Jump to content

Dirty Doug's Disappearing (Reappearing) Dogs Safari


kittykat23uk
 Share

Recommended Posts

Tuesday 31st July 2012 UK to Harare

 

My flight out was with Ethiopian Airways. The first 7 1/2 hr leg was in a small Boeing 757, which I initially felt was a bit small for such a long journey. However, there were certain benefits, such as the service being quicker with less passengers on board and the first meal I had was a tasty beef tagine style stew.

 

Arriving in Addis Ababa this airport was small but seemed to be a good spot for a little birding whilst waiting for the flight. There was a beautiful male Tacazze Sunbird, frequenting the trees just outside the terminal, Pied Crows and various doves were also seen. A group of Speckled Mousebirds made their way along a hedge at the back of the lot and unidentified martins and swallows fluttered overhead.

 

Soon it was time to board the flight to Harare and this was a more modern Boeing 777. A shame because the flight was shorter. Also the chicken curry was not as nice as the beef tagine. Arriving at Harare, and I was stuck in a queue for immigration for nearly two hours. At the time there seemed to be only one booth where visa payments were accepted, but as the queue went down I noticed that people were also using a different booth. I took my chance and was through! Doug was there to meet me with a warm welcome and we were soon on our way to the Bronte Garden Hotel.

 

I had the rest of the afternoon to relax so I had a quick wander around the beautiful grounds to see what birdlife I could find. A hammerkop was patrolling the swimming pools and pond, Heuglin’s Robins whistled melodiously under bushes and Kurrichane Thrushes foraged on the lawn. Noisy parties of Arrow-marked Babblers skulked in thickets and Dark-capped Bulbuls sang from high perches. Red-faced Mousebirds offered fleeting glimpses as they moved between the more mature trees.

 

As the light faded I had a bath and a lie down before meeting "She who shall not be named" and Sangeeta who arrived off a later flight. With Doug, his wife and Chris, a photographer who provided us with endless tips, we had a lovely evening meal as we excitedly mused about what we might see on our trip. Would we get lucky with the dogs? Only time would tell....

Edited by kittykat23uk
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let's see some photos of Dirty Doug...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wednesday 1st August Harare to Chitake Spring.

 

 

 

I awoke early, keen to get going, and so took a wander around the grounds, stopping to photograph Variable Sunbird. We had breakfast and stopped on the way out of Harare to pick up some beans for our beanbags. Then we were off on our way. Doug had gone on ahead to sort out logistics so we had a leisurely drive up to Chitake. The area is known for its great fishing and we were amazed to see so many stands offering worms. Competition must be fierce as hawkers vie for trade, various worms were offered, including “special worms”, and “anaconda worms”, goodness knows what those look like!

 

 

7824697902_acbd113d9f_b.jpg

P8010668 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

 

We stopped at a cafe set in some extensive grounds where birdlife was in abundance. Mousebirds flitted in the tops of trees, Blue waxbills flocked around us, and on the drive we also spotted Black shouldered kite. On the drive in we had our first mammal sightings, Chacma Baboons. Then, soon after we passed through Makuti, a huge Martial Eagle swept down in hot pursuit of a young baboon! The eagle was unsuccessful and flapped its massive wings, regained altitude as we left it behind us.

 

 

 

We drove over the escarpment and headed down into the valley below towards Chitake, where Doug awaited us in his safari vehicle. We transferred over at the entry gate and drove on towards camp. We caught a few glimpses of the odd Kudu here and there as we travelled. The scrub was very thick but we began to see an abundance of hornbills, which was to be a defining feature of the trip. As we reached a dried up river bed, we encountered a lone elephant digging for underground water. He had to go deep, his trunk was completely obscured as he sucked down the cooling liquid.

 

 

 

7824699638_89369e4cd6_b.jpg

P8010669 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

 

 

As we approached camp, impala became more prevalent, but they were skittish, acrobatically bounding away as we approached them in our vehicle. We arrived at Chitake 1 campsite, a prime location right on the riverfront with the spring flowing in front of us. At camp, we watched birds for a while and relaxed. A variegated gecko scuttled up a tree.

 

 

7824701222_7c74dc93a6_b.jpg

P8010686 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

 

7824703288_b6e82c982d_b.jpg

P8010693 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

 

 

7824704966_38fbfe2666_b.jpg

P8010694 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

Then later when the weather had cooled we went for s short walk to a viewpoint overlooking the spring. A small group of buffalo had come to drink, lit beautifully in the afternoon light, their shiny coats reflecting turquoise of the sky.

