It’s Monday 27th October 2008 and Skimmers Delight

It’s Monday 27th October 2008 and Skimmers Delight

As you know we have the AWDC (African Wild Dog Conservation) team living with us at Nkwali. One of their main sponsors is the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and from time to time Frans Schepers of WWF comes to see how things are going. He spends time in the field looking for the dogs and clearly enjoying the Luangwa in general as well! A few lines and photos from Frans…..

African SkimmerAfrican Skimmer

Baby skimmers

When we were crossing the Luangwa just opposite Nsefu camp we saw some African skimmers feeding, flying and alarming. When we got out of the vehicle on the island, we tried to take pictures of the birds. There were at least two pairs. One skimmer landed on the island not far from the vehicle and I saw the bird walking away with an egg shell. The bird sat down and I suspected this was the nesting place. I checked the place and found the nest! There was one chick of one day old, one chick that just hatched (still wet) and one egg. Note perfect camouflage colours of the one day old chick. I took some quick shots and we left, because we didn’t want to expose the just-born chick to the sun. The bird immediately returned to the nest. This observation was very special and it was the first time I ever found a nest of this species (having worked for many years on breeding birds of all kinds of species).

African Skimmer

(I am adding a photo from Simon who saw the skimmers near a nest and did that old broken wing gag that so many ground nesting birds do. But an interesting sight with a skimmers wing! – Jo)

Carmine bee eaterCarmine bee eater

Pellets and sunbathing

While I was photographing the carmines from the bee-eater hide, it took a long time until birds really came close and the light became really nice. After an hour or so, we were lucky as the situation improved and I made some nice shots. What I really liked was one bee-eater who produced a pellet and I was able to picture it. We also found a young nile monitor predating the nests of the bee-eater, as it was checking them out one by one. We also saw sunbathing bee-eaters, which was a nice sighting as well, they can take such strange poses.

wild dog pupwild dog pup

Puppie dogs

Yet another highlight was finding the Katete wild dogs pack. They are still 14 and consisting of the alpha male and female, 3 subordinate dogs and 9 puppies now 4 months old. They were resting nearly one kilometer off the road (near rhino loop), but according to the many tracks we found on the road, now hunting together with the adults. Having been to the valley quite a few times, this was the second time I found dogs. It was very hard to take pictures in the close Miombo forest and high grass, but I was able to take a few. They had just hunted and the bellies were very full, as you can see from the pictures. It looks like the valley is having a quite healthy population this year, which is very good news.

This is just a snapshot from the fantastic time in the field during last weekend.

Frans Schepers.

honey badger honey badger

Simon popped into my office this week with some photos. There is a problem with his camera (he says!) but a couple of photos and some news to share with you. A the honey badger – hard to find and hard to photograph… now these are not great shots (sorry Simon) but if you look carefully you can see she is running away with a tiny baby curled up in her month. What a wonderful sighting. And one at night sizing up the tourists!

Kataba (Katava – can be said either way locally) – the one eyed leopard – has appeared again. She has been living near Nsefu Camp for a number of years and has been very generous with her posing for our guests; always very relaxed. However this year no sign of her and after a few months we suspected that she had come to grief. But no….and now we suspect that she moved off away due to another large female moving into the highly prized territories by the river where the highest concentration of prey reside. She probably just moved into the back country. Simon’s photo was simply not possible to put on this newsletter so here is one from Rocky – corker!

Finally – Robin had his birthday, getting alarmingly close to 60 (well he says 3 years is not close but, as his wife, I do). And for his birthday treat we saw a pennant winged nightjar. This African migrant is another rare sighting, flying through at the end of the dry season.


A few facts

Dr Kellie Leigh, founder of African Wild Dog Conservation Zambia is now a painter in Australia (a life change there after 10 years in the bush!)

Robin Pope Safaris and AWDC offer a couple of “” in March. Departure 21 March 2009 still has space (departure 27 March 2009 is full).

A library photo of a pennant winged nightjar – imagine the bird in flight!

pennant winged nightjar

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