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  1. 17 likes
    Dear All, Happy Diwali ........ First of all, back home after another amazing trip to the Kwando concession. A million laughs, the joys of cheetah tracking through the heat of suicide month, what more can one ask for ....... Many many Thanks to Spencer and Mr.Moe for another magical safari up and down the Kwando Concession. Many highlights which include the new very young Cheetah coalition trying to take a strangle hold of the neighbourhood, the dominant Lagoon Super Pride, Incredible Carmine colony, Bumping into a Cheetah mum and cubs who had never been seen before or who in turn had possibly never seen a vehicle before , stumbling into random Lions trying to make their way from the migratory corridor from Namibia, not to forget bumping into a curious Aardwolf while cheetah tracking, massive Elephant herds........ but, start with the first few photos from my final morning
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    Before I dive into the rest of the report......... A bit of this and that~ It's no secret that the Botswana visa is a gigantic goose chase with a lot of heart burn right until the final days prior to each trip. Miraculously, our visas were issued in a record 5 days this time with nothing to sweat about. I would love to assume that the Visa process is easier ........ but, alas it might have just been a fluke! The arrival hall in Maun, where there is just one visa officer to process and stamp at immigration now has a bunch of questions to ask each tourist (one of which is to name one of the camps you visit) ....... It baffled me, that the majority of visitors were fumbling around to find their itineraries with absolutely no clue as to where they were headed to - and hence, the queue just got longer and dreadfully time consuming. Anyways, I digress .......... Onto some more pictures. The Lagoon Super Pride number 20 including the 4 young cubs. Some of the Sub-adults males will be due to be kicked out by the coalition males (Old Gunn and Sebastian) ......... 7 Sub-adult males in all will likely form a mighty Magnificent 7 and be a lethal combination wherever they head to.........
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    My final morning of the safari actually started off with a Mothusi Sighting (ex-Kwando guide) who now runs his logistics business. He was hauling in fuel for camp from Maun and what a delight that was! After reminiscing old times for a few minutes........ he pointed out at dust in the distance and hoped it might be Lion Vs Buffalo ......... Alas, not to be. Just Buffalo moving through
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    I’m going to tempt fate and start a new trip report whilst completing my Mara 2016 report. Preamble ~ My travelling companion Peter emailed me last January “I’ve again booked ten nights at Kaingo & Mwamba. Your welcome to join me especially as I won’t have to pay the single supplement.” And so began planning for this trip. Whilst Peter headed off to the Mara after the 10 nights I decided to stay in the South Luangwa and have a look at the Nsefu sector on the other side of the river and be able to compare two renowned Zambian safari companies. The duration of this safari was 21 days including travel. The itinerary consisted of; 1 night Pioneer Camp (Lusaka) Overnight after 30+ hours travel as we were unable to make the Proflight connection. Shenton Safaris 3 nights Kaingo Camp 5 nights Mwamba Bush Camp 2 nights Kaingo Camp Robin Pope Safaris 5 nights Nsefu Camp I did want to stay longer here but Simon King had booked out the camp for a photographic workshop so I had to find an alternative. As RPS provide a 10% discount for stays of 7 days or more at any of their camps and they do not charge Single Supplement I chose Luangwa River Lodge. 2 nights Luangwa River Lodge. The game viewing was hot and the temperatures even hotter. Approaching sunset on the first evening. Last year the lions were the stars with cameo appearances from the leopards. This year it was the leopards taking centre stage. During the day the birds were suffering in the heat. White-fronted Bee-eater Wire-tailed Swallow Elephant breeding herds enjoyed their daily drink from the river.
