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Sunday, 3rd March. Botswana at last, but only for a day trip for now. But first, breakfast. We always ate outdoors at Mahangu Lodge, for the three days. We did wonder where we would eat were it to rain, as we couldn’t see anything like a dining room, but the situation didn’t arise.

We set off to drive the short distance to the Botswana border to the south of the Caprivi Strip.

Lesser striped swallow

It was not long before we reached the border and went through emigration and immigration controls.

Never miss a chance to observe wildlife.

Scarlet-breasted sunbird

Everyone stood around taking photos while this hardworking dung beetle made its way over to a kerb, an impossible obstacle. With reassurance from leader Neil that it could do me no harm, I picked the beetle up and placed it where it appeared to be heading, then carefully placed its dung ball by its ‘nose’.

We moved on, into Botswana. We had just one purpose in making a day trip into a different country, which was to see a particular bird, very rare.

In due course we arrived at Drotsky’s Lodge, where we would in due course have lunch, but first we were to take a trip from there on the swamps of the neck of the Okavango Delta. The 17 of us were on two open boats, seated one person each side of a narrow gangway, with no shelter from the sun. We had been well-warned to protect ourselves as much as possible, and for me the breeze from the movement made the experience quite pleasant.

Some, by now, familiar and some less familiar birds.

White-fronted bee-eater
Little bee-eaters
African jacana
Cattle egret
Long-toed lapwings
Fan-tailed widowbird aka red-shouldered widowbird
Glossy ibis
Papyrus and a convolvulus
Gymnogene aka African harrier hawk

After a while we saw the very bird we had hoped for, a Pel’s Fishing Owl, way up in a tree by the bank of a river we were travelling on. It’s a large bird, and the colour of a ginger cat! To quote from my bird book, ‘… cinnamon underparts and rufous-brown upperparts …… Strictly nocturnal; spends the day perched in the dense foliage of a large tree ….. When flushed, flies a short distance and resettles in another tree, from where it watches the intruder.’ Which is exactly what it did while we watched it.

Having admired the magnificent bird, we meandered back along the channel, in and out of another one, and went back to the lodge for lunch.

Saddle-billed stork…
… flying off
Red bishop
White-fronted bee-eater

I saw this in the grounds of the lodge.

Red-billed spurfowl

After lunch, retracing our route, we went back though emigration (Botswana) and immigration (Namibia) controls.

And I was pleased to see elephant on the opposite bank from Mahangu Lodge, where we were to spend our third and last night there.

By the way, if it seems that there are awful lot of birds in these posts, these are just a sample! We were given a list at the outset of 538 birds we might see, potentially, as they had been spotted on previous Naturetrek trips here in previous years. By the end of the two weeks, collectively we had seen or heard about 375 of them, and added two more to the list, one a lifetime first for leader Neil, a Red-throated twinspot. (I didn’t see it, so no chance of a photo. Indeed, I doubt if I saw half of the total myself, and I took photos of many, many fewer, concentrating mainly on the larger ones.)