Life as a trainee Field/nature/safari guide: Rocking Reptiles & Beautiful Birds!
Ulovane update: After coming back from a weekend of personal time, everyone was re-energised and re-focused on starting the second half of the course.
Mondays saw the remainder of a storm pass over, so we stayed indoors and did our first set of bird ‘slide and sound’ identification. Our ears were tested as we went through about 30 bird calls and learned tips on how to identify these birds. Tuesday we were back into the bush for a day drive – Tracking skills was the big focus and after the rain we were able to find a lot of different tracks to study. We are now well into conducting our own ‘guided drives’ with our fellow students as guests, and with constructive feedback are busy putting the finishing touches on our skills and information before our big assessments.
Wednesday was Arthropods day – Our morning lecture was complimented nicely in the afternoon, with examples of almost everything covered in class was out and about after the rain. We came across termites, locusts, ants and butterflies! We also learnt how to determine which scorpions are dangerous.
Thursday we started the day off with a reptile lecture where we learned about the different types of reptiles in South Africa, as well as a focus on snakes with how to identify the venomous ones in the area and what symptoms to look out for when someone is bitten. In the afternoon we went on a walk up on Klipgat to look for a Hamerkops nest. These guys make very unique nests where they layer up on sticks to create a domed nest – these nests are re-used year after year and keep on getting bigger and bigger! We found it, along with some weaver nests and a Hadeda nest. We spent some time sitting, watching, and listening to the sounds of nature while a rock kestrel caught flying termites out of the sky. On our way back we decided to look for some critters, and managed to find a granulated scorpion – the most dangerous scorpion in South Africa!
Friday was birds day, with a 5.30am walk to hear the ‘Dawn Chorus’. We were able to test ourselves on identifying a few birds which were out an about and singing. When we got back to Ulovane it was straight to class to cover the theory of birds before an early start to the weekend (which means some extra prep for our Sunday exam!)
With the end of the course and our return home looming ahead, everyone is starting to slow down a bit and make the most of our time remaining at Ulovane. A group of us have just returned from a 2 hour hike through the property where we were able to get a good dose of fresh air and soak up some sun, ready for the week ahead!
It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference. Tom Brokaw