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Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

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Johan van Rensburg
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Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:27 pm

I see the previous topic (Balule 2011) is "locked" away...

Anyhow, except for one spot, the Bash for November this year is all sold out.

Waterbuck! This is where you will drum up a partner... :lol:

The Balule Bash is a Midrand HR initiative that got highjacked by me for the last few years. It is a very special event due to a number of reasons:
1. The rustic camp
2. The 5-star bush experience provided by the HRs... from the exceptional catering to the inivative bush decorations, the ambiance is superb.
3. The hours and hours of bush drives and walks under the guidance of arguably the best bird guide in Kruger NP that cannot otherwise be acquired and enjoyed.

One of the many birding objectives of the weekend is to show off the Balule Pel’s fishing owls. However, over the years we have encountered some very special birds on these trips and I am sure this year's Bash will not be any different.
685 2016 lifers: Spotted crake, Lesser jacana, Burchell's courser, Double-banded courser, Rufous-tailed scrub robin, House crow, Manx shearwater, Antarctic prion, Northern giant petrel, Northern royal albatross

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

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:29 pm

By the way, the dates are 14 - 17 November... with arrival at Olifants Camp such that we depart for the satelite camp Balule from there by 12:00.
685 2016 lifers: Spotted crake, Lesser jacana, Burchell's courser, Double-banded courser, Rufous-tailed scrub robin, House crow, Manx shearwater, Antarctic prion, Northern giant petrel, Northern royal albatross

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

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Mon Jun 10, 2013 11:18 am

hilda wrote:Sounds wonderful Johan! Wish I was into camping to also join in such an event! :


:hmz:

My comms skills are letting me down! This is a 5-star Bash, hilda... No camping involved, I promise. Balule's huts are well-built brick rondavels and, although small (read cozy!), they have everything one needs to get a good night's rest between the bush activities and being spoilt rotten by the catering talents of Pooh Bear and her team of HRs.

hilda wrote:Looking forward to a trip report when you are back home! :dance: :dance:


Me too! :twisted:

Waterbuck seems to be a 'mite who can get bouyed by excitement and I am sure we will get some contributions from him. Another 'mite who participated previously is Multiflorum and I hope to get more than just one or two lines from him! :lol:

The rest of the bashers are not known to participate on the forum, so it will be up to us three to paint the picture...

Currently Waterbuck's hut is screaming for another basher!
685 2016 lifers: Spotted crake, Lesser jacana, Burchell's courser, Double-banded courser, Rufous-tailed scrub robin, House crow, Manx shearwater, Antarctic prion, Northern giant petrel, Northern royal albatross

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

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:27 pm

We have two beds open at the Balule Bash. It can either be taken up by a couple (one hut) or two individuals. The arrangements are flexible, and we should be able to cater for virtually anyone...

Anyone interested should send me a PM as a matter of urgency... Time is NOT on our side!
685 2016 lifers: Spotted crake, Lesser jacana, Burchell's courser, Double-banded courser, Rufous-tailed scrub robin, House crow, Manx shearwater, Antarctic prion, Northern giant petrel, Northern royal albatross

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

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Sun Nov 10, 2013 12:04 am

Aha! I have an audience of two! :roll: :lol:

Thanks for popping in and leaving evidence, tilandi and hilda :thumbs_up:

I didn't cover many miles today, but rather concentrated on two pentads (SABAP talk) the first which includes Malenane Gate and the second, Berg en Dal. The first card I ended on 77 sightings and the Berg en Dal card is on 61. I'll keep both open as for the next three days I'll be traveling through these two areas on route to others, so their tallies should get much closer to three figures...

I am not in a position to post any pix, so words will have to do in the meantime...

The cuckoos are back! Red-chesteds are calling all the time, even in the middel of the night (hearing one right now). Levaillant's, Jacobin, Klaas's Dideric all feature. A pair of black ducks and black crakes seen on the Crocodile river early this morning were pleasing ticks.

Red-crested korhaan calling with its snap, snap, snap is always fun to interact with.

Raptors were mostly seen aloft, Tawny and Martial eagles, Bateleur and Wahlberg's eagles. A single brown snake-eagle perch typically on top of a dead tree was the only raptor not seen in flight. No vultures as yet...

