The West Rand Honorary Rangers hosted the seventh annual Birding Day over the last weekend in January, the traditional time for the event. A total of 435 guests took part over the weekend, sleeping in 12 camps. According to the Birding Day convenor, Allan Vos, the event is usually oversubscribed, with places being limited by the number of seats available on the game drive vehicles.
Birders like the event as the Kruger Park is one of the premier birding sites in the country, and the Kruger Park benefits as it is traditionally a quiet time in the park. Although reports are not yet in from all the camps, positive feedback has been received from some of the groups.
According to Nico Breedt, camp leader at Pretoriuskop, the 26 birdwatchers enjoyed the sunny weather, and counted a total of 241 bird species. The guests reported excellent service from the Pretoriuskop camp management and staff, and lovely meals provided by the restaurant. 'They commented on the cleanliness of the bungalows and the smooth arrangements of the programme.' They were especially impressed by their bush sundowners, where some style was introduced with tablecloths and wineglasses.
The Satara group was delighted to welcome Gerhard Verdoorn, who helped the group with raptor identification. They were lucky to spot a dark chanting goshawk. The Punda Maria birdwatchers caught sight of a Pel's Fishing Owl near Crooks Corner, along with some other specials. Crocodile Bridge reported 'top notch' catering and very good service at the camp. They especially commended the section ranger, Neels van Wyk, for his commitment to the birding weekend.
They saw 230 species, but reported a decrease from last year in the number of seedeaters seen, attributed to the late rains providing fewer seeds. They reported seeing the Yellow-Rumped Tinkerbird, which has only been recorded around the Crocodile Bridge area. The team also spotted a Black Bellied Starling. Sasol is the main sponsor of the Kruger Birding Day. Funds raised are usually used to erect public facilities in National Parks around the country, but especially Kruger. Previous projects of the West Rand Honorary Rangers include the new boma at Talamati and the thatch umbrellas at Timbavati.