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Atlassing Kruger... on foot!

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa
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Brenden
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Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!

Unread postby Brenden » Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:17 pm

It is great to see these fantastic photographs from our trail. Cant wait for our next outing in March, I got back from trail yesterday and did manage to scout the area we intend on atlasing. The bird life was once again phenomenal, but the water situation will prove to be more challenging.

Just for those interested 'mites', Bububu (the dry river we explored on this trail) is a Tsonga idiophone for the sound of a rumbling river from far away.

Phonda Hills - Tsonga"Phondla" "to appear suddenly" probably because the hills are not visible from far away.

I look forward to your next post Johan.
"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".

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Johan van Rensburg
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Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Sun Feb 26, 2012 2:50 pm

Brenden wrote:I got back from trail yesterday and did manage to scout the area we intend on atlasing. The bird life was once again phenomenal, but the water situation will prove to be more challenging.


OMeGoodness! A MORE challenging water situation! :big_eyes:

:lol: :lol: :lol: I was hoping for a whole series of Phonda windmills!

Thanks for peeking in AND for leaving some spoor, Brenden. In writing these trip reports one loves to get some interaction with readers... Otherwise one gets this lonely feeling that makes you think your posts go into the webz-ether like dust into a black hole! :lol:

It would be nice if those two legal cowboys were to also acknowledge their existence with a well-timed "I object, Your Honour!" ...or something to that effect! :lol: :lol:

With reference to the Phonda windmill; WOW! was that something special. First intel was that this water source would be out of action. So, we were not too up-beat about finding it operational. After the rifles declared the place "safe" we approached the mill, finding it in good nick and producing crystal-clear juice. Any bugs that crawled down the pipe got caught in a clever syphon Breden used over the spout.

From here we followed the Bububu for a kilo and a bit, going east. The birding remained great. On the way back we refilled our water supply and headed back to camp. We closed the day just short of 100 birds on our atlas list.
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Wild Blue Yonder
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Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!

Unread postby Wild Blue Yonder » Sun Feb 26, 2012 3:15 pm

"It would be nice if those two legal cowboys were to also acknowledge their existence with a well-timed "I object, Your Honour!" ...or something to that effect!"

Never fear, Johan. Multiflorum and I have been, like diligent New York City cops, staking out this thread with the customary doughnuts and coffee. When the time is ripe, we'll swoop in for the sting. An excellent commentary thus far, however.


Wild Blue Yonder (Michael)

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Meandering Mouse
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Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!

Unread postby Meandering Mouse » Sun Feb 26, 2012 4:09 pm

Wild Blue Yonder, a very, very warm welcome to you. :D

Johan
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Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!

Unread postby Waterbuck » Sun Feb 26, 2012 5:24 pm

Meandering Mouse!!!! Think you need to post that training programme....perhaps call it "Training for Trials" :D :D :D
Test you knowledge in the Forum Crossword HERE

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Johan van Rensburg
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Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:43 pm

Michael! :dance: You are just in time to help out!

If I remember right, it was on this evening that you entertained us with a story about Karel Andries Koekemoer... (K.A.K. for short) :lol: Wish I could remember more than the side-splitting laughter! :whistle:

BTW, Wild Blue Yonder (Michael), I am absolutely chuffed to have your first SANParks forum post on this thread!

I must mention my bobotie! Best dish of the trip!

We had a rhino visiting the camp just after dark. With a powerful torch, Brenden lit up the confused animal that did a foot-stomping circle before running off.

The night again turned into one of those dark, moonless ones with a crisp, clear sky that allowed us to gaze up at the bit of the universe we could see, mesmerised by the wonder of it. We did not light a campfire on this night. Brenden assured me on the previous evening that the purpose of the fire had all to do with ambiance and nothing with keeping wild animals away. Somehow the dark starlit camp had another magical attraction. Naturally talk amongst us was about nature... about the human race and its role on earth. Brenden sketched the near-symbiotic relationship that the honeyguide has with man, explaining how the honeyguide used to benefit from leading man to a beehive... and then asking the question: "When will the honeyguide quit on us?”

I think we all got it that the question cuts a lot deeper that just our doomed relationship with the honeyguide! To save our relationship with nature, to basically ensure our own species survival on this earth, we as humans must live accountable lives and change from being the Greedy Ape to being an intelligent, caring creature that lives in harmony with nature instead of raping it of its resources.

Again the events of the day had my mind racing and sleep did not come easy… On this night the sounds of the bush seemed closer than on the previous evening. As I listened to nature talk, I recalled a poem I wrote after the magnificent “Duke” died in October of last year as an Ode to the old tusker. It seemed appropriate:

Duke

The draughts of your breath diverted the evening breeze
and the casual flapping of your ears started the whirlwind.
With the rumbling of your belly and your thrilling trumpet
you filled the skies with the stirring sounds of triumph.
You bugled the bold notes, letting the wild harmony ascend
across the vastness of the African savannah until,
insidiously, the strains decayed and melted away,
in a dying, dying diminuendo.

We fondly remember your glory days and those rare moments
when you touched us so deeply with your tolerant imminence.
We recall the last occasion your time-ravished head rested
on those massive pillars of ivory before they snapped!
The loss of those magnificent tusks was your final curtain.
With a standing ovation we bid you farewell, old friend,
and unashamedly we mourn your passing
as we applaud, we clap and we cry.

In your innocence you left no lasting signs in your wake.
Your brushstroke on the canvas of time was compassionate.
May we humans gain that sympathy from your vast shy heart
so that our passing too will leave only the kind mark
of patience and care on this abode we shared.
Let death not be accorded any significance so that we,
as old friends, can expect to continually meet
each other again and again.
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Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!

