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First stop... Botswana, Lebala and Lagoon


marg
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Finally!  Like so many other trips this one was twice postponed.  We left our house on Sunday morning at nine.  Our flights were Los Angeles to Doha with an overnight in the airport.  Doha to Joburg with an overnight at the Intercontinental.  Joburg to Maun, then to the airstrip.  We arrived at Lebala late afternoon on Wednesday and went on a short game drive at five.  Finally!  Short-tailed Eagle (Bateleur), Grey go-away bird (Lourie), Fish Eagle, and an elephant.  Sundowners.  We are here.  Finally!

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It was great to hear hippos and lions during the night.  Lions!  Our first sighting was part of a group of eleven which had split off from the Wapuka pride of twenty-seven.  We found the two females and six cubs.

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Next, a Lilac-breasted Roller.  And, a visit to an Ard Wolf den.  It was a nice morning!

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~ @marg:

 

Great images!

 

It's wonderful that after such a long delay, your return was so filled with fine sightings.

 

Thank you for posting these.

 

      Tom K.

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@janzinand @Tom Kelliethanks!  and thank you for the spelling correction.  The afternoon drive was quiet and we are running on fumes.

 

Stonechat, White-fronted-bee-eaters.  And, a visit to a brown spotted hyena den.

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There is a sausage tree next to our tent.  In the night we hear noises in the leaves.  Elephants and last night John got out of bed to see a honey badger.  From our deck in the afternoons we view elephants, lechwe, warthogs, wildebeest, a water monitor and birds.

 

Early on the morning game drive we found a very handsome lion.  He is one of the three Golden Boys.

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As you can see the grass and the sage is very tall.  And, the weather was unusual.  For our nine nights in the area we had bush babies (hot water bottles) in our laps every morning.   We also needed jackets in the mornings and at night.  It was cold but mid day nice and warm. 

 

After the time with the lion we went on a mission.  We heard that the cheetah brothers had left the Lagoon area the day before and were on their way to Selinda.  There were tracks and we followed them for a good while.   Two vehicles.  The spotters were on foot.  Guides too.  They must have seen or heard the spotters as they ran.  We followed the tracks almost to the edge of the Selinda area but no luck.  It was an adventure and we were very late getting back to camp for lunch.

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offshorebirder
3 hours ago, marg said:

Early on the morning game drive we found a very handsome lion.  He is one of the three Golden Boys.

 

Beautiful specimen!   

 

Aardwolf den and nighttime Honey Badger sighting - off to a roaring start @marg.

 

 

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madaboutcheetah

Glad you had an amazing trip .... those cubs are getting bigger by the day!

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A few more birds.....

Wahlberg's Eagle, just arrived

African Darter and Yellow-billed Stork

Marabou Stork

Great White Pelican

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The next morning....surprise.  Lions!  We had just started our drive.  I looked left and there was a lion sitting there.  We stopped and and spotted another lion in the distance.  The two females are part of the Golden Boys group.  We followed them all morning as they were hunting both together and separately.  There were lechwe and reed buck nearby but every time the wind changed they ran off.

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That evening on our way back to camp we find two bat-earred foxes at the air strip.  Then, lions!  The three Golden Boys sleeping near a water hole.  

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After four nights at Lebala and four beautiful sun rises it is time to move on.  As we leave camp we find two honey badgers digging for worms.  We will go half way, meet a vehicle from Lagoon and make the switch. 

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We say our good byes and are on our way.  Seeing trees filled with vultures we go to investigate and find a  dead young elephant.  Not far away a lion.  As the birds approached he would move closer.  Next, a dwarf mongoose.

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madaboutcheetah

@marg- the guide looks familiar but can't get his name - and your tracker was ??? not sure i've met him.

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We arrive for our five night stay at Lagoon Camp with plenty of time to unpack and get organized before the afternoon drive.  And, we meet guide Spencer.

 

Steenbok, Chacma baboon and ......lions!  The Holy pride's preferred prey is buffalo and the prior night they had success. Stomachs are full.

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Wow, not just an Aardwolf... but a Den?!  And honey badgers!!  Wow!  

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The next morning it is cold and windy and we head north.  First sighting...lions!  The male is about ten and has a bad left eye.  The female nine plus and is sterile.

 

Just like yesterday afternoon we follow leopard tracks.  Today they are in the morning news.  But, no luck...yet.

 

At crocodile lagoon we watch hippos.

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A few birds along the way...

Three female ostrich

Red-breasted Swallows getting mud for a nest, they just arrived

Lilac-breasted Roller

Carmine Bee-eaters arrived a few days earlier and were building nests in the sand, but with the wind they were not to be seen.

 

Wildebeest and impala and a late morning drink.  The impala were a good size herd, but with the wind only three came to the water.  And, as we get closer to camp a large herd (100) of elephant is heading to the river.  The photo was taken from camp.

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Later in the day we find two lions at the elephant carcass.  But, the highlight of the afternoon drive was going in the direction where two giraffe were looking.  On the other side of a termite mound we find a hyena den with three cubs less than one week old.  A discovery!  A beautiful sunset tops off the evening. 

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Early the next morning we make another visit to the elephant carcass and it is getting stinky.  Lions!  Five females.

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