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    Next we were introduced to Lambert, the chief guide. Lambert featured in a BBC documentary made a couple years ago called The Gorilla Family and Me with wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan. They followed the Chimanuka family and Gordon was also asked to help with the habituation of the Mpungwe family. Lambert told us he had been tracking the gorillas of KBNP for 30 years and that today he wanted us to see Chimanuka’s group. Lambert’s English was excellent, he had a cracking sense of humour and we were to be very impressed with his skills as a guide. The Chimanuka group originally had 37 members but subsequent interactions with other groups led by Mpungwe and Bonane (Chimanuka’s son) has meant this has now been reduced to 22. The Chimanuka and Mpungwe groups had been followed for quite some time by ICCN rangers and researchers and because of the interaction with Bonane (pronounced Bon-an-nay) a new group formed, ready habituated, as Bonane and the 4 females who joined him came from already habituated groups. Bonane is now a group of 6 members as one of the females has just given birth. Mpungwe is a group of 20 with one Blackback along with the females and youngsters. We waited with Lambert until he received word that the trackers had found the trail of the Chimanuka group and then we were driven with himself and the rangers about 10 minutes up the forest road until we reached the start of the trail into the bamboo forest. The forest was very dense but the temperature was perfect for trekking, probably around 18 degrees or so. We were following a trail for around 3 hours when it became clear during several radio cons between Lambert and the trackers that the trail they had thought was Chimanuka’s actually belonged to Mpungwe. However, we were unable to visit this group as it was already being observed by researchers. We could tell Lambert was a touch unhappy as he explained that at this time of year when the groups are moving on the ground a lot more it can happen that trails are crossed and become confused. We all took a break and waited for Lambert to ‘make a plan’. Picture of one of the rangers taken while we were waiting. We were just discussing with the German couple the possibility of not finding any gorillas today when Lambert stood up and announced that ‘we would just have to go and see Bonane instead’. We were relieved as we didn’t mind which group we saw but it turned out that Lambert was disappointed because the Germans had seen that group yesterday and he was most upset they would see the same group twice. They assured him they were fine about it. So off we went and within about 20 minutes we spotted our first gorilla. Now normal practice with gorilla trekking in DRC is for everybody to wear masks. Unfortunately we had been told at the HQ they had just run out, so today’s trek would have to be an exception to this rule. We were watching one of the females and then Lambert spotted Bonane so he pulled us into a good position for watching him. Here goes picture overload on our first Eastern Lowland (Grauer's) Gorillas. (A thank you to @Jochen at this point for his tutorial a couple of months ago, I manually overrode the camera ISO settings to 800 & 1000 for these pictures,not something I would have thought to do before reading it) Female Going back to the differences between Eastern Lowland and Mountain gorillas. Eastern Lowland gorillas are larger, have a longer head with a slimmer nose and mouth, slightly longer arms and shorter finer hair on their bodies. Mountain gorillas have longer more dense hair. Silverback Bonane Lambert took our camera to do a spot of filming. Then Lambert got very excited and told us to watch the female coming into view. This was Siri, the mother of the new born. The baby is around 7-10 days old and as yet they have been unable to determine the sex. More of Bonane A different female - note the damaged right eye Below a couple of Lamberts efforts with the filming. This one shows the female walking in with the baby, although too far away to actually see it on film After our hour was up we made our way back through the forest and onto the initial trail that took us back to the forest road where the vehicle was waiting to take us back to the Park HQ. Finding our way back to the trail. We got back to HQ at around 4pm and after a quick and interesting chat to one of the reseachers working in the Park on behalf of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Martin took us back to the Orchids Hotel.
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    Thursday 14th September So another 7am pick-up by Martin and we were off to KBNP for our second trek. On our way through town something happened that was to become quite a common occurrence. Martin was flagged down and asked to stop by the police. A female police officer came over to his window and asked for his documents. Martin pulled out a big dog-eared brown envelope and proceeded to pass her various permits and licences and photocopies and all the while they were having a long and fairly heated debate. This was all in a mixture of the local language and French so a bit tricky to follow. After about 15 mins and a lot of tutting and head shaking by the police officer, Martin was given back all his documents and allowed to go. Martin explained that he had been stopped because his vehicle has Rwandan registered plates but this was just an excuse because all they really want is a bribe and because he wasn’t prepared to pay one he had to go through the time wasting rigmarole of arguing it out and going through his docs. He said this kind of thing was becoming more frequent as the police are paid very badly and that’s when they are paid at all. “Life is hard in Congo”. Then just to reinforce this, when we came to the toll road barrier and Martin went into the hut to be passed through there appeared to be another debate going on. This took 20 minutes or so and then he finally came back to the vehicle. The barrier went up and we went through. We asked what had happened. Apparently when you buy the toll permit which is $2.50 each way it is supposed to be valid for 5 days, but even though he paid for it when we went through yesterday they wouldn't accept this and wanted him to pay again. He showed them the stamped permit but they tore it up in front of him and made him pay for a new one. "Life is hard in Congo". We reached KBNP without further issue and was again greeted like old friends by Juvenal. There were no other tourists today but there was a researcher from the UK studying Duikers, she was interested in