From Dusk Till Dawn
I am dedicating this month’s article to a friend and a big asset to the birding community who recently passed away. He was well loved in many birding circles and known for his excellence in birding and photography. I met Oom Chris when we went to Tzaneen for Rudi’s nationals last year. When Rudi went up for the pre-fish in May last year, another birding friend, Jannie, suggested I go visit a friend of his Oom Chris. Jannie told me of all the wonderful species Oom Chris had in just his garden alone. Amongst all the beautiful gems, two very special birds stood out, the Blue-spotted Wood-Dove and the Magpie Mannikin, two extremely rare finds in Southern Africa, and the cherry on the cake was, they breed in his garden!
I did not hesitate and called Oom Chris on our way to Tzaneen and booked a morning on his stoep. Birders from all over the country would visit by Oom Chris, have a warm cup of coffee and wait patiently for the guests of honour to arrive. The birds never disappointed and would arrive sometimes slowly, other times almost immediately when Oom Chris put out food for them. Many birds cascaded onto the feeding bowls and stumps in either large groups or pairs or single birds of a species. Oom Chris had names for almost every bird and knew each bird’s movements and feeding patterns. It was so nice to sit and listen to his extensive knowledge on the birds and what he has done for the birding community. His photographs were like what you saw on National Geographic. He set the bar very high and every time he saw me, he would ask me, “When are you getting yourself a decent camera?” I always giggled as even with my 500D Canon entry-level camera, I was still taking decent shots of birds. He always complimented me on my photos and said that even though I am able to take nice shots, if I got myself a 7D Canon it would make