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Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

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Johan van Rensburg
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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:47 am

Trrp-trrrrrrrr wrote: Plan Z.... Swimming in the Olifants?????? Very brave !!!! :whistle:


Fearless and heroic; that is our Bashers! :lol: The reality is that we had two very competent guards watching out for us, Trrp-trrrrrrrr. The location of our swimming pool was cleverly selected too. Very shallow water all around with no cover to allow a sneaky approach from any direction. No, we were safe. :thumbs_up:

hilda wrote: The Limpopo Barleria is definitely not in my illustrated guide.


Trick is going to be to find a good Wild Flower resource, hilda.

Meandering Mouse wrote: Johan, thank you for your very poignant poem. It is touching.


It made me feel better, putting my frustrations to paper, MM. There is not much that we can do but support the endeavour to halt Rhino poaching.

Meandering Mouse wrote: It looks such an adventure.


:thumbs_up:

jaytea wrote:Great report! Great birds! Great photos!
We were in KNP at the same time if only I'd known - next time we shall have to join in!!! It looks like so much fun :thumbs_up:


We’d love to have a Canadian onboard, jaytea. Send me your email addy so that I can include you in future trip notifications…

naomi c,
Super Mongoose has it spot-on wrote: And some lucky "fishes" you are to take a swim in the Olifants, not many people can claim that to fame!


The ooms are Olifants celebs! :lol:

The water of our special pond left us refreshed and went a long way to iron out any sad wrinkles. Our swim left another legacy: river sand in every nook and cranny! Shaking, jumping, scratching… nothing but a shower would get rid of that little gift from the Olifants… But it is all good - at the end of the day in the bush, you should smell like dirt!

We mounted our ride and started crawling back to the famous Olifants River View Point. We got brief but good views of a great spotted cuckoo. It was the last bird that we would add to our Bash list on this day. We continued our efforts along the Olifants to see if we could not get my KNP bogey bird: Cape wagtail, but to no avail.

On the one side the sun was setting over our adventure…

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…while a full moon rose on the opposite side…

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There is therapeutic beauty in the repeated refrains of nature - the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.
Last edited by Johan van Rensburg on Tue Dec 10, 2013 12:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
692 Latest lifers: Manx shearwater, Antarctic prion, Northern giant petrel, Northern royal albatross, Eurasian oystercatcher, Gull-billed tern, Black-bellied storm petrel, European storm petrel, Sooty falcon

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Johan van Rensburg
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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Tue Dec 10, 2013 3:10 pm

Albert wrote:Been following this thread; wonderful stuff Johan!

One day when I'm all grown up (birding-wise) I'm doing a bash.... :D


Welcome to this thread, Albert, albeit a bit late. We are unfortunately nearing the end of this TR. Remember: there is no need for you to wait until you are an expert birder. The Bash is just an alternative means of learning about and enjoying what the bush has to offer. You get closer to nature than most other SANParks activities allow you. Of all the things I have done in KNP, only the Mpongolo trail provides a tighter hug by Ma Nature…


Trrp-trrrrrrrr, Ladybirder, naomi c, thanks for the kind accolades

hilda wrote:I'll try to get hold of Dr John Manning's Wild Flower Photoguide on Thursday. He is an expert. :thumbs_up:


Tell me if its good…

Tilandi wrote: You have now left me for with a great longing to also experience the bush as you did ... :(


Eish! That set of wheels you depend on for locomotion is just not made for a Bash, Tilandi. You’ll have to make do with my house that tries so hard to be haunted... :redface: :redface:

Before I can finish up the final day, I must post this shot of the icon of the African bush sunning itself in the setting sun.

