Wildlife | 4 May 2018
For some it can be astonishing that people can go out into the wilds of the African bush and only “look” at birds, but for many, and more specifically us guides (the term game ranger has fallen away due to the various aspects of natural outdoors, not only “the game”-wild animals) it can keep us up the night before with excitement.
Yes, birds are beautiful, capable of flying-duh, masters of their own environment, natural singers and come in all various shapes and sizes. However, there are some parts of “Birding Day” that go unknown to our well-travelled guests. These parts help keep us sane, or in most cases positively insane! I thought I would let you in on what 24 hours dedicated to finding as many bird species as possible, AKA Birding Day means to the guides here on Kwandwe.
Preparation is key. Find the junior guide or, ideally the trainee, and designate him or her as the all-important driver of the day. As a guide a large part of your time is spent entertaining, informing and looking all while driving so for the rest of the team who do not have to steer the ship, being able to sit on the back and letting someone else drive means a lot. Now that the driver has been allocated, he or she must be prepared to pump the brakes at the command of “stop, stop, stop!”, and this could come at any time, even of it is the 27th Dark Capped Bulbul for the day.
Decide on a route. This needs to be based mainly on the most attractive parts of the reserve, suitable sunrise and sunset lookout points, oh and of course good birding areas. Although we really want to tally as many species as possible, sometimes being on the back of an open land cruiser with your work friends means a lot more, the birds will make an appearance.
Good conversation. Like any dinner party we all want flowing chit chat. There is no shortage of that when you group together a bunch of likeminded naturalists in the middle of the bush. Some may term it banter, others a good laugh, whatever you call it, it helps us look at the lighter side and brings us closer together as a team.
Learning from one another. One thing all guides have in common, no matter where we are, we all think we are right, always. Hearing the opinions of your colleague on whether it’s this bird or what we will see here can often spark a mild uproar from yourself or those around leading to some off-topic debate. We often learn more about the person than the feathered friend in question. This is all done in good spirit of course.
As you may have noticed Birding Day has a lot to do with having a jolly time with your friends. Amongst all the laughter we do manage to appreciate the
birds but not taking it too seriously helps relieve the build of stress from the formal environment. Birding day is a favourite for all of us but very
rarely is it solely about the birds. Appreciating the little things can often open the mind to taking a looking at the intricate details of the bigger