 

 

7824709266_f5c459a7dd_b.jpg

P8010708 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the buffalo left, a lone baboon appeared, some others were playing in a distant tree. Then a flock of Helmeted Guinea fowl also came down to quench their thirst, but soon retired to the cover of the bush. Finally, as the last rays of the sun dipped below the horizon, the Double-banded Sandgrouse began to arrive. We watched the full moon grow fat and then began our short walk back under moonlight.

 

 

 

We took turns in the bucket shower as we sat by the fire waiting for dinner to be served. Nelson did a fine job of catering for our trip and we wanted for nothing (well "She who shall not be named" might disagree as I know she needed her “herb” fix- but even this was sorted out).

 

 

 

Things really got going after dark in Chitake. From right across the river two amorous leopards set the bush alive with their commotion. This then set off the lions who seemed none too impressed by the leopards’ hanky-panky in their territory. We scanned with binoculars, straining to see in the moonlight, but drew a blank. As we ate, a herd of elephants arrived to drink from the spring.

 

 

This safari is not the place for a light sleeper such as myself to get any rest. Lions roaring off and on all night and elephants crashing around just outside my tent kept me on a night-long high of expectation! Baboons barking in the early hours, with a chorus of night insects, and pearl spotted Owlets made me abandon any further thoughts of snatching a few minute’s sleep as dawn fast approached.

Edited by kittykat23uk
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thursday 2nd August Chitake Springs

 

Early in the morning we set out on foot to track the lions that were making all the racket the night before. We crossed the riverbed and found a handsome male on the camp side of the river shining in the early morning light. He watched us intently from his vantage point for some time until a lioness joined him and they slinked off to get some privacy.

 

7824719828_801b74be04_b.jpg

P8020743 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7824721774_90dceb955e_b.jpg

P8020751 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7824723716_d901a23443_b.jpg

P8020754 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

 

 

On our way back we stopped to film a flock of Lillian’s Lovebirds that had settled in a tree. The spring itself attracts flocks of Emerald-spotted Wood Doves, Laughing Doves and Cape Turtle Doves, whilst Drongos and White-fronted Bee-eaters make sorties, hawking for insects from their perches.

 

We took off our shoes and socks and walked barefoot through the cooling spring water. As we got close to camp, herds of impala and parties of baboon were already beginning to gather. The impala are most confident when they are with the baboons, when they are alone they become nervous of drinking at the spring for fear of stalking lions.

 

 

7824729810_82cd205a15_b.jpg

P8020763 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7824731458_eec2a9453f_b.jpg

P8020779 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7824734814_6896f39d21_b.jpg

P8020793 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7824736448_940448f22e_b.jpg

P8020800 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7824739974_a238425f9e_b.jpg

P8020844 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

As we had lunch and into the afternoon, we spent the hours watching the comings and goings at the spring. Baboons played, fought ad drank and Impala pranced around. A few warthogs also came down to pray. A Bateleur landed and began to drink, but then a warthog trotted up to it, and the Bateleur shuffled away, not sure that it appreciated the company. It did not go far, and after the warthog had moved on, it started performing gymnastics, stretching it’s wings and bobbing up and down, craning it’s neck as it did so.

 

 

7824742002_dca927b266_b.jpg

P8020853 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7824749970_8eb61de97e_b.jpg

P8020881 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7824753624_c0acd77fee_b.jpg

P8020896 adj by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

7824758386_c8d3aa1041_b.jpg

P8020953 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7824760070_e2ce6f77e9_b.jpg

P8020984 adj by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7824761304_3df98402e9_b.jpg

P8021013adj by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7824762514_f4da16de5d_b.jpg

P8021048 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7824764180_5f37814b9f_b.jpg

P8021051 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7824775466_a0c734d5c0_b.jpg

P8020990adj2 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7824766168_666e9f8be3_b.jpg

P8021066 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7824770232_22f9bc4a31_b.jpg

P8021082 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

In the late afternoon we took a drive away from the spring to search the surrounding area for signs of dogs. Sadly we didn’t have any luck in locating them, so all we saw were a few birds and impala. We ended with a short stroll and watched the sunset whilst having sundowners.

