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Finding Joy in the Rain: How a Gloomy Week Led to Birding Discoveries

Updated: 14 hours ago

This blog about was written by Ziphozonke Zwane, Bushwise Professional Field Guide student. Each week, Bushwise students take turns as camp manager to experience what it’s like to run a lodge or a team. Writing a blog is part of that process.

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This week was so gloomy and the rain worked against us, causing numerous drives to be postponed. Due to the fact we had grown accustomed to the game driving routine, we students were not thrilled about this. Taking drives on the main road helped us with both the break in routine and to become birders. We were ecstatic with how many birds we could see in such a brief drive. We learnt several new bird sounds through this activity, which heightened our sense of hearing. We were encouraged to identify the birds we typically see in the region at this time of year. 

A photo by the author, Ziphozonke, of her classmates studying to become Bushwise field guides, all standing around something their trainer is teaching them about.

The activity generated contentious issues around the classification of birds. It forced us to start examining the characteristics that distinguished one bird from another, such as the bearded and Bennett’s woodpeckers. We all grew more confident with our bird identification as a result of this.

The beauty and discovery in birding

When I first moved here, I never imagined that I would end up loving birding as much as I now do. I used to think that all birds looked alike. I never paid a lot of attention to them. I never understood why people liked birds. Now I know why. Who knew that Kwa-Zulu Natal, where I’m from, is one of every birder’s dream destinations? Especially Durban which is home to a sizable bird population.

Botany has been a difficult subject to study because – like birds – grass and trees can occasionally resemble one another, particularly when looking at the Vachellia tree species. When we examine our landscape here in the Greater Kruger National Park, it is amazing to observe how various trees flourish in specific soils and how trees compete for sunlight in order to survive in the ecosystem. 

The fact that the savanna biome can produce such a wide range of tree and grass species is equally astounding. People need to spend more time in nature to observe how it can heal itself using pioneer grass and tree species. I’m delighted to report that by the end of the week’s lectures, we were able to start distinguishing the many tree species.

I’ve learnt so much, so quickly

I’m learning a lot from this course, including how to notice detail and use more of my senses. Did you know that you need to encourage your audience to use more of their senses in order to engage them? 

Being here has opened my eyes to how little I know about the bush back home. My relationship with nature as a whole has improved since I arrived. Who would have thought that the tiniest insects like the dung beetle could be so crucial to maintaining the ecosystem? It’s true what they say—dynamite really does come in small packages.

Bushwise student Ziphozonke takes a selfie in a game viewer with her friends and fellow field guide students, on a game drive in the African bushveld.

The road here wasn’t always an easy one

The road here was not an easy one because sometimes I miss home and become home sick. But here on campus we are like this small family here with one similar goal – so every day is getting easier. I can’t believe how I’m starting to engage with the other students now, even if it’s not one of my strongest suits. Although it would be a stretch to claim I’m now at ease, it is remarkable! The group activities have helped me emerge from my shell. Even my mother was astonished since she had never imagined me in a situation where I would need to engage with others.

Overall, we had a difficult but successful week. I faced a dilemma involving virtual guiding, which forced me to think differently for a change. It was intriguing to observe how many different aspects of an animal might be discussed with only a single, straightforward image. I’m undoubtedly looking forward to the upcoming weeks. Salutations to the upcoming field guides.

Learn more about nature, and yourself – become a strong leader and an accomplished field guide with Bushwise. Apply today!

#Birding #bushwise #safariguide #FGASALevel1 #birds #apprenticefieldguide #safari #fgasa #fieldguiding #tracking #trackandsign #guiding

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