the habitat in KBNP and had come along for a trek. Two vets from the Tchimpounga Primate Sanctuary in Pointe Noire, Congo Brazzaville and a worker from the Lwiro Primate Sanctuary in South Kivu. Lwiro can be visited easily from KBNP and Martin had actually arranged for us to go there yesterday but we ran out of time as the trek took so long. It does very good work mainly with chimpanzees but also other species of monkeys and apparently well worth a visit. Lambert came to tell us that the Chimanuka group had definitely been found, but a long way away, so we would visit them on our own while the 4 girls would go to see Bonane group as they were situated much closer. We all set off down the forest road and stopped at the same trailhead as yesterday. We all followed the initial trail then we left with guide Jacques to find Chimanuka and the others went with Lambert. Jacques had almost no English but Lambert had left him with strict instructions to get us to Chimanuka (possibly at all costs judging by some of the terrain we were to go over). So off we went through some very dense forest. We walked for nearly 2 hours when we came off the trail completely, we thought we must be close and on the final walk in but instead we think the group must have moved because we were now going down steep hills and crawling through almost impenetrable bamboo tunnels then up hills again. This went on for another hour and was probably the toughest gorilla trek we had ever done. Finally Jacques stopped and gave us masks to put on, we were close! We saw one female straight away who took a quick look at us but then ambled away. We couldn’t see any others, we looked at Jacques, he looked up at the trees and pointed. They were up there, including Chimanuka himself. We would have to wait. So we settled down to wait, pleased we had finally found them but desperately hoping they would come down. Watching and waiting. Finally after about 20 minutes there was movement. A female slithered her way down and sat at the bottom of the tree watching us. Then she walked past us and another came down, then a youngster and another. One by one they came down the same tree, sat for a few moments then walked by. Not all the group was there but the last to come down was Chimanuka. Quite amazing to see such a huge gorilla climb so easily. However once down he promptly found the nearest vegetation and nestled inside almost out of sight. Jacques and the rangers did their best to pull some of it away so we could see him which was great although photos were still difficult. Then eventually he wandered off and our time was up. Female at the bottom of the tree she had just climbed down. Youngster climbing down Sat with Mum Video showing some of the gorillas coming down the tree. And another. Chimanuka looking for somewhere to sit Found it. And off he goes. But that wasn’t to be the end of our gorilla viewing today. On the way back, (which thankfully wasn’t as strenuous as the walk in), we could see something was going on as the rangers were looking excited and signalling to each other, then Jacques told us to stop and wait. He whispered ‘Mpungwe group coming’. After a minute a female with a youngster on her back crossed the trail in front of us, then another female and youngster by her side. Then we saw Mpungwe, he was stood on all fours guarding the trail while his group crossed over. He then moved away and we could see a big blackbuck sat behind him. Mpungwe is the only group that has another adult male. He is called Tulia which means calm in Swahili. Female and youngster crossing With Mpungwe guarding the trail Blackback Tulia So how lucky was that! We managed to see all three habituated gorilla groups in two days. Group photo at the end of the trek. We got back to the HQ at around 3pm where Lambert was waiting to congratulate us on finding Chimanuka. He was very pleased we had made it to the group and confirmed that they had indeed started moving again after the trackers had originally found their trail in the morning. A word on tourist group size here at KBNP. Just like Rwanda and Uganda the maximum number of tourists that can visit any one gorilla group each day is eight. However, in practice you are unlikely to have that many at present. Tourist numbers are just not that high. The park recorded just over 1000 visits last year and many of them may be researchers and aid workers like today’s group as opposed to ‘ordinary’ tourists. The permit price of $400 is extremely good value especially when compared to the cost in Rwanda of $1500 and particularly when you consider we had one private viewing and only shared the other with two people. It makes a really big difference to the experience. We very much enjoyed the visits to Kahuzi-Biega and were quite sorry to leave for the last time. The people are wonderful and passionate and very friendly but the Park needs more visitors. For anyone thinking of going to DRC I would definitely recommend combining Kahuzi-Biega with Virunga. It doesn't take that much more effort and is a great way of seeing more of the Eastern region. Sadly it wasn't Martin's day today. Back into Bukavu town, and we were going round a roundabout when a police officer jumped out in front of him and made him stop. Well there was a lot of hands in the air and shouting 'quoi, quoi'? from Martin but undeterred the policeman came over, then out came the battered brown envelope, documents passed, and again a long and protracted argument entailed. We amused ourselves by watching the buildup of traffic all around us with horns blaring as we were still on the roundabout and holding everything up. Eventually we were let go, with poor old Martin shaking his head. "Life is hard in Congo". When he dropped us back at the Orchids we had a little discussion about how our transfer to Virunga was going to work tomorrow. To get the vehicle up to Goma, Martin was going to start the long drive now and into the night, back across the border and up the lake road on the Rwandan side. I think this takes around 6-7 hours. We were to be met at breakfast in the morning by someone to take us down to the jetty to catch the fast boat to Goma via Lake Kivu. Martin had arranged for this chap to meet us at the hotel now so we knew who would be collecting us in the morning, he also gave us the boat tickets. Then someone called Thierry would meet us off the boat at Goma where Martin would catch up with us again around lunchtime. All sorted! Just before sunset we left the hotel to walk up the road nearby to get a higher view of the other peninsulas jutting into the lake. At this time of year the air is still very dusty from dry season.
