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Tdgraves

Day 2: Evening drive, Somalisa, 3/9/17

 

First of all, I missed a bird from the morning and as it was a new one and a local special, it needs to be added - Bradfield's hornbill

 

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So we were off

 

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The first sighting was a close encounter with a small ele family

 

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Otherwise it was pretty quiet. We were still quite close to camp and so we were to have sundowners on the deck there, or so we were told. This was the sight that greeted us in camp...

 

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Our timing was perfect, as the very sleepy lions present when we arrived all quickly activated and moved off

 

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We re-positioned the vehicle, hoping that they were thirsty...

 

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which some of them were

 

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as they moved off towards the main road, we noticed that they were fanning out, in hunting mode.

 

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Then a waterbuck appeared, also looking for a drink.That was the cue they needed - they were off. Unfortunately the road was on a ridge, so we could not see what was happening. Lewis set off to the main road after them and we saw a huge dust cloud in the bush, and this....

 

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It was still alive when we arrived and I pressed record on my video camera. By the time I had rechecked it at 5 minutes, they were down to spare ribs. A 10 mouthed eating machine....

 

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And one to end from the OH on the 7D

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Wow! A lion kill in front of camp. Again we said to the honeymooners "this is NOT a normal game drive".....

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Day 2: Evening drive, Somalisa, 3/9/17   First of all, I missed a bird from the morning and as it was a new one and a local special, it needs to be added - Bradfield's hornbill  

Day 2: Morning drive, Somalisa, 3/9/17   Somalisa was virtually unrecognisable compared to our first visit back in 2011. African Bush Camps have obviously invested a lot of money to compete

Day 1: Evening drive, Somalisa, 2/9/17   First sighting of the drive, some cheetah....     Can you see them?? I had the 5D, but really, the 7D wasn't much better, they we

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Tdgraves

Here is the video - not for the fainthearted, but you can see how dark it was....

 

 

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Grasshopper_Club

@Tdgraves, WOW!! What a sighting. Lovely pictures in a marvelous light setting. I really like the one, where you can see the 9 Lions and the herd of Ellies and the Camp in the Background. That give you a nice comparison how close the encounters with the wildlife are in these places, especially when showing to other folks who'd never had the chance to go on a Safari.

 

The flow of the feeding lions over that carcass is very interesting to watch. Like a turbocharged voltage....

 

Cheers

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Peter Connan

Wow, what a pile of lions!  An eating machine no doubt. I guess their only competition would be a school of sharks?

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Towlersonsafari

What splendid photo's  @Tdgraves  I really liked the secretary birds and the "how many lions can  be squeezed into a small space" competition-and then what drama!

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Amylovescritters

Gotta love it when the lions come to you! Lol. How extraordinary.

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Tdgraves

Day 3: morning drive, Somalisa, 5/9/17

 

After the action of the previous evening, we needed no encouragement to be the first out of camp. I had the 7D today. We went to the kill site and unsurprisingly, all that was left was a few bones. We followed the tracks and assumed that they had gone to the next waterhole, which was at the Somalisa Expeditions camp. There were lots of tracks and no lion. No sooner had Lewis announced that "they must be very far from here now" then around the next corner, who do we find? 10 sleepy lions!!

 

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It didn't take them long to activate though

 

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Especially when some kudu wandered past

 

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And this one from the back came past us to do a flanking manouevre

 

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flanking lion off to the left

 

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but the kudu spotted them and ran off, which was the pride's cue to leave, just after the next camp vehicle arrived

 

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So we went back towards the main part of the park. It was very windy, so game was twitchy

 

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We did get a good show of a pair of bat-eared foxes though

 

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This jackal and lots of vultures were eating a carcass hidden in a bush

 

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We had a couple of really nice close ups of LBRs, but they refused to fly off

 

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this one just stretched its' wings (trying to wind us up??)

 

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And then we went to the waterhole to have coffee with the elephants. 

 

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Hundreds of elephants

 

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The honeymoon couple were stood next to the vehicle as the guide prepared coffee, when a belligerent bull ele pushed his way into the prime waterhole spot, causing a few others to run straight towards them. The bride screamed and ran back to get into the vehicle. She was a bit shocked but ended up laughing about it (and got told off for running)! Unfortunately my video camera was pointing in the other direction at the time. Later, I was sat on the floor when said bull started walking towards us, but he changed direction before I had to take evasive action. Several other vehicles also had their coffee breaks at the waterhole. They all parked much further away from the action and still one of the vehicles' occupants refused to get out!!