Unread postby Meandering Mouse » Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:58 pm

Etienne, indeed :lol: :lol:

Duke:

I loved your poem Johan.
These were the last images I took of Duke, a few months before he died. In my gut I knew that I had been given a special gift. I knew that I would never see him again.

Image

Image

Image
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Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!

Unread postby davejenny » Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:02 pm

Brilliant report so far :clap: - and that ode to Duke is fantastic. :thumbs_up: Looking forward to the next installment.

Dave
Too far from the Kruger.... ahh memories of this trip....
Punda Maria - 3-4/11/2011
Pafuri Tented Camp - 5-6/11/2011
Shingwedzi - 7-8/11/2011
Letaba - 9/11/2011
Olifants - 10/11/2011
Satara - 11/11/2011
Skukuza - 12/11/2011
Berg-en-dal - 13-14/11/2011

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Johan van Rensburg
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Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:28 pm

Thanks for those moody pics, MM. They fit in nicely with my frame of mind tonight.

I love it when someone pops in to say "Hi, I enjoy sharing your experience"... :thumbs_up: to Davejenny

Just after 02:00 a tiny waning moon sliver ascended. I was still wrestling with the lumps under my tent and the chunks in my mind. A stiff breeze sprung up, rustling through the trees and getting hold of the loose ends of my tent’s fly cover, causing it to flap noisily. I had to get up to secure the offending bits.

The gust carried a chill and on my return into my tent, I got into my sleeping bag for the first time. I must have drifted off. The next thing I sensed was the nearby whooping of a hyena. Someone in the camp coughed and the hyena ambled off. I checked the time on my PDA (only used for listing birds… :wink: ) It was 04:20. Looking to the east I could discern a hint of the dawn to come. I wasn’t going to miss the dawn chorus on this day!

For those of you ‘mites that do not know about my handicap; I’ve been certified 30% deaf due to industrial NIHL. Most of that injury took place in the frequency range of 4000Hz and higher… right there where those soft-spoken, high-pitched birds do their twittering! It is extremely frustrating for me to bird with people that can hear these sounds. And here I was with a team of which every member had super-keen hearing… :lol: :lol: :lol:

So, I found myself “alone”, so to speak, not having to contend with songs that fall on the deaf bits of my ears. The first bird to announce the dawn emitted a series of low resonating booms… Puzzled I started to check the sounds on my PDA, listening to the Verreaux’s owls first. Nope, not that one. I cupped my hands behind my ears and listened carefully again. Ostrich maybe? Nope! Third time lucky! Southern ground-hornbill! The Robert’s text declares that the ground-hornbill is often the first to announce the breaking of dawn!

Now the birds followed in quick succession. Night birds were calling their farewells to the departing dark and a growing cacophony of calls said hello to the day.

An opening tent zip announced the first camper to join us. My magic hour was over! Time to prepare for another day’s atlassing Kruger on foot…
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Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!

Unread postby JenB » Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:42 pm

Johan, this is such a lovely read! :)
Type faster, post quicker?
:popcorn: :popcorn:
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Johan van Rensburg
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Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:30 pm

JenB wrote:Johan, this is such a lovely read! :)
Type faster, post quicker?
:popcorn: :popcorn:


How about you reading a bit slo-o-o-ower? :twisted:

You know I'm not one of those talented people that can slap a winner together in a jiffy! So, if you want to continue enjoying a "good read", be patient! This is as fast as it gets...

On this second full day in the bush, we were going to work the Bububu on the western end of our camp. There was a bit of grassland and some bare patches where we expected and found some pipits and larks. A herd of buffalo watched our progress with interest.

Image

A Sabota's lark was calling with purpose

Image

The bit of the Bububu that interested us was near where we were initially dropped off and here it consisted of some substantial pools that we expected to hold some water birds. African Hoopoe, Little Bee-eater, Dusky Lark, Water Thick-knee, Green-backed Heron, Yellow-throated Petronia, Black Crake, Orange-breasted Bush-shrike; African Hawk-eagle; White-crested Helmet-shrike; Terrestrial Brownbul and Wahlberg's Eagle are some of the birds we added on this morning.

Image

We flushed a Fiery-necked Nightjar and as it parked itself out in the open we had excellent views. The heat again got to us quite early and we called halt in a shady spot.

Image

We continued to find new birds. A European Nightjar alighted on a branch near where we were resting up and an Eurasian Golden Oriole was seen flitting amongst the tall trees.

It is amazing what one sees when looking at life close-up. While we were trying to escape the heat, I spotted this robber fly with its prey. There are about 500 species of robber flies in Southern Africa. They are voracious predators of other insects which they often catch in flight and then subdue with their powerful legs and robust proboscis.

Image
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Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!

Unread postby MattAxel » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:43 pm

Really enjoying reading these JvR. I really wish I could go on one of these atlasing trips, but I just can't miss varsity :wall:

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Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!

Unread postby Tilandi » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:28 pm

I'm really enjoying your "trip" report Johan. Feels like I'm there with you guys. Thanks ! :lol:
Can't wait for the next post and photo's. :lol:
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Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!

Unread postby joanm456 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:34 am

Wow!!! This is an awesome thread!! If I didn't live in the states I would join you and I'm not a bird person, but do love to hike, which I do often. Your pictures are awesome. I like the buffalo one especially. Your tribute to Duke was beautiful, your a great writer. I would like to have some of them robber flies in the states, they would get rid of a lot of nasty pests. Can't wait for the next bit. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

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Re: Atlassing Kruger... on foot!

Unread postby JenB » Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:44 am

Excellent pics Johan! :) :clap:

'K, just pulling your leg... take your time. Image
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." ~ Anatole France


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