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BRACQUENE

@Zim Girl

 

How I long to go to the valley again after seeing those leopard eyes and that unexpected lion kill both beautifully captured ; I just came home from a very long daily walk wearing my fleece and     cap from my last safari in the Kafue which makes me feel like walking  in Africa even if it was in the woods a few miles outside Brussels:rolleyes:

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We just wanted to go to Portugal, I swear - so how the heck did we end up in Zambia? In October. 2020 that is. The year which will forever be known as the COVID-year. The annus horribilis horribilissi

So, of course the obvious thing to be doing in the middle of a global pandemic, amidst various states of lockdown and with all travel to Africa under an “all but essential travel” advisory from the UK

Just one or two pictures to add to the morning drive.   Andreas taking that beautiful sunrise shot.   Impala everywhere   We were only an hour into the drive wh

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PeterHG

Lots of exciting photos again @michael-ibkand @Zim Girl! I just love the night time footage of the leopard and hyena. That lioness with a kill was a good find, too!

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michael-ibk

My add-ons for this morning (trying not to repeat Angie´s photos):

 

Again it was a bit too overcast for a good Carmine session - but no worries, I´d get my chances later on during the trip.

 

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Still could not resist a quick stop early morning.

 

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Goliath Heron in the riverbed

 

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As I´ve mentioned before there was not much vegetation for the animals after the floods of this year. Still, they seemed to find enough, I never had the impression that Impala or Puku appeared too thin.

 

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An Impala defying death by falling sausages. I wonder if that ever happens - I guess it does.

 

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Lilian´s Lovebirds are really common in South Luangwa. Noisy little birds, and conspicuous enough. But they are not too happy about letting tourists get close by, and so trying to get a photo of them became an ongoing battle.

 

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Mfuwe Lagoon.

 

To give some sense of direction here´s an excellent park map I found:

 

https://www.crocvalley.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/South-Luangwa-National-Park-mfuwe-map.jpg

 

So we were going up North, crossing Katete bridge, using Wamilombe Drive to Mfuwe Lagoon, and then the Normann Carr drive to Luangwa Wafwa. And then back on the other side along the river. Nothing particularly spectacular happened during the morning, but it was a nice, relaxed drive with a constant supply of the usual suspects. And birds of course.

 

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Red-Billed Oxpecker, the dominant of the two species here. Unusual to see them perching on a branch and not sitting on some animal´s back.

 

 

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Yes, like this.

 

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Southern Red-Billed Hornbill. Became more abundant in the drier areas a bit away from the Luangwa.

 

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Saddle-Billed Stork, a favourite of mine. The yellow eyes tell this is a female.

 

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Blacksmith Lapwing juvenile - don´t think I´ve ever seen a young one like that before.

 

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Red-Billed Buffalo Weaver

 

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Good old Zebra. Not a constant presence like Impala or Puku but regularly seen.

 

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Sorry for repeating Angie´s shot but this is actually the only LBR I took a photo of this trip.

 

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The "Wafwa" was a really beautiful spot to have a coffee break.

 

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As you can see the lagoon was quickly drying out in the heat.

 

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Spotted Hyena passing by.

 

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I always enjoyed the short stretches when we were driving right by the river.  Just beautiful there.

 

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Carmine passing by.

 

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Always something going on in the riverbed - group of Yellow-Billed Storks here.

 

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Puku on watchpoint.

 

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The boys were barely moving - just to get into the next shade, so we did not stay long with them.

 

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Just to probe that Elephants were not only around our house but in the park as well. But it´s actually true we saw more of them "at home" than out in the park.

 

Not much too add about our very cool Leopard & Lion & Baboon sighting. An unexpected and pretty thrilling surprise to end a otherwise beautiful but fairly quiet morning drive.

 

4 hours ago, Zim Girl said:

They (the Baboons) were going nuts and one brave soul even made a mad dash down the tree and across the path towards the leopard, but then he stopped in his tracks, obviously realising this wasn’t the best idea he had ever had and turned and strolled slowly back to the group so he didn't lose face.  Very funny to watch and I hope Michael might have a picture.

 

Unfortunately not :unsure:. It was a really funny scene but the Baboon did not come close enough to the Leopard to fit them both in the frame. Jona said the Leopard was deliberately provoking the Baboons by coming out like that, probably hoping one would come close enough to off him. Quite a brave strategy. Attacks in daylight can end in mobbing behaviour, or even Leopard fatalities at the hands of Baboons. Then again this was not exactly a huge troop.

 

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This was a female, note the (proportionally) much smaller head.

 

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Jona thought the Leopard might well have killed that Warthog, and the Lioness was probably just a thief. In any case this would have been quite a battle to watch, the Warthog was quite a big one, and they can be fierce fighters.

