A bird in hand – Zaagkuilsdrift

Pearl-spotted Owl – uncowed

We were pulled-over by an admin account sailing at full-mast with an old bangerful of bookclub friends.

Foregoing the usual how-de-dos & the other social subtleties that hint at good-breeding, we ‘paid homage’ to the pseudo-intellectual & drilled down to sub-species for a Yellow Wagtail  (we’d seen earlier).

The interrogation, designed to put me in my place, was accompanied by sniggers from the juvenile squad in-back; fun to anticipate… High in impudence & low on wit, this macher is symptomatic of SA Twitching often feral & rancid.

Nobody gets a pass but if the middle-finger resides somewhere in the correct answer, then I guess we had the last laugh.



I don’t want to dwell on the riddikulus – (good people, bird) – but when I see ‘last seen at about 06h45 after which it disappeared and has not been seen since’ [SA Rare Birds], I tend to revert to the mean of ‘who dunnit?’.

Don’t kid yoursel’.    Some-dimwit-did.

One or two years ago I pooh-poohed Birdlife’s concerns on ‘birding with a camera‘ & ‘the lost art of field-observation‘; fair bunkum, prima facie, or so I thought. Turns out I was wrong. Endemic in the system is the inferred right of access covered in ‘the Ts & Cs of my camera & I’ – self-promotion that vindicates Birdlife’s concern & more’s the pity; a knob does not a photographer make.

Most laughable are the copyright watermarks splashed across photos that can only be described as seen / forgotten. Why average point-&-shoot photography courts fame in emperor’s new clothes, beats me.

Sebastian & friend [Crimson-breasted Shrike]
The Grand Old Dame – Wolfhuiskraal

Anyhoo – occasionally we get out far enough to see the birds; not having had the chance for much since autumn.

Zaagkuilsdrift, on the Limpopo / North West border, is purity in a bottle & we took along a bib & spoon for as much as we could get. We doubled the calories and packed the nets. There are few joys, in-hand, better than a bird in full HD.

Jameson’s Firefinch

We stayed at Wolfhuiskraal, the area’s grand old dame – the holiday-home of rare birds & the not-so-secret jewel of the drift. Why anybody would stay anywhere else, boggles, to say the least. Here punters have unfettered access, functional facilities and an unrestricted view of peace & quiet. It’s a moment of random joy.

Sow – Duroc / F1 cross

As these things go, the weather turned bitter, then foul. The wind was more than a zephyr and the rain lashed dust & mud onto anything we cared to slip & show. We should have done a cool running in nix but nought – these plains hold that joy in early summer; but courage balks @ peepers-in-de-bush and the thought of thorns & satellites.

‘Next time’ perhaps.

In the periods between squalls, however, we scored owls, finches, waxbills, shrikes, starlings et al and a Duroc / F1-cross. The birds we banded (ringed); the sow we coveted on a plate with eggs but let her go instead.

Regrettably, the weather extended post the early evening’s net-furl and put a damper on the itinerary’s ‘starlit’ fire-side hot chocolate & a tale.

The same development voided our front-seat tickets to the evening’s owling session. Fortunately, the pitter patter, on old thatch, filled our cups to overflowing – treasure banked for when next we’re ambushed by Sir Dancelot on a quest for status; but take heed, my friend – Motacilla flava flava is easier on the eye than it is in your craw.









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