It’s Monday 13th June 2005 and the birds are busy

Well it has been a busy birding period for us here at Robin Pope Safaris. We have had some fantastic sightings at the yellow billed stork colony and we have also had two groups of people return from successful trips to the Bangwuelu Swamps, one of the few places in Africa where you may see the elusive Shoebill Stork.

Starting at home the stork colony has been providing us with some amazing sightings since we opened the camps on the 24th of May. There is always something happening whenever you arrive at the colony – from monitor lizards and marabou storks scavenging for discarded and dropped fish below the nesting birds to the large birds of prey attacking the colony from above.

Earlier this week Kerri managed to get a couple of photos of a Martial eagle trying to take a young yellow billed stork from its nest. The Martial eagles find the stork colony easy pickings as the young storks have not yet learnt the ways of the wild and therefore often get picked off by these massive birds of prey. A mistake that you only make once………….

Nsefu had another great sighting involving a Martial eagle and a group of banded mongoose this week when the eagle swooped down scattering the mongoose before turning and swooping down again and taking a young mongoose. The rest of the mongooses rushed across to the aid of their stricken family member only to be beaten to it by a big male baboon who seemed to take offence to the attack on the mongoose family and chased the Martial eagle off leaving the mongoose to escape. Not satisfied with his efforts to chase off the Martial eagle the baboon followed up his initial attack and dashed up the tree where the eagle had taken refuge and chased the bird out of the tree!! The predators do not always win! Kerri managed to get off a quick shot of the rest of the mongooses looking on anxiously.

Whilst on safari with my family up at Nsefu we were fortunate to come across a purple roller – a bird that has only been seen a handful of times in the Luangwa Valley. Rob, who was in the vehicle with us, asked me if my mad-keen birding family had seen a purple roller yet to which I replied “no” wondering what he was on about as we do not often see purple rollers here. He said that we had just passed one so I thought I’d better humour him and go back and check – sure enough, there it was – sitting in a tree, catching the morning sun. The last time I saw a purple roller was probably 4 – 5 years ago on my way up to the mobile safaris, and Robin does not recall seeing one here at all!!

Both Keyala and I have recently returned from trips to the Bangwuelu swamps in north western Zambia. A true birding paradise with many of the birds found in the area not found in Southern Africa including the shoebill stork, a prehistoric – looking bird which feeds almost solely on lungfish. It is also home to the only population of black lechwe which, right now, are numbering over 100,000 – an amazing sight in itself.

Both the Schoutens, the two guests that went to the swamps with Keyala, and my family were fortunate enough to see the shoebill stork as well a plethora of other exciting birds including pink – throated longclaw, black backed barbet and a variety of sunbirds to name but a few.

On a final note we would like to introduce the newest member of our vehicle fleet – Robin has bought and is busy fixing up a series 1A landrover which I think was built just after the Ark!!

Have a good week,
Take care,
Simon

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