 

 

Edited by michael-ibk
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michael-ibk
On 11/24/2020 at 11:29 AM, LarsS said:

Is this what I think it is? And if so, I really hope you had the opportunity for a better picture. Otherwise I do feel guilty os stealing a sighting...

 

Sorry @LarsS, somehow overlooked this comment. No, it´s not what you think it is. Never feel guilty, it´s just a fact of a birder´s life that non-birders always see the greatest birds by chance. Just last week some people I know saw four Caipercailies (google them - they are really cool!) on a walk in the forest, a bird I´ve been running after for years now! :)

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BRACQUENE

@michael-ibk

 

I love the way you complement what @Zim Girlposted earlier ; it is like looking twice to a movie but from a different angle ; I am impressed I can tell you and don’t stop please : it makes me happy !

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Kitsafari

 

Wow what a luxurious upgrade, and luxuriating in the pool!

I'm greatly enjoying your combo reports and photos.  

 

It may have been a quiet start, but - you are back in Africa, in the bush, breathing its air, and puku, zebras, giraffes, elephants - what a great start to the covid safari already. 

 

Leopards - galore, I hope, by the end of the trip. 

 

where are the elephant shrews? did you not see them during the night drives?

 

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michael-ibk

It was a pretty hot day, and so we did little but eat (a lot), drink (classified), sleep (a bit) and (greatly) enjoy our pool during siesta. Lots of Eles, Giraffe and Antilopes visiting again, but we were all too lazy to take pictures I think. Well, except for a more friendly than fierce tussle between these two:

 

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Guess this means "I win"! B)

 

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We only had a car with a roof for the short drive from the house to the crossing point. As free spirits we had asked after arrival to have a totally open car for our game drives.

 

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This is the whole distance of our crossing. I thought it must be lovely to spend some more time on the boat on the Luangwa. But Jona told me it´s just too shallow and therefore not really possible, especially not that late in the season.

 

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Hubert the Hippo had taken good care of our game drive vehicles during lunch. Thanks Hubert!

 

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And Peter Pied had kept a sharp eye on our sandsack path. Much obliged! You can see we were very well taken care of indeed.

 

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We returned to the waterhole which had already delivered twice on the Leopard front. The Lioness and a Hyena were still around, deep in the thickish. Jona wanted to try to get closer to them but we all agreed that we did not need to see a sleeping Lion and decided to move on.

 

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An Ele familiy visited the waterhole. And no, we did not have enough of Elephants after all the pachydermy goodness around our house. Elephant watching never gets old!

 

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michael-ibk

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Afterwards we enjoyed a nice sighting of an adult Bateleur. Such a spectacular Eagle!

 

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One of the most common safari birds - Helmeted Guineafowl. Maybe not the prettiest ones but their cackling is just part of a game drive - safari music if you will.

 

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Similarly ignored - Spurfowl.

 

We did not find anything special driving around so ultimately decided to get back to the river. Just a coincidence that´s where the Carmines are. (Ok, I begged, screamed and cried. :))

 

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The birds were not too shy, so I lay down on the ground to get some close-ups.

 

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Peek-A-Bo!

 

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Again, the White-Fronted was really not happy with his cousins getting all the attention.

 

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Ok, White-Fronty, here´s your photo and a snack to go, now off with you!

 

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They were killing an insane amount of butterflies - to the point that we were starting to feel sorry for the butterflies. It really was quite a massacre.

 

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A flock of Carmines is one of the most spectacular things nature has come up with. At least to me. I could spend hours and hours just sitting by the river and watch them.

 

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No Leopards on the nightdrive today, they were all conserving their stength for tomorrow we were sure.

 

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Savanna Hare - a sure bet at night.

 

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We also saw White-Tailed Mongoose quite regularly.

 

And there was another nice sighting but that was one @Zim Girlwas particularly pleased with so I´ll leave that to her. And ...

 

11 hours ago, Kitsafari said:

where are the elephant shrews? did you not see them during the night drives?

 

Oh yes, we did! Great fun to watch but getting a photo of them is quite a different story. My valiant tries:

 

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Watch it torment me. Stay still for a second, will you!

 

 

See you tomorrow.:)

 

Edited by michael-ibk
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PeterHG

Your Carmine shots are really spectacular! I've seen the in the Kruger park in February, but they appeared a lot duller. Both of you have just added another must-see destination.......

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Kitsafari

brilliant shots of the carmine bee-eater - it was one of our favourites as well. we used Shenton's floating hide and it brought us quite close to the bee-eaters. 

 

You managed good shots of the shrews! and i love that video of the cute shrew. those tiny tots were devilish to get a clear clean shot of. we played a game one night - how many shrews can you count - we gave up after the 20th with no luck nailing a proper shot.

 

 

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Peter Connan

In the evening light those Carmines really are stunningly beautiful!