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    The new "boys in town" ......... Have they done enough to take over this prime territory? They move about all the time scent marking and it's usually a task to track them down every day ..... They even move as much as 7KMS on a full belly. About mid year 2016, a female cheetah and these two boys moved into Lagoon from possibly Muvumbi Valley ...... Once they split off, the boys stayed behind and have been seen by themselves and are able to hunt successfully. One morning after a long tracking mission, found them feeding on a warthog. One wonders if they are the sons of the "boys of Lagoon" ...... who knows??? Maybe? These guys should be approx a bit over two years in age - the end of the mighty boys came about in April 2016.... So, Maybe???? They've possibly made this territory their own - because the big single male, "Johnny Walker" is mostly based in Selinda these days.
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    Next segment from the Lebala end ........... A male Leopard on my first game drive (not sure what he was checking out in the dried up Marsh) ......... He eventually lay down flat into the grass and we left once the light went flat.
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    Friday 15th September We were picked up at 6.30am by the chap taking us down to the jetty which was only a 15 minute drive away. Our boat the 'Kivu King' He took our tickets into the office for us and made sure our bags were labelled up correctly and put onto the boat. The service that links Bukavu to Goma is called the Ihusi Express. It departs twice a day from Bukavu except Thursday and Saturday when there is just one crossing. It costs $50 one way and takes around 2.5 to 3 hours. The boat itself holds around 50 people inside with very comfy seats. There was a film showing on the big television at the end of the aisle and free water and a very tasty cheese and ham sandwich was offered at about halfway across. A few pictures showing the shoreline of Bukavu from the Lake. You can see how the city is built up into the hills. They are a bit gloomy as it had been drizzling with rain. We reached Goma at around 10.30am and as soon as we got off a very pleasant young chap came over. He greeted us using our names and introduced himself as Alex. Thinking we must have just got his name wrong as Martin had said he would be called Thierry, we thought no more of it and followed him to his vehicle. We were not quite sure what to expect next but Alex said he would take us on a city tour of Goma. Pulling into Goma Now Goma is not the prettiest of towns but that’s not surprising seeing as it has been in the firing line of two eruptions by the nearby active volcano Mt Nyiragongo, once in 1977 and then again in 2002. During the 2002 eruption the lava stream flowed through the main streets of Goma down to Lake Kivu, 30-40% of the city was destroyed. Goma is the capital city of North Kivu province and has also been at the centre of many conflicts since the 1994 Rwandan genocide including the First and Second Congo wars. This explains the many UN compounds and aid agencies that line the streets of the city. There are plenty of armed UN soldiers about and there were lots of the white UN trucks on the roads. Like in Bukavu the roads away from the main streets were in a bad state of disrepair, as we were about to find out. Driving down the street, two policemen waved us down on yet another ‘random’ check. This time the policeman talking to Alex through the window was very aggressive and loud, we guess because Alex was only quite young and maybe an easy target. Alex also had a big brown battered envelope containing the myriad of licences and permits that are required. However, unfortunately he was missing one, which was why the policeman was getting more and more angry. He got into the passenger side of the vehicle and carried on haranguing the poor lad. Alex turned to us a few times to apologise and explained there was nothing to worry about but he was missing the ‘new’ version of one of the licences and the policeman was wanting a bribe, however he didn’t have enough money on him. Between arguing with the policeman Alex made several phone calls. One was to his sister asking her to bring his missing licence. She turned up about 15 minutes later with the licence but this didn’t make any difference to the policeman who was getting angrier and angrier insisting on his bribe. (All of this was in French and Swahili but you got the gist). He then instructed Alex to start driving the car. At this point he had also wanted his colleagues to get in the back with us but Alex stood his ground and refused to let them. So we drove from the road and into the side streets, which is where we could see how much damage had been caused by the volcano eruption. You would never have believed it happened 15 years ago, it looked like it happened only very recently. Small houses and shelters had been built using the lava rock, many with only a piece of tin sheeting for a roof. We carried on driving around for a bit until we came into a big empty square. We stopped and Alex once again turned round to us and apologised for the inconvenience and not to worry. Then his sister walked up to the vehicle, unbeknown to us she had been following behind on a scooter taxi. The policeman took Alex from the vehicle. Another vehicle then pulled up, some more people got out and they all walked off with him. Maybe this would have been the time to start worrying but his sister jumped into the front seat to explain and stay with us. We were apparently in part of the local police compound and the other people who had turned up were her husband and his security detail. He is something fairly high up in the army and Alex had called him to help. So they were now all in the police station sorting out his fine, but at least it would be a proper fine and not a bribe. She was very nice and we spent the time chatting, she had really good English. Eventually Alex came walking round the corner and got back into the vehicle. Many apologies from him later and we were on our way. This had all taken about an hour and now it was time for lunch. His sister stayed with us for the drive and we were taken to the very pleasant Lac Kivu Lodge. Alex said Martin would be meeting us here after lunch. We sat down and while we were waiting for the drinks we mentioned to Alex that Martin had said to expect someone called Thierry. ‘Ahh’, he said, ‘that is me’. We obviously looked slightly confused so he explained that as some tourists found Thierry hard to pronounce he called himself Alex. So mystery solved and we told him that we had no problems calling him Thierry. He also let on that he was Martin’s son and he helps out with transfers for him on a regular basis!! So there you go, alls well that ends well! At that point Martin turned up and left us to finish our lunch while he and Thierry took our bags to his vehicle. Next up, the drive to Virunga National Park.
