DEBORAH RICHIE – 13 JULY 2010

Dear Gail and Malcolm,

We are home and adjusting to long days of summer and the sound of our magpies and crows in the mornings instead of Hadeda Ibis…it’s disconcerting!

We loved South Africa. Starting out at your home was the best. Ian talks about Malcolm as his very favorite adult of the whole trip—–you have a fun way with him that empowers him to do things–we hope he will save the world.
Our best meals of the trips were at your home—thank you!

And seeing the Grey Crowned Cranes plus the Cape Parrots was very very special.

Your warmth and hospitality made us feel welcomed to South Africa in those first few days and gave us confidence both to take on birding and adventure. We also very much enjoyed listening to the CD you sent along with us about your part of the world–so well done. I’m going to share it here with people who will appreciate it.

We need to put together a couple different lists of birds to come up with our tally–as you can see from the online album we sent, we did see some very cool birds, including the Pel’s Fishing Owls in the Mkhuze fig forest river walk. We also had wonderful views of the Black-fronted Bush Shrike in the mist forests of Kurisa Moya, guided by David Letsoalo, who you know—we wish we had more time with him there. Another highlight–two views of the African Finfoot up in Ndumo on a guided bird walk on the Pongolo River with a fabulous guide there named Joseph. On our own we did okay, and reveled in the “common” birds–all those hornbills and Lilac-breasted Rollers in Kruger NP!

And I am happy to report seeing five kingfisher species–Giant, Pied, Malachite (first sighting with you!), Brown-hooded, and Striped (brief sighting on this one in Ndumo). Not bad for winter time.

Hugh Chittenden gave us his Roberts BIrd Guide to Kruger National Park, which proved invaluable. Just having breakfast there with Hugh and Loueen we watched all kinds of sun birds feeding outside their window on native flowers.

We loved Sirheni Bush Camp, just as you said we would, Gail. However, that is where I discovered the tick stuck in my ankle–which on return did turn into tick fever, and I’ve been sick the past few days–recovering with Doxyciline. I have a nasty wound in my ankle with a black hole in the middle. But I still love South Africa–and SIrheni—where we watched a family of elephants along the banks, pied kingfishers hovering, a goliath heron stalking the shallows among African Jicana, and listened to that beautiful descending call of a bird that I still need help remembering what that is….

We also stayed a night at Oliphants and thought that was a beautiful spot high on the hill overlooking the Oliphants River….all those braided channels, rocks and pools and flowing waters with hippos, crocs, elephants, fish eagles circling below us…

So many wonderful places, people, wildlife, birds and soccer too! The World Cup was a great part of the adventure too and can you believe the Netherlands made it all the way to the final—just couldn’t quite pull it off. However, Ian rooted for Spain so he was delighted.

Take care and we’ll be in touch,

Warmly,
Deborah

Visit my website at:
www.deborahrichie.com