 

Great photos.

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BRACQUENE

@michael-ibk

 

I love elephant shrews and we saw quite a few in the Valley back in 2014 ; had a decent night shot around Tafika and might post it on African pictures ;)

 

 

 

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Great Carmines-shots, @michael-ibk! I love also a shot of LBR and Hornbill. And a shrew performance is amazing! :) Very special animal indeed! I must put it on my list ;)

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Zim Girl
On 11/28/2020 at 3:19 PM, michael-ibk said:

And there was another nice sighting but that was one @Zim Girlwas particularly pleased with so I´ll leave that to her. And ...

 

Thank you @michael-ibk

 

Before I get to it, I also managed a quick shot of that even quicker elephant shrew.

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Also, we saw a Bushy-tailed mongoose but it was a long way off so not a great picture.

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Slightly better, and Michael is right, I was pleased with it.  We saw a Verreaux's Eagle owl sitting in a tree.  Owls are my favourite type of bird so I was really happy to be this close.

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A short while later we passed it again and this time looking fast asleep.

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BRACQUENE

@Zim Girl

 

19 minutes ago, Zim Girl said:

We saw a Verreaux's Eagle owl sitting in a tree.

 

And you made stunning artistic photos of that one ! I am really impressed 

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Zim Girl

Before I carry on, another couple of trail cam pictures from the deck of the house.

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Sometimes on the early morning river crossing fishermen could be seen along the bank.

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This morning we decided to go back south to the Chilele area we went to the other evening just on the off chance we might find Wild Dogs.

Now we didn't find the dogs but we also didn't see another single vehicle the entire morning.  Bliss!  (We all decided we were becoming quite anti-social:D)

 

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Once you have passed through the barren burnt section it becomes very scenic.

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Morning tea break was by the dry riverbed.

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Michael taking the opportunity to find some more birds.  Can't actually remember what he saw there.  Adrian walked down to keep him company.

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Later, we stopped at another potential carmine site.P1280890c.jpg.99a51caca59f05c48b5b4c015f699bd2.jpg

 

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Michael is persuading Andreas he really does want another carmine picture!!

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A bit further along the riverbank we came across probably our best sighting of the morning.  Around 300 buffalo (according to Jona), were walking out of the bush and down to the river for a drink.  It was quite an impressive sight.

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Michael hopped out for a better angle.

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The ones at the head of the line are turning round and making their way back now.

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As they started coming back up the bank they passed right by us.

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Baby buffs are just so cute!

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Then we made our way back home to endure another enormous lunch, elephant and giraffe entertainment and a dip in the pool.  It's a hard life!!

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Zim Girl
6 minutes ago, BRACQUENE said:

@Zim Girl

 

 

And you made stunning artistic photos of that one ! I am really impressed 

 

Thank you very much @BRACQUENE

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AfricIan

Great photo of that Elephant Shrew both of you, I've never managed to get my camera more than halfway to my eye before they've gone!

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Peter Connan

And I've never even seen one!

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michael-ibk

Let me see what can I add about our morning drive? No surprises there - a few birds of course.

 

1422949360_273_Zambia_924_LiliansLovebird(Erdbeerkpfchen).JPG.a1af281a3d1ccb1d76880fcdb6c83e98.JPG

 

Lilian´s Lovebirds - my battle against them continued, and yet again they won. They really don´t seem to like me. :(

 

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A nicely perching Lesser Striped Swallow:

 

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The area around Manzi River has a lot of palm trees - very pretty.

 

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Little Bee-Eater. Almost neglected this time due to its Carmine cousins but another firm favourite of mine.

 

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Brown Snake-Eagle

 

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A Brown-Hooded Kingfisher posing very patiently until all four of us could finally see it.

 

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3 hours ago, Zim Girl said:

Can't actually remember what he (Michael) saw there.

 

Nothing actually! Just sat there and waited for some Lovebirds to come drink - of course they never did. B)

 

Back to the river:

 

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3 hours ago, Zim Girl said:

Later, we stopped at another potential carmine site

 

What do you mean, "potential"? B)

 

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Again, the light was a bit too dull but the Bee-Eaters enjoyed sailing in the wind which meant that ever so often they´d almost hover. Made it a bit easier to track them.

 

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Short mobile video to show what I´m talking about:

 

 

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They really should be called "Butterfly-Killers" here but I guess this (more befitting) name is not quite as charming.

 

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The track along the river was very sandy and not easy to drive. At one point we had to cross a dry riverbed. Jona probed the loose underground for quite a while until he decided he´d give it a go. And we wrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrooomed through successfully!

 

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Ah, our Buffalos. I always enjoy seeing big herds - just says "Africa" to me.

 

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3 hours ago, Zim Girl said:

Michael hopped out for a better angle.

