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Birding: KRUGER

All topics and discussions with reference to birds in all SANParks

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Dabchick
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Re: Birding in KNP

Unread postby Dabchick » Tue Oct 25, 2011 6:57 am

Hi Riaanf31,

See link below for a poster with instructions and birds to look out for....

http://www.sanparks.org/images/groups/b ... fnecks.jpg


Or alternatively, click on "Special Interest Groups" >> "Birders" on the menu above - more info there...

Enjoy the birding :thumbs_up:

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Tips for reliable birding areas up north...?

Unread postby huntsman » Mon Dec 26, 2011 11:29 pm

Hiya!

I'm heading to KNP on a birding trip on New Year's Day, spending 3 nights in Punda, two in Shingwedzi and two in Letaba.

Obviously birding is NOT an exact science, but if you have any special spots you'd like to share, I would be honoured to try them. :k

This will be my first trip into the bush in four years ( financial considerations had to be exorcised! :lol: ) and I am overjoyed to be returning.

I have just found this birding forum, and will spend the next gajillion hours soaking up every post I can!

Have a great week!
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Re: Tips for reliable birding areas up north...?

Unread postby kallis1786 » Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:24 am

Hi, I am not a huge bird fan, but I know the North really well. My 2 best spots to spot birds is Kanniedood Dam and Shingwedzi Camp day visitors area. By the way there are 4 cheetahs roaming around the Mphongolo loop, there has been 4 sighitings in the past 4 days so be on the LOOKOUT

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Re: Tips for reliable birding areas up north...?

Unread postby JenB » Tue Dec 27, 2011 4:33 am

Hi huntsman,

Warm welcome to the forum! :D

You have to visit the Pafuri picnic spot! The attendants name is Frank, he is a birder of note and will take great pleasure in showing you around. I know of occasions on which he pointed out rare birds to visitors, including pels.

Have a wonderful trip and Stiffnecks greetings to Frank when you visit please? :)

We are looking forward to you spending the next gajillion hours here! :thumbs_up:
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Re: Tips for reliable birding areas up north...?

Unread postby Crested Val » Tue Dec 27, 2011 7:21 am

JenB wrote:Hi huntsman,

Warm welcome to the forum! :D

You have to visit the Pafuri picnic spot! The attendants name is Frank, he is a birder of note and will take great pleasure in showing you around. I know of occasions on which he pointed out rare birds to visitors, including pels.

Have a wonderful trip and Stiffnecks greetings to Frank when you visit please? :)

We are looking forward to you spending the next gajillion hours here! :thumbs_up:



Jen is quite right.........Pafuri Picnic Spot is a must!!

We went there just recently and spent some quality time with Frank.............I saw 5 lifers in an hour!!!

Letaba camp is also very good for birding!

Hope you have a wonderful time!! :thumbs_up:
Thinking of my beloved South Africa every day.

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Re: Tips for reliable birding areas up north...?

Unread postby huntsman » Tue Dec 27, 2011 11:06 am

I am sooooooo excited!

Indecently so, since I'm 51, but what the heck?! If you can't get thrilled planning a trip to the Kruger then it's time to switch out the lights... :big_eyes: :D :D

I'm really pleased to have posed this question, because I had not planned to visit Pafuri at all...! :slap: :slap: Seems this might well be the highlight of my trip, so thank you very much. Thanks also for the welcome, Jen - I will certainly carry your blessings to Frank...will he know you as Jen B?

Cheetahs as a bonus...? YES PLEASE!
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Re: Tips for reliable birding areas up north...?

Unread postby Meandering Mouse » Tue Dec 27, 2011 11:34 am

Huntsman, I do hope that we see a lot more of you. :thumbs_up:

Pafuri is wonderful. Frank is a Kruger gem.

The hide a Punda has also delivered great raptor sightings. I once saw a Gaint Eagle Owl have a really great supper. I also watched the rather macarbe Marabou storks doing their mating ritual.
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Re: Tips for reliable birding areas up north...?