 

Back at camp, a blood moon rose over Chitake Springs and a lone elephant came to drink. Then, the lions began to roar close to camp. Elijah rushed to the riverbed, with us close behind. He managed to spot a big male lion walking away from us towards the other camp. He handed me his binoculars and I could make him out quite clearly in the moonlight as he crossed to our side of the river and carried on around the bend, out of sight of us. It was exhilarating to think that this big cat was stalking so close to our camps!

 

 

Then, the excitement continued as a breeding herd of elephants came down to drink, right in front of where we were stood, literally only three metres away! We watched in awe, just making out enough of their silhouettes as the shimmering moonlight reflected off the water. We listened to the sloshing, huffing and puffing as they paddled and drank in the shallow water. We could hear and feel their rumbling contact calls which seemed to reverberate throughout our bodies.

 

 

Later on, Doug went to take a shower whilst we all sat around the campfire. While he was away, a small group of elephants emerged from the bushes just to the right where we were sat with the intention of heading down to the riverbed. We quietly got up and moved back to let them through and watched with delight as they passed only yards from where we were stood. We soon retired to bed and the night passed relatively peacefully in comparison to the previous evening.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some vids from this day:

 

 

 

A few more shots:

 

7825596514_866e21752d_b.jpg

P8020857 adj by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7825593998_48c0f0d751_b.jpg

P8020856 adj by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7825590426_2982f31e2c_b.jpg

P8020854 adj by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

Edited by kittykat23uk
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a lovely way for me to start the day. Love the walking through the stream video.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The male lion video is amazing. And to think you guys were on FOOT :blink: How far away from the lions were you?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the fantastic start of your TR for me to have my morning coffee with :)

The great thing abouth this TR is that we are going to get to read it 3 times from 3 different perspectives B)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great stuff...... vids are really nice for getting a "picture" in this case.

 

What's this about former member's "herb fix"? I didn't know she was a Rastafarian! Doug was okay with "the sharing of the sacrament", then? And videos? :P

Edited by Tdgraves
a
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the fantastic start of your TR for me to have my morning coffee with :)

The great thing abouth this TR is that we are going to get to read it 3 times from 3 different perspectives B)

Or is it 4 TRs? I'm a little lost :)

 

PS: In the last video in post #7, what is the oversized bicycle bell that one of you is carrying??

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good going.

 

Aaah... Chitake and the parrots. I wish that we had an extra night for Chitake. It seems the lions get a kick out of making a noise at night. It echoes through the channel there. It must be a huge welcome to the bush for the first night.

 

We didn't get to see the love birds. Lucky you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you referring to "She who shall not be named's" "Paddle pod," sorry "skimmer pod"? :D

Edited by kittykat23uk
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ahhh... is that what it is? :D

Seems like a lot of gear to lug around!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Indeed! She managed it though!! Will post more tonight..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/21/2012 at 7:52 AM, ZaminOz said:

Ahhh... is that what it is? :D

Seems like a lot of gear to lug around!

 

You ain't seen nothing yet, ZO :lol: This young lady was more than impressive crabwalking and crawling right in front of me through the thickest mopane you can imagine with more than 30 lbs of gear attached to various parts of her body!! She's strictly forbidden me from posting pictures of Sherpa former member, but I can tell you this, most guys I know would've been left in the dust! She's got some truly terrific photos to show for it though - hope she starts posting them soon.

 

Jo, absolutely loved the moonlight video and the spring walk video. What a great start to the report!

Edited by Tdgraves
A
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi folks, The lions were on the other side of the river bed from us quite high up. That video was shot at the full 48x intelligent zoom. With my 50-200 (400 mm equivalent lens) o my E620, the closest I got weas this shot:

 

7824728006_a28a72037c_b.jpg

P8020758 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

So they were a long way off really. We got a lot closer to four lions later in the trip...

 

Here is the vid of the Bateleur and the warthog;

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chitake full moon:

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Friday 3rd August Chitake Springs

 

 

 

We went out for a walk first thing in the morning in the hope of seeing a bigger herd of buffalo coming to drink from the spring. Unfortunately the buffalo were uncooperative and we didn’t see hide nor hair of the large herd that morning. So we just enjoyed the peace and quiet, watching the doves flocking down to drink. Their movements were like the ebb and flow of a tide, as flocks settled, drank and then left. But occasionally sharp alarm calls would be sounded and the birds would explode into flight scattering in all directions as an African Hawk Eagle or Peregrine Falcon dived out of the sky intent on taking one for a meal.

