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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 » Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:36 pm

Looks like we are "stuck" with the red roman... Super Mongoose, I don’t have information on limb regeneration in red romans. From the limited resources I have, it seems unlikely that regeneration occurs. From what I understand, as a broad rule, the more ancient a species is, the greater the powers of regeneration. The more recent in the evolutionary ladder a species, the less likely it would be able to regenerate lost limbs. Scorpions (most ancient on this particular branch) have limited regenerative capability, Opiliones that are next in the evolutionary sequence (harvestmen or daddy-long-legs) cannot. Solifugae came after Opiliones.

The ability to regenerate lost appendages in animals is not rare, nor is it all that common. In most groups of animals with regenerative powers, only certain parts of the body can be regenerated, like the legs or tail. Others are super-regenerators. With many sea stars (starfish) not only can any part of a missing arm be regenerated, but if enough of the arm is left, the entire sea star can be regenerated from the piece of arm. In fact, many sea stars reproduce by simply splitting in two, with each piece growing back the missing parts.

Because spiders are very competent in regenerating body parts (some can regenerate the legs, pedipalps, chelicerae, endites, the labium and spinnerets also), we tend to think because they look similar, the red roman will be capable of doing the same. Solifugae are very far removed from spiders (Araneae) and are closer relations to scorpions than spiders.
698 Latest lifers: Sooty falcon, American golden plover, Temminck's stint, Red-necked phalarope, Cape long-billed lark, Agulhas long-billed lark, Karoo eremomella

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:54 pm

The trip back to Balule had but two new birds to add to our Bash list, African hawk-eagle flushed from its tree perch right next to the road, well north of Letaba and a spoonbill seen from the bridge over the Letaba River. We got back with enough time in hand for a shower and a change of clothes. The plan was to leave camp around 17:00 and drive to a point near the Ngotso River from where we would walk to suitable Pel’s fishing owl habitat.

The “meitjie-meitjie” call of Klaas’s cuckoo in camp, minutes before we were scheduled to leave focussed our birding minds and we were in hunting mode once again.

After a brief drive and a short walk along the banks of the Ngotso to its confluence with the Olifants, we entered the thick riparian bush, flushing a Jacobin cuckoo before continuing on to the riverbed. Red-eyed doves were sounding their far-carrying coo-coo-roo-coo-coo calls, nearly masking the sounds of a mature elephant bull feeding on the same side as we were walking along.

Brenden took us across to the other river bank beside which we passed the ellie, giving him the respect and passing distance he deserved. The old bull didn’t seem much perturbed by our presence and gently rattled sticks to remind us of his presence while he leisurely continued feeding.

Image

Walking into an ellie in the riverine bush is very easy to do. These giants move around steadily and stealthily, often making less noise than a human would in the same habitat. So, the snap of a twig is a sign of potential danger that needs to be heeded.

We flushed a Verreaux’s eagle-owl and the mood went a little sour as the Pel’s fishing owl is known to dislike sharing habitat with other large raptors. Eventually the reality dawned that the Pel’s was not there. We walked back to our ride, spotting a Lappet-faced vulture gliding effortlessly overhead en route.
698 Latest lifers: Sooty falcon, American golden plover, Temminck's stint, Red-necked phalarope, Cape long-billed lark, Agulhas long-billed lark, Karoo eremomella

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Thu Dec 05, 2013 6:46 am

Super Mongoose wrote: Mooiplaas picnic spot is very special with a great view over the river, the Ellies love it too... we found their footprints all over and right at the entrance of the open hide.


We have had plenty ellie encounters during the Bash and not finding Mooiplaas road-blocked was quite acceptable. :lol:

JenB wrote:I have and encountered a couple of elephants on the access road and if you understand my fear for these beasts you'll know that the visit was everything but boring.


‘mites and their phobias… some chase critters, others run away! :twisted:

Our Brenden is an elephant whisperer. Maybe you need to spend time next to a herd of ellies with him, listening while he quietly explains (and sometimes shows) why you are safe and how to judge the mood and be part of the happening. I make it sound simple, but it truly is a touching experience to enjoy... The man is not just a super-birder...