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    Hi there everyone! Having returned to the UK yesterday from Tanzania, I've decided to stop lurking and undertake my first SafariTalk trip report. I have upcoming trips in the next six months to Benin (Pendjari), Chad (Zakouma) and Senegal (Niokolo-Koba) so I'm hopeful this will be the first of many! A bit about me: I'm a 22 year-old with a long-held passion for wildlife, with this trip around the Southern Circuit my 15th safari (which rather pales in comparison to many of you!). My big passion has been African Wild Dogs for as long as I can remember, but I'm fascinated by anything with fur/feathers/scales! A bit about the trip: I travelled with my childhood best friend, Jack, who had previously ventured only to Tsavo East nine years ago. We travelled overland (two guys in their early 20s don't have a particularly malleable budget!) spending four days in Selous before spending a day travelling to Ruaha, where we spent three days. A further two days would be in Mikumi before the reluctant journey home. We used a Tanzanian safari company for the trip who guided, drove and fed and watered us brilliantly. Now, why the thread title? Well, we would be trying to achieve the impossible in two ways. Firstly, we needed to strike a balance between a beginner's safari for Jack, and what we ironically termed a 'connoisseur's safari' for me. This was a big worry for me in organising the trip - would we be able to find enough game to give Jack a wildlife experience not dissimilar to those offered by the game-rich plains to the North? And would I be able to keep Jack enthused by the time I'd taken my thousandth photo of a White-Browed Coucal? In addition, Jack has long wanted to see wild cheetah, so this was a key goal for us. We chose Selous and Ruaha in no small part because they offered the chance to see dogs and cheetah on the same safari, to keep us both happy! Secondly, I've set myself a rather ambitious target of seeking out dogs, cheetah and lion (perhaps even leopard, who knows) in as many of their range states as possible. Before this trip, I had seen dogs in Kenya and South Africa, with an agonising near miss in Botswana. I had encountered Cheetah in Botswana, SA and Kenya, and lions in Botswana, SA, Kenya and Swaziland. Tanzania offered a chance to build on all of these lists, and also perhaps the opportunity to see some wildlife I had never before encountered - a particular bug bear has been my long-standing inability to see wild serval or caracal, so these were also key targets. You can imagine the look on our guide Mansoor's face when we reeled off all of these demands! I should point out that, despite the above, I would have been content just to be back in the bush after a 14-month absence - anything else would be a wonderful bonus. I'm hoping to crack on with this TR in earnest tomorrow and I hope to have as many SafariTalkers on board as possible to relive what was a wonderful adventure! Tom
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    Thanks @PeterHG This thread is becoming a bit of a photographic diary, my apologies. A couple of weeks ago, I was discussing my camera woes with a 4x4 friend. A couple of days later, he told me he had an old D3 that he wanted to give me. Of course, I gratefully accepted. For a ten-year-old camera, it is still pretty good! In terms of picture quality, it's not quite up to the D750, but it is considerably better than the D7000 (although one does lose reach). Here are some early results, in the form of some "improved" photos of previously-posted birds: 46) Crested Barbett 36) Common Fiscal 163) Sacred Ibis: 23) Yellow-billed Duck:
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    176) Fiery-necked Nightjar Afrikaanse Naguil Caprimulgus pectoralis This is a bird I have been wanting a shot of for many years. When it happened, of course, I was stuck with the inferior (at night anyway) D7000, and without a flash. The illumination was the vehicle's headlights, but we were so close it was actually shining over the bird already, so the photo has room for improvement, but for now, I'm happy. Kopjeskraal, 24 September
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    If it "C" it must be the ultimate LBJs next. Cisticola. Have fun. 223. Tiny. Lake Chala. TZ 224. Wailing. Tarangire NP. TZ 225. Rattling. Tarangire. TZ 226. Stout. Tarangire. TZ 227. Piping or Neddicky. Roadside south of Ruaha. TZ. 228. Churring. Kitulo NP. TZ. 229. Winding. Katavi NP. TZ. 230. Chubb's. Ruhija, Uganda.