 

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Back to camp for brunch. We repeated our mantra...."Not a normal game drive"

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Game Warden

It's a fantastic trip so far and a wonderful set of photos back that up: the LBR series is wonderful. It's making me itch to get back on safari, @Tdgraves :)

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Tdgraves

Day 3, birding around camp, Somalisa, 5/9/17

 

As I was trying to sleep, I could hear a Pel's spotted owlet calling, so I got up, determined to find it. It took me a while, as soon as I moved, it stopped calling, but I found it...

 

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And some southern pied babblers

 

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and a rattling cisticola

 

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red-billed spurfowl

 

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arrow-marked babbler

 

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and a new one for us - white-headed vulture

 

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Tdgraves

Day 3, Evening drive, Somalisa, 4/9/17

 

First stop the waterhole

 

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Today we set off in a different direction and crossed a small ridge over into more open terrain. We saw no other vehicles in this part of the park, we did see several new birds though....white browed coucal

 

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buffy pipit

 

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lizard buzzard

 

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and a nice sighting of this tchagra, which was not new

 

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we then found the lion pride again at an opportune moment, as they were just waking up

 

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and started to think about dinner 

 

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Again kudu was the target, but they failed and moved off

 

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a couple from the OH who was on the other side of the vehicle with the 5D

 

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They crossed into the block on the right and Lewis though that they would appear on the far side of it, going towards a waterhole, so we positioned ourselves there and waited. And waited. A couple of other vehicles circumnavigated the block and confirmed that they were still in it, but they did not appear. So tonight was the first night for "sundowners" served in the vehicle (for obvious reasons) in the pitch black. Whilst having our drinks we saw a nightjar and then I realised that we had a flat back tyre. I kept hearing a "phhtt" sound every so often! But we were very close to camp and we all got back in one piece.

 

Another attempted hunt. I have never seen such an active lion pride, although they clearly have a lot of mouths to feed. "Not a normal game drive"

 

A couple of camp photos on the 5D

 

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We arrived in Somalisa on the OH's birthday and as there had been no festivities, he thought that he had got off of the hook. He was even not suspicious when chef announced dinner without dessert, which is the usual indicator for birthday cake. He was therefore truly surprised to be served with a birthday cake, which he then had to portion out for everyone!

 

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iPhone 8

Edited by Tdgraves
wrong date - also applies to AM drive :(
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Tdgraves

Day 4, Morning Drive, Somalisa, 5/9/17

 

It was the honeymooners last drive, so we would be dropping them off near the airport for another vehicle to take them to their flight. However, to their credit, they were still keen on doing a drive and given the previous 5, who could blame them? I had the 5D today. As we sat having coffee, we heard ground hornbills, but did not find them. We went via the nearest waterhole.

 

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and had a brief glimpse of our only hyaena of the trip

 

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and then onto the open plains

 

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where we saw two new birds, a capped wheatear

 

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and a red-headed weaver

 

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we had an early coffee break at the picnic site, as we were freezing cold and the other couple only had a short drive. Some birds at the picnic site on the 7D

 

Crested barbet

 

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Dark-capped bulbul

 

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Meyer's parrot

 

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and this starling behaviour which I have not witnessed before

 

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We drove on a bit further and then dropped off the other couple. We then went to a waterhole that we recognised from our first trip in 2011 and where we had seen roan

 

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and the roan appeared on the other side of the road, nervously waiting for a drink. When it became obvious that they were not going to move, we went to them

 

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we also saw some more birds - little bee eater

 

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red-breasted swallows

 

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Bradfield's hornbill

 

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and back to our regular coffee stop waterhole that the eles love

 

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And back for brunch

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Peter Connan

Great series on the Starlings. I have seen something like this, but have no idea what it is?

The Red-head is a really striking bird, and I think the Red-breasted Swallow is perhaps the prettiest of all the Swallows?

But the last photo wins the prize for cuteness!

