Brendon Reports from the Ultimate Chobe Safari:
Yellow-billed Storks Stand their Ground
Although we thought of visiting the Chobe National Park by road this morning, the river looked simply too beautiful, and we chose a boat trip instead.
We really wanted to concentrate on two things – Malachite Kingfishers – and Skimmers.
We spent a delightful time with five Malachite Kingfishers. They were in the reeds along the edge of the river, and we watched and photographed as one, and and then another, flew back and forth, hovered above the water to spot a likely fish, dived into the water and emerged more often than not with a fish grasped firmly in its beak, before settling to enjoy its catch.
A little further upstream we visited a small island with African Skimmer nests on it. Although the birds weren’t skimming this morning, they put on quite an aerial show for us. Frequent tussles broke out in the air, and they amazed us with their aerial dexterity while attacking or defending …
Crocodiles lazed in the sun while plentiful hippo in the river tended to bunch together today in tight pods, jostling one another, grunting and snorting, spraying water into the air, and yawning widely to show who was boss.
We visited the Savannah Backwater on the off chance that the leopard from last evening would still be hanging around – no luck there!
But as always at the backwater, there was plenty of action.
We watched some Pied Kingfishers hovering and diving and then noticed a group of Yellow-billed Storks. They were fishing very successfully in the shallows. Some Spoonbills noticed that the shallow area was an excellent spot for a meal, and they moved in, hoping to join the Yellow-bills. But no! Not a chance! The Yellow-billed Storks were there first and were not allowing any intruders! You could almost hear them say shoo! scat! Again and again the Spoonbills tried to arrive surreptitiously, quietly landing and making their way over to the shallows, but the Yellow-bills were adamant and sent them packing! (Fabulous photographic opportunities there!)
It was the ideal afternoon for a land based visit to the Chobe National Park, and after clambering into our vehicle we were all set.
There were elephants strung out all along the river, and we were able to approach right next to them. When a herd arrived and approached the water in single file we were able to get some super shots in the afternoon light.
We saw Sable Antelope again …
… they also arrived at the river for a drink, and shortly after, the tiniest of cute little zebra foals went running around, leaping and playing in the middle of all the adults.
We were photographing some buffalo bulls lying down when we noticed a Double-banded Sandgrouse lying in the sand next to the road. Not an unusual sighting … but what was unusual was the tiny chick with the sandgrouse. Out came the cameras again!
To our delight we again found a leopard in a tree. This time a healthy, strapping young male was clearly visible as he sprawled out on the branch of a large tree. Magnificent! And again, a fabulous way to end another idyllic day …