Ulovane Update: January 2018 Field Guides, March Marine and Bird Guides
Three Courses, one week, yes this is how week nine went! Yes there may have been one or two bumps along the way but there is a perfect quote about this, “If you are not making mistakes you are not learning and growing”. We learn and grow everyday, together!
Enjoy the busy update, it is guaranteed to entertain you! Thank you as always for everyone’s contributions!
Field Guides Week 9
We had no shortage of excitement this week, as our second and final assessment drives were scheduled for the coming days. We had already completed our first drives, and were all ready and raring to go for our second, to learn from our mistakes and pass with flying colours. Early on Monday morning, Schalk sat the entire class down for a short debrief on our first drives, discussing where we went wrong, and how to improve for the future. Overall, we all came out satisfied with our first drives, and feeling far more relaxed and ready for our second drives. There were a few hiccups along the way, no doubt. Some guests cancelled their drives, some drives were postponed due to weather, and organizing drives for schoolkids is always a complicated task. However, everyone is completing their drives to the best of their abilities. There have been some memorable sightings, from elephants to a troop of playful Vervet monkeys, and all guests walked away happy.
Last week we learned the value of teamwork and co-operation, and this week we kicked it into high gear with our hosting teams pulling together for the drivers, providing drinks for the guests, and even lighting a small fire for the guests after some drives were caught in the rain.
For those not on the hosting team, they weren’t given the day off. We continued with our Conservation Management work, this week focusing on fixing the roads, creating Bolsters and Mitre Drains, and digging for limestone in the local quarry. We had learned about all of this during our Geography and Conservation lectures, now was the time to put it into practice.
However, for Monday and Tuesday, there no driving assessments, for those were the days we were assessed instead on our Final Presentations. We had 10 minutes to talk about a subject of our choice, while Shani Preller assessed us on our presenting skills, our use of humour, eye contact, and clarity of voice, as well as our ability to hold the audience’s attention. We had subjects of all kinds, ranging from tracking to photography to astronomy, each presenter giving their all. We all learned something new with each presentation, even when we were the ones presenting.
All in all, this has been a fun and exciting week, with presentations, driving assessments and conservation management. And the weather added to the excitement, swinging wildly from boiling temperatures on Monday and Tuesday, to pouring rain on Thursday and Friday. However, no matter the challenge, we pulled together and supported each other throughout it all, and we are coming out smiling.
Jordan McCullough and Kyle ‘The Man’ Fletcher
Marine Guides Week 2
The second week of the marines course started and all I can say is, it is AMAZING. I would have never thought, that this course was going to be so much fun! This week we went to Brenton on sea for the whole week. We had activities planned for every day.
The week started off good with a little bit of surfing. We went out to different beaches from Knysna to Plettenberg to buffels bay, to see and learn something different about the marine environment every day. I have never seen so many beautiful places so close together! We identified things we could find on the beach and went snorkeling in the afternoon. We had a braai on the beach and went fishing.
One day we drove to robberg in Plettenberg bay and went for a “little” walk. For me this day was a little adventure.I had no idea what to expect and thought of a little walk on the beach, but it was a little bit more than that . Climbing rocky hills up and down, walking right on the edge of cliffs and that for 11km.. believe me that night we all slept really well!
Today is the last day and we are all feeling a little bit sad to leave this beautiful place already! It was an amazing week thanks to our instructor Koen, who planned all of this, took us on these amazing trips, taught us a lot of interesting and valuable things about the marine environment and made this week unforgettable.
The ocean is a central image. It is the symbolism of a great journey. Enya
Bird Guides Week 1
The serious business of birding has begun!
The first week was full of activities out in the field, moving around various areas to discover and identify as many species as we could.
Initially we started with Ulovane itself and drives on Amakhala Game Reserve, on day 1 we were able to identify over 60 species, with a couple of very special sightings; firstly of a half collared kingfisher which flew past us over a crossing. We decided to sit for a while to see if we could get a further visual. After sometime he appeared, landing on a branch just above our heads just for a few moments before carrying on his business of scanning the water for prey. Secondly a juvenile Black Sparrow-hawk swooped in, it appeared to be going for a Cape Wagtail, however it possibly veered off after seeing us and we lost it as it manoeuvred into the thickets!
Further searching found us leaving the camp and home turf of Amakhala and heading out to the estuary of the Bushmans river at Kenton, stopping at Intaka Birding Lodge for a lovely lunch and the Assegaai Trails. Before we even reached any of our destinations we were pulling over on the roadside to take pictures of a Long Crested Eagle sitting on a telegraph pole.
At the estuary we spotted the Cape Cormorant, Reed Cormorant, Purple Heron and Common Whimbrel. Arrival at the Assegaai Trails lead to much excitement as we were to camp overnight and found that we were camping in a rather stunning spot at the bottom of a steep valley, a river ran past camp and cliffs rose up on the other side, not only did we have the birds to listen to but Rock Dassie’s and a troop of baboons who’s calls and squabbles echoed through the valley and really was quite something to experience!
Unfortunately, even with the best laid plans, the weather doesn’t always play ball and it began to rain not long after we reached camp. We went out for a short walk regardless and heard many birds including the Red Fronted Tinkerbird and the Olive Bushshrike, along the way we also found a Bronze Caco, just because we are out birding doesn’t mean we ignore everything else!
After warming up with a fire and a braai it was time to sleep with the hope the rain would pass… it didn’t, we braved a walk in the morning and were rewarded with a Giant Kingfisher and an African Paradise Fly-catcher. For me personally the Kingfisher family is one of my favourites and I’m always happy to see one.
After a slight struggle to get out of the Valley after so much rain (note to self, make sure you take a 4X4 vehicle for Rock Bottom Camp next time lol) we made our way back to camp and carried on with classes which consists of going through slides and sounds of birds you need to know for the exam and locally birding around Amakhala.
Sunday brought our first test, 140 questions, 70 visual slides and 70 sounds… this is not an easy task and only a part of what we have to know for the final exam. The birding of just this one week has increased my knowledge immensely, the course is short and intense and a lot of fun. Lets see what next week brings…
You know, you do need mentors, but in the end, you really just need to believe in yourself. Diana Ross