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Tdgraves

Day 4, Evening drive, Somalisa, 4/9/17

 

As the honeymoon couple had left, we had the vehicle to ourselves for the last two drives :D

 

tonight was pretty quiet though

 

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the obligatory waterhole stop

 

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we got a new bird - tinkling cisticola (on the 7D)

 

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We also had a fleeting glimpse of black-cheeked and violet-eared waxbills, but they were too fast for a shot

 

Striped kingfisher

 

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We drove to the airstrip

 

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And then made our way back towards camp, where these guys were quenching their thirsts at the acacia camp waterhole

 

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They then strolled off towards our camp

 

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and formed a road block!

 

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before moving off towards the main part of the park

 

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So no sundowners again!

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Awesome cheetah experience and photo's.

The photo's of the cheetah remind me of trying to take photo's of my kids, you can never get them all looking at the camera at once.:D

Wow beautiful Lion pics too - loving the TR thanks @Tdgraves

Edited by Hads
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Ratdcoops

Superb photographs great job, really active Lion and the metallic colours of those Starlings really well captured. Thank you @Tdgraves

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Tdgraves

Day 5, Morning drive and transfer to airstrip, Somalisa, 6/9/17 (I don't know what happened about the dates :blink:)

 

I had been awoken by lion calls around camp. The staff thought they knew which male it was and of course, we were the first out of camp trying to find it. However, it had already stopped calling. We did a few loops around but saw prints going into a block and Lewis decided that he was sleeping, so we left the other vehicles driving round and around in circles (as it turns out, never finding him), as we went towards the main plains area for our truncated drive. We were alone again today and I had the 7D. There were tracks of the pride all along the road, so we didn't really stop for anything, but then we lost the tracks. When we arrived at the plains, we slowed down to check out the area. There were no other vehicles around. I happened to see lion tracks on the road, so Lewis stopped and started looking through his bins, right to left. It took us a while (I suspect because they were sleeping and therefore had their heads down) but then we spotted 4 blobs in the grass on the far left - we had found the pride again!

 

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They had obviously made another kill

 

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We decided to change to a different view, as they were on the corner between two roads

 

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they were all tired from the hunt and eating and mostly went flat again. A self driver appeared just as we had changed angle and could not believe their luck, they would have their own private lion sighting, as there was no sign of any vehicles from other camps at all. We left them to it as we needed to get to the airstrip. We did a loop of the plains and got a close eland sighting, but nothing else

 

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We said goodbye to the lions, who were now more active

 

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courtesy of the OH...

 

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And left towards the airstrip.

 

At the beginning of our stay, I was asking Lewis about all of the birds in the area that I had not seen before, my top two being a racket-tailed roller and a broad-billed roller. There was no chance of the latter and the chances of the former were "zero point zero zero one percent". Oh well, maybe in Mana Pools? I was therefore very surprised when he stopped in a wooded area en route to the airstrip and said "racket-tailed roller". In fact, I thought he was winding us up. How wrong was I? Not only was he right, the bird also posed nicely for is!! What a bonus

 

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These guys were at the airstrip

 

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We had not stopped for coffee and I had asked the camp manager to give us a packed snack to take with us, but they forgot. I thought we'd have time for a quick coffee at the airstrip, as they normally get you there 30 mins in advance to clear the runway, but we barely had chance to use the loo before the plane arrived and we were off. He really was cutting it fine, letting us sit with the lions and the roller!

 

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A completely different experience to our first visit to Hwange and what a start to the trip. Onwards to Matusadona....

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Tdgraves

Flight to Matusadona National Park

 

The plane had come from Camp Hwange with an American couple on board. The wife had already taken the seat next to the pilot, which the OH prefers if at all possible, due to airsickness, but there were only 4 of us and we were off again. They were staying at Musango Safari Lodge, where we had stayed on our first trip and so we would drop them off at Bumi airstrip, with a short hop across to Fothergill Island for us. This gave me another chance for aerial photography, although I was restricted to the right side of the plane.

 

Dry Hwange

 

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another fire

 

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And around Matusadona

 

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Under the haze gave better results

 

Bumi Hills being refurbished by African Bush Camps as their next new lodge

 

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Can you see the elephants?

 

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Our pilot off for his next trip

 

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Whilst we were driven to camp

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@Tdgraves fine trip report so far.  You are bringing us back to our trip to Zimbabwe in 2011 when we had Lewis Mangaba as our guide at Little Mak.   I presume this is the same Lewis as i believe he is at Somalisa now for African Bush Camps.  

