Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Namutoni Safari

Began the day with an out-of-range Yellow-bellied Greenbul in the gardens showing nicely in the early morning sunshine, whilst a few Black-backed Puffbacks in the same tree were also new and there was also a couple of Red-billed Buffalo-Weavers. A nice way to start the day. 

This Yellow-bellied Greenbul should have been along the Caprivi Strip, far to the north....

Then we set off on our morning safari, driving along Fischer’s Pan and boy it was chilly! Before the day warmed up we had good views of a pair of Red-necked Falcons, Black-shouldered Kite, Secretarybirds, Black-chested Snake-eagle and a pair of Gabar Goshawks perched in an acacia, one of which was a melanistic bird. 

Gabar Goshawks

We continued along the edge of a huge wide-open plain and then into more typical ‘bush country’ until we reached a small waterhole where a few Burchell’s Sandgrouse were coming in to drink. 

Burchell's Sandgrouse is one of the star birds of Etosha

One male was very obliging as he sat in the water gathering moisture on his belly feathers to take to his chicks somewhere out in the vast expanse of Etosha.

Continuing on we had a close flyover from a stunningly superb Bateleur that circled right above us several times, and then later a Martial Eagle was seen in flight, although the close views of a fine adult perched on top of a bush later on were much better. A White-headed Vulture was also seen a couple of times and is a rather scarce bird here, and we also saw Rufous-crowned Roller, Red-billed Quelea, Long-tailed Paradise-Whydah, our only Red-breasted Swallow of the tour, Long-billed Crombec, and both Desert and Rattling Cisticolas.


Undoubtedly the highlight of the day was at the last waterhole we checked as there were two separate herds of African Elephants present, with numbers estimated at around 100+ animals. They came quite close to us and were maybe just 10 metres away at one stage, with some very close behind us which made me a little nervous. But they seemed quite calm and we enjoyed watching them for a good half an hour as they sprayed water over themselves, and several very small youngsters were revelling in the mud and water, rolling around and scraping their very small trunks in the dirt. They seemed to be having a lot of fun and again, it was a privilege to share this little insight into these highly gregarious animals lives.

African Elephants gave outstanding close views this morning

In the afternoon we spent some time at a couple waterholes, and it was really nice just to enjoy the animals coming and going. Again we had Giraffes, Elephants, Greater Kudu and others drinking, whilst Kittlitz’s and Three-banded Plovers skittered along the water’s edge. 

There's always plenty of action around the waterholes. This Kori Bustard seemed to be on territory here....
Another waterhole....
We drove the Dik-Dik Trail but it was quiet apart from some Damara Dik-Dik’s, a few Green-winged Pytilia’s, and a pair of Pearl-spotted Owlets in a tree. 

Damara Dik-Dik

We reached Namutoni Fort just as the sun was setting and as I am writing this diary I can hear Black-backed Jackals howling and a Lion roaring. That’s Africa!

An Etosha Sunset

The evening session at the waterhole produced a South African Porcupine, Small Spotted Genet and a Verreaux’s Eagle-owl.

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