Its Monday 6th July 2015 and a trip up to Bangwuelu

Hope you are well? Here things are going great with lots of phenomenal sightings but we are not going to stick around in the Luangwa; we are going to scoot north with Simon Cousins on another of his “work trips” up to Bangweulu Swamps. So for this week Simon over to you:

“It had been 14 years since I was last in the Bangwuelu swamps so, as you can imagine, I was very excited to be going back. Flying in to Chimbwi airstrip over the vast plains is a sight to behold – teaming with Black Lechwe as far as the eye can see.
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We landed and were met by the enthusiastic team from Shoebill Camp and no sooner had we got off the plane we were offered a game drive – who could refuse. We hopped into the vehicle and were off over the plains through the huge herds of Black Lechwe. Whilst the main attraction of a trip to Bangwuelu Swamps is to see the elusive and rare Shoebill Stork and the vast herds of Black Lechwe it is important to note the other wonderful fauna and flora on offer in the area. The scenery and birding is out of this world!

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On we went, game viewing and birding into the back country, with good sightings of oribi and Tsessebe, and then back out onto the plains with pipits, larks and longclaws bursting out of the short grass and displaying all over the place. We soon arrived back along the edge of the swamp where we were looking for the elephants that frequent that area when, low and behold, as we came around the bend, in the middle of an opening in the reeds, stood a Shoebill stork !! We had not been on the ground for 2 hours and here we were with a wonderful, prehistoric looking, Shoebill!
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Much excitement and taking of photos – we were with the stork for about 15 minutes before it flew off!

When we returned to the airstrip to park the vehicle and get on the boat to go to camp our guide called us to come and see the bird………. We were not too sure what he was talking about but we followed him to one of the management houses close to the airstrip. As we rounded the corner of this house we came face to face with a tame Shoebill Stork – unbelievable to be face to face with one of the rarest birds in Africa. Raised by the team there hopefully his release back into the wild will be successful and the bird can add to the gene pool and help increase the numbers of shoebills in the swamps.

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Polling through the swamps is one of the most amazing birding experiences one can have. The sheer numbers of ducks, geese, herons, storks, teals and many other swamp dwelling birds is incredible. You don’t know where to look most of the time as there is so much going on around you! Blue breasted bee-eaters are hawking insects off the water surface, malachite kingfishers plunging into the shallow waters feeding on the teaming fish life, lesser jacana’s and their chicks scurrying over the lilies, hundreds of ducks, geese and teals flying overhead – it is all too much!
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Sitting in camp at night listening to what sounds like a storm approaching – it is the Black Lechwe running through the water coming into the swamps, from the plains, for the night. Thousands of them at a time. If you were not told what the noise was you would assume you were about to experience an unseasonal thunderstorm!!!

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Another ‘must do’ in the swamps is to get up before sunrise and, braving the cold, watch the sun come up over the swamps and lechwe that have not left to go back to the plains – a truly spectacular sight.

Our trip was over all too quickly and we were heading back to Nkwali but not without some of the most wonderful memories a person could take from a safari.”

Thanks Simon and well that has certainly made me even more desperate to get up to the Swamps – one day soon I hope. There is nothing which can follow on from this so for this week a very fond farewell to you all; have a great one and looking forward to our chat next week.

Ems

 

 

 

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