JenB wrote:That giant burger did not sound boring in the least! Seems like these H.R.'s know how to cater! :dance: :dance: :


You don’t know the truth until you joined on a Bash, Jen. Why do you think I have been on so many Bashes? Can’t get enough of the Pel’s fishing owl? :twisted:

JenB wrote:I take it that you missed the Jackalberry cuckoo? Hopefully there still is a Pels somewhere in the future of this tale? :pray:
:popcorn:


Yarwel…

Tilandi wrote: I am looking at the maps and trying to get accommodation to also go and visit the places you mention. :lol:


Good on you! That is really living the trip report! :clap: :clap: :clap:

Trrp-trrrrrrrr wrote: Amazing how birders are so in tune with the calls of the feathered friends and can ID them so easily. 8)


Until you shared a birding experience with our super-guide, you will only have scratched the surface of what is possible to achieve on audio, Trrp-trrrrrrrr. Every time I see him in action, my admiration for the skill and ability keeps on growing. I must say that Brenden’s performance rubs off on youngsters like T bird who also has super hearing and is fast improving his repertoire of audio IDs.

Thanks to Pumbaa, hilda, barryels and Meandering Mouse for your continued notes and appreciation.

Where was I…

Brenden thought there was enough daylight left to try a different section of the Olifants River a bit downstream of Balule. We drove all the way back and around the camp and went bundu bashing along a jeep track that follows the river bank. If we didn’t get the owl on this night it would mean upsetting plans for the next day’s outings. The Olifants River gorge was on the cards and that was one walk I didn’t want to miss. I was prepared to accept failure on the Pel’s owl rather than ditch the gorge walk. On the other hand, we had a few very keen ‘mites that were on the Bash specifically because of the Pel’s…

We soon reached the section where a stretch of very large trees lined the banks of the Olifants.

You cannot believe how the river has changed since my first walk. Every year it looks different with two 100-year floods in quick succession scouring away islands that must have been there for more than a centuary!

Immediately Brenden spotted the adult bird, but this late in the day it was wide awake and not hanging around. A second bird, a juvenile Pel's fishing owl, gave little better viewing opportunities, but we still had to be on our toes to get evidence…

Image

The walk back to our ride was done in quiet contemplation of our achievement. We added ticks with brown-hooded kingfisher and Southern ground hornbill. With the ride back we took the long way, adding lesser striped swallow, double-banded sandgrouse, square-tailed and fiery-necked night jars and a spotted thickknee.

As we parked the vehicle, we gave our guide a standing ovation for one super birding day.

:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:
Last edited by Johan van Rensburg on Thu Dec 05, 2013 9:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
698 Latest lifers: Sooty falcon, American golden plover, Temminck's stint, Red-necked phalarope, Cape long-billed lark, Agulhas long-billed lark, Karoo eremomella

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Thu Dec 05, 2013 9:14 am

JenB wrote: Johan, it took us years to get into prime condition!
Under no circumstances may we allow that condition to slip! :twisted:


Here is a guarantee: the HRs' catering leaves it up to the Basher - if you have the will and the capacity, you will improve "condition"! :twisted:

Pooh Bear wrote: Dinner that night was "celebrating Africa" and began with Amarula cocktails, Haloumi and pepperdew kebabs for starters, a traditional braai for dinner and rounded off with Peppermint crisp dessert.


Pooh Bear fails to mention scorpy’s pot breads! It went WOW! with chilli jam…

As part of the theme, the HRs dressed up in traditional African garb. Again I hope for a Basher to jump in here and contribute a photograph to illustrate this post a little better…

Nowhere has it been mentioned that we got prezzies too! The one that came in really handy was the little conical LED lantern! If you know Balule you’ll know how dark the inside of those rondawels are… like falling into a black hole! I must also thank Pooh Bear for warning me about the chocolate on the pillow. With the combination of the heat and that darkness I probably would have worn it the next morning melted into the hair on the back of my head! :lol: :lol: :lol:

I slept with my hut’s door spragged open. (I see that MSWord indicates a spelling error here. A sprag is a wedge-shaped device put on the downhill side of a wheel to prevent a halted vehicle from moving). I thought this (mining) term was known universally… Worked for me to keep the door open with a plakkie as the sprag...

Next morning I had coffee with an early riser that reminded me of scorpions, spiders and snakes that like open doors into dark places… Yarwel. As long as those critters don’t snore, I’m OK!
698 Latest lifers: Sooty falcon, American golden plover, Temminck's stint, Red-necked phalarope, Cape long-billed lark, Agulhas long-billed lark, Karoo eremomella

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Thu Dec 05, 2013 10:41 am

Tilandi wrote::pray: :pray: How am I ever going to get to see a PEL'S :pray: :pray:

:hands: on getting the Pel's ... again! :clap:


Thanks Tilandi. I guess you'll need a large slice of luck. :lol: :lol:

The Bash retains it's 100% success record! :thumbs_up:

To continue with our Bash...