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    175) Golden-breasted Bunting Rooirugstreepkoppie Emberiza flaviventris 23 September, Kopjeskraal
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    In the 'C's so lets have some "Chats" and their relatives:- 213. Cape Robin-Chat. Hotel Troy. Nairobi. 214. Red-capped Robin-chat. (Natal Robin). Umani Springs, Kenya. 215. Eastern Bearded Scrub-Robin. Umani Springs. Kenya. 216. White-browed Scrub-Robin. Ithumba, Tsavo East. Kenya. 217. Nightingale. Lake Chala. Tanzania. 218. Capped Wheatear. Somewhere south of Ruaha NP. Tanzania. 00/12. No score but a substitute for the rubbish picture earlier. African Stonechat. 219a. Arnott's Chat. Or is it? There is a move afoot to split this and bring in a new species called Ruahensis based mainly on the plumage of the female. My view is closely akin to the birds song "fick!" or "fee!" 219b. This is the female at the root of the trouble. Ain't it always?? Katavi National Park. 220. Mocking (Cliff)-Chat). On the B8 north of Kisulu.Tanzania. 221. Red-throated Alethe. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Uganda. 222. Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat. Botanical Gardens, Entebbe. Very reluctant to show the crown but I did get it. Honest. OK. Here it is for the doubters.
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    @Dave Williams I usually don't do trip reports as such but am happy to help answer any queries by PM or mail. I did a longish report a couple of years back for a longer trip through Kenya from Kakamega and Baringo down to Watamu which I can dig out for you. This trip was mainly a road tour through Tanzania on the way to Uganda and home. Kenya was just Kibwezi and Tsavo East to check on 'my' adopted Ellie Orphans as you do from time to time. Whilst birds did not exactly come 2nd, ellies had priority. So much so that on one occasion our fellow guests threatened to get out of the car and walk home if Emmy did not stop his Pearl spotted Owl impressions. Was it the ID of the Eagle Owl that should be challenged or the manner in which the photo was obtained? Still to come under "G":-
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    Being a big fan of birds of prey, below is the best sighting of the trip for me. BY 315 / AUT 15 Osprey - Pandium haliaetus
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    More waders to be presented! BY 313 / AUT 13 Common Sandpiper - Actitis hypoleucos BY 314 / AUT 14 Spotted Redshank - Tringa erythropus
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    Different family of birds but same low IQ BY 311 / AUT 11 Lesser Whitethroat - Sylvia curruca
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    One correction needed, it was obviously late night yesterday: BY 307 / AUT 07 Great Bustard - Otis tarda To continue, a wader but again far in the distance so IQ is low. BY 310 / AUT 10 Bar-tailed Godwit - Limosa lapponica
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    BY 303 / AUT 03 Eurasian Spoonbill - Platalea leucorodia
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    To improve on the extreme ebc quality of the harrier, here is a kestrel; first two photos in the morning and last two photos in the afternoon. BY 302 / AUT 02 Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
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    Seewinkel / 09. - 10. September 2017 A year ago, we went to Seewinkel National Park with Michael and Andrew, and the weather was not very obliging, with drizzling rain. This year, despite of an initial hiccup (or should I say key-up) we have had much drier weather. However that resulted in very low level of all lakes and ponds, resulting in waders being at far distance from the shoreline. Luckily not all of them. Also birds of prey kept themselves high, like the harrier below. Being 100% crop the IQ is passable for another ebc. BY 301 / AUT 01 Montagu's Harrier - Cyrcus pygargus
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    Quiet day so the last of the "C"s, a left over stray from the 'Chats.' and one beginning with P that maybe should be served up with the Warblers. 239. Northern Crombec. Ithumba camp, Tsavo East, Kenya. 240. Red-faced Crombec. Tarangire. TZ. 241. Banded Parisoma. Tarangire. 242. White-starred Robin. Kitulo NP. It was sitting nicely but in the shade and only viewable through the windscreen. I did get out of the car after these pics but it went deep so this is all I got.
