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Botswana Nov-Dec 2014: Dogs and more dogs!


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michael-ibk

Paul, the guide in question, has since left Kwando. Maybe he was already "out" in his mind. He was great when I was there, but I remember at least one other report from your timeframe describing his guiding as subpar.

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In the "better late than never" category, I thought it was about time I repaid the forum by presenting a trip report. I confess, I do not keep any kind of daily diary--any free time on a trip is taken

Shortly after parting with the lions, Alan spotted some movement in the grass ahead (what's that running there?) and now I'm screaming, dogs, dogs, dogs!!! Not in our wildest dreams did we expect to s

Now to our last camp. Xigera is considered a "wet" camp, in high season surrounded by water in the heart of the Delta; but at this time of year there was plenty of dry land to traverse. In fact, water

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janzin

Phantastic photography, really love your pictures! Sable! And Sitatunga, just wow! Sorry that Kwando didn´t live up to your expectations predator-wise but you had some very special sightings to make up for that. I am a bit surprised that you didn´t see more lions especially, though.

 

Yes we were getting worried about a lack of lions by the time we left Lagoon, but Duma Tau and Xigera made up for it...stay tuned!

 

 

Re the hour's tracking - There are days, one can do 6-7 hours of such tracking if you are keen to find something specific ..... Just FYI. I've been in situations in the heat of October - well worth the effort I must say and gives you a sense of appreciation of not just the wilderness areas, but, to explore areas not often ventured into.

 

I have to agree - while in Ndutu, wanting to watch cheetahs hunt, we daily (!!!) spent hours doing nothing, just waiting for the cats to finally start moving - and they usually did,,,it is indeed a completely different safari experience but nevertheless one not to miss

 

 

We also spent much time waiting at Ndutu (in our case, waiting for leopard to come down from a tree and it was well worth it!) but its very different waiting in the vehicle WITH your guide, then waiting all alone not knowing what is happening! For all we knew he'd been eaten by lions :unsure: Again, the biggest issue there was that they didn't tell us what they were doing and we all assumed they'd be gone 10 minutes or so and they left us in the middle of nowhere, not even on a track where other vehicles were passing.

 

 

 

Paul, the guide in question, has since left Kwando. Maybe he was already "out" in his mind. He was great when I was there, but I remember at least one other report from your timeframe describing his guiding as subpar.

Interesting...that might be it...we weren't there all that long ago so its possible he was leaving soon thereafter.

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janzin

 

So I am one that does not post process because I find it intimidating, sometimes frustrating. Of course I only use what is available on my computer program...Apple photos.

If you have a suggestion on which to use; I'd love to hear it. Might try it now that I am retired and have more time to play around.

Thanks.

@@graceland unfortunately I don't know much about programs for the Mac; the one I use happens to be PC-only. Sorry I can't be of more help!

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janzin

So a few birds from Lagoon.

 

We did finally get one of our top targets, Southern Carmine Bee-eater. Better shots will come from Duma Tau, but we were psyched to finally see this beautiful bird.

 

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Little Bee-eaters were ubiquitous on the trip, but at Lagoon they were common right in camp.

 

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Bateleur giving us the eye.

 

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Difficult light for this Giant Kingfisher, but I like the shot for the fish--which he had no trouble swallowing.

 

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We heard this bird calling and calling outside our tent at Lagoon, and I was determined to find him. Finally did--Swamp Boubou!

 

swamp_boubou_5359a.jpg

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Bush dog

Your pictures are great, especially the sunset and some birds, like the bateleur and the swamp boubou, and the dark frame shows them.

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Geoff

very nice pics.

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graceland

 

 

So I am one that does not post process because I find it intimidating, sometimes frustrating. Of course I only use what is available on my computer program...Apple photos.

If you have a suggestion on which to use; I'd love to hear it. Might try it now that I am retired and have more time to play around.

Thanks.

@@graceland unfortunately I don't know much about programs for the Mac; the one I use happens to be PC-only. Sorry I can't be of more help!

 

Thanks @@janzin

 

Since you've no recommendations, the pressure is off.....

 

and everyone is stuck with my out of camera pics as usual :P

 

Though yours are great and I know require quite a bit of time and effort. Thank you.