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The final dinner was again set under that large tree in the centre of the Camp. I was hoping for a Basher to have posted a picture or two of these cheerful events, but nothing yet…
692 Latest lifers: Manx shearwater, Antarctic prion, Northern giant petrel, Northern royal albatross, Eurasian oystercatcher, Gull-billed tern, Black-bellied storm petrel, European storm petrel, Sooty falcon

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Pooh Bear » Tue Dec 10, 2013 4:01 pm

On their final full day, the Bashers were served a simple lunch of assorted cold foods accompanied by chunks of Scorpy’s legendary home made bread. We then packed up their basket of goodies for their final sundowner drive, waved them on their way (the customary high five at the gate) and started preparing for our “gala dinner”. On the weekend before, the guests were served shrimp & litchi cocktail for starters and tiramisu for dessert, but this group of Bashers had already sampled those dishes at prior events, so Clive made a cheesy mushroom starter instead (sorry T-bird!). This was followed by Scorpy’s roast chicken and roast pork with a team effort of fresh veggies and sautéed potatoes – we even had apple sauce and gravy! For dessert we served decadent trifle which was washed down with port and we rounded off the meal with After 8’s.

The table was decorated simply – less is more! Black tablecloths, Midrand region’s Kruger Memories Placemats (see the HR thread on this forum), cream serviettes and a long row of fairy lights twisting down the length of the table.

What more does one need – good food, good weather and great company.....

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Wed Dec 11, 2013 6:34 am

Pooh Bear wrote: The table was decorated simply – less is more! Black tablecloths, Midrand region’s Kruger Memories Placemats (see the HR thread on this forum), cream serviettes and a long row of fairy lights twisting down the length of the table.

What more does one need – good food, good weather and great company.....


Adorning the table dressed in black with fairy lights was a stroke of genius! The return to camp gave me a sense of fantasy… we were in an enchanted Balule!

At Balule you don’t have to close your eyes to stare into the dark. There are many dark corners to find enchantment. Now, back home, when you close your eyes, Balule floods back.

Thanks for those memories, Clive, scorpy and Pooh Bear. You made is so easy for us to notice things that matter… It is those memories that constitute the glue that keeps us together.

The same goes for our super-guide, Brenden. Away from camp his guidance from planned sighting to contrived surprise ensured that constantly we were kids in nature’s Candy Store.

arks wrote: And I also love the Olifants Ooms. I might not have gone in swimming, but I'd definitely jump at the chance to go wading there at your special spot 8)


Wading? :lol: Those rocks were super-smooth, arks, and there was only one way of enjoying the “wading”… flat on your back!

Pumbaa, hilda and barryels, you must enjoy the last page or so as we wrap up this Bash. Thank you and all the other ‘mites that left traces of their presence on this virtual reality revisit to Balule.
692 Latest lifers: Manx shearwater, Antarctic prion, Northern giant petrel, Northern royal albatross, Eurasian oystercatcher, Gull-billed tern, Black-bellied storm petrel, European storm petrel, Sooty falcon

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Waterbuck » Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:51 am

With me still catching up on the TR..........herewith a peace-offering for my late arrival to add to the Balule Bash stories............not the best pic, but I got lucky and that stiff-neck cooperated as we drove from Olifants when the Bash kicked off. Got the two species of oxy's.
Image

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Waterbuck » Wed Dec 11, 2013 2:13 pm

I've just done the box-set :roll: : read the whole TR from the start. Being a slow reader, it took me a while. Well.......let me start by saying a big thank you to JvR for recording the trip. The last few weeks after the trip have been crazy and my good memories of trip were already stuck in the back of my mind. JvR has captured the whole trip so vividly that I enjoyed every moment of reading. It bought back and freshened crisp memories of the trip.
I am hoping one or two of you will stick around as I want to post the pics of the table that Pooh Bear prepared for us, I want to tell you more about one of my lifers (the Jackelberry Cuckoo :dance: :dance: ) and although JvR has told the drama of the warthog, there was another heart stopping moment later that same morning...........I am leaving for Marakele in the morning (just 2 nights), so I will post some of this today and the rest over the weekend..........
Johan - sorry again for only chipping in to the TR now....but the bits I could add would not have improved on the masterful manner in which you narrated the trip :redface:

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Waterbuck » Wed Dec 11, 2013 2:49 pm

On the first afternoon of the Bash I was also lucky to be on the right side of the vehicle and got some shots of the Osprey. Although birds like the Pel's and others stole the trip, this was a special sighting and certainly the first chance I got a photographing this species in flight.........albeit that the pics are not great. Being a bit of a fishy guy, I can confirm that the fish in its talons is a Mozambique Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus)
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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Waterbuck » Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:05 pm

Sorry for the large format pics for the Osprey - Photobucket seems to have a life and a will of its own!!
Johan van Rensburg wrote: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!

Here is that eremomela from the TR (sorry about the twig)........who on earth ever gave these birds that name??????
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.....and the great table, under the stars, that waited for us on the first night in Balule. Pooh Bear - you are a wizard when it comes to making people feel special. More pictures (also of Pooh in her African dress) coming soon :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :thumbs_up: Image

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Waterbuck » Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:17 am

Johan van Rensburg wrote:We arrived at the Tihongonyeni waterhole witnessing quite an array of drama unfolding… Behind the water reservoir a small pride of lion was hiding in the shade, presumably hoping for inattentive game to chance by. And the traffic to the waterhole was busy with hartebeest, zebra and wildebeest coming in to water from all directions. The wind was not in the lions favour, though, carrying the alarming smell of the big cats to potential prey.

We noticed a large herd of eland approaching. The herd had a handsome bull in charge, blue from age. We counted 19 adults and 11 calves.

This was another very special sighting for KNP. It has been yonks since I last saw eland in Kruger, never mind a mix of calves and grown animals and that herd bull! What a magnificent leader… They also quickly picked up on the warning signs and slaked their thirst at the water furthest from impending danger.
JvR wrote about the lions at Tihongonyeni - here is one of them studying the passing game. And another pic of that magnificent Eland Bull and his large family. I see some non-birders have expressed concern about their birding skills in a trip like the Balule Bash.......yes, sure we did a lot of birding, but there is no need to be an avid birder to enjoy these special sightings.

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Waterbuck » Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:36 am

........sorry for re-posting, but I have to add another pic or two of that fair Roman. He would have challenged Brutus :roll: - look carefully and you'll see those fangs on the second pic (by the way, JvR was holding the stick - no harm came to Roman, but I could see the fear in JvR eyes :lol: )
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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Waterbuck » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:26 am

......with my limited word skills, I know there is little hope in me conveying the electrical anticipation that flooded through the Bash group when we set off for the Pel's Fishing Owl. I cannot recall what the status of the Pel's was for the other group members, but for me it was due to be a lifer.......if we found it.

The Balule Bash is synonymous with the Pel's and although there is no guarantee that one will see the bird, chances are good - secretly the excitement would probably have seen me trade any number of creature comforts to find the bird :pray:

We were briefed to keep as quite as possible when we entered the bed of the Ngotso. Although it was still hot, the well shaded river was cool, eerily quite and heavy with anticipation.......the crackle of the large bull elephant feeding as we walked past it at 30 paces somehow just framed the tension.

The large trees towered above us, providing any number of vantage points for the owls to see us from. We walked....stopped......walked......stopped. In the cool river I felt the sweat trickle down my armpits - ice cold. When the large owl flew past mid-height in the canopy it was the sound of the group that filled my ears. It was a hushed aawwwwwhhhhh in the same instant as camera's beeped and whined into focus. Hearing the first group member loudly say "Verreaux" was like hearing offensive language in a church or temple......

It took a good minute for everybody to settle again. Still scanning the trees the realization that the Pel's would likely not be sticking around in the presence of the Verreaux, came over the group like an unexpected nausea.

More about this when I get back from Marakele in two days time :thumbs_up:

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:49 pm

Meandering Mouse wrote:What a perfect moon. 8) It makes me want to start howling.

and a perfect meal... makes my tummy want to start howling...



