Its Monday 20th October 2014 and where the eagles fly…

Well hello there! So are you all sitting nice and comfortably after a wonderful weekend of friends and family? Here in the steaming hot Luangwa we are regularly sounding like broken records but I am going to repeat it – I think that this is the driest year so far! Last year Lunga Lagoon up in the Nsefu dried up for the first time in recent history and that was at the end of October but this year it is already completely dry! The bush is super thin, shade is something of a luxury and when driving through the midday heat under most trees or bushes all you can see are all the animals hunkering down grabbing onto whatever relief from the sun that they can find.

The hot and somewhat unfriendly weather does however mean that the game viewing has been fantastic as the river is the main and pretty much only source of water for animals so everything is very concentrated along the riverine area and the predators make the most of all the weakened prey. But for this week we are not going to talk about claws but about talons as we don’t often wax lyrical about the bird life and it is a shame as really they never fail to let us down.

When I first arrived in Zambia – oh many a moon ago – I remember one of the things that really got me excited was seeing so many birds of prey. I mean this is just something that we don’t get in England. I am still getting my head around them and trying to identify them all but the one that is unmistakable in not only appearance but call is the African Fish Eagle – who by the way happens to be the National Bird of Zambia. On top of that, seeing as it is our Golden Jubilee celebration of Independence I thought that the timing of my Fish Eagle reverence was even more appropriate.

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So for a few facts on the mighty fish eagle:

• Their naked legs and roughened or spiky soles of their feet help to hold slippery fish,
• They have broad wings for carrying heavy prey.
• Origin of name : Haliaeetus vocifer – Haliaeetus is derived from the Greek words Halieos ‘fisherman’ and aetos ‘eagle, vocifer refers to its loud vociferous call.

And now that we have all learnt a few facts I shall tell the story and wonderful sighting that we had a few days ago. Bumping along rather hot and in somewhat of a rush Rob suddenly slammed on the brakes – for those of you concerned about whip lash let me assure you that our very old rickety landrover does not have particularly sensitive brakes so it took a few moments to come to a complete stop! Coughing and spluttering my way through the plumes of dust I realized what it was that I was looking at. Up in the tree was a beautiful fish eagle and then down on the river bed an immature one. As if that was not enough more joined the party with some very excited calling, some mid air fights and acrobatics followed by the piece de resistance which was the fact that one of them had caught a fish and now everyone wanted in on the action including a young crocodile who lunged out of the water in an attempt to get the fish from the two squabbling eagles. I really fear that this isn’t describing the scene well enough so I am going to let the pictures pick up from here and show you the action.

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It truly was an amazing sighting.

On that rather acrobatic note I am going to leave you all to it as another week has passed us by and we are fast approaching the end of October, which scarily means the end of the Tena season. This week we wave goodbye to Luangwa Bush Camping and I think just in time as there are some definite rumbles from up above and flooded tents are not fun and then we roll onto the last few days for Tena. Don’t worry Nsefu and Luangwa River Camp as well as Nkwali and the houses are all still going strong so lots of stories still to come.

Golly this has turned into a long goodbye so now I really shall sign off – have a fabulous week, take care laugh a lot and look after each other.

Cheers

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