Geoff

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Everything posted by Geoff

  1. Excellent stuff @Towlersonsafari and drop back for a look as the sightings over the coming days are out of this world.
  2. 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.
  3. After brunch, we transferred to Mwamba. Also moving across was a lovely Dutch couple Andre & Bianca. Although we were never on a game drive together I enjoyed their company and conversation around camp and during dinner. Gerard was relief managing at Mwamba for Craig & Lyndie who were returning tomorrow from a few days off. Mwamba was its rough, ready & wild self. Within an hour of arriving a grumpy elephant bull was making a nuisance of himself. At one point I walked behind the bar to keep my distance from him and I looked down to see a freshly shed cobra’s skin. Mr Grumpy then moved off to one of the chalets and was tossing the outside table and chairs about. I snuck past him on the way to the hide and he stank to high heaven. Rough & Ready Mwamba ~ Chalets 1 & 2 (I call them huts). Bathroom (excuse my undies ) Shower area Dining Table and Bar Mr Grumpy With a little time before the afternoon drive I reacquainted myself with the hide. White-fronted Bee-eater (photo taken from the top section) Blue Waxbill (photo taken from lowest section) Quelea Yellow Baboon Impala Elephants resting in shade (image taken from top section) Same elephants (Image taken from middle section)
  4. This great & short video shows some of the prodigious vocal mimicry repertoire of Australia's Superb Lyrebirds. I think it is from the UK's Daily Mail and came up on my Facebook feed. EDIT: Hopefully you have permission to watch it.
  5. @Caracal Let me know your thoughts on the next few leopard sightings coming up... I'll also provide a tally at the end of this report. EDIT: I have Peter to thank for photo 2 in #18. He pointed it out to me.
  6. The following morning we again checked on the lions. There was a strange truce between the lions and hyaenas. The lions were full and sleepy & the hyaenas still hungry and lying around not far from the lions. The Hollywood male had moved off elsewhere. at least one hyaena was getting a meal Back at the river we watched this giraffe for over 30 minutes before its thirst overcame its nervousness and it finally had a drink Whilst the others were watching a bird in a tree I amused myself by trying to capture this dragonfly perched on a stem swaying in the breeze. Any dragonfly experts... I think it is either a Red Basker or Red Darter. I should add we also saw another leopard but she was uncooperative from a photography perspective. So I'm not really counting this sighting.
  7. Eek !!!
  8. @Caracal No, not in my backyard but I've seen them with a 100 metres of my place. This one was in a fairly new man made wetland that was created as a storm water retarding pond near a new housing estate. The native grass vegetation has grown nicely and as I often see snakes in that area it was only a matter of time before they found their way there. Especially as there is plenty of food for them. The Fairy Martins were collecting mud where water was flowing out of (a slight trickle at the moment) the storm water pipes. The snake appeared from behind them so he either came out of the drain or from a nearby rock wall that is above the concrete pipes. The image shows the snake up on a grassy verge perhaps a foot above where the birds were collecting the mud.
  9. This morning I was quietly photographing Fairy Martins collecting mud for their nests when this character slithered up to see what i was doing. Unfortunately I had the wrong lens to capture better images. I watched it forage for about 15 minutes before it got too hot and it disappeared into a grass clump. Australian Lowland Copperhead. It is highly venomous. They mainly eat small lizards, frogs & mice but bigger specimens will also eat other snakes.
  10. Very strange. I could see them the other day.
  11. @PeterHG It's not uncommon to hear audible gasps from overseas visitors the first time they see a male Fairy wren in breeding plumage.
  12. Ha. Must be more ancient than me.
  13. @offshorebirder Nope. It was eating (what I think) are wildebeeste innards that it had scavenged from the kill.
