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Marakele Honorary Rangers host unique birding event during October

27 November 2009

During the weekend of 23-25 October the inauguration of the old farm house took place with an exclusive and unique birding event at the Marakele National Park which accommodated a limited number of paying guests.

The Marakele Honorary Rangers have spent months in rehabilitating an old farm house in an area of the Park not normally accessible to tourists, in order to use this as a base for birding, bush camps, tree identification routes, etc.

Situated amongst beautiful indigenous trees in a kloof, the house overlooks a dam where weavers build nests in the reeds, where the African Fish Eagle plies its trade with echoing sounds, Black Crakes investigate the circumference, the Pied Kingfisher has its perch, and the African Black Duck comes home to in the late afternoon.

On the first night peaceful sleep was not allotted to all as a leopard was on the hunt for baboons in the vicinity and the resulting noise was quite disturbing to all who could hear the brawling and the sound of cascading rocks as a result of the pursuit.

On Saturday morning, a kloof trail was followed under the guidance of a local Parks Ranger, whereafter brunch was served. This was followed by a drive to a different and exclusive area of Marakele, but rain intervened and the group had to turn back. An after-dinner drive in good weather compensated for the earlier drive when a Pennant-winged Nightjar (a lifer for most) was flushed.

Instead of the planned Sunday morning walk, the previously planned but abandoned trip of Saturday afternoon to the plateau was repeated, with excellent results. Amongst others, Blue Cranes were ticked off on the way to the restricted mountainous area of Marakele where the view was 360 degrees (ideal for stargazing) with tall grass which surely would house the endangered Grass Owl. (This could form a future night-time search.) Raptors were in abundance. Pans on the plateau housed a number of birds, amongst which were the Great Crested Grebe and – a lifer for some – White-backed Duck.

Sumptuous meals were enjoyed, outing packs were provided, transport and conservation costs were included in the price, and all the guests indicated their thorough enjoyment of the event by declaring they would be returning for the next unique and exclusive Marakele Birding Event!

Where Marakele HRs used to host an annual Birding Event, it now has the means and locale to host more regular Birding – amongst other - Events. It is hoped that in this way more funds could be generated to assist SANParks in its numerous undertakings and that more nature lovers would be given the opportunity to enjoy a resurrecting experience of untamed bush surroundings.