Bush dog

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Everything posted by Bush dog

  1. As last year, I left Selinda in the middle of the morning and landed at Kasane at noon. A driver was waiting for me. The formalities at the two border posts were carried out, as usual, without problems. Two hours later, we reached Hwange Town where we turned right and quickly arrived at Mbala Gate where my guide of last year, Washington Sibandi, was waiting for me. He was again my guide but only for the three first days. For the two last days, I joined Adam Jones, who was guiding a keen photographer who was in camp for fifty-five days. For information, the journey to the camp is about 2 hours and a half if you do not see anything spectacular on the way. In this year of heavy rains, the situation was similar to that of Selinda ; water everywhere, on the roads and on the plains. Hwange had, moreover, given itself some airs of Okavango. So apart from hippos, shy elands, solitary elephants and some plains game, we did not see a lot of mammals. No matter what, we were again able to focus on birds and smaller creatures. There were nevertheless some good and interesting sightings of lions, leopard, martial eagle, spotted eagle owls and…… bullfrogs. Concerning the camp itself, nothing more to add to what I wrote in the report on my stay last November : still a great place with great people. The day of my arrival, between Masuma and Shumba, we found the Masuma pride making its way on the road. Unfortunately, it did not stay there and disappeared very quickly on the left side in the mopanes and the kopjes. When we arrived at the camp, we were told that four lions, two females and two sub adults, called the Super Models, had been spotted nearby. Photo taken in the space between the hood of the vehicle and the windscreen, turned down on it. One of the two dominant males of the Masuma pride, Liam or Mandla, seen near Masuma. Another lion, this one nomadic, was heard roaring every night and even seen by other guests feeding on a dead elephant.
  2. Last month, I was once again in Selinda, as everyone will have already understood, my favorite place in Africa, this time for eight nights. A few days later, there was still only one heavy downpour of one hour. I first spent five nights at Main Camp and then three at Zarafa, in order to make game drives along the Savute Channel and the lagoon, and more generally in this part of the concession which was fairly easily accessible in the past departing from Main Camp and not being so nowadays and especially in this year of heavy rains, perhaps one of the most important since the year 2000. It was a good decision in terms of species seen, mainly giraffes in abundance, as in the past, and zebras, in fewer however, as generally all other species that the rains had dispersed. On the way to Zarafa, I visited Explorer’s. As last year, some tents had been flooded after heavy showers, these were raised by about fifteen centimeters in order to avoid this problem in the future. Water was everywhere, on the roads, on the plains and the pans were overflowing. Some large ones, as Twin Pans, would probably not dry out at the end of the dry season and the water coming from the mountains of Angola was just about to arrive. What impact will this have on the quality and frequency of sightings in the high season? For starters
  3. @AandA Like @Geoff, I was a frequent visitor to Selinda until 2007, when ownership changed, and 2011 if including Kwando in the area. I came back last year, two times, in March and November. Though a lot of things changed with Great Plains, mainly in terms of luxury, the atmosphere and what I call the "camp spirit" remained as it was when the camps were quite basic. The level of guiding is always of a very high standard and the game viewing was very good in March and exceptional in November. I would agree with @madaboutcheetah and @Sangeeta on the fact that you should add in a Kwando camp (Lebala, Lagoon or Kwara). Perhaps, you should also consider Duba Plains (Great Plains) which is exceptional for lions. Personally, I would forget Shinde (Ker & Downey), where I also was last November, that left me quite unsatisfied in terms of game density. You can find reports of all those trips in the Trip reports section.
  4. @Atravelynn Thanks, Lynn. Yes, I made my reservations for October.
  5. @janzin Your hummingbirds are gorgeous! This one is more bigger, another Pantanal's star, the toco toucan.
  6. One more from the Pantanal, the Amazonian motmot
  7. @Dave Williams Sorry, as far as I'm concerned no hummingbirds but perhaps some macaws or toucans?
  8. @Dave Williams The jacamar is not a hummingbird. It's much bigger, more than 20 centimeters from the tip of the beak to the end of the tail.
