Here’s a dark secret that I’ve had to come to terms with about my fiance: Matt is a twitcher. He is an avianophile. I’ve had to accept that if we are driving; talking; or entertaining, Matt will stop the car; interrupt; run out of the house to photograph a Warbler, or even a small Chat Flycatcher.
Another part of his condition is that Matt doesn’t discriminate. He’ll be just as happy spotting a rare Steppe Buzzard as a common Bronze Mannikin.
What’s worse is his condition is contagious. Before I met Matt, most little brown birds looked alike. A finch was a finch. I didn’t know the difference between a crimson-wing finch or a weaver. But now, I’ll happily point out a Bishop or a ‘B.O.P.’ (bird of prey). Once, at Kruger last year, I even spotted a juvenile Lappet-faced Vulture, and was rewarded with a high five.
Perhaps this is why we enjoyed Wilderness so much. The wet weather followed us from Mossel Bay, and we sheltered in our rondewal. Suddenly Matt was on his feet and out of the house, snapping away at the branches above at a Knysna Lourie (sadly these photos didn’t work out).
Wilderness is a village set between the Kaaimans River and the Goukama Nature Reserve and bordered by the Outeniqua Mountains. The rivers link a series of lakes around the Wilderness town area and National Park. Water birds are abundant.
We stayed in the Wilderness Ebb and Flow nature reserve for two nights, a great spot for peace and quiet, birding, nature trails, canoeing and mountain biking. In fact, there’s plenty to do here and we didn’t really scratch the surface.
|Guinea fowl – I think they are so funny to watch|
On our first morning, we started early and drove up to
|View at a rest-stop of the beautiful mountain pass|
* There are different types of ostriches – white ostriches, Kenyan Red ostriches and Zimbabwean Blue ostriches.
* Male ostriches go red on the beak, the legs and in the neck when on heat. They look like they are wearing lipstick and red tights.
|Standing on two ostrich eggs – note the Che shirt.|
|Matt feeding the ostriches|
|Our guide introduced us to the ostrich called ‘Useless’. While the bag is on his head, he doesn’t run.|
|Matt on the ostrich|
|Me on the big chook, not looking too confident. It just stands there because ostriches are too stupid to back up.|
The next sequence of photos shows Matt’s ride on the ostrich. It all happened very quickly. First he mounted the bird, then one of the men whipped off that bag on the ostrich’s head, and it starts to run. Another man runs alongside the ostrich with a very long stick and a hook on the end – like the ones you see in cartoons. This is literally the ‘brake’. Once you grab the ostrich by its neck, it stops.
|Licence to ride.|