 

7831983922_21a5d55d9b.jpg

little Sparrowhawk by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

7831937236_5ca44defe1_c.jpg

P8031104 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

7831939048_a22283b8ed.jpg

P8031111 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

7831940576_cf625f70d5.jpg

P8031114 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

7831941832_2b54c90f22.jpg

P8031115 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

7831943414_8f6688998b.jpg

P8031116 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

 

Eventually, a pair of buffalo finally arrived to drink, taking the opportunity to have a cooling roll in the mud. We walked down to the riverbed where Doug pointed out the geology of the area. The majority of the area’s grasslands are pretty desolate. We found the reason for this was harvester termites which had been actively working to strip the whole area bare. We filmed them at work bringing what little remaining vegetation they could find to their burrows.

 

 

 

 

 

7831945078_f75a57238b.jpg

P8031125 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

7831946710_83646bffb6.jpg

P8031128 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

7831948502_f6317d3e7d.jpg

P8031129 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

7831950262_fd9d15e364.jpg

P8031132 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

7831951698_cbda849576.jpg

P8031134 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

7831953718_3659428d4b.jpg

P8031138 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

7831955376_b3d73cf844.jpg

P8031139 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

7831957166_43420bfaf5.jpg

P8031184 adj by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

Back at camp and it wasn’t long before the large herds of Impala started to arrive. This time the baboons seemed to have abandoned them and they were far more wary of their surroundings. A juvenile African Harrier Hawk was seen patrolling the area as did many vultures and Bateleurs. A Little Sparrowhawk worried smaller birds as it made the occasional aerial sortie.

 

 

 

7831958684_8444580111.jpg

P8031231 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

7831960428_9bd33f1a52.jpg

P8031268 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

Edited by kittykat23uk
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not that I recall, but we talked about so many things and the only thing my memory is good for is the names of birds! Just ask JohnR if you don't believe me! I totally failed to recognise them when they stopped by at the bird fair.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some videos from the morning.

 

Doves flocking to drink:

 

Buff mudbath

 

Watch the Oxpecker worrying this buff...he's pecking at an open sore...

 

The reason for the desolation in Chitake is revealed to be harvester termites:

 

Big herd of Impala coming to drink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the afternoon Doug drove us to the other side of the river. He practically leapt out of his vehicle ushering us to follow swiftly as the buffalo were down having a drink. We moved cautiously to where we had sat in the morning. We arrived in time to see the nervous herd start to melt back into the bush. Then as we tried to position ourselves for a better angle they caught wind or sight of us, the remaining buffalos lost their nerve and stampeded back up the other side of the riverbank away from us. Doug was disappointed for us that we hadn’t managed to witness the entire spectacle of the herd coming to drink, saying it was unfortunate that they had already been there for long enough to quench their thirst before we arrived.

 

7831962288_eb3a868ee6.jpg

P8031292 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

7831964368_28e0823f7e.jpg

P8031302 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

 

 

7831966310_de91954e71.jpg

P8031310 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

I filmed some White-fronted Bee-eaters and later on Doug took us to a beautiful spot where there grew some great baobabs overlooking a ridge, beautifully lit in the late afternoon sun. We filmed Mopane Squirrels and Grey-headed parrots and then we tried to locate the big buffalo herd with no success. We stopped to photograph the sunset and have out requisite sundowners before heading back to camp.

7831973844_8207f4fc82_b.jpgP8033322 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7831976818_de59f0c88b_b.jpgP8033327 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7831979016_2b61f59522_b.jpgP8033330 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7831969912_085a15b19a_b.jpgP8031343 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

7831981460_01a591bc06_c.jpg

P8033336 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

Only a couple of elephants came to drink that evening. We had some new neighbours who shone their high powered torches out over the riverbed. This concerned us at one point as it seemed to unsettle the elephants, so much so that we were concerned that one of them was going to break and run through our camp, thankfully he turned away. They did however, light up a lone hyena briefly, though we only got a fleeting view of it.

Edited by kittykat23uk
Link to comment
Share on other sites

More video:

 

Impala

 

Meyer's Parrot

 

Dwarf Mongoose

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome back Jo. Enjoying the report so far and good to see the camcorder get a work-out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy