Safari Guide of the Year 2022. Birds, slides and sounds.

"Some birds are not meant to be caged, that's all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild."– Stephen King, 'Rita Hayworth And Shawshank Redemption'.





This event was completed recently at the Southern African Wildlife College, where Bushwise hosted the finalists, judges, sponsors, media and invited guests who were dressed by apparel sponsor Ruggedwear.

One of the activities that 5 finalists had to compete in was ‘Birds, slides and sounds’, which was not as easy as it might seem. 60 species and 60 calls need to be accurately identified.

As an aside, most years, this is the one event that causes the finalists concern, however, this year it was the storytelling that took the top spot for stress.




Now, the judges and the finalists could have headed out into the reserve and, in a fixed time, been judged on calls and sightings. However, that would not made for a level playing field and also all the finalists might have only come back with the various calls and mimicry of the Fork-tailed Drongo. Not a great way to judge the finalist’s competence.




So, it was into one of the lecture halls at the college and a slide and audio presentation that was representative of Southern African birds, rather than what lay just outside of this controlled environment.




As with track and sign, it was Juan and James who kept control of the proceedings.

And for those who are trying to ID the bird on the screen, it is a female Amur Falcon.

Did you know?

The Amur Falcon breeds in south-eastern Siberia and Northern China before migrating in large flocks across India and over the Arabian Sea to winter in Southern and East Africa.

Females can be more difficult to identify as they share a pattern common to many falcons, but are distinctive in having an orange eye-ring, a red cere and reddish orange feet.

During their migration from their breeding area to the winter quarters, they are plump and are hunted for food in parts of Eastern Africa.




Juan, being calm and controlled. More than I could say for the finalists who seemed to be concerned about what the rest of the event would be like, given the complexity of the first slide.




Keeping a record? I suppose that the finalists compared answers after the event and trying to remember the 120 species and calls that they wrote down would be difficult.




No wonder Ashwell Glasson is smiling. He is not only the Registrar at the  Southern African Wildlife College, but he is also an SKS: National Bird Guide and was on hand most days to make certain that all was going according to plan…and to enjoy himself.

He was therefore NOT a finalist but was taking part to test his own knowledge.

A quote from Ashwell: “The test was tough, tougher than expected for me. Knowing birds from other biomes and localities was the biggest challenge. I have not travelled much lately and I felt the gap in my call identification“.

And for those who were wondering, he identified 54 birds and 53 calls correctly.




Not required under the lighting in the lecture room.




Liam’s smile seems to be more nervous than joyfully. But perhaps I am mistaken?





Solomon smiled throughout the competition, so this was his usual game face.




And Nico could not wait for the first slide to appear on the screen, or perhaps not.




How many pens does one really need?




I am not certain how many of those Cameron actually utilized, but whatever the number, they enabled him to win this event.

But perhaps it was his actual birding knowledge rather than his stationery that got him the win?




Almost over?




And while all that was going on inside, this Lilac-breasted Roller was perched not too far away.




With thanks to all the sponsors, without whom, Safari Guide of the Year 2022 would not be the success that it was!






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