FAC Member (2013)
Wonderful the list is growing... with super sightings. :great:

Thanks for sharing :popcorn:

_________________
“Nature is a volume of which God is the author.” ~ William Harvey

Kruger May/June 2014
Mokala June 2014


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 340 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 ... 23  Next



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group

Webcams Highlights

Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
Submitted by Jurie van Vuuren at 12:26:03 Submitted by Trudie at 17:40:30 Submitted by Trudie at 16:36:57 Submitted by grannyb at 08:50:10