Brenden had a distressing time the previous day in trying to get permission for us to walk to the gorge. There had been some rhino poaching activities exactly in the area we wanted to walk in. The SADF, police and the SANParks anti-poaching units were hot on the heels of the perpetrators and we would just have contributed to the confusion if we went ahead with the gorge walk. Not a good idea from a safety point of view for tourists to go traipsing about the escape route of desperate criminals seeking to escape persecution. We left camp late (05:00), again high-fiving the gatekeeper as we drove through. In camp we had already started to list sightings: red-backed shrike, Marico sunbird and golden-tailed woodpecker.

Brenden had discussed a possible route with the section ranger the previous afternoon and an eastern tributary of the Ngotso was suggested as suitable.

Birding on foot is always good as one gets into micro situations that allows one time and opportunity to see birds you’ll usually miss from a vehicle. Actually, being on foot in Kruger is an unbelievable privilege. It is not only the birds, but sights, sounds and the smell and feel of the bush is just so exhilarating, and at the same time this rollercoaster takes you to peaceful moments that recharge the soul with precious nourishment you can never get anywhere else.

Our list continued to grow with Cardinal woodpecker, speckled mousebird, red-faced cisticola, brown-crowned tchagra, brubru and spectacled weaver. The sun was starting to peek through the early morning cloud cover in places and I though it an opportune moment to record the scene.

Image

I have to add some narrative to this shot as it was taken seconds before our rollercoaster took a spine-tingling turn! It is Brenden in the lead and 2nd rifle John just behind. You can see that John is already reacting in an evasive manner to something on his left. Maybe it was his sixth sense warning him of impending action. If you look carefully, you’ll see signs of a hole in the ground right next to John. Moments later when Waterbuck had just passed the hole and multiflorum and Shane was just about in line with the hole, a large one-tusked warthog evacuated the hole. His sudden exit raised a cloud of dust masking his escape and muck kicked up by his frantic effort to get away was flying all over. His loud grunting and snorting sounded much like an attacking leopard, John said afterwards. With Bashers looking for climbable trees and scaling each other instead and 1st and 2nd rifles trying to get a bead on the danger with Bashers kind of hindering the line of fire, it was quite hilarious to view from my vantage point a little way back.

It took a moment for the adrenalin-charged Bashers to realise what happened, but they failed to see the funny side of it for quite some time…
698 Latest lifers: Sooty falcon, American golden plover, Temminck's stint, Red-necked phalarope, Cape long-billed lark, Agulhas long-billed lark, Karoo eremomella

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:34 pm

Tilandi wrote: :hands: on getting the Pel's ... again! :clap:


I'm using your note (again) to provide a hook to post my take on the Pel's fishing owl... Why is it that I go back year after year to see this bird?

A Pel’s fishing owl sighting is considered by many as one of Birding’s Holy Grails. The cinnamon brown owl with its dark chevrons lurked ever-present in my subconscious as a bucket list item, very early in my birding career becoming a bogey bird of note. I poured over photographs, jealously reading the eyewitness accounts of the “lucky ones”. I planned and embarked on costly trips to track it down. The Pel’s Fishing Owl, in my experience, is a phantom. The bird eluded me for six consecutive years during which I undertook 10 unsuccessful trips to northern Kruger, two to Mapungubwe and two to Mkuze to locate this perplexing bird, before eventually finding it during a night drive in the Makuleke concession, a distant, impersonal encounter across the Luvuvhu River that left my craving unsatisfied.

Found patchily in sub-Saharan Africa, this night hunter that is in some aspects considered to be the largest of our owls can never be guaranteed to be seen, even on the best planned trips. So, even though Balule has managed to maintain a 100% sightings record for the last four years since the inception of the Bash, it must be seen as Nature’s blessing rather than a given for this situation can reverse in the space of a single summer. Pel’s is classified as threatened in South Africa where its numbers have dwindled due to loss of habitat, in the last decade as a result of significant flood damage to the Olifants River and also because of river pollution.

