It’s Monday 18th February 2008 and let’s go birding

It’s Monday 18th February 2008 and let’s go birding

The past few weeks have been all about the Luangwa River, and this week she surprised us yet again. Last weekend the water was flowing past at a very impressive rate putting our bridges to the test and essentially turning Nkwali Camp into an island. Now this week everything has calmed down and the water levels are dropping at a fantastic rate. It makes living on a completely natural river both exciting and unpredictable. The constantly evolving rivers system gives rise to the multitude of ox-bow lakes that support a diversity of wildlife (as well as giving a practical understanding of text book geography!).

The mighty LuangwaLots of water

A saddle-billed stork couple The Zambian Ornithological Society (ZOS) joined us this weekend to see as many birds as they could. I had to be on my best behaviour as the group included my primary school headmistress, Grade 1 teacher and my parents! The group consisted of Lizanne (chief of ZOS), Klaus, Fil, Guida, Penny, Jeremy, Gilly, John, Claire, Cathy, Dave, Richard and Patricia.

Bloody Mary time! Everyone arrived at slightly different times and went out on separate game drives. They all met up for dinner that night, which involved a lot of hilarity, whisky, wine and chat about the following morning’s adventure – a boat trip to the Nsefu sector to see the yellow-billed stork colony. An all day picnic was organised and two boats full of ZOS members, guides and scouts set off. Unfortunately one boat had a few technical difficulties and had to park off at Luangwa River Lodge and drink Bloody Mary’s while the engine was fixed. The other boat steamed ahead to the stork colony.

Mud mud glorious mud The last leg was achieved on foot through some great black sticky mud (I have a sneaky suspicion some spas would kill for our black cotton soil). Everyone regrouped at Nsefu camp to have lunch and catch up.

On the return journey they stopped in and visited the heronry – and saw lots of herons (surprisingly enough), egrets and 14 crowned cranes. They returned to camp just in time for sparkling wine sundowners on the deck. There were some great moments and stories will be told for a while I’m sure. Some of the highlights were a large flock of abdim’s storks, approx 100 pratincoles flocking together, a pearl spotted owlet, a young giant eagle owl and hearing, stalking and finally a fantastic view of an emerald cuckoo.

Crowned cranes (Mike Perrett)Pearl Spotted Owlet -  Alex Paul

The lioness and the beginnings of a tall tale ZOS also saw a few of the more usual game species. One vehicle found a lioness walking along the road looking for a suitable shade bush. Once settled under the bush she was almost invisible. After meeting up with another vehicle they mentioned the lioness and returned to the same bush, with the small story of Guida’s eagle eyes spotting the flick of the tail while everyone else was identifying a bird in the opposite tree. Even Zebron the guide was very impressed – Guida didn’t like to keep everyone in awe for long and told the truth!

  Cheers until next week


PS Thanks to Jeremy Hill and Fil Hyde for the photos.

Sunset from Chichele

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