It’s Monday, which means it’s time for the next instalment in our Ultimate Birders Christmas Wish-list. This week is part three, and already we have given you lots of ideas to spoil the birders in your life (or to spoil yourself). Like we have said previously, we have tried to keep the list as broad as possible, with a wide range of prices – which means that different tastes and budgets are catered for.
So here is part 3 of our Christmas wish-list – please comment and let us know which of the ideas you like the best:
1) A pair of Veldskoen – Adam Cruickshank
Reading the top of the Veldskoen shoes website shows why this is a brand that I am passionate about – ‘Sharing our South Africa-ness with the world’. Veldskoen is a style of shoes that is uniquely Southern African (Veldskoen is an Afrikaans word that can be translated as ‘Field Shoe’). They are both old-school and cool all at the same time. My father was Rhodesian, and I remember him proudly wearing his pair of ‘vellies’ every day to work. He was a fitter and turner – so his shoes were covered in layers of grease, but he would wear a pair for many years. These shoes are tough as they come!
What I love about these shoes, is they are just as great walking through the bush on a Saturday chasing birds as they are on a Monday morning for the office. There are other brands that make this style of shoes, but the Veldskoen Shoes brand is streets ahead in my opinion. They are handmade in KwaZulu Natal from ethically harvested fully tanned bovine leather. They say on their website that they take a week or two to wear in, but I took them out the box and found them comfortable immediately. There customer service is exceptional – my shoes arrived less than 24 hours after ordering them! These shoes are a great gift for a birder – they will provide hours of comfort while traversing the African bush in search of the next lifer. They are available all around the world and come in a wide variety of colourful soles. This is a proudly South African brand that is truly lekker and well worth supporting.
For more information or to order a pair visit https://veldskoen.shoes/
2) Hydro Flask Coffee Flask – Adam Cruickshank
I have mentioned in a previous post how well coffee and birding go together. Many brands make claims about what their product can do and then when you use the product it fails to deliver. I have used many flasks and find that they do not keep the water hot for as long as they claim. Hydro Flask claim that this flask due to ‘its double wall vacuum insulation protects temperature for hours’ – they say that it will keep your water hot for up to 12 hours. Last week Saturday I participated in the Birdlife South Africa’s Birding Big Day – we started at 2am and finished at 9pm that night – so caffeine was a necessity. On the day, I made coffee in the flask at 1:30am in the morning, and because we ended up buying a cup from a garage, I only ended up drinking it late in the morning. The coffee was still piping hot in the flask after all the hours of sitting in the flask. It was easy to sip from the flask with its Flex Sip Lid, and it sealed well which meant that there was no spillage. What I loved was how you can disassemble the lid to make sure that it gets cleaned well after it has been used. This isn’t the cheapest flask you will get, but it’s good looks are matched by its performance. You can buy a cheaper flask, but I suggest investing in a Hydro Flask – you will have a flask that will give you many years of hot coffee!
The Hydro Flask is available at various retail stores
3) Flight of the Drongo – Pearl Mountain Wines – Tyron Dall
The Fork-tailed Drongo appeared for the first time on the farm at Pearl Mountain Wines about ten years ago. Like the Drongo, the Grenache was new to the farm, and hence the name of this Grenache Noir wine. Pearl Mountain have been inspired to work with nature, and not against it. They encourage animal life in their vineyards and on the farm in general. Their pest control happens through an assortment of natural predators, of which the Helmeted Guineafowl is the top of the pyramid!
Flight of the Drongo is the first wine, in their “For the Birds” range. All the grapes used are organically grown. The wine reflects the character of the vineyard they come from, and are matured in neutral vessels to avoid overpowering the natural character of the Grenache. The result is a fresher, zesty and lighter style wine.
For more information please visit https://pearlmountain.co.za/
4) A Sapphire Coast Weekend getaway at the stunning El Palma Guest House – Tyron Dall
Escape for a birding weekend to the town of Amanzimtoti on the KZN south coast and stay at this luxurious four-star guest house. El Palma Guest House offers accommodations with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, a shared lounge and a garden. Offering garden or sea views, each unit comes with a kitchenette, a satellite flat-screen TV and DVD player, desk and a private bathroom with shower and a hairdryer. A microwave, a fridge and toaster are also offered, as well as a kettle and a coffee machine.
Look out for all the birds that come to the feeders at the patio and garden areas. Red-headed Queleas are among the more desirable birds to visit, but numerous other species also occur.
Then venture a bit farther and explore all the birding hotspots in Amanzimtoti, including the coastal forests of Umbogavango, Amanzimtoti Bird Sanctuary and the trails at Amanzimtoti Sports Centre, as well as the lagoon habitats of the Amanzimtoti and Illovo Rivers.
For more information or to book a weekend away please visit http://www.elpalma.co.za/
5) A subscription to Bird Journal – Calvin Harris
Lifelist management is not spoken about enough in the birding community! By this I mean, everybody does it, but we all have our own ways of going about it. Some keep handwritten lists on their fridge doors, others have detailed spreadsheets, some use Birdlasser - I use Birdjournal. What is Birdjournal, you might ask.... Well, it’s a user-friendly resource to keep track of all our various sighting and lists including mammals. I love this software because unlike many other platforms it installs natively onto your PC i.e. you don't need the internet to access it. It syncs to an online cloud storage account which allows you to use the accompanied mobile application anywhere in the world. This software allows you to pair your sightings with your own photographs to keep a log of all the species you have seen and photographed. Having solid, easy to use life list management software adds a whole new dimension to the hobby and that is why I think this will be an amazing gift for the birder in your life!
For more information please visit https://www.birdjournal.com/
6) A Sasol Birds of Southern