Nothing can prepare you for the moment when you first lock eyes with this spectacular bird. Unlike the cold indifference one sense in the eyes of a shark, the pitch-black eyes of the Pel’s are more reminiscent of deep pools, always sparkling with curiosity. The first time we saw the Pel’s at Balule was later in the same year that I saw it for the first time, but this time it was up close, peering through the foliage at us, making that special connection that causes one’s heart to soar.

Pel’s Fishing Owls are kind of inscrutable. Sure they are scarce and tough to find, but that is just one aspect of their appeal. Pel’s Fishing Owls have adapted to their unique hunting techniques in several ways. Unlike most owls, their legs and toes lack feathers, eliminating the disadvantage of heavy, wet feathers during the hunt. The underside of the toes and feet are covered in spiky scales that help them grip their slippery prey, which consists mostly of fish but can also include young crocodiles and crabs. Since hearing is not vital for locating their underwater prey, Pel’s Fishing Owls lack the distinct facial disc that many other owls have, thought to assist in directing sound waves towards the ears. In addition, since their prey lives underwater where hearing is not a defence strategy, the fishing owls lack the soft edges to their flight feathers which provide other owls with quiet flight.

While African Fish-eagles are the Top Guns of the waterways in daytime, Pel’s Fishing Owls take over this niche at night. In fact, they even hunt in the same manner as their daytime counterparts, scanning the water from a perch until prey is located and then swooping down with talons outstretched and grabbing the unsuspecting prey, rarely submerging themselves in the water.

When everyone is asleep, I often walk around in camp. Sitting quietly under the Balule night sky one can often hear their booming calls some distance away, adding credence to the symphony of the African night.

I then quietly salute my favourite bird: “See you around, fellah”.
698 Latest lifers: Sooty falcon, American golden plover, Temminck's stint, Red-necked phalarope, Cape long-billed lark, Agulhas long-billed lark, Karoo eremomella

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by T Bird » Thu Dec 05, 2013 4:35 pm

Brenden and rest of the group were infront of us when we were looking for the pel's, when
Cecilia spotted one of the pel's in a tree almost behind us. I had time for just one shot.
Image
That's 3 out of 3 on the Balule Bash for me! :D :D :D
And I will never get tired of seeing the pel's, its an amazing bird and a privilege to see it
on foot in the KNP!

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Bush Baptist » Thu Dec 05, 2013 5:58 pm

Thanks for your haunting personal Pel's tale Joh.

Last time I was in Kruger (2009) I half-heartedly searched the Olifants between the camp and Balule, obviously in vain, as I had non birders with me and used the river as a pretext.

It was with a 'yes, you don't know what you are talking about' feeling I read that someone had contacted one of SA's birding authorities, an occasional forumite, (let's call him TH), citing evidence of a large owl with orange feathers in Newlands Forest in Cape Town, nowhere near the Pel's stomping grounds. TH's attention focussed rather more when a Pel's feather was produced.

Not long after, a Newlands lady contacted TH and told him that a big orange owl was eating her goldfish, so he went there and sure enough, it was a Pel's in the Cape. :big_eyes: A few lucky birders got to see it (not me) before it took off, but a few weeks later TH reported that it (another one???!) was seen in the grounds of the Spanish Embassy. When I read the APB, I dropped everything and made it there, and sure enough there was a Pel's in a plane tree.

Like Joh, this was a special moment in my life. I had thought that one day I would chase it seriously, but it had almost come to me. What an hour! I left very satisfied, but I felt a trifle uneasy as I ticked it. The longer I thought about it, the more I knew I had to see it where it really lives, so last year almost to the day (7 Dec) I saw a pair on a trip to Botswana. I must confess that having seen one before diluted the thrill just a bit.

Although Joh and I live 1500km apart, we have been forum buddies for years, and I have enjoyed his company on 3 birding occasions (and put muddy feet in his immaculate Landy!), in the next year or 3 I hope we can see the Pel's together on the Balule Bash. :thumbs_up:
Whatever (according to BB): "You are correct but I don't want to admit it".

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Fri Dec 06, 2013 10:09 am

Porridge wrote:
Excellent TR, Johan!! I've caught up and am following avidly.


Welcome on board the Basher, Porridge

Thanks to everyone for conveying your understanding and support in these difficult times of suffering withdrawal symptoms…

Also thanks to T bird and BB for their contributions clarifying why getting hooked on Pel’s is so easy and so addictive.