 

I had requested him due to some research i had done into the best guides in each destination for Wilderness  and i think both he and the camp were a bit surprised at that time that someone had requested a guide.    Lewis had come straight from his exam to get his walking qualification to be our guide, but he wouldn't hear for several weeks/months on the results.

 

On our way back from a game drive the vehicle completely died including the radio.  Thankfully we were in sight of the camp, but we hopped out and walked the last ~1/4 mile or so single file behind Lewis with his rifle.  So i think we qualify for his first official walking safari (although he wasn't QUITE certified yet, he did subsequently find out he passed).   He was an exceptional and enthusiastic guide, and a very nice person to boot.  

 

I look forward to reading the rest of your report and hope it continues to be as entertaining and fruitful for you

 

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Tdgraves

@sek07 it was indeed the same Lewis - he has turned into an excellent guide and if I were going back, I would definitely request his services again.

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Tdgraves

Day 5, Changa Safari Camp, Matusadona, 6/9/17

 

It was a 30 minute or so drive to camp, we saw a few birds, but as it was the middle of the day, we were keen to go and settle in. The camp has a good position on the lake shore and has a lovely atmosphere. They seem to have a lot of local trade, mainly for lake fishing (with some clients bringing their own boats!!), however, it was never full during our stay. The rooms are well spaced apart and feel private. For birders, they have a genius invention, bird showers in the bushes in front of the room. As the turn of a tap, some strategically placed sprinklers in the trees emit water and the birds flock in....armchair birding at its' best!

 

Including our first new bird of this park: a yellow-bellied greenbul

 

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Dark-capped bulbul

 

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Arrow-marked babbler

 

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We had lunch with the camp manager, who stayed to meet us prior to her period of leave, so for the rest of our stay, we would have a relief manager. We were also sharing the camp with a film crew lead by Don Percival, who took up several rooms and had their own private vehicle. They provided a lot of entertainment over the next few days!

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Loved the sprinklers at Changa. My first afternoon there I decided to take off and just hung out on my deck with my binoculars, camera and bird book. Bliss. Quiet, lots of birds showed up...very relaxing. And you are right, it is very private. I loved their outdoor shower too- think I only showered inside once :)  This area was different- I think the "lake" had something to do with it. Game drives were very soothing, it was a nice interlude between Hwange and Mana for me. Walking was decent too though this is where we were tracking the lions who were tracking the sick elephant and I wussed out hearing the cries of the elephant and went back to camp. It was a very unique experience.

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Tdgraves

Day 5, Evening drive, Changa, 6/9/17 

 

It had been a long day and it was very hot, so we took the option of a boat cruise. We were alone with our guide, who unfortunately neither us can remember his name :( It's not because he was bad, but we have been racking our brains for weeks and cannot remember! He was young and relatively recently qualified, but had just acquired a digital camera, so was keen to learn about positioning a vehicle for photography.

 

It was all birds today....

 

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including some new ones for us: White-crowned lapwing

 

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Kitlitz's plover

 

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White-winged tern

 

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And this ruff was a new one for our guide

 

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We were then taken to "a nice bay where there are lots of birds", which was a rouse, as we were met by the camp staff, who had set up sundowners on a beach, with the film crew already there and they sent up this drone to capture some footage for their documentary

 

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whilst we were treated to a spectacular sunset

 

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We went back to camp by boat in the dark, which was a different experience!! We had dinner with the film crew, who were very friendly and had lots of tales to tell. There was a spectacular full moon rise over the bay which illuminated the dead leadwood trees in the water and I kicked myself for not having a camera or at least a camera phone to hand. Oh well, I could try tomorrow, but of course, it was not the same :(

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Tdgraves

Day 6, Morning drive, Changa, 7/9/17

 

After a slightly annoying 10 minute detour to the parks office to log in, we are off. As expected there are lots of birds, but really nothing else to see. I had the 5D today.

 

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and a couple on the 7D from the OH

 

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Back to camp for breakfast. And then lunch!!!

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Just catching up on your very enjoyable report. Beautiful photos throughout, and an interesting contrast between the two areas visited so far.

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