The Notebook

Hadedah 'checks in' to Pilanesberg hotel & joins guests on game drives

Suzy Bernstein meets a big bird with a bit of an identity crisis while on a bush break in the North West Province

09 September 2018 - 00:00 By Suzy Bernstein

At Finfoot Lake Reserve in the Pilanesberg, we are to meet for a game drive at 9am.
Jordan the game ranger says: "I see Petrus will be joining us today."
There is no one else on the vehicle, but perched on the front is a lone hadedah. This, it turns out, is Petrus.
When the others arrive, we all clamber onto the vehicle and Petrus stays put. Throughout the game drive, he continually tilts his head to the side, angling for a stroke from Jordan. He clearly enjoys the attention.
Finfoot boasts incredible birdlife for avid twitchers, but this form of bird watching is certainly unique. We can't help but wonder: are we watching the bird or is the bird watching us?
Petrus has both guests and rangers speculating about all sorts of things. Was he a game ranger in his past life? Would he qualify as a frequent flyer? Is he even a he? (It is difficult to sex the birds, so no one is sure).
Hadedahs are monogamous, but for now he/she is the only one here.
He/she likes to spend time around the male game rangers, standing alongside them like one of the men, when they gather around for a chat. Petrus is not so keen on women, often using his long, curved beak to peck at them when they get too close. This hadedah has attitude. Oh la-di-dah, hadedah.
He was brought to the reserve several months ago after being rescued by a lady in Rustenburg. He voluntarily went along on his first game drive and has never looked back.
Finfoot's daily activities also include boat rides on the lake, and Petrus occasionally joins those too, but seems to prefer the drives.
For a hadedah, he is particularly quiet. Maybe there's less to screech about in the bush, since he doesn't need to make himself heard above the din of the city. 
• 'The Notebook' is about chance meetings and unforgettable encounters people have had on their travels. Send us your story - no more than 400 words - and, if published, you'll receive R500. Mail travelmag@sundaytimes.co.za with the word Notebook in the subject line...

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