Having confessed my Pel’s fixation, I can now continue with the Bash report…


A yellow-fronted canary had a front-row seat to the warthog spectacle, but it was 15 minutes before we noticed. The walk continued on higher ground through drier veld with sparser grass and shrub cover. A flycatcher that remained some 50 paces distant teased us for a while until waterbuck’s camera shot helped us get a proper bead on it: Marico flycatcher. This habitat provided us with our first Burchell’s starlings and an Acacia pied barbet that we called closer with the help of a Roberts VII sound byte, provided another KNP special.

As I mostly find myself walking right at the back of a hiking group, quite a lot of what happens up front goes unrecorded. But every so often, the creature we encounter stays put for pix. The first shot shows off those beautiful patterns so that one can almost feel the texture of this young African rock python.

Image

Image

The second shot gives one an idea of the size of this python that I estimated to be around 2.8 metres long. This is snake is reaching maturity. ARPs have been recorded over 7 m long. As adults, they average 44 to 55 kg in weight, with some reaching more than 90 kg.

After reaching maturity around four years old, female rock pythons can produce from 20 to 50 offspring.

They can live for 30 years.

T bird impressed the group with his keen sight in difficult terrain, specifically when pointing out a juvenile black-crowned night-heron obscurely perched in the thick riparian growth. Brenden has a special trick to point out birds that are difficult to see: a green-light laser pointer. On this morning he forgot to bring it along. Second best method, set up over a willing Basher’s shoulder with the rifle sights!

Image

The carefree whistling of a black-crowned tchagra (Pooh Bear’s Jo’burg joller) led to its discovery in the base of a thorny bush. Jameson’s firefinches were seen darting into cover, then, peeking out, enabled us to make the ID.

The antics of a solitary lark-like LBJ, more than a detailed sighting, enabled us to make an ID call. The dark, dumpy bird with its short tail took off from the ground and kept on going higher and higher until we could not even see it with our binoculars any longer: Flappet Lark.

It was 07:30 and our walk was about to take a sickening turn…
698 Latest lifers: Sooty falcon, American golden plover, Temminck's stint, Red-necked phalarope, Cape long-billed lark, Agulhas long-billed lark, Karoo eremomella

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Sat Dec 07, 2013 6:14 am

Super Mongoose wrote: African Rock Python, that is really, really special and certainly on my wishlist in the wild!


For a long time it was on mine too, Super Mongoose. On last year’s Bash we came across the fresh tracks of one and we tried to follow its spoor, but to no avail. So, the python was a “lifer” for me…

hilda wrote: Your list of birds of this trip just grows and grows! Fantastic! :clap: :clap:


Before the rude interruption in our walk that I am about to recount (and the resultant time lost for birding) the Bash count was at 161 and my personal trip count was just short of 200!

naomi c wrote: "Sickening turn..." :shock:


Yes. Sickening.

We noticed rangers in the bush on the other side of the river we were following. For a while now we have been getting closer to what seemed to be the target area for a huge number of vultures coming in to land. I guess the possibility always lurked in the deep recesses of my mind that the vulture action could be due to a rhino carcass, having heard the reports of poaching from rangers we met the day before. That would be sad, but we had an exciting prospect of seeing many, many vultures around a carcass while on foot. A little macabre but still exciting for the photographer in me.

Brenden had us stay put while he went to communicate with the two men in their SANPark uniforms.

In the meanwhile we noticed what looked like a blood-stained sheet or canvas and a 25l can on their side of the drainage line.

After a lengthy discussion, Brenden returned with the news that we have to turn back as the rangers had just discovered yet another rhino carcass, freshly slaughtered. The descending vultures alerted the rangers and on investigation they made this horrific discovery. The can the poachers used to carry their water. What the purpose of the canvas was, I’m not sure, but both articles were left behind. Judging from the colour of the blood on the canvass I’d say it was quite fresh (still bright red) and for them to have left it behind, they must have been disturbed, leaving in a hurry.

In one fell swoop our buoyant spirits plummeted to a distressing low.

The Bashers were angry.

For a while there we asked the difficult rhetorical questions about solving the rhino poaching problem, giving seriously savage suggestions how to solve the poaching problem in one fell swoop.

The Bashers are intelligent ‘mites and the hurt of the day settled soon with the realisation of the tremendous complexity of the problem that no simple, angry curse can begin to solve…

We turned back. Our morning walk had been turned into a mourning march…
Last edited by Johan van Rensburg on Sat Dec 07, 2013 7:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Sat Dec 07, 2013 8:04 am

Thanks for the empathy, Trrp-trrrrrrrr and Meandering Mouse.