  9. What about this one, the Rufous-tailed jacamar (Pantanal) ?
  10. @Caracal The main road at Shumba was built on an embankment. When we spotted the serval, it was walking on the road. The vehicle was off road and we were just about to come up again on it. That's why the serval was almost level with us.
  11. The next day, I left the camp early enough and took the road to Sinamatella and Mbala Gate. A vehicle was waiting for me to take me to the Victoria Falls hotel where I spent a night before heading home. On the way, just before arriving in Masuma, Washington stopped the vehicle and told me that he had seen a lion to the right of the road. I still do not understand how he could have seen this lioness, motionless, lying in the shadow of a bush among others at a distance of more than two hundred meters, while the vehicle was traveling at a speed superior to that of a game drive. We got closer and found that in fact there were three lionesses. I do not often think I met a guide who had such sharp eyesight as that of Washington. Finally, later, I saw a leopard but it did not give me time to photograph it. Very shy, it disappeared immediately, flat out. Near Mbala, there are some steep natural walls, favourite habitat of the Verreaux’s eagle. This one is a juvenile. This is the end of the report. In order to loop the loop, I think to go back to Camp Hwange next October. Thanks to everyone who took the time to follow it.
  12. At Shumba, at the end of the afternoon, the hamerkops were, like the previous days, busy hunting frogs. As soon as the sun went down, it was no longer along the road but rather over the pan, a little like the skimmers do. The following three pictures have been strongly over-processed. They were originally completely missed, but perhaps they are still? At night, the serval was back. This sighting was better than the day before.
  13. Birds of the afternoon : Black-shouldered kite. Lilac-breasted rollers. Helmeted guinea fowls, juveniles and adult. African fish eagle in the teaks with, it won’t hurt for once, something different in its claws, in this case a francolin.
  14. @madaboutcheetah Thanks, Hari!
  15. @pault Thank you so much for your comments! "Incredibly sightings" indeed, and, for me what's the most important, in an quiet environment where vehicles can be daily counted on the fingers on one hand. The western part of Hwange is less busy than the easten. Once more, thank you for following this report.
  16. More magpie shrikes. Heron & Stork at Dwarf Goose Pan. Violet-eared waxbill. Grey Heron & Crocodile at Masuma.
  17. I come to the last full day of my stay where it will mainly be about birds. Black-headed heron. Senegal Coucal. Magpie shrike. African hoopoe. African hoopoe and fork-tailed drongo together. Dagga boys.
  18. This a really enjoyable report with excellent photos.
  19. Last of my “scary bush experiences” I kept the best for the end. This happened more than ten years ago at Lagoon, so before the last major changes made to the camp and tents. At the time, the tents were already facing the lagoon. Parallel to it, a trail ran along their back. Their entrance, which was at the side, was accessible by a short small path. Two elephants visited the camp daily, most often in the late morning, to revel in the fruits of a marula of which they are crazy. Besides, they are not the only ones to be mad of some products derived from it. The tree was located, and perhaps it is still there, near the common areas of the camp. To get there, the elephants systematically entered the camp, taking the path along the tents row. Once fed or not, they left in the opposite direction. “Or not” because when they were present, when we came back from game drive, our guide, Charles Sebaka, chased them away, screaming and throwing stones at them while pursuing them. Well, now that the scenery is planted, the facts. After lunch, I was going back to my tent, which was the last, when I saw, facing me, joyfully descend the path one of the two elephants. It had obviously decided to deviate from its habits by coming alone and in the early afternoon. I do not know if I can compare this situation to that of being between a hippo and water. Still, I was between it and the fruits of the marula and it seemed determined not to turn back. The closest place where I could take refuge was my tent but for that, I still had to make a few meters forward until I reached the small path leading to the entrance of it, and accordingly make the elephant move back. So, I began to walk towards it, making great gestures and shouting as loudly as I could, which had the effect of making it retreat but not enough. It stopped, perhaps because the fruits of the marula were very attractive but probably due to some hesitations on my part. So, I started to gesticulate and shout again and again it slowly backed off and stopped. This merry-go-round was repeated several times until, finally, I arrived gradually at the height of the little path. I immediately rushed to the entrance of my tent and began to open the zipper. The elephant was already at the beginning of the bifurcation running towards me. I hastily finished the opening, literally dived inside and glimpsed and heard it pass in front of the entrance. The terrain being sloping and carried away by its momentum, it almost took a forced bath in the lagoon but managed, at the last minute, to stop before. After I got up, I watched it go up the slope. I can’t remember where it went. However, I guess it had to go to the marula. Then I had to go for a nap. After this, I prepared for the game drive and went out carefully, while looking meticulously around me but obviously it was no longer in the vicinity.