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janzin

On to Duma Tau! Right from the start we felt that the guiding and service at Duma Tau was a cut above that of the previous camps. I can't even put my finger on why--it just seemed friendlier, more personalized, and better run. (I'll talk a bit more about our impressions of the different camps at the end of the report.)

 

At first, it seemed like a broken record--we were discouraged to hear that their "local" dogs hadn't been seen in several days. But no matter, we were loving Duma Tau. The habitat seemed more varied than we'd seen so far. Our guide, Tebla, was wonderful and really enthusiastic about birds.

 

Before we even got to the camp, the driver who picked us up from the airstrip--who was not our regular guide-- stopped to move a Leopard Tortoise who was in the road, so we got an up close and personal look:

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However, these guys in the road could not be that easily moved, so we just had to wait a bit.

 

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He also stopped to show us fascinating viewing of a Red-crested Korhaan displaying for a mate. We'd seen this bird previously on this trip, but never with his "red" showing! We watched him dancing and displaying and calling for quite awhile.

 

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Later, on our afternoon drive, we had a nice sighting of Red Lechwe crossing the water.

 

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Finally, saw our first hyena of the trip!

 

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And an unfortunate Red Lechwe being munched on by some hippos as we returned to camp.

 

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and even a nightjar.

 

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So we were off to a good start!

 

And to make things even better, we learned that for the rest of our stay we would not have to share the vehicle. So we started to hatch a plan for the next day....with dogs in mind...

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janzin

Oh, before I get to Day 2, I almost forgot...

 

A leopard was hanging about the area, and we spent much time trying to track it over the first day; other vehicles saw it well; but we only got a glimpse of it lying under a very dense bush. We waited and waited but it was clear he wasn't moving out anytime soon, and eventually we had to give up. This turned out to be the only leopard of the trip, and unfortunately not a good photo op, but I thought I'd include it anyway.

 

leopard.jpg

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madaboutcheetah

Would love to see more of the hippo feeding sequence if possible? what a unique sighting that!

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janzin

Would love to see more of the hippo feeding sequence if possible? what a unique sighting that!

 

@@madaboutcheetah Here's the full story. We first came upon this carcass on the evening of Nov 29. The guides were mystified because it seemed untouched, so maybe the predator was scared away? Or it died of natural causes? They couldn't figure it out.

 

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We passed this spot several times the next couple of days to check it out--hoping for a predator. Well, we found some predators but not exactly what we'd hoped for.

 

This was the morning of the next day. Clearly something like lions or hyenas (or both) had gotten to it but we never saw what.

 

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Then we came back in the evening of that day and saw the hippos feeding on what was left. Here's another of the hippo shots. It seems to have moved around quite a bit.

 

JCZ_6401a.jpg

Edited by janzin
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Soukous

stunning images @janzin

i love the birds in particular

it looks as though you had an outstanding safari

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janzin

stunning images @janzin

i love the birds in particular

it looks as though you had an outstanding safari

 

Indeed @Soukous It started out slow...but ramped up...and I haven't even got to the best parts yet!

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks so much! Very unique sighting indeed!!!

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Big_Dog

Now that is unusual (But not at all unheard of) - the hippos. Fascinating stuff, and a great capture!
Sitatunga is awesome as well! Also pleased to see hyaena enthusiasm! ;)

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janzin

Since we had our own vehicle, for our 2nd day we asked if we could have a full day out, heading towards Savuti where the dogs were last seen. No problem, and it was arranged that we would stop for lunch at Savuti instead of bringing a box lunch. Perfect. On the way there we headed into some different habitats which alone would have made the drive worth it--we picked up some special birds that frequent that area, such as the White-headed Black Chat (no photos, unfortunately). And some other nice birds such as

 

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But where were the dogs? Then, the call came--the full pack of 24 were re-located closer to Duma Tau, where we'd just come from! But we weren't that far and before long we were there. Here's the view that greeted us--lazy dogs but we were so excited to get such a large group. There were more than you see in this photo.

 

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For quite a while we were the only vehicle present, and we and spent the rest of the morning with them, mostly resting and a little play. So wonderful to just sit and watch them go about their lives.

 

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Reluctantly, leaving them sleeping, we headed back to Duma Tau for lunch--with some assurance that they would likely still be in the same place later in the afternoon, when we'd return to hopefully see them wake up and hunt.