Unread postby WildThing » Tue Dec 27, 2011 1:39 pm

No 1 spot is Pafuri. Both roads on either side of the bridge are excellent for birding.
As MM said the hide in the camping area of Punda is also very good. Also check to the right of the hide where the overflow water from the camp comes out - lots of smaller birds there. And up at the main braai area (in front of the huts) just over the wall above the swimming pool is a bird bath where you will see plenty of waxbills, etc.

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Re:

Unread postby huntsman » Tue Dec 27, 2011 7:00 pm

francoisd wrote:I’m going to post this information here although it is by no means a Kruger only tip on birding. On SABirdNet a couple of people mentioned that they have problems with identifying waders (me included) and from the responses thus far this one by Trevor Hardaker, in my opinion, is very helpful. Surely not only for waders as these principals can be applied to and group of similar looking birds. I hope that you will also find it of help in your birding. It is quiet a long post, but worth it IMHO
----------------------------

Perhaps the problem that many people have with identifying difficult groups of birds is more fundamental than what as actually already been suggested. I agree with many of the points already raised about what to look for in terms of diagnostic features, etc., but I think we have to take a further step back to look at what is potentially the real problem.

Over the years, I have watched the way many different people make their approach to birdwatching. I am not suggesting that there is only one correct way to bird, but in my humble opinion, there are certain fundamental errors that are being made.

The primary problem I have experienced is that people try to obtain an exact match with the bird they are watching and the illustration in their field guide - almost like playing the card game "Snap!". Countless descriptions in rarity submissions I have seen have contained the sentence "The bird looked exactly like the illustration in the field guide".

The field guides serve only as an aide to identification. There is no way they could possibly cover every eventuality. Waders, for example, have a number of different plumages, varying from juvenile, through 1st year plumages to adults which have a summer (breeding) plumage and a winter
(non-breeding) plumage, also known as basic and alternate plumages by some.
So, if your bird is in an intermediate phase between plumages, you are not going to get an exact match in the field guide.

One almost needs to go through an apprenticeship for birding to learn what to do. This may sound derogatory to some, but it is not meant to be. Look around you and watch what other birders are doing when they look at a bird.
This may assist you in developing your own skills and will teach you how to look at a bird.

When you are faced with a small bird at some wetland feeding along the muddy edges, what should you do? Its really down to basics...first quickly look at the habitat and the bird's habits. From that, you can very quickly establish that it is a wader of some sort. Then, get a feel for the size. Compare it to something you know well e.g it is about the size of a sparrow or a weaver or whatever. By getting a feel for the size, you have already narrowed down the possibilities.

Let's assume our bird is sparrow sized. That means we can cut out all the larger waders like Greenshanks, Godwits, Curlews, Whimbrels, large plovers and the larger sandpipers. So, we are really left with the small sandpipers and stints and sanderling.

Next, we quickly look at the bill length and compare it to the head. Is the bill the same length as the head roughly, or is it noticeably shorter or longer. In our case, the bill is roughly the same length as the head.
Immediately, we eliminate all the small plovers who's bills are much shorter than the heads and we also cut out others like Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Broad-billed Sandpiper, etc. who's bills are obviously longer than the head.

Based on our local field guides, we have now cut down the possibilities to about 8 or 9 species. A quick glance at the bare parts colouration reveals that our bird has dark legs and a wholly dark bill. Immediately, we eliminate a few more and are down to 5 possibles.

The 5 are Sanderling, Little and Red-necked Stint and White-rumped and Baird's Sandpiper. These are all small waders with dark bare parts. So, we've now got to look a bit more closely at the bird and see further details.

Next we try and ascertain the age and plumage of the bird and whether it is moult or not. Lets assume the bird is in fresh winter plumage without any moult.

Looking more closely at the bird, we can see that the wings don't project hugely beyond the tail when they are folded. We quickly eliminate White-rumped and Bairds by doing this and are down to 3 possibles.

In fact, the projection of the wings beyond the tail is pretty non-existent, so it probably should eliminate Sanderling as well, but we quickly check the overall plumage of the bird and find that it is not particularly pale and going back to size, Sanderling is probably just a little too big to be compared to a Sparrow. So, another possibility eliminated.