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    303) Greylag Goose.... again on the local reserve. Back for the winter no doubt. Greylag Goose Anser Anser by Dave Williams, on Flickr
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    With the sun shining early this morning ( 8.30 is early for me to be out ! ) I was off down to the local reserve determined to put back my missing numbers. My check had revealed I hadn't included a Grey Heron yet they are always on the reserve and apparently have been ignored by me. 302) Grey Heron Grey Heron Ardea Cinerea by Dave Williams, on Flickr
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    Changa Safari Lodge, in camp, Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe, 7/9/17 Canon 5D mark iii, 100-400 mark ii, ISO 500, f7.1, 1/3200 287) Yellow-throated petronia
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    Changa Safari Lodge, Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe, 6/9/17 Canon 5D mark iii, 100-400 mark ii, ISO 400, f6.3, 1/2500 286) White-crowned lapwing
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    Changa Safari Lodge, Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe, 6/9/17 Canon 7D mark ii, 100-400 mark ii, ISO 250, f7.1, 1/1000 10/9/17 Canon 7D mark ii, 100-400 mark ii, ISO 1000, f7.1, 1/500 284) Kittlitz's plover
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    And now we move on to the new ones from Lake Kariba Changa Safari Lodge, in camp, Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe, 6/9/17 Canon 7D mark ii, 100-400 mark ii, ISO 250, f7.1, 1/320, EV +1 7/9/17 Canon 7D mark ii, 100-400 mark ii, ISO 500, f7.1, 1/800 Canon 7D mark ii, 100-400 mark ii, ISO 500, f7.1, 1/1000 283) Yellow-bellied greenbul
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    Thanks @PeterHG 174) Chinspot Batis Male: Female: Kopjeskraal, 24 September
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    Last one from this very productive trip to Seewinkel NP. BY 316 / AUT 16 Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
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    In an attempt to raise the IQ before the lunch time, this little fella came to rescue ! BY 312 / AUT 12 Kentish Plover - Charadrius alexandrinus
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    Second morning, with no hiccups, we have started early and with birds in flight! BY 308 / AUT 08 Sand Martin - Riparia riparia BY 309 / AUT 09 Black Tern - Chlidonias niger
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    Last sighting of our first day at Seewinkel was the biggest birg in the area ... but also at the longest distance . BY 306 / AUT 06 Great Bustard - Otis tarda
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    This bird was seen on both days, same place, and I assume is also the same bird. BY 304 / AUT 04 Knot - Calidris canutus
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    Ty picked us up somewhere mid-way between Kaingu and Musekese and his passion for the environment, Kafue NP and conservation (and his knowledge) were immediately evident. Our last camp was Musekese Bush Camp, the creation of Tyrone McKeith and Phil Jeffries. I LOVED the atmosphere and the location of this camp. It sits up in a grove of trees overlooking a flood plain just off the Kafue River and it is constantly filled with game. When we arrived a herd of elephants were tightly bunched together having a heckuva time slinging mud all about. Wattled cranes, fish eagles, saddle billed storks, open billed storks were scattered about. Puku were always present by the dozens if not hundreds...even a sitatunga had made its way to the plain, a first according to Tyrone. We spent time on the river with great views of Elephants up on the banks, hippos grumpily expressing their displeasure with our presence African skimmers and kingfishers of all kinds were abundant...it is really a paradise. There had been a fierce and lethal battle between two hippos just prior to our arrival. The casualty had attracted lions and other predators. The "winner" lay recovering in a pool hardly moving our entire stay. Night drives were especially productive with great views of both species of bush babies, white tailed mongoose, elephant shrew, etc...in our brief stay we also sawlion, three leopard (a mother and two cubs). The bush camp is pretty basic which is just as these two entrepeneurial young men wanted it I'm quite sure. Comfortable, with flush toilets and bucket showers but no wifi. It's a throwback and I loved it. The food was excellent influenced by the Zakouma chef I was told.