A lone buffalo bull grazing right next to the road with two red-billed oxpeckers on him entertained and teased me with their peekaboo tactics, but I think I have some good shots to share...

I was able to get close to a number of favourites: brown-crowned tchagra, tawny-flanked Prinia and yellow-billed hornbill, to name but a few. One surprise was greater blue-eared starling around Berg en Dal... I didn't expect to see those so far to the south!

After booking in at Berg en Dal, I went exploring the camp on foot. A pair of novice birders with a brand-new SASOL bird guide in hand were hotly debating the ID of a Kurrichane thrush. The two of them being totally on a doff tangent, I diplomatically suggested a different page... Reminded me so much of those page turning days many-many moons ago when you would be frustrated by disappearing subjects BEFORE the ID could be nailed down.

A fruiting tree held a few purple-crested Turaco... One of THE MOST colourful birds with those dramatic flashes of dark crimson when they spread their wings.

Tomorrow I'll explore two pentads around Newu Dam. My mission is to get some of the common Highveld birds (not so common in the Park) that have eluded my KNP list. Cape Sparrow, Cape wagtail, common fiscal and the like...
685 2016 lifers: Spotted crake, Lesser jacana, Burchell's courser, Double-banded courser, Rufous-tailed scrub robin, House crow, Manx shearwater, Antarctic prion, Northern giant petrel, Northern royal albatross

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

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:14 pm

In one fell swoop, readership doubles! :clap: :clap:

I am the only patron in the restaurant. Apart from the chatter of the waiters, it is very quiet. The silence is eerie, the calm is a bit spooky... I can hear the roll of thunder afar, drowning out the burbling call of a Burchell's coucal. There must be some rain in the air...

Looking out over the dam in front of the restaurant, the only ripples are those created by the barbel lazily taking midges off the glassy surface, and the hippo blowing a plume of stale air before submerging again. It was that sort of day, bordering on being boring :lol:

Let me get on with my trip report while waiting for my meal...

I added a few species to my trip list, but none of the sought-after ones. The best bird of the day was an Eurasian hobby. I hope those pix came out OK, it was a little on the far side for brag shots. Other noteworthy sightings were white-browed robin-chat and -scrub-robin, both seen hunting around foot patch lights early this morning. Trumpeter hornbill, green pigeon, dark chanting-goshawk and the first vultures of the trip (white-backed and lappet-faced) also made their presence known this morning.

I never got to the Nuwan Dam complex as the roads leading to it was barricaded off. My hope of getting deep into the south-western corner of the Park is now pie-in-the-sky...

And the first drops on the screen of my iPad force me to find shelter.
685 2016 lifers: Spotted crake, Lesser jacana, Burchell's courser, Double-banded courser, Rufous-tailed scrub robin, House crow, Manx shearwater, Antarctic prion, Northern giant petrel, Northern royal albatross

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Tilandi » Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:57 pm

Image
Johan's view from his Safari Tent @ LS :) :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
Latest lifer Greater Painted Snipe, Burchell's Courser

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Tilandi » Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:59 pm

Another view
Image
:mrgreen: :mrgreen:
Latest lifer Greater Painted Snipe, Burchell's Courser

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

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:02 pm

Tilandi wrote:Image
Johan's view from his Safari Tent @ LS :) :mrgreen: :mrgreen:


Thanks Tlandi

I just had to devise a plan to get some colour into this thread! :lol:
685 2016 lifers: Spotted crake, Lesser jacana, Burchell's courser, Double-banded courser, Rufous-tailed scrub robin, House crow, Manx shearwater, Antarctic prion, Northern giant petrel, Northern royal albatross

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

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Wed Nov 13, 2013 12:09 am

Back from the night drive and I forced myself to do the day's 'bookkeeping'... :lol:

104 for the day and the trip total now stands at 157. Trust me when I say there were some pretty awesome ticks. The bed is calling loudly, so, with the far off calling of a lion and a close encounter with a praying mantis on the iPad screen, it is time!