:lol: So much howling!

You just reminded me of a poem I wrote a few years ago, called Tilting at the moon:

They howled at the bright orb in the night sky…
Every night with progressive gusto their dismay
caused the orb to dwindle until it shrank
to nothingness and only darkness remained.

In the absolute blackness of that new moon night
accolades they demanded, yelping their delight,
separately claiming responsibility for scaring off
the softly shimmering satellite that once sailed aloft

At the full moon rising I marvel at the manic clamour
of curs again competing to curtail that shiny sphere.
If they did not bother baying at that bright ball
what weird wretchedness would the night sky befall?


Bush Baptist wrote:Cape wagtail bogey bird. Is that for Kruger or a lifer?


BB, the wagtail is a KNP bogey for me. So is Cape sparrow and a host of other common birds!

I am going to hang back with reporting on the final throes of the Bash until Waterbuck has caught up...
692 Latest lifers: Manx shearwater, Antarctic prion, Northern giant petrel, Northern royal albatross, Eurasian oystercatcher, Gull-billed tern, Black-bellied storm petrel, European storm petrel, Sooty falcon

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Waterbuck » Sun Dec 15, 2013 3:51 pm

.....if I recall, I last left it off at the failed attempt to find the Pel's. As JvR accounted, we left the Ngotso. Light was fading when we drove to a point along the Olifants close to Balule. The disappointment of the failed attempt was a far memory when we started scanning the large trees on the banks of the outstretched Olifants. Within moments the adrenalin of a sighting made my pulse quicken.....
A few of us rushed to the opposite side of the tree with cameras ready - anticipating the bird to flush. 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 20 seconds.........no flight. Cameras down and back to where the roosting bird could be seen and as we found ourselves between this side and that, off it went :doh:
We took a short walk down the row of large trees to find it again........and yes.........with a mysterious glare of distaste we found the adult bird. Between shacking hands, poor light and poor talent, I managed to get this shot. Wont' win me any prizes, but a very satisfying highlight of the trip........thanks for making this possible Bash Team.
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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Waterbuck » Sun Dec 15, 2013 4:05 pm

It was somewhere around this time of the trip that I discovered Johan's Achilles-heal (which has been mentioned before). Its the ticking of a Cape Wagtail in Kruger........no easy task let me add :cry:

As you will know, African Pied Wagtail is common in Kruger, to such an extent that I found myself (in sympathy with Johan) periodically expressing my disappointment - in Afrikaans and without any ill intentions - that a passing wagtail was only a "Gewone Kwikkie". Wow......now if ever you wanted to see a level-headed, controlled and content man loose a heartbeat and gasp for breath while turning a shade of scarlet, it was Johan reacting to my referring to just another "Gewone Kwikkie". Unintentionally, I was referring to just a "normal" wagtail (Cape Wagtail) and accidentally used the Afrikaans name for the Cape Wagtail :twisted:
Having found his soft spot, I could not resist the temptation and used this weakness to its fullest effect :whistle: :whistle: :whistle: :whistle:

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Waterbuck » Sun Dec 15, 2013 5:18 pm

Second night of the Balule Bash - recalling from JvR's earlier writings you will remember that the HR's went out of their way to make us burgers at Mooiplaas. When we got back to camp that evening, before supper under the stars, who was waiting for us other than Mama (Pooh) Africa. I'm telling all of you that have never met Mama (Pooh) Africa, this lady can organize in style. She's not fond of the camera, but as you can see, she was in full regalia to receive us..........

Proud of her offering to the group........
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Mama (Pooh) Africa, Scorpy (the SO) and Johan (before the Springbokkies - I think :D). Boabab in tow as a Christmas tree !!!!
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Mama (Pooh) Africa measuring to make sure each Bash member gets exactly what they need.......
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Making sure the second round of medicine is exactly administered to Bash members......... :dance:
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