We spent the past weekend on another thoroughly enjoyable Karoo Birding Weekend in the Karoo National Park. It was my third time attending the event and I’ve penciled it in for October next year already. I thought I’d give an account of the experience as I really think every birder in South Africa should attend this event at least once in their lifetimes.
The format is a good old-fashioned birding competition and is organised by the Karoo Honorary Rangers. Each team (2-4 members usually) is assigned a local guide and have round about 20 hours to amass a bird list from their own vehicle. The guide is strictly along to verify sightings, and perhaps to coax the participants to possibly look up from the snack box for a second and admire the magnificent mountains on the right – whilst, for no particular reason, playing a Karoo Eremomela call out the window. It therefore (mostly) rests on the participants to spot and ID birds as well determine their route through the park.
Teams are divided into Beginner and Expert categories, so don’t feel intimidated if you’re just starting out! The prizes are excellent, with weekends away to parks all over the country for most of the placed teams! There are auctions, lucky draws and a photographic competition – all crammed into a weekend. Non-birders can relax in the subdued peace of the main camp so bring them along.
I am a keen birder and have been to numerous Birding Weekends all over the country, including Kruger, and this one still tops my list due to the fun factor. Sure, the total number of birds is far less than in other parts of the country, but the light-hearted competition, sublime landscapes and healthy dose of LBJ’s (don’t forget to bring Faansie Peacock’s book) makes this weekend shine.
If you’d like to know more feel free to contact me and I’ll forward you to the organisers, or just look out for announcements for next year’s event which will be in October again.
Cheers and happy birding
email: gbot300 at gmail.com