Wednesday, 6th March. While our guides were not licensed for Botswanan wildlife trips, there was nothing to stop them explaining things if we took established boat rides from Chobe Safari Lodge within the Chobe National Park. So at 9 a.m. we set off for the first of two boats rides today – in which we saw lots of elephants! On the whole, to begin with, we kept to the south bank of the Chobe River.
When we saw elephants, I took enormous numbers of photographs and videos. Just a very few are here.
We continued on our way, to a ‘lovely’ muddy area.
We started wending our way back, mainly along the northern bank of the river now.
These impala were on the far southern bank.
The we became aware of lots, and lots, and lots of elephant lining the southern bank.
On the northern bank was already this leader, presumably the matriarch of at least some of them. She summoned them over.
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.
It was not long before we reached the border and went through emigration and immigration controls.
Never miss a chance to observe wildlife.
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.
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.
I saw this in the grounds of the lodge.
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.)
I didn’t always join the group for every little excursion on foot, especially when it meant getting up even earlier than usual. Here’s what I missed on one occasion, video again courtesy of Dave Allen. Charming coatis.
Overnight it had rained, and the atmosphere was very damp indeed on Saturday, 26th, though a little, a little, cooler. This is what the rain had done to the tree outside my room.After breakfast, I did go for a little wander in the grounds on my own, and climbed the observation tower, to see a Jabiru stork nest from another angle.I actually switched my camera to video, and took this experimentally myself, and was intrigued to see a teenager learning how to arrange the nest.
The cawing you can just hear in the background is Chaco chachalacas. I was pleased to see (and recognise!) a monk parakeet up there as well.
We set off on another boat ride, in the other direction. The river soon narrowed down, from this,
There was frequent reversing and roaring of motor to free the propeller from greenery
There were just so many birds, over our heads, beside us, around us.
Boat-billed heron, unfortunately hiding most of its boat-bill
Two toco toucans and anhinga
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
The other boat forges the way for ours among the water hyacinth
The flower is very pretty
We disembarked to go for a short walk in the woods, to see this, a Great potoo. It didn’t move a muscle all the time we were there, hoping (thinking?) that we couldn’t see it.
It was only around 9.00 when we got back, and it was damp, starting to rain again.
We agreed to reconvene at 10.30 to see whether it was still raining and to decide whether to go for another stroll in the grounds, with a particular bird in mind.
It wasn’t, so we did.
Wattled jacana (it wasn’t this we had in mind)
Before we got to our goal, it started raining again, but we decided to press on. And got soaked. Still we saw the
Great horned owl
just about. We sheltered under its huge tree, which made a little difference to our degree of wetness, and made our way back to the lodge when the rain slightly eased. Still, I got another, more subdued, sighting of the lovely orange-backed troupial, in the tree by my room.