 

Did not help much, they were just a bit too far away. And I was too chicken (or sensible?) to approach much further.

 

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But at least it gave me the opportunity for some Wire-Tailed Swallows.

 

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The morning ended with a nice sighting of one of my favourite birds - an African Hoopoe.

 

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Edited by michael-ibk
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michael-ibk
12 minutes ago, Peter Connan said:

And I've never even seen one!

 

Peter, I don´t think I´ve ever seen one outside Zambia. Interesting why they are so easily seen only here - although they do occur all over.

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michael-ibk

It was already time for our last game drive here at Luangwa House - *sigh*.

 

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Hoodie was waiting for us again. :)

 

1166851159_317_Zambia_1044_PiedKingfisher(Graufischer).JPG.55353df148cef2a330351ce617708e60.JPG

 

As was my friend the Pied.

 

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We said Good Bye to the boat and our crossing point. We´d use this car for the transfer to Tafika so had to go out via the main gate.

 

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A Hippo was trying to be a Puku.

 

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Blending in nicely, don´t you think?

 

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But the female back there seemed to be a bit suspicious of him. "Hm, he does not look QUITE right. Where are the horns?"

 

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"See Hubert lately? He really put on quite some weight I have to say. And he´s badly sunburnt."

 

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One of our familiar European birds - a Common Buzzard. (Technically a "Steppe" one though, a different subspecies.)

 

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My favourite part of the park - the river of course.

 

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Sorry, the best sunbathin spots are already taken.

 

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"What, the white thing on the sand? Was not me, promise!"

 

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I was delighted to see a Skimmer relatively close by - they are around on the river but usually quite far away.

 

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Gloriou ... What? Fed up with all these wings you say? Enough birds, really? Go bring on some Cats now already?

 

Ok, I hear you - Let me try.B)

Edited by michael-ibk
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BRACQUENE

@Peter Connan

@michael-ibk

Zambia is indeed the place where I have seen them but night drives are a Zambian speciality remember and “perhaps I was lucky “ I remember also an early evening drive in the Mwagusi area in Tanzania where I saw in 6 days more than anywhere else and also an elephant shrew ! 😉

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michael-ibk

So - a completely bird-free post:

 

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As we reached the central area it became crowded. Two other cars were around - or maybe even three? We were quite shocked. But they did point us to a Leopard, so we forgave them.

 

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A very sleepy male.

 

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Try as we might it was different for Jona to get us a good angle.

 

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But still a very nice sighting - even if we had to share it with one (and at times two(!)) other cars. ;)

 

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After 15 minutes or so the Leopard jumped down to the back of the tree and was off. It was already dawning now when Jona found as a second Leopard:

 

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This was such an awkward position. Looked a bit like somebody had placed a stuffed Leoapard toy into the tree. But no, as drastically overexposing proved we had a living breathing Leopardess here. How she could sleep in an uncomfortable "bed" like that was beyond us.

 

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We stayed with her for almost one hour, trusting she´d eventually have to get down to drink, hunt - anything!

 

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But the only activity the Lady was prepared for was to turn around - and fall asleep again!

 

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"Ah, this looks like a cosy pillow-branch!"

 

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Once we got so bored that I started to take photos of Geckos (see it?) we decided to move on.

 

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Another night drive another Civet.

 

And another Leopard!

 

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Actually this was the male we had first seen - as Jona could tell by the small wound on its hindleg. It appeared to follow the Civet, and we kept our breath.

 

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But an unexpected interruption saved the smaller carnivore. All of sudden a grumpy Hippo appeared out of nowhere - it was not fond at all of the Cat, and Mr. Leopard disappeared into some bushes. A lot of snorting, snuffling and Hippo bristling going on but we could not see what was happening.

 

The Leopard came out again eventually, and let us join him on his dinner walk - nice!

 

 

1989002873_364_Zambia_1185_Leopard(mnnlichdervomfrhenAbend).JPG.6333db0f4a4c88069948ece6f7729794.JPG

 

A great farewell evening we all agreed!

 

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On the way back we also saw a Sharpe´s Grysbok - terrible photo but since they are so rarely seen I´ll put it up anyway.

 

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"At home" the guys had prepared a sensational brai for our last dinner.

 

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*sigh* Really tough to leave here.:)

 

 

 

Edited by michael-ibk
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AfricIan
1 hour ago, michael-ibk said:
1 hour ago, Peter Connan said:

And I've never even seen one!

 

Peter, I don´t think I´ve ever seen one outside Zambia. Interesting why they are so easily seen only here - although they do occur all over.

 

It was only during our recent South Luangwa trip that I got my fleeting glimpses!

 

Great work with the Skimmers @michael-ibk, I've never managed a good photo of them skimming (but then I've always been in a boat not on dry land

Edited by AfricIan
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