Down to the 2 stints - We now have to start looking very carefully at the bird. What is the leg length and what is the tibia/tarsus ratio like? What does the bill really look like? Is it wide at the base? Does the tip look pointed or blunt? What does the plumage actually look like? Are the feathers uniformly coloured or do they have darker centres and paler fringes? Are the pale fringes white or are they a buff colour? You really have to pull the bird apart feather by feather.(figuratively speaking of course!!!)

Once you have satisfied yourself with all of the above points, you should have no problem putting a name to a bird. Obviously, taking field notes is extremely useful (especially before consulting a field guide) and in today's modern digital age, a few photos through your telescope may just help you to clinch the ID as well.

Needless to say, having the correct literature available is invaluable. I have a travelling library that is permanently in my car while I am out birding. Besides containing the normal local field guides, it also, amongst others, has a copy of the following books in it:

Collin's Bird Guide to the birds of Britain and Europe by Mullarney, Svensson, Zetterstrom and Grant
- arguably one of the best field guides in the world and having many overlaps with species in SA including great detail on the waders.

Shorebirds - An Identification Guide
by Hayman, Marchant and Prater
- an illustrated guide to all the waders of the world giving more detail on identification pitfalls and plumage variations than any field guide.

Photographic guide to Waders of the World by Rosair and Cottridge
- many great photos of various plumages of all species and often a useful added reference in the field.

Finally, the comment that time in the field is a big plus is very true. Not only does it improve your knowledge of various species, but it actually serves to hone your basic birding skills which is imperative in assisting you to making identifications.

Sorry for all the waffle. Needless to say, waders are one of my favourite groups of birds and I could go on for ever, but rather not! I'm now off to go and find some waders to look at......

Kind Regards
Trevor


Superb read and great advice which is well worth printing out IMHO....

Thank you!
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Re: Tips for reliable birding areas up north...?

Unread postby DinkyBird » Tue Dec 27, 2011 8:38 pm

:yaya: huntsman!

I found the river drive at Shingwedzi to be the best birding drive of our last trip (Nov 2011). Drive all the way along the river to Kanniedood Dam and then still further on as the road continues alongside the river. A must from me.
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Re: Tips for reliable birding areas up north...?

Unread postby okie » Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:11 pm

Huntsman , welcome to the forum :thumbs_up:

The north is the magic corner of Kruger , and Pafuri is the paradise within paradise . A very early morning drive along Mahonie loop ( from Punda ) will give you lots and lots of birds . Then Pafuri picnic spot , and the drive along the Levubu river to Crooks corner with even more birds is real magic . Watch out for crested guinea fowl , colourful bee-eaters , and a host of other birds , too numerous to mention .

Go and enjoy , and be spoilt forever :tongue:
Tread softly , and let your departure not be spoiled by the damage of your arrival

Next :
3 - 6 Sept 2013 - Punda.
7 - 10 Sept 2013 -Shingwedzi .
11 - 13 Sept 2013 - Balule .
14 - 17 Sept 2013 - Satara .

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Re: Tips for reliable birding areas up north...?

Unread postby huntsman » Wed Dec 28, 2011 10:21 am

Hi DinkyBird and okie -

Only four more sleeps and I will be wending my -very slow- way from JoBurg to take advantage of your suggestions. Many thanks!

I will be totally alone, so I can focus exclusively on seeing what the park has to share, rather than spending much of the day doing the - necessary - things you have to do when you have children. If I want to spend all day in a hot car, there's no one to complain.....Yippeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!! :thumbs_up:

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Re: Tips for reliable birding areas up north...?

Unread postby DinkyBird » Wed Dec 28, 2011 10:56 am

Safe travels huntsman, and do savour every second of your trip! And you have to bring us back many pics, and stories :naughty:
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Re: Tips for reliable birding areas up north...?

Unread postby huntsman » Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:37 am

Thanks DinkyBird -

Unfortunately I don't have an electronic camera, and my equipment is all pre-rindepest so my pics will be on film, not digital...

Note to self: Move into this century...

:redface: :redface:
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Re: Tips for reliable birding areas up north...?

Unread postby deefstes » Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:52 pm

So huntsman, how did it go?

I only stumbled upon this thread now and would've liked to add a few tips of my own as I love the extreme north of KNP and I love birding. Too late for that now but at least we can still hear from you on how your trip went.
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