I hope that you are all well and have once again had another fabulous weekend. Here in the Luangwa we have had lots and lots of rain which has been simply heavenly and the river has crept up a little bit. At least enough to get the team up to Nsefu to start getting the camp open for River Journeys. Luangwa River Camp is also full steam ahead with opening. The only bad thing that happened this week was that with one particularly brutal storm a large limb of an ebony tree decided to part ways with its host and slammed down across the road causing a little bit of difficulty for a few hours to say the least! Access to camp was soon restored after getting the chainsaw out.
Fallen trees however is not what we are here to talk about today as today we have a story from Robin who has just done a few safaris in Liuwa Plains so for this week it’s over to you Robin:
“We were exploring along the tree line on the edge of the Liuwa Plains north of Matamanene Camp a favourite area for cheetah when we spotted a bird of prey flying low and fast over the ground. It landed on some low trees overlooking the plains. My first thought was …African Hawk Eagle, nicely shaped wings, longish tail and a reasonably fast wing beat with a little white on the upper primaries. Second thought was ….unusual, not commonly seen in this part of the Liuwa.
On approaching the bird, the well worn pages of the raptor section of “Birds of Africa South of the Sahara” began to turn first one way then the other finally settling in on pages 97, 98, and 99 (the Buzzard pages) as other options were rejected. The bird appeared close to Steppe Buzzard in size with un-feathered tarsus however the eye was brownish not yellow. The wings and tail were not so chunky or as broad as the Steppe buzzard and the chest mottled, black on white rather like the juvenile Honey Buzzard or even a juvenile Cuckoo Hawk. The bird repeatedly flew onto the ground picking up what we believe were insects. We left the bird still unclear as to its true identification. I did however manage to get a number of reasonable photographs of the bird.
On returning to Lusaka I emailed photographs of this raptor to a number of bird “fundis” locally and overseas for their comments and observations. The replies were quite exciting, that this could in fact be a red-necked buzzard. A bird more often seen in West Africa and with a recent sighting in Namibia. The other possibilities put forward include Juvenile Augar Buzzard which I am more familiar with circling over Zambia’s highlands, the Nyika, Mafinga and Muchinga mountains of Eastern Zambia. The latest correspondence from raptor chat groups and specialists who have studied the images is that this is a juvenile red-necked buzzard which would be a first confirmed sighting for Zambia and first for the Liuwa. I am sure there will be more discussion relating to this sighting but we are close now. During my buzzard endeavours I have been amazed at the amount of information and informed people and raptor groups from all over the world who are happy to assist via the internet.
Wow thanks Robin this is amazing and very exciting to have a first and do keep us posted with any more news and updates. I am afraid no such first sightings here in the Luangwa (well none that I have been told about) but we continue to have some of the most fabulous elephant sightings in and around camp which really simply never fails to be a complete treat.
For this week however I am going to leave you with just the news from Liuwa but next week who knows we may have some stories from Nsefu and River Camp so watch this space. Until then though have a wonderful week filled with smiles and laughter and those of you in Europe with this “big freeze” wrap up warm and stay nice and cosy.