Ahhh, 2020 is already moving ahead apace and I am just finalising my “My Birding Year” post for the past year …. how time flies as you get older!
Before getting into a summary of my birding exploits for 2019, I asked myself – what were my birding expectations at the beginning of the year and how far did I go in achieving what I set out to do? I decided that they were …..
- Atlasing – my first priority nowadays and I aim to atlas one day per week – I generally managed to do so and my species list atlased for the year reached 426 spread across southern Africa, a more than satisfactory outcome in my book – not for personal glory but rather an indicator that my atlasing efforts were well spread across many parts of the country
- Birding outside southern Africa – knowing we would be visiting Australia for the first time in April and May was an exciting prospect and the country and its bird life were an absolute treat
- Lifers – most birders are driven by the desire to add new lifers to their lists and I am no different, however I have found that this aspect of birding is becoming less important with my focus shifting to citizen science activities such as atlasing. Nevertheless I cannot deny being thrilled each time I added a lifer – I saw just one lifer in southern Africa during the year but made up for that with 68 new birds added to my “world list” from our Australia trip
- Photography – I find bird photography in particular to be an ongoing challenge and am always on the lookout for that special one (photograph, not Jose Mourinho the manager of my favourite football team).
Rather than get into a lengthy month by month description as per previous years I thought I would let the photos do most of the talking with a short note here and there to add some background
As with recent years, it all started in the Southern Cape, around Mossel Bay and further afield
Marievale Bird Sanctuary remains one of the best and most pleasant places to bird in Gauteng with its well-kept hides and fluctuating water levels
A short stay at Pine Lake Resort near White River was an opportunity to bird the resort itself and to do a day trip to nearby Kruger Park
Mabusa Nature Reserve is a quiet, less visited reserve some 100 kms from home and I love spending time atlasing there
Then in April came our first trip to Australia, covered in some detail in earlier posts so I don’t want to repeat myself – suffice to say we had an exciting time discovering what this fine country is all about and finding many new, often spectacular, birds. This is a selection of some of the standout birds that I found (or they found me, I’m never sure) …
Back home over the winter months, I focused on atlasing an area north-east of Pretoria, which proved to be challenging at times, having to contend with the traffic on tar roads and the dust on the gravel back roads
A last-minute booking saw us spending a week in Kruger Park – the best place to do some quality birding
More Gauteng atlasing followed during the winter months
We do look forward to our week at the Verlorenkloof resort in Mpumulanga, and with reason – it’s a perfect place to combine relaxation with some excellent birding
On one of my atlasing outings, I spent a pleasant morning at Rietvlei Nature Reserve, not far from home
I joined a team of 3 other keen birders for the annual Birding Big Day at the end of November. We ended up with 184 species for the day and a pleasing 50th place countrywide. There was only time for a quick snatched photo of the team heading through bush at one of our many stops
We closed out the year in Mossel Bay, where Sugarbirds visit our garden