  20. Another “frightening story” Fifteen years ago, I was in the private reserve of Welgevonden in South Africa. During a game drive, we came across a female white rhino and its calf. At first everything went well, they seemed to have accepted us. Our vehicle was a traditional safari vehicle with no roof and no doors. I was sitting in front, next to the driver-guide. After a while, the mother positioned itself, not really facing the vehicle but at eleven o'clock, and charged. Afterwards, I realized that clearly the goal was not to touch the vehicle, but at the time, I was very far from understanding it. The first charge surprised me and I saw the horn pass very close to my left arm. The rhino continued its way by forming a loop to find itself at its starting point and charged again. This time, I had not waited for it to again hug the vehicle to move as far as possible to the right of my seat. The animal charged again several times before joining its calf which, on the side, had witnessed the whole scene without moving. Throughout the multiple charges, the guide remained standing on his seat, screaming and hitting the vehicle's hood with a blanket to try to scare the animal.
  21. More than twenty years ago, I was, in Selous, at Mbuyuni Camp, the ancestor of the present Siwandu, who was, at the time, along the Rufiji. Here we went on an excursion on the river and watching the birds in the reeds, when suddenly, a few meters from the boat, leaping out of the water, with great splashing, a furious hippo starts to charge the boat. The guide instantly realized that it was not a mock charge and straight away stepped on the gas all the way. Nevertheless, the hippo began to pursue the boat in a continuous and alternate succession of leaps and dives, a little like a butterfly swimmer. It was really scary, you could read in its eyes and on its face all the rage that lived in it. What was also impressive was the speed at which this mass of more than a ton and a half moved despite the resistance of the water. After that, I vowed never to go on the water on an embarkation without a powerful engine.
  22. @optig Stephen Banda, was it at Tafika?
  23. This is a very sad news, indeed! Here is a picture of Xanda taken in March 2016
  24. Whether or not you are scared depends heavily on your level of safari experience. On my first safaris when a big cat was walking or sitting alongside the vehicle or a young elephant was showing off close to it, I must admit it was sending me a shiver down the spine. Now, this kind of situation leaves me cold. Most of the more or less “frightening” experiences, I had, were between 1996 and 2006. I only remember one, after that period. It was at Lebala, the vehicle was several times, without warning, really charged, matriarch at the head and trumpeting, by the same herd of elephants which was probably originating from a hunting concession. I still hear Spencer exclaiming "wow, the crazy herd, let's get out of it". The mock charges, whether coming from elephants, hippos or big cats, undergone by the vehicles in which I was, at the beginning were also destabilizing, especially those of big cats. The vehicle I was in was twice charged by a leopard and once by a male lion that did not tolerate voyeurs during its lovemaking. It is well to know that these are mock charges, they are nonetheless frightening by the expression and the terrifying grimaces of anger displayed by the face of the feline, that make think that a rabid demon is swooping on you at great speed. But on some occasions, I was really frightened. To be continued…
  25. We began the afternoon, on the concession, with a few elephants at the edge of the teaks. And always more birds at Shumba pan : A flight of white-faced whistling ducks. One of the frog eaters flying to the water for laundry. A grey heron in flight. And an angry blacksmith plover chasing an intruder to protect its nest. One more elephant. And another profitable night drive : Perhaps a fiery-necked nightjar. And a serval, hunting.

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