is definitely not for the birds


Bird-watching: how to take flight


Here are Ronel's tips on how to become a successful bird watcher:


  • When choosing a camera, buy one with the most optical zoom, for instance the Canon SX65 or Nikon P900.
  • Binoculars are not necessary if you have a camera with a good zoom function.
  • You must have at least one bird book – my favourites are Roberts’ and Sasol’s bird guides.
  • Handy apps for your phone are Robert’s Bird Guide 2 (my favourite), Sasol eBirds Southern Africa or BirdPro.
  • When you are in the veld, drive slowly with open windows. As soon as you hear any bird noises, stop immediately. If you have to go back, the bird would probably not be there any more.
  • Take your picture as soon as possible, or try to observe and remember as much detail as you can. Features such as size, colour, body shape and the shape of the bill are all very important for identifying bird species.


Ronel says every region has its own unique species. “You have to visit as many areas as possible to be able to expand your list of identified birds.”

Avid birder Ronel Röscher obtained a master’s degree in chemistry in 2010 and is currently working in the NWU’s web office at Corporate Communication.

“I am not even halfway with the southern African birds yet, and will probably never stop searching for rare and new birds.”


These are the words of Ronel Röscher, web developer at Corporate Communication.


“My husband, Justus, and I went on holiday in the Kruger Park in 2008 and because I love taking photographs, I photographed any animal or bird that moved. Only when we got home and I looked at the photos did I realise there were many of them that I did not recognise.


“Fortunately, we had a Sasol Birds book to identify the birds and that is where the bird-watching bug bit us.”


When the wheels start turning


Ronel says that most of their bird-watching expeditions take place when they go on holiday.


They mainly visit the national parks in the country and have been to Augrabies, Camdeboo, Golden Gate, Kgalagadi, Marakele, Karoo, Namaqua, Mountain Zebra, Tankwa Karoo, Garden Route, Kruger, St Lucia, Hluhluwe and Mkuze.


She says it is difficult to identify a favourite spot, but she prefers places in Natal and the Kruger Park. “Mkuze has the best bird hides where you can watch a large variety of birds.”


Ronel says they are not so fanatic that they drive many kilometres to see certain birds. “Our hobby starts when we get into the car on the way to our holiday destination, until we stop at home again.”


She remembers the redbilled teal and the avocet that they placed on their list for the first time during a holiday, just to discover later that the two birds could also be found in the Prozesky Bird Sanctuary just a few kilometres from their home.


Snaps birds from far away


Ronel photographs all the types of birds to identify them later. She then uses a good zoom lens to focus on the birds from long distances.


“I have often asked Justus out of the blue to stop just to watch a bird before we drive on. Fortunately we share the hobby and he does not really mind stopping.”


Ronel explains that she now has 411 birds on her “life list” (a record that is kept of all the birds a bird-watcher has seen and identified). A few of the rarest bird species on this list are the Pel’s fishing owl, the African broadbill and the blue korhaan.


“But there are so many kinds I want to see. I have not even ticked off all the local birds and then there are also many in various other regions that I would like to see.”


At home in the web office


Ronel hails from Hartswater and first obtained a BSc degree in chemistry in physics and then an honours and a master’s degree in chemistry at the NWU.


After completing her studies in 2011 she assisted with web work on a part-time basis and decided to remain there. She is now part of the team that does web development and feels very much at home in the corporate communication team.


She and Justus, a senior lecturer in chemistry at the NWU, were married in 2006. They live on a smallholding together with their dogs and cats, and Ronel can follow her other passion – for gardening and planting vegetables – there too.