Limpopo Birding Routes once again exhibited at the Limpopo Tourism stand at the Travel Indaba, Africa’s largest tourism marketing platform, from 2-4 May. Lisa Martus and Paul Nkhumane met with local and international tour operators and generated much excitement about what Limpopo has to offer with incredible birding areas, a vast range of accommodation options, bird specials seen nowhere else in the country and legendary local guides.
This popular event from 10-12 April reportedly had a staggering 12 000 participants, bringing travel industry professionals together through pre-scheduled appointments. The Limpopo Tourism stand was popular, with the busy front desk fielding numerous questions about Limpopo as a destination. Lisa Martus and David Letsoalo were part of the dynamic Limpopo team and had a great response to the portal which Limpopo Birding Routes offers to tour operators investigating avitourism.
Birders love challenges, a popular one is the “100km Challenge” in which the goal is to find as many bird species as possible within a 100km radius of an area’s central point within one calendar year. The existing South African record was a tough target of 461 species, set in the Wider Gauteng Area in 2015. A certain young birder from Polokwane took up the challenge in 2018 and Daniel Engelbrecht’s spectacular result exceeded all his expectations! With a great deal of effort, commitment, patience and travel (and obliging dad, Derek) Daniel managed to tick an incredible 465 species, including some enviable megaticks such as Pectoral and Green Sandpiper. Congratulations on this fantastic record Dan!!
This year, the Sunshine Tour launched the new Limpopo Championship Tournament, where the CEO of Limpopo Tourism invited Limpopo Birding Routes director and prominent bird guide, David Letsoalo, to be interviewed by SuperSport on Sunday 10 March. This national exposure was valuable in promoting birding in Limpopo and introducing more people to birdwatching as a recreational activity.
Limpopo Birding Routes once again exhibited with Limpopo Tourism at the very popular Beeld (now Caravan, Camp and Destination) Show at the Gallagher Estates from 22-24 February 2019. The talented, award-winning sculptural artist from the Ribola Art Route, Pilato Bulala, was also on site to display some of his remarkable ‘scrapture’ artwork.
Limpopo Birding Routes was invited to exhibit at the 2018 Global Change Conference in Polokwane from 3-6 December. This extremely interesting event was attended by multidisciplinary climate change scientists and relevant NGO’s from across the globe. The fourth in a series of biennial conferences, it provided a valuable platform for all delegates to share their research results, experiences and innovative solutions to the some of the challenges of a changing planet and its threatened life-sustaining systems.
This popular event saw more than 1200 birders recording 646 species and nearly 42,000 sightings across the country. Incredibly, exactly half of the overall total of 646 species were recorded on the Capricorn-Letaba Birding Route by winning team ‘Zonke iNyoni’, with 323 birds. Congratulations Joe, Selwyn, Henk and Cornelius! Third-placed team ‘Wat Kyk Jy’ scored 305 on the same route, which just goes to show that the area around Polokwane and Tzaneen really is one of the premier birding destinations in the country!
Limpopo Birding Routes once again exhibited at the annual African Bird Fair, held in the beautiful Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens on 8 and 9 September 2018. The cold and windy weather made for some excitement with the exhibitors stands, but the event was nonetheless well attended.
Samson Mulaudzi and Marianne McKenzie were there to tell visitors about the many varied and exciting birding hotspots that Limpopo has to offer.
Limpopo Birding Routes was excited to be an exhibitor at the vibrant Limpopo Tourism stand at the World Travel Market in Cape Town from 18 – 20 April. Lisa Martus and David Letsoalo were there to meet tour operators from around the world and promote our fantastic array of birding sites and accommodation establishments.
In conjunction with Limpopo Tourism Agency, eight international tour operators were then taken on a four-day educational tour of some of Limpopo’s birding and cultural highlights.
In April 2018 Jody de Bruyn was birding in the Makotopong area, about 25km north east of Polokwane on the Capricorn-Letaba Birding Route. It was early morning and he was just about to leave when he spotted a peculiar-looking warbler foraging on the outside of a bush.
“The bird looked very grey and had a dark lengthy tail. These are some more features that I managed to see while photographing the bird... It had dark blue-grey legs and feet and a predominantly yellow-orange bill, which looked fairly long with a wide base. It seemed to have some white eye-ring and I didn't notice an eyebrow stripe going past the eye. It had plain lores, with plain cheeks. It had white outer-tail feathers and very slight white tips to the tail. There was uneven spacing of the tertial feathers and a noticeable white wing panel on the secondaries.
I tried to match this bird to any of the common migrant warblers that we find in our region, but none of them seem to fit the features and general "giss" of the bird. Puzzled at what species this could be I sent an e-mail to a few local experts, who in turn sent e-mails to experts around the world. The overall feeling was that this bird was an Upcher's Warbler, which was confirmed by warbler expert Peter Kennerley, co-author of the book "Reed and Bush Warblers".
The Upcher's Warbler spends its wintering months in East Africa and commonly migrates to countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania. This means that the bird I spotted was about 3,500km away from where it should be found, making this a remarkable record. So, there we have it – the second confirmed sighting of an Upcher's Warbler in the Southern African region!” – Jody de Bruyn