I guess subconsciously one tends to look for beauty to nurse the hurt when your psyche received a blow. In the bush, on foot, you cannot help to stumble upon natural splendour.

Image

Brenden told me what this little beauty is called, but for the life of me, I cannot remember. Something about stars? We looked at an emerald-green shrub that smelt like tangerine when you disturbed it and marvelled at the beauty and intimidating defence of another little shrub…

Image

Brenden named this one as well, but again my memory fails me… Does “boleria” make any sense?

We added little bee-eater to the Bash list before we got to our wheels.

Image

In spite of Nature’s efforts to restore our cheerfulness, it would be a while before the Bashers would loose the sad wrinkle amongst their crow’s feet…
698 Latest lifers: Sooty falcon, American golden plover, Temminck's stint, Red-necked phalarope, Cape long-billed lark, Agulhas long-billed lark, Karoo eremomella

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Sat Dec 07, 2013 8:54 am

Meandering Mouse wrote:Such a reminder of the regenerating power of nature. So fragile, so strong. :gflower:

:popcorn:


I always find something in nature that moves me deeply, MM. Even the tragedy of human greed in the remnants of Eden that our Parks stand for strums a chord that resonates deep…

Come and see the blood in the bush,
come and see
the blood in the bush,
come and see the blood
in the bush.

Come and see the rhinoceros bleeding prone
come and see
the rhinoceros bleeding
come and see the rhinoceros
prone and bleeding

Come and see the bullets killing
come and see
the bullets killing
come and see the rhinoceros
prone and bleeding

Come and see them stealing the rhino’s horn
come and see
them hacking it off
come and see the rhinoceros,
they stole his horn.

Come and see the bush has no rhinoceros,
come and see
the bush has no rhinoceros,
come and see the bush
has no rhinoceros.
698 Latest lifers: Sooty falcon, American golden plover, Temminck's stint, Red-necked phalarope, Cape long-billed lark, Agulhas long-billed lark, Karoo eremomella

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Sun Dec 08, 2013 8:48 am

hilda wrote:Lovely flowers! According to the Africa Wild Plant Book, the white flowers are String of Stars, and the blue flowers are Wild Lobelia. :thumbs_up:


String of Stars! I knew the name had “stars” in it! What a beautiful descriptive title! :dance: :dance: :dance:

I’m not too sure that you got the blue flower right though, hilda. The thorny character of this little shrub is what impressed me at the time, totally lacking in the descriptions I have of Wild Lobelia. Your call helped me a little in that I found reference to a Baleria group (baleria / boleria… not too bad for an old dodger that is as deaf as a doorknob) near your suggested Lobelia. My reference is not a comprehensive one, so I do not see the exact same flower represented there. Maybe it is time that I invest in a more complete work on wild flowers…

Thank you so much for your search, hilda.

Meandering Mouse wrote:Such a reminder of the regenerating power of nature. So fragile, so strong. :gflower:


Nature has music for those who listen and a master class for those who hear

barryels wrote: Thanks for taking us with on foot through Kruger and give us an idea of what a walk consists of :thumbs_up: .


Now this is a COMPLIMENT! in CAPs! Glad to be able to transport you along, barryels. Maybe the end result will be you joining a Bushwalk?

barryels wrote: Must be wonderful to have so many ticks on your bird list already Johan :D .


Nah! Hate it! :twisted:

Calm down Tilandi… Shooting at ghosts? :lol:

We got back to camp around 10:00, much earlier than expected and first had to explain to the HRs in camp what had caused our walk to be cut short.

In his own quiet way Brenden went about finding an alternative treat for us. We would leave for Olifants Camp that afternoon to first fetch a very expensive and special pillow that Basher Cecilia left behind on their pre-Basher travels and that had been couriered for her to Olifants Camp. Hmm, ice cream anyone?

A few of us did some birding in camp, especially in the caravan section next door where the repetitive “cruck-crunk-crunk” of a yellow-breasted apalis was coming from.

Image

I have learnt that the mournful “whoooo” of a grey-headed bush-shrike must be repeated (Roberts’ sound byte) in order to call the bird from its concealed perch. They are called Spookvoël (ghostbird) in Afrikaans for a reason… unless you get them to move, they are extremely tricky to see.

