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    Hello everybody. After a much needed off week and after lots of careful planning the first week of the final semester for our 23 weekers was packed with exciting activities. We went to Woodbush forest, the second largest natural forest in South Africa, for a birding trip. Filled with excitement and anticipation we left campus last Monday afternoon and headed off to Magoebaskloof just outside Tzaneen. Shortly after arriving we were forced into action when we spotted African Olive pigeons and Cape Parrots and the birding started with a bang. For those that have done forest birding before, you will know that it is a very rewarding pain in the neck as you are constantly looking up and frustrating at times because you can hear them but finding them is not that easy.

    We stayed over in the Woodbush hut and did the forest drive birding route the next morning. It started off cloudy and very misty on the mountain and cleared up to a point where we needed sun screen and hats very quickly. We saw 113 species of birds on our trip and 22 of those were lifers for me, so I’m sure that the students added a few more to their bird lists. Some of the special finds include the beautiful Knysna Turaco, Narina Trogon, Olive woodpecker and Bat Hawk. After a hard day’s work we had lunch at the Pot and Plow, amazing pizzas, and we were off to Rolvark hotsprings for our second night. After a lazy start to Wednesday morning we were off to visit the Sunland Baobab, claimed to be the largest Baobab in the world. A truly amazing tree, and the Modjaji Cycad reserve.

    After very good rain during the last two weeks the bush has transformed. Everything is green, insects are everywhere and the impalas have started to lam. Thursdays night drive was filled with plains game, insects and an approaching thunder storm with an awesome lightning display. There was also ample time for us to explore areas of the reserve not often seen and with a packed brunch there was no rush to be back at 11 o’clock. Many thanks to Cobus for organising the Magoebaskloof trip, and for the students making it a very enjoyable week.

     With only one week left before the final off week there is still more to come so watch this space for next week’s excitement and highlights.

    Until next time

    Conraad and the Bushwise team