Birding Without Borders

Day 205: Birds and Rugby

Noah meets a celebrity in Cape Town.

July 24, 2015: Cape Town, South Africa — Adam Riley and I went “shopping” this morning for a few remaining birds near Pietermaritzburg, the names of which Adam had written on a scrap of paper like a grocery list. We tracked down a dozen more new sightings before the clock ran out, and I headed for the Durban airport and an afternoon flight to Cape Town.

This completes my 11 days in eastern South Africa, a productive stretch thanks to Adam and the Rockjumper tour. Besides birds, I also saw more than 50 species of mammals this week, including 25 lions, three leopards, four cheetahs, two aardvarks, and two wild dogs! 

A local birder named Callan Cohen picked me up in Cape Town, and we headed straight for a friend’s house in a suburb. Mike and Jean Buckham welcomed us for dinner with two of their sons, Tommy and Adam, each keen birders. When I arrived, the neighbors, a guy named Bob and his wife and kids, were over for drinks; and later another birder named Dave dropped by. Adam handed me a wonderful handmade card that read: 

“Dear Noah, Birds are the best. I really have been excited for you to come and stay at our house. I hope you see a few of our special endemics like rockjumpers, both the rock-thrush, sugarbird, orange-breasted sunbird and siskin. I hope you get a beautiful sunset and sunrise. You should see a nice view of Cape Town’s treasure, Table Mountain. Good luck. Love Adam Buckham.”

The neighbors wandered back home before dinner, and, after they left, Jean said something like, “…and the best part is that Noah doesn’t even know who Bob is!” She explained that I’d just been chatting with Bobby Skinstad, a recently retired rugby player who, several years ago, was captain of the Springboks, South Africa’s national rugby team. Callan added that virtually every person in South Africa knows who Bob iscaptaining the Springboks is like being God in this country. Of course, I had no idea. Jean thought this was deliciously funny. “We told him this famous birder was coming, and he popped over for drinks,” she said. “I heard him tell his daughter to get a picture with you!”

New birds today: 12

Year list: 3,704

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