I recorded a collared sunbird before the heat of the day got too much. I was running from tree shadow to tree shadow and the birds that I found were all slack-jawed from the high temperature.

After a few cold drinks and a talk with Brended, I ventured out again, looking for the warblers he could hear whispering next door. After a while Brenden joined me; on my own I was not having much success. Brenden and I had a fleeting but clear view of an Icterine warbler with his crest erect before connecting with my only lifer of the trip: an Olive-tree warbler. This is a large, drab, grey and white warbler with a colourful bill; upper mandible horn-coloured, ranging through to the lower mandible flesh-coloured with a yellow base. The legs and feet are blue-grey. It is an extremely busy bird; in spite of the heat it was rapidly moving from one tree to the next. I managed a poor record… let’s call it “evidence”…

Image

Having to shoot through the foliage obscured the legs and bottom of the bird… its bum is in focus and the head outside the focus plane… :cry: I’ve had worse…

Other birds found were yellow-throated petronia, spotted flycatcher and a black stork soaring overhead.
698 Latest lifers: Sooty falcon, American golden plover, Temminck's stint, Red-necked phalarope, Cape long-billed lark, Agulhas long-billed lark, Karoo eremomella

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Brenden » Sun Dec 08, 2013 12:09 pm

Johan van Rensburg wrote: Brenden named this one as well, but again my memory fails me… Does “boleria” make any sense?


Just catching up on the TR after a busy period Johan. Very close, the genus you are looking for is in fact Barleria and this particular species is called transvaalensis.

The common name is Limpopo Barleria.

I'm sure that your future installments will cause a splash!
"Keep the Wind in your face, the Sun on your back and the Wilderness deep in your heart".

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Re: Balule (birding) Bash, 2013

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Mon Dec 09, 2013 5:36 am

Brenden wrote:
Johan van Rensburg wrote: Brenden named this one as well, but again my memory fails me… Does “boleria” make any sense?


Just catching up on the TR after a busy period Johan. Very close, the genus you are looking for is in fact Barleria and this particular species is called transvaalensis.

The common name is Limpopo Barleria.

I'm sure that your future installments will cause a splash!


‘tis time to order that Wild Flower resource! Thanks for the helping hand, Brenden. Nature is a haunted house. Writing the story you end up with a house that tries to be haunted. :lol:

Lets hope the “splash” does not turn out a drip…

barryels wrote: Awesome that you were able to record another lifer :clap: .

Thanks, Barry.
barryels wrote: Hopefully the pic of the Olive-tree warbler will not be used in future Bird ID challenges because I can guarantee you that we will be looking for a bird with a yellow-green belly :hmz: .

Nah... I realise it would be unfair to peeps that didn't read the trip report... or maybe it could be a lever to get more 'mites to read this thread! :twisted:

@ Pumbaa and hilda, :yaya:

With Cecilia’s pillow safely stored away and ice creams trying to last in the heat, we were back on the road to a rendezvous with Plan Z. Outside Olifants Camp we found a Martial Eagle and the first and only European roller of the trip.

Image

These rollers are usually plentiful in KNP, but this turned out the only one I saw for the whole duration of my stay, including another trip a week later to the south…

We turned right onto the Letaba Olifants Road and immediately left onto a Jeep track. We soon pulled over onto the bank of the Olifants River and watched as Brenden scouted the open area and walked right up to the edge of the river and declared it safe.

Plan Z: a swim in the Olifants!

Image

Not all of our group were this brave... so it was just the Ooms in the Olifants! :lol:

Our planned walk to the Olifants River gorge fell through because of the poaching of the three rhinos and the resultant SADF / SAP and SANParks activities in that area to try and apprehend the criminals. This was the consolation: we went for a welcome dip in the Olifants River upstream of Balule and Olifants Camps. It must have been 40 °C in the shade!

We made such a boisterous entrance; any hidden croc would’ve vacated the pool if it had been in there in the first place!

Visiting the Olifants River gorge remains on my Bucket List.

T bird kept up the birding vigil, every now and then spotting something for the Bash list and alerting us to the sighting. The view up- and downstream from our pool was limited only by distance and we added Goliath heron and white-crowned lapwing in our swimming pool and an African harrier-hawk flying by.

If being still is wasting time, I would willingly waste my time in this place...
698 Latest lifers: Sooty falcon, American golden plover, Temminck's stint, Red-necked phalarope, Cape long-billed lark, Agulhas long-billed lark, Karoo eremomella


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