Birding with Groot Oom Koos

I wholeheartedly agree with Stephen Fry‘s statement that “Education is the sum of what students teach each other between lectures and seminars,” and was thrilled when great parents Dawie and LindiLou boldly said, “Bunk school my son! Go birding with your Groot Oom Koos!”

Klein Dawid donned his camo gear and gumboots, threw on Dad’s binnies and made himself a large pack lunch. Now he was ready. His first inkling that Koos is a wimp came when I said we’d start out by birding their beautiful garden on Umvoti Villa. I think he was thinking of a slightly more adventurous foray.

But when I was able to nail down a number of birds in my 25X Kowa scope for long enough for him to get a really good view, he was sold. Cardinal Woodpecker, Red-eyed Dove, Black Flycatcher, Cape Sparrow, Yellow-fronted Canary, Cape Wagtail, etc

Then we had a birding lesson: What’s that on the high wire? I asked as I lined up my scope again – at the right height for a five year-old so he wouldn’t pull down on it and miss the bird. It’s a Black Flycatcher – No, its bill is bigger, it’s a Drongo, I said. ‘No,’ said Klein Dawie, ‘It had yellow on its wings, it’s a starling.’ Blow me down, it was. A Redwing Starling. He’d seen it flap its wings and show some of that rust colour. Lesson learnt, my boykie, thank you!

That made him think this oke needs revision, so we went indoors for some bookwork on the dining room table, where he taught me about some extinct birds and some living birds:

. . then for a walk to the dam with his Gran, my sister Barbara, where we saw Malachite Kingfisher, Bald Ibis, Hadeda, Grey Heron, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Cattle Egret, Yellow-bill Duck, Red-bill Teal, etc. Thanks goodness I remembered to take a pic:

Just goes to show that playing hooky is indeed a better education. If he hadn’t bunked a day of Grade R he wouldn’t have been able to teach me a thing or two. And he wouldn’t have been able to hone his spotting scope technique:


Groot Oom – Great Uncle

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