Saturday, 7 November 2015

It's All About the Pel's....

We met on the lawn overlooking the Okavango River at 6am and scoped African Openbill, African Marsh Harrier and other birds flying over the burnt grassland on the opposite bank. As the day warmed up, and believe it or not it was very cool first thing, more birds appeared and we nailed Purple-banded Sunbird, Black Cuckoo, Ashy Flycatcher and Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike being the highlights.

White-backed Night-Heron

After breakfast we went on a boat upstream for 3 hours and enjoyed crippling views of a White-backed Night-Heron roosting under some roots of a large tree in the riverbank, and then had a great time with close views of species such as several African Fish-Eagles, White-faced Whistling-Duck, Hamerkop, Sacred Ibis, African Darter, Goliath and Purple Herons, a superb Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Brown Snake-Eagle, Little Sparrowhawk, several Water Thick-Knees, Malachite Kingfisher, Broad-billed Roller, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Black-collared Barbet, Chirping Cisticola, Spectacled Weaver and others.

Western Banded Snake-Eagle

Black-collared Barbet 

African Openbill

White-fronted Bee-eater

I was particularly pleased to see my first African Skimmers but I think we got lucky as only two were present, although we'd see plenty more later in the tour.

African Skimmers

The Southern Carmine Bee-eater colony along the riverbank was also an amazing experience and we moored the boat up quite close and savoured the spectacle for quite a while. 

Southern Carmine Bee-eaters

I really messed up the African Fish-Eagle photos that were enticed to fly down and grab some fish thrown out by our boat driver.

African Fish-Eagle

Best of all was when we hopped out of the boat and looked up into a huge tree and had an adult and almost fully grown juvenile Pel’s Fishing Owl staring back down at us. This was one those special moments in a birders life and another one off the Bucket List. 

Pel's Fishing Owl

Upon reaching the lodge just after 11am we were greeted by flocks of Violet-backed and Meve’s Starlings and then a small group of Brown Firefinches were seen. Not by me, which was rather gripping but I staked out the area and finally had really close views beside the main building. Lunch was at 12.30pm and we decided to go out at 4.30pm giving us several hours to relax, siesta and swim. Great being in the swimming pool with White-fronted Bee-eaters diving around my ears and grabbing insects right beside me!

At 4.30pm we drove just a very short distance to the campsite where the riverine forest was quiet apart from a couple of African Elephants feeding in the marsh below us – a little too close for comfort! And our first Bushbuck was spotted. So we returned to the lodge and scanned the river area where a pair of Hippopotamus were loafing midstream.

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