Ben Reports from Okavango Khwai River: A Sickly Shikra? …
When we left this morning we scratched around, passing a dapper young Kudu bull right next to the roadie the almost eerie predawn light. We had to use flash, and the photographs turned out to be superb.
We carried on and stopped to photograph some Red-billed Teals that looked beautiful with their rich colours that reflected in the blue of the water and with the pinkish dawn around, it was a truly lovely scene.
We checked for the leopard that we saw the other day, but he was in hiding. On the Marabou Pan Road we photographed dozens of vultures perched in a variety of dead trees, ever on the lookout for something nearby to eat. There were Hooded, White-backed, Lappet-faced, and even a few White-headed Vultures. There must have been in excess of two hundred of them in a small area, but the reason for their congregation was unclear. Naturally, we made full use of the opportunity to photograph them.
When we arrived at Marabou Pan we found large herd of wildlife covering the entire area. A large herd of zebra looked on almost disdainfully at a herd of wildebeest running around, chasing each other, playing, and generally acting in that goofish way that wildebeest so often do. Add in the flocks of Red-winged Pratincole flying around and you get a scene of constant movement, a shifting kaleidoscope that simply didn’t ever stop.
A call came about a leopard not far from Marabou Pan, and we arrived to find a male leopard high up in the canopy of a tree. We photographed him lying up there on a branch, and then also when he came down from the tree. He is clearly unaccustomed to vehicles, and became a little anxious when we arrived.
After the leopard we headed back to the Pan, but then received a notification that a pride of lionesses were hunting buffalo. We found one lioness stalking buffalo and watched her efforts until they all disappeared into thick bush.
Back at Marabou Pan we enjoyed a coffee break while continuing to photograph zebra and we actually remained there until it was time to return to the Lodge for Lunch.
The afternoon we stopped immediately to photograph a Shikra sitting in the shade of a tree in the Lodge grounds. We are concerned that the bird is ill because when we returned from our drive we found it still stirring in the same place and same position.
We set out and wanted to visit a hyena den, but found a small pool with Woolly-necked Storks feeding in the water. There was one Marabou Stork, and the beautiful light with mirror-like reflections created almost unbelievably lovely photography.
We spotted the lioness from this morning again, but clearly exhausted from her earlier exertions, she was fast asleep, so we headed on, this time along the Sand Marsh road to Marabou Pan. The zebras were now joined by Tsessebe so we spent some time filling our cameras with images there.
Heading back to the lioness we photographed birds, and when we drew close to the big cat we could see that she was still very flat – out for the count!
Ground Hornbills were preparing to fly up into their roosting tree for the night, so we detoured from our objective and were lucky enough to photograph the four of them (two adults and two sub adults) as they flew.
We positioned ourselves near the lioness, hoping that she would wake up and walk over to the nearby Pan for a drink in that glorious evening light. While we waited a flock of around thirty Egyptian Geese strung out in the middle of the Pan in a straight line. The blue of the water, perfect reflections, with the birds in a straight line, the beautiful sky, and gorgeous ambient light allowed us to compose panoramic shots that turned our really well.
Just as we finished, the lioness started to awaken. And sure enough, she got up and walked to the water for her evening drink.
We were positioned perfectly, and our cameras clicked all the time as she lowered her head to drink. When she finishes she strolled away, giving us time for some portrait shots and even some panning shots.
That was it for today. Tomorrow we would like to try to locate that hyena den …