Okavango Photo Safari to Khwai River Lodge Botswana: What the Hornbill Found in a Tree Hole …

Ben Reports from Okavango Khwai River Lodge

The predawn darkness seemed to cast a hush over the bush as we set out from the Lodge, ready to explore the area and to fill our cameras with images. We understood that game viewing may be difficult because the area is so flooded, and the grass and vegetation is thick and lush. There is plenty of ground water – the most since 1973! About 70% of the roads are actually under water – and because of these extremely wet conditions, many of the animals have simply moved away from all this area.

So because of this we have decided to move northward, following the animals, and therefore plan move our base to Savuti where there is enough water for the animals, but there is less flooding and the roads are all ok. Plains game, elephants, and a number of prides of lions have moved there, so it makes sense for us to do the same. We hope that conditions there will be better than here for game viewing …

But today wasn’t a complete washout! 😀 We saw some Ground Hornbill busily messing around in a hole in a tree. It was probably feeding chicks in the hole, so we hung around for a while watching as the bird dug around, and repeatedly peeked into the hole.

Juan van den Heever-016

We moved away and stopped close by for a coffee break, and when we returned to the Hornbill, it was still there, pecking away. It also flapped around a bit, and stuck its head into the hole from repeatedly. Then I saw a different wing flapping away inside the hole … oh my! What was that? Not another Hornbill? No! It wasn’t! It was an owl wing – in fact, a Barn Owl! The Ground Hornbill was trying to grab the Barn Owl from inside its nest. We waited and waited, expecting the Hornbill to drag the owl out at any second, but finally the Hornbill gave up and retired to a branch next to the hole. As it did this, the Barn Owl darted out of the hole, and flew away. The Hornbill lunged for its prey, but missed.

This afternoon we tried a different area, which is fairly open. We searched but only found some Vervet Monkeys. We spent a fun time with them, watching and photographing their antics. They chased each other, and tried to push each other off tree branches.

Wim van den Heever-908-95

On the way back to the Lodge we found two porcupines, and a short while later a couple of African Wild Cats disappeared into the darkness as quickly as they suddenly appeared. Finally, we found three Giant Eagle Owls, that obligingly posed for photographs.

In the morning we leave for Savuti where we really hope for more favourable conditions …