Brendon Reports from the Ultimate Chobe Safari: African Skimmers vs Water Monitor
The river trip was the popular choice this morning for the final game excursion. As if the animals and birds realised this they were out in force.
We headed straight up to the Savannah Backwater, to make our way back slowly from there. At the backwater a large herd of buffalo were drinking at the waters edge, hippos blew in the early light, Yellow-billed Storks flew back and forth … wherever we looked there seemed to be something worth photographing.
And Elephant Bay was as busy. Another pod of hippos was just waking up, and started to chase each other in and out of the water.
Fish Eagles perched on dead trees. Crocs lay around, still a bit chilly to get going, while numerous doves flew to the water for a drink. We waited to see if the crocs would show any interest in the birds, but they were not interested in anything. They just lay there like so many lifeless logs.
A few White-crowned Lapwings found a shallow puddle, separate from the main body of water. Their reflections were prefect, and we had plenty of time to compose some awesome shots.
The golden sand of the banks together with the golden rays of light that touched everything in sight with magical colours created the most heavenly scenes. Aaaahhh! All we needed were a few animals – and there they were … buffalo bulls here, waterbuck there, birds galore. We had it all!
On the way back to the camp we saw a very interesting sight. Two African Skimmers were dive-bombing something. Again and again they plunged out of the sky, taking it in turns, not giving their target a moment’s respite.
We drew closer and found a Water Monitor that had presumably wandered too close to the birds’ nest. They were having none of this! Whew! Down from sky they swept, frequently hitting the monitor with their beaks. The trespassing reptile finally figured out a safe passage of retreat and slunk away. As soon as he left the female skimmer went to sit possessively on her nest.
It was a lovely way to end a memorable safari, and everyone left with lots of reluctance, and very full memory cards.
The new group arrived, and chose to start with a game drive into the Chobe National Park.
Almost immediately we found a troop of 100+ baboons. As always they lived up to their reputation as the clowns of the bush, getting up to every kind of nonsense, and causing much laughter. I often think that they laugh along with us. Their silly antics have to have an effect on themselves. They played, rolled, chased, ate, did tumble-turns, climbed, taunted each other, and drank from the river – all over a stretch of more than a half kilometre.
Besides the usual large herds of elephants, –
– and many giraffe, plus different types of antelope, we saw a big herd of buffalo arrive at the river. It is very dry away from the river, and the animals build up quite a thirst. As they approach the water, they realise that they are really thirsty … and the thirst seems to intensify as they get closer. The result is that they run from about 200-300 metres back, going faster and faster until by the time they reach the river they are sprinting. Well, as much as a huge, lumbering buffalo is able to sprint.
As they run, the buffalo kick up a huge cloud of dust, so that there approach to the water is fabulous for photography, especially when the sun is low, and the whole scene becomes truly ethereal!
Another highlight was a sighting of about 10 Sable Antelope, and a while later we found a lone Sable. He was heading to the water, and needed to either walk around a muddy channel, or jump over. Please jump, we thought, please please just jump. Hooray! He did, and we captured those fairly unusual shots of a Sable jumping a rivulet.
Tomorrow the new safari group would like to experience a river excursion …