It’s Monday 28th July 2008 and the Chappel’s Lifer

It’s Monday 28th July 2008 and the Chappel’s Lifer

I’ve just learnt a new term today … lifer: A first-ever sighting of a bird species by an observer; an addition to one’s “life list” (reference Biology Daily). And I always thought of it in terms of a life-long prison sentence … The Chappel family came to stay with us last week and were keen to add a few ‘lifers’. Kiki was in charge of trying to find some interesting new birds for them, and while they enjoyed the Pel’s fishing owl, they were very happy to add both the western banded snake eagle and the red throated twinspot to their life list.

Red-throated twin spotPel's fishing owl

The group also spent ages watching a fishing party at one of the lagoons. It was a hive of activity with masses of yellow-billed, saddle billed and marabou storks; fish eagles, spoonbills, herons, sacred ibis, pied kingfishers, black smith plovers and white crowned plovers. These are always so much fun to watch as each species has its own unique way of catching fish – from the spoonbills side to side swiping to the herons accurate darting.

All in all they averaged about 70 species per day, adding 20 different species to their list each day. It is amazing what you can see when you and your guides put their mind to it!

Fishing PartySunset at Luangwa Safari House

Ann’s father was a great friend of Norman Carr and so Christina (his daughter in law) and Robin joined them for sundowners on Luangwa Safari House deck to catch up.

As well as spending time enjoying all the birds the Chappels also had another unusual sight. The giraffe were out on show and two very large males were having a serious fight over one of the females (in Kiki’s telling of this tale he started laughing his distinctive laugh, saying whenever there is trouble, there is always a girl involved!). These two men were not just necking but clubbing each other with such force that you could easily it here the reverberating noise over a hundred metres away. This is where the hard knobbly bit on the male’s nose comes into use. Kiki has never seen such a sight and was enthralled. The journey was about ten giraffes strong, and although they were observing with interest they were far too elegant to gather round, school boy style, shouting Fight! Fight! Fight!

Fighting giraffesObserbing with interest

Thinking about unusual sightings, although this is not one in the South Luangwa National Park, it is amazing enough to warrant a mention. The first ever heard of leopard attacking, wrestling and eventually killing a crocodile – and caught on camera! It’s just a little crazy. All of our guides go a little slack-jawed at the telling of the tale. See the Telegraph article and more photos online – photo below by Hal Brindley

Hope you all have a wonderful week



Leopard wrestling with a croc

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