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    Saturday 16th September An early trek had been requested by the other guests which was fine by us. Normally treks start around 9 to 9.30am when any guests who are joining treks from Mikeno Lodge and Goma have arrived. However, the advantage of staying in Bukima Camp is that where possible you have first call on when to start trekking and which group to see. We had a 6.30am breakfast and walked down to the start point at 7am to meet the rangers. Our guide for today was to be Jacques. He gave us a short briefing on the gorilla groups in the Mikeno sector of the Park. Four groups can be trekked from Bukima. They are Humba, Rugendo, Nyakamwe and Munyaga. Board in the office showing the groups and numbers of gorillas in each one. Group Solitaires at the bottom isn't actually a group but 4 solitary silverbacks. Masks were handed out to us and the four of us and the guide and rangers set off back past the camp and along the fields until we reached the point where we had to cross the fence and go into the forest. Crossing the fields with Mt Mikeno in view. We were going to find the Humba group this morning. Humba has 10 members, 2 silverbacks, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 3 babies. It took about an hour and a half to find the first silverback sitting eating some bamboo, the other silverback was close by with the 2 juveniles up in the trees. Very soon the juveniles came down and with the silverbacks joined the rest of the females with the babies. This was a really good viewing of all members of the group in a quite open setting. The smallest baby was about 6 mths old and we had a great view of him. I struggled with the photos initially but they got a bit better once they moved to the more open area. Both silverbacks can be seen here. Jacques our guide. The youngest baby jumping off mum's back So then she can have a moment to relax Finally we were able to see the baby properly crawling around near the silverback.
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    177) Grey-headed Gull Gryskopmeeu Larus cirrocephalus Nikon D3 + 500mm f4 17 October, Bonaero park dam.
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    Maybe maybe not. Can tortoises gallop? Anyway here are "Corvids" plus some I could not find a better home for:- 231, Pied Crow. Location: Somewhere in Kenya. Come on who remembers a bloomn Pied Crow. 232. Indian House Crow. Voi. Kenya. 233. African Pied Wagtail. Looks like Elephant country. Tsavo? 234. Secretarybird. Tsavo. Kenya. 235. African Black-headed Oriole. Tandala Camp. Ruaha.TZ. 236. White-browed Coucal. Katavi National Park. TZ This one was in the plumbing at Tarangire Roika. 237. Greater Honeyguide. Adult and Juv . Tandala Camp, Ruaha.TZ 238. Pallid Honeyguide. Umani Springs. Kenya.
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    Back to the local reserve and this morning , a rather nice pair of Greater Scaup which are not very common. Plumage is in eclipse. 305) Greater Scaup Greater Scaup Aythya Marila by Dave Williams, on Flickr Greater Scaup Aythya Marila by Dave Williams, on Flickr
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    Is this what you see right now, @Dave Williams ?
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    Changa Safari Lodge, Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe, 6/9/17 Canon 5D mark iii, 100-400 mark ii, ISO 2000, f6.3, 1/800, EV+1 1/3 Canon 5D mark iii, 100-400 mark ii, ISO 2000, f5.6, 1/1000, EV+1 1/3 288) Steppe eagle
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    Changa Safari Lodge, in camp, Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe, 7/9/17 Canon 5D mark iii, 100-400 mark ii, ISO 1250, f5.6, 1/500, EV +1/3 Canon 5D mark iii, 100-400 mark ii, ISO 1250, f7.1, 1/320, EV +1/3 285) Terrestrial brownbul
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    While at the PC, awaiting "Ophelia" I may as well finish the "B"s adn head for the "C"s so here are "Buntings and Canaries!" First a 'no score' as number 55 from Namibia but nice to see, . 00/55 Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting. 209. Somali Golden-breasted Bunting. Tsavo East. Kenya. 210. African Golden-breasted Bunting. Bwindi Impenetrable, Uganda. Canaries:- 211. White-bellied Canary. Sultan Hamud. We had stopped to buy some beer and it was attacking our car. 212. Bully or Brimstone Canary. Makombe Hills. Tanzania. Into the "C"s next. Chats and then Cisticolas. That promises to be interesting to some.
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    Thanks to you all for kind wishes. 200 is always a nice number. Still on Folders with "B" it is time for some dull Buls. Why can't they come and sit in the sun now and again? Whenever one does it is always the same one!! This one! 202. Common, Dark-capped or Yellow-vented Bulbul.Dependng on what book you read. This one was in Nairobi so you choose! And its eastern 'cousin', 203. Dodson's Bulbul. Tsavo East NP 204. Rufous Chatterer. Lake Chala. TZ. 205. Northern Brownbul. Lake Chala . Tanzania. 206. Northern Pied Babbler. Tarangire NP. Tanzania. Quite pleased to see this even though I always understood "Pied" meant BLACK and white! 207. Mountain Greenbul. Bwindi Forest. Uganda. and finally:- 208. Toro Olive Greenbul. Botanical Gardens, Entebbe. Uganda.
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    I've run out of steam on my report but just in time. We had a nice ride back to Lusaka picking up some chickens and charcoal on the way. One last sunset on the Kafue... I'll remember that galloping herd of sable running pace with us through the miombo woodlands as a lasting memory of Kafue and of one fine trip to Zambia...back to reality I go....

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