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janzin

Eager to return to the dogs, we left a bit early than normal for the evening drive. We found them again easily, right where we'd left them. They were still mostly sleeping, but soon they began waking up for their evening hunt. We watched them stir, play, start to yelp--the whole pre-hunt routine, we were in Wild Dog bliss! Then all at once they started heading off on the hunt.

 

A stretch before dinner.

 

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Starting to head into the bush.

 

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We followed as best we could along the road, but soon they headed into thicker brush.

 

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In the bush, they apparently made an impala kill. I was not disappointed to NOT see that. It must have been over very, very quickly.

 

We did catch up with them on the other side for the aftermath. More play, and a bit of haggling over who gets to keep the head :)

 

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The winner with her prize.

 

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Nope, not giving it up.

 

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Finally, as the light waned, this pup seemed intrigued by the flies circling his head. Yes that speck is a fly, not dust on my sensor <_<

 

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So we returned to camp after the most wonderful day with our top target mammal. And we'd have been satisfied with that...but Duma Tau had more in store for us. And we weren't finished with dogs yet, either...

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Marks

Since I am already three pages late to the party, that's how I'll organize my response here.

 

Page one favorites: the tortoise (such an unexpectedly vivid shell) and that first fox photo. So glad the bag showed up none the worse for wear.

 

Page two: love the bateleur looking back at you. The hippo sequence is incredibly fascinating. I remember reading about hippos occasionally exhibiting carnivorous behavior (I think it was in Stevenson-Hamilton's "South African Eden"), but I've certainly never seen it documented like this. Fantastic!

 

Page three (so far): the dog sitting and looking at the flies is great. Such a familiar expression on his face.

 

Top-notch TR so far!

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janzin

 

Page three (so far): the dog sitting and looking at the flies is great. Such a familiar expression on his face.

 

Thanks, I know--you can really see our household pets in that photo! If you didn't know better, you'd throw him a ball to fetch! :D

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optig

These photos are nothing less than mind blowing. I can't wait to see wild dogs this summer at Lagoon, Lebala, Lakipia Wilderness Camp, and possibly at Saruni Samburu and in South Luangwa National Park. Those expressions are all priceless.

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Marks

Page two: love the bateleur looking back at you. The hippo sequence is incredibly fascinating. I remember reading about hippos occasionally exhibiting carnivorous behavior (I think it was in Stevenson-Hamilton's "South African Eden"), but I've certainly never seen it documented like this. Fantastic!

Quoting myself because on second thought, I think that may have been in Bruce Bryden's "A Game Ranger Remembers." Really enjoyable read, by the way.

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janzin

On our last morning at Duma Tau, and still with the vehicle to ourselves, we headed out to visit the Carmine Bee-eater nesting area. The weather was spectacular with bright blue skies and my hopes were for some flight shots.

 

We drove along a track very close to the channel, affording opportunity for some nice bird photography in beautiful light.

 

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Unexpectedly, as we rounded a bend, we came upon this idyllic scene.

 

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What are those brown lumps! Sleeping lions! We decided to wait a bit and see if they might get up. Sure enough, after a bit of rolling

 

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and grooming

 

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they headed for the water.

 

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Interestingly, they were not drinking, but eating the grass. Tebla explained that they do this just like house cats, to help with the hairballs.

 

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We spent a bit more time with them, but as before, we were a little pressed for time as we still really wanted to get to the Carmine Bee-eater colony with enough time to do some photography!

 

So a few more lion moments...

 

lion__7270a.jpg

 

What was so wonderful about all our sightings in Botswana was the low density of vehicles. Even here, only one other vehicle eventually came along.

 

lion__6958a.jpg

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janzin

Onwards to the Carmine Bee-eater colony. There were dozens, perhaps hundreds, nesting in the ground and swooping through the air hawking insects.

 

carmine_bee_eater_JCZ_7364a.jpg

 

 

We were able to get out of the vehicle there, and spent some fun time getting flight shots. It was dizzying trying to follow them in flight, but quite a few shots were successful!

 

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Dragonflies seem to be one of their favorite prey. I should try to ID those dragonflies <_<

 

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Sadly, again it was time to head for another camp. Duma Tau had absolutely exceeded our expectations--how could Xigera possibly match it? Well, it did, and then some!

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the Southern Carmine Bee-Eater photos are magnificent….

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Geoff

excellent bee-eater flight shots...

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