Ultimate Chobe Safari: A Serval!

Brendon Reports from the Ultimate Chobe Safari: 
A Serval!

We travelled upriver really, really hoping to photograph Malachite Kingfishers. We found them, but they were sitting quietly, so we plan to return tomorrow when hopefully they will be flying and fishing.

A large pod of hippos kept us busy photographing for some time in the early light and on the other side of the boat the African Jacanas were as delightful as ever as they stepped confidently across the beautiful lily pads as they went about searching for food.

Numerous Yellow-billed Kites have begun to arrive in the area, and there is plenty of jostling and arguing over territories and food. Each time one of the kites manages to catch a fish, a dispute with between one and three others breaks out as they try to steal the fish. The aerial combats look quite terrifying at times, and we watched with bated breath as the birds attacked and tumbled from the sky. At times we almost forgot to lift our cameras for those amazing shots – big mistake that would be!

The Skimmers were also very active this morning, flying around and reinforcing their appropriate names as they skimmed the surface of the water for fish.

We stopped at Elephant Beach for our coffee break. While we sat there, enjoying our drinks and snacks, two large male Sable Antelope arrived, strolled right up to our boat, and started to drink just a few meters away. What a treat!

Fish Eagles sat on the banks of the river, and when they took off to go fishing, they seemed to be suspended in the air for a few seconds because of the wind, before they were able to fly. This was just the most wonderful opportunity for photography.

a Bren Fish Eagle flying ND89546

This afternoon there were thousands upon thousands of elephants all along the river. And again we were able to drift to within a meter or three for closeups. In addition, enormous crocodiles lounged around on the edge of the river, pretending to be large logs. And buffalo – also hundreds!

Then we spotted a herd of elephants swimming across the river and made our way there. We got into a perfect position to photograph the crossing. Then one herd after another (six more herds) arrived and swam across at exactly the same spot. 

Finally a couple of young bulls arrived. They seemed to be quite agitated, and we guessed that maybe they had been left behind by one of the herds. They hurtled straight into the water, –

a Swimmin Ele Juan133-129

– not looking left or right, to swim quickly across and join the others. They emerged from the water with a shake and then started to splash themselves and each other with more water!

We watched some Pied Kingfishers fishing, sometimes unsuccessfully, while some emerged with a fish. Off to a tree stump to bash the fish before swallowing it.

The three Crowned Cranes were also searching for food along the edge of the river. It was like bumping into old friends and our cameras came out again.

a Crowned Crane Bren D3S8183

We went to Elephant Beach to watch the setting sun, and thinking that the view may be even better around the corner we moved on. And what should we find around that corner? A Serval! A fabulous sighting (and a first for some)! We were thrilled and remained there photographing its every move until it walked off into some long grass and then disappeared! 

Because of the rich bird life on the river we plan to concentrate on the river again tomorrow …