Tuesday, 7 January 2014

800 Challenge - 2013 That's a wrap!

2014 has kicked off with a bang if the traffic in uptown Johannesburg is anything to judge these things by! To close off last year's challenge one or two stats:

Southern Right Whale - in "Whale" Bay
We covered a little over 100000 km cumulatively ie: over the duration of the year, inclusive of commercial / chartered flights, ships, boats, vehicles, buses, flat-bed trucks, rickshaws, bikes, ferry, by helicopter, by horse-back & in a makoro. I have no idea how many kilometers we walked.. but if the bathroom scale is anything to go by probably fewer than we should have!

We spent 151 days in the field ie: away from home. We saw 825 species from end to end and from pillar to post within the sub-region.

Over the period we did 4 trips to Namibia; 3 trips to Botswana; 2 trips to Zimbabwe; 2 trips to Mozambique; 1 trip each to Lesotho & Swaziland (transit). Most of the cross-border trips we kept as short as possible, a function of necessity rather than by design or preference. Our longest trip (12 days) was to Namibia's northern region incl. of Kunene & the Zambezi region (Caprivi).

The Namib desert / Namibia
We flew most of the major domestic routes at least once & as many as 10 times ie: to Cape Town. Exclude PE & Bloemfontein from that list. We missed our flight to PE & who flies to Bloem..? The only 'international' flight was the flight to Windhoek (Namibia). The other cross-border trips we did by vehicle.

If pushed to pick a favourite trip I would have to say central Mozambique & for reasons unrelated to the birds. [See the 'Stranded out to sea..' blog for some insight.] Alisha, by comparison, prefers Namibia over most other spots. The most surprising cross-border trip was to Zimbabwe's Mana Pools area. This was our 1st trip to the north of Zimbabwe & to be fair, a highlight & somewhere we'll return to as soon as we can.

My bird of the year - African Pitta [inside 3 m / Coutada 12 - Moz]
Alisha's bird of the year - Spotted Creeper [party of 4 / Marondera - Zimbabwe].
Surprise of the year - 2 Grass Owls 8:30 pm, in torrential rain; Ongoye -KZN. [also happens to be Alisha's 'worst trip of the year' - see blog post 'Ongoye -Muddy bloody barbet']
Dip of the year - Pintado Petrel..! [The sparrow of the winter seas]

Species seen by Alisha or by myself but not by both of us & therefore excluded:

Eurasian Blackcap - Marondera; Zim (Alisha & 3 others)
Lesser Seedcracker - Mt. Gorongosa; Moz (Mark & 1 other)
Amsterdam Albatross (Probable) - Zest pelagic; SA (Mark et al)
Slender-billed Prion - Zest pelagic; SA (Mark et al)

Probables excluded - ID inconclusive

Gull-billed Tern - (Kgomo Kgomo; SA) Photographs inconclusive
Zambezi Indigobird - (Masoka Village; Zim) Impossible to separate from other non-br indigobirds.

Possibles (excl): -

Yellow-bellied Hyliota - Chinizuia; Mozambique

Birds heard only: -

Madagascar Cuckoo - Biyamiti; KNP
Basra Reed Warbler (probable) - near Caia, Sofala [Moz]

To conclude we added 30 (approx) new species to our regional life list and we added 60 (approx) 'photographic' lifers over the period.

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