This week at Bushwise Field Guides, we were completely dedicated, once again, to our feathered friends. Now if you don’t know what birding week is all about, either you’re not reading the title, or you haven’t been keeping up with all our other blogs! Bushwise Birding week is a well-known event to our past students…mostly for its positive change of mind set regarding birding as a pastime (although there are always one or two die hard anti-birders on each course!).
So although the week was aimed at finding mostly birds (and we found a lot), sightings once again did not disappoint, especially with the lions. Some of the birds which stood out most, were things that have been seen on numerous occasions before, but were examined through new eyes this week, and needless to say, we got a few people hooked on birding! Very nice behaviour was witnessed during some of these drives, including a group of Retz’ Helmet-Shrikes mobbing one of the smallest owl species, a Pearl-Spotted Owl. Some students were also fortunate enough to see a juvenile Fish Eagle catching and eating a fish, on our very own Mahlahla campus dam of all places!
Other interesting behaviour witnessed this week included a drive where we bumped into some lazy Lions, doing what Lions do best, “lion around”, pardon the pun! Soon after we stopped there, I made the observation that most guides want to see while Lions are sleeping, a very subtle sign that could be misread. What is this sign you might ask? Well, join us on one of our courses, and come see them for yourself! Not even 5 minutes later, the Lioness closest to us got up, and thanks to some good vehicle positioning from the driving student, she walked up to our vehicle, took care of her daily routine, and walked right past our vehicle. Mere seconds passed, and the remaining Lions were in tow, with the one male giving us a front row view of what is known as the “flehmen grimace” as he tested the sexual readiness of the Lionesses. The second male came past, but not feeling as confident as the previous one, decided to rather walk a wide circle around us.
We also thought we would head out for a Sleepout and everything looked good as we headed out to a “room with a view”. As students started collecting firewood and were settling in to the new surroundings, something suddenly changed…… And change can happen very quickly out in the bush, especially when it comes to the weather! We saw some threatening black clouds build up in the distance earlier, but when the wind all of a sudden picked up (and sent a few sleeping mats, bags and tables flying) we knew we could be in the wrong place at the wrong time. All of a sudden, the clouds in the distance were on us with lots of lightning striking close by. Being quite exposed, the decision was made to rather play things safe and head back to camp. Camp was packed up in record time, and we were all lucky enough to get back before the storm really hit, but unfortunately it seemed to have just blown over.
Until next time,
Charles and the Bushwise team