GOODNIGHT Y'ALL
685 2016 lifers: Spotted crake, Lesser jacana, Burchell's courser, Double-banded courser, Rufous-tailed scrub robin, House crow, Manx shearwater, Antarctic prion, Northern giant petrel, Northern royal albatross

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

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:05 pm

Before I attempt anything else, I must tell you about Satara... I have 167, a perimeter hut. In front of it (on the other side of the fence) stands a large sceleton of a tree. It is throwing long shadows already, like a elongated 'Y'. A Swainson's spurfowl is feeding there, but only in that shadow... It is the funniest thing to watch. When he gets to the end of one leg, he turns back and retraces steps and then goes up the other leg!

I guess I shouldn't laugh too much: at 39 deg C, peculiar things start to happen. And THAT is why I used this story as my introduction... So that you, the audience, understands why if I go off incoherently. :lol:

I got TWO LIFERS today! :dance:

DinkyBird and Hawk: best ticks of this trip by a lo-o-ooooong shot! And that followed a very special morning that I though would be difficult to top... easily done :lol:

Thanks you two (no adjectives... words will just spoil what was a huge highlight of this trip, for me...) for taking time out of your precious KNP agenda to meet up with me at Tshokwane for breakfast!
Last edited by Johan van Rensburg on Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
685 2016 lifers: Spotted crake, Lesser jacana, Burchell's courser, Double-banded courser, Rufous-tailed scrub robin, House crow, Manx shearwater, Antarctic prion, Northern giant petrel, Northern royal albatross

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

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Thu Nov 14, 2013 5:13 am

After making a few mistakes last night my energy levels prevented my posting any incoherencies. :lol:

Mistake #1: deciding I was fed up with the Apple Leaf menu
Mistake #2: buying a bag of hardwood for the fire
Mistakes #3 through 6: beer...

Lesson: a hardwood fire can flame-grill a chop to perfection! :lol:

Anyhow, let me just name the new additions to the trip list: ostrich, black-bellied bustard, pale harrier, rufous napped lark, red-capped lark (a true KNP special, only the second time I have come across this particular species...), mourning dove, ground-hornbill, Woodland kingfisher, mocking cliff-chat, cinnamon-breasted bunting, yellow-throated longclaw and red-billed quelea, bring the trip total to 169.

A gorgeous dawn scene is underscored this morning with with a chorus of starlings while turtle doves and hoopoes provide the tempo. Time for the last stretch to begin the Balule Birding Bash Propper.

I'll try to post a final time before the lack of signal gets me, but if I don't, please stay tuned... A very special event awaits...

BTW, I wonder about my co-bashers... When will they start to contribute?????
Last edited by Johan van Rensburg on Thu Nov 14, 2013 5:45 am, edited 2 times in total.
685 2016 lifers: Spotted crake, Lesser jacana, Burchell's courser, Double-banded courser, Rufous-tailed scrub robin, House crow, Manx shearwater, Antarctic prion, Northern giant petrel, Northern royal albatross

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by hilda » Thu Nov 14, 2013 5:28 am

Johan's gorgeous dawn scene:

Image
"We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right." - Nelson Mandela

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by hilda » Thu Nov 14, 2013 12:52 pm

Image

Johan's message:

While I'm waiting for Pooh Bear and Brenden to fetch us, I thought a final image of the gorgeous scorcher would be a nice teaser to leave you with. Balule is just around the bend on the top left of the picture...


This is the view from Olifants Camp. On a clear day you can see 'tomorrow' coming...
"We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right." - Nelson Mandela

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

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Mon Nov 18, 2013 5:38 am

The Balule Bash has kept up its 100 percent record. Every basher that went searching for a Pel's Fishing Owl have been rewarded with a sighting of the sought-after bird.

This statement is just by way of introduction of the Balule Bash report, getting 'mites who may be interested to one day have a close encounter with our largest and most difficult owl to make an entry in your book of Best Birding Tips... This was the 10th Balule Bash and not a single Pel's Fans went away disappointed!

Anyway, the story about the Pel's sighting is some way into this feedback thread. Before that I have many other sightings and stories to share. I hope my fellow Bashers will share the load in telling the story from their respective points of view...

For now I'll need a bit of help to find my way back to the office. :lol:
685 2016 lifers: Spotted crake, Lesser jacana, Burchell's courser, Double-banded courser, Rufous-tailed scrub robin, House crow, Manx shearwater, Antarctic prion, Northern giant petrel, Northern royal albatross


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