It’s Monday 15th February 2010 and ‘birders’ in the valley

After a month in the bush, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of the African bush, I’m feeling entire as in a return to origins, which is not silly if we think that in the end, we all came from Africa with our distant ancestors!

This was a train the trainee week at Nkwali. All the managers and guides from RPS were around. We had lots of activities and workshops. Revisiting and refreshing the staff knowledge from how to repair a vehicle to how to improve the guest’s service and train the eye for detail. Thanks to everyone who was involved and especially Dave Seaman from Tours Africa as well as Luke and Bettina our Pumulani managers.

African Fish Eagle, South LuangwaParadise Whydah Birds in South LuangwaMelba Finch, South Luangwa

A “birders” group visited Luangwa Safari House last week and they had a wonderful time and saw a great number of different bird’s species. Lucinda spent some time with them and she has exciting stories to share. Over to you Lucinda:

“Luangwa Safari House recently played host to the Zambian Ornithological Society (ZOS) for a weekend of bird watching – and what a weekend it was and how much I learnt! I have been in the valley now for more than three years, and yet I still struggle with the birds, so this was a fabulous opportunity to see if I could start putting this right. David and Wendy arrived from England a couple of days before the rest of the group. This was their first time to Africa, but as keen birders in the UK they were very quickly demonstrating their superior knowledge – but I was lucky enough to accompany them one morning.

Openbill Storks, South LuangwaMarshall Eagle, South Luangwa

On their first morning they saw numerous species and were also lucky enough to see two Marshall Eagles – both with Monitor Lizards in their talons. On their second morning I joined them and had a fabulous time, and also learnt a huge amount. We saw some wonderful birds including Paradise Whydah Birds, Paradise Flycatchers, Melba Finch, Openbill Storks, Tawny Eagles, Yellow Canaries and Red Faced Mousebirds to name but a few. A truly fabulous morning and the number of species recorded by the time the rest of the party arrived for the weekend was up to 115 – the challenge had been set!

Yellow Canary, South LuangwaRed Faced Mousebird, South LuangwaAfrican Harrier Hawk, South Luangwa

With Fil Hyde, Steve, Tina and Nikki from ZOS all arriving on the Friday afternoon, they could not believe that these ‘newcomers’ had set such a challenge down, but soon set to work on recording new species. On the first morning drive, before they had even left the drive of the house, birds were being spotted and new ones added to Wendy and David’s list, including an African Harrier Hawk, otherwise known as a Gymnogene. The morning drive was also very productive and included a daytime sighting of a Giant Eagle Owl amongst other highlights.

There were also a couple of birds which managed to cause huge debate due to some unusual characteristics and calls. However, it was not all about the birds. Pair of mating lions was spotted by David and Wendy on their very first drive out, and were also seen by the rest of the party. The last night drive was to produce an amazing series of events.

Giant Eagle Owl, South LuangwaLion, South Luangwa

Jacob found a spot for sundowners looking out over the plains with two trees mirroring each other, and to complete the picture each tree had Storks roosting in them. The sun was setting directly between the two trees and an elephant wandered across to complete the picture – stunning, and what could top that. Well, the rest of the drive of course! Just after sundowners a pride of lions were spotted feeding on a buffalo kill – quite a sight which everyone enjoyed but the group were on the lookout for an owl. Seconds after moving off a leopard was spotted. By all accounts this was a privileged sighting as the leopard was very relaxed and unfazed by the vehicle. However, whilst everyone was enjoying this sighting Jacob saw a Spotted Eagle Owl in the middle of the road. This bird is not often seen so was a real highlight – especially for a ZOS weekend – however when the group were asked what they should continue watching – the leopard or the owl, the leopard won!

Leopard, South LuangwaSundowners, South Luangwa

Everyone had a wonderful weekend with over 145 species of birds being sighted and countless more being identified by their calls over the weekend. The Emerald Season has always been known for its fabulous bird watching with so many with their breeding plumages and many migrants, but I think this weekend also showed that the game is equally good – and enjoyed – by all. I certainly learnt a great deal, and am looking forward to my next intensive lesson! ” – Lucinda

Back to the South Luangwa, last week Robin finished the design of his new exploration of a new remote safari experience led by himself. This one begins here in the South Luangwa National Park and it ends in the Nankumba Peninsula, the southern end of Malawi’s beautiful namesake lake, poetically referred to as “Lake of the Stars”. Along the way, Robin will take everyone in an unexplored adventure to Malawi’s highland plateau of Nyika, known for its phenomenally broad vistas and herds of endemic wildlife. Game can be spotted at the Nyika Plateau are Burchell’s Zebra, Roan antelope, Common Reedbuck, Eland, Bushbuck, Warthog and leopard. Well done Robin, sounds like serious adventure!!!

Oh thanks for the support and feedback you’ve been sending. Several people asked me about my background and where I come from. Well, I’m Portuguese and I used to work for the largest Japanese IT company in the world as a marketer in the last 9 years. The last two years in international positions between UK and Europe. And how did I get here? There are moments in our lives that we stop to reflect and decide to redesign the future with a more meaningful palette. So here I am.

Stay well and have a great week.

 

bee-eater, South Luangwa

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