  14. This is Part Two of my 2016 African trip to the Masai Mara during October. Part One ~ The South Luangwa N.P., Zambia during September can be found here. Preamble ~ I had not been to the Masai Mara for decades. Whilst no one can argue that the abundance of wildlife is astonishing and the scenery beautiful I struggle with the number of vehicles jostling for position at many of the sightings. For me, who prefers a feeling of isolation in the wilderness, this degrades the experience considerably and I often wonder whether I am actually witnessing natural animal behaviour. Peter, my travelling companion, had said that if I could put up with the crowds in the main reserve it should be quieter in the conservancies and mostly that was true though there were some sightings (mainly of leopards) in the conservancies where there were in excess of 10 vehicles present. The itinerary for this portion of the trip consisted of; 1 night Nairobi (after arriving on a flight from Lusaka @ 9:00 PM) 7 nights Entim Camp 5 nights Kicheche Bush Camp 2 nights Kicheche Valley Camp Entim camp within the main reserve sits on the edge of a forest with a private outlook over one of the crossing points on the Mara River. This was the rationale for staying here but unfortunately the number of wildebeeste I saw investigate the crossing point was a grand total of four. Kicheche Bush Camp situated in the Olare Motogori Conservancy has long been a favourite of Peter’s and he has stayed there many times, often a few times a year. From reading many other TR’s I note that quite a few members of ST have also stayed here.The current hosts Darren & Emma are a delight and the tents are spacious, extremely comfortable and private. Whilst my tent and I suspect all others looked out onto the bush there is nothing in the way of what I would call fabulous views. We had hoped to stay here for 7 nights but the owner was hosting a photographic tour and the camp was booked for the last 2 nights of our intended stay so we decided on Kicheche Valley Camp for those 2 nights. Kicheche Valley Camp (as the name describes) is in a valley in the Naboisho Conservancy. The area around the camp comprises of acacia woodland & rocky (granite?) outcrops with permanent water in the river system at the bottom of the valley. As such the area in the immediate vicinity of the camp provides a slightly different game viewing experience to other areas of the Mara. Though the open plains that typify the Mara are a short drive to the north of camp. When the first wildebeeste takes the plunge the others will follow A lioness surveying the plains passes extremely close to the vehicle A Griffon vulture arriving at a carcass A confiding Little Bee-eater at morning tea. Buffalo with Red-billed Oxpecker.
  15. @Bush dog Mike, I had to look it up. I'd never heard of a Dwarf Goose. It's not in my African bird books. Is it another name Pygmy Goose?
  16. Wow, that's outrageous. I'd much rather share my campsite with the elephants.
  17. Is it really Dwarf Goose? Oh, maybe Mongoose?
  18. Nearing the kill site we could hear the vocalisations of hyaenas and I’m amazed at their numbers. Using the spotlight whilst still driving we quickly count 25 individuals and many of those are youngsters. Initially I thought that the lions had surrendered the kill to the hyaenas but it was not the case. Patrick’s vehicle is up ahead of us and as the lights flash over the kill I can see lions still feeding. The area is strewn with old tree stumps and unfortunately our lefthand rear tyre punctures about 50 metres from the kill. Poor Yoram says a few words under his breath as he and the game scout get out to change the tyre. The flat tyre is on the opposite side of the vehicle to the kill and occasionally the game scout shines the spotlight to check on the lions. The tyre change is almost complete when out of the darkness and approaching the kill from behind Yoram a huge male lion appears. There is an audible gasp from everyone as he walks past within metres of Yoram and the game scout. Later I asked Yoram when he first saw the lion. His response was “not until he had passed me”. With the flat fixed we drive up to the kill and the big male is now standing over the top of the carcass. Yoram answered my question before I could finish it. …this is the Liuwi Pride and yes, it is the surviving Hollywood male. He has been following them for sometime now since his brother was shot by a hunter almost a year ago. The Hollywood male. Tooth and claw Later, before dinner, Patrick and I had a quiet drink and he told me that the Hollywood male had called for his brother for over a week and then disappeared as he could not defend his territory. The Hollywood pride was now a mere shadow of its former self.
  19. @TonyQ Yes he is a very nice man and also quite amusing. He told a funny story during one morning tea. It went something like this... Years ago he was relief guiding at Nkwali. Kanga had been assigned two women that had just arrived at camp. He introduced himself, "Hi I'm Kanga, I'm your guide". The two women did not reply but quickly looked at each other. Thinking something was wrong Kanga said "Is everything alright?" One woman responded whilst pointing to her friend, "Oh yes everything is fine and her name is Roo". ~ Being an Aussie that had some significance for me and I was still chuckling an hour or so later.
  20. @michael-ibk Hi Michael, thanks for your comments and following along. All this is just a prelude, in a few days there is memorable sighting after memorable sighting (including leopards) and I capture some of my best ever African wildlife images.
  21. More elephant on the afternoon drive. Grey Hornbill (male) Grey Hornbill (female) On our way to sundowners we bumped into this guy so we arrived at a special sundowner well after dark. All the other guests staying at Kaingo were waiting for us on the river bank not far from the Bee-eater hide. Agata was there and she talked me into having my first beer. Until then I had been subsisting on water or a rehydration salts drink. During sundowners Patrick told me he had found lions on a buffalo kill. We had a look on the night drive but as there is a bit of a story behind this sighting I'll leave it to the next instalment.
  22. The next morning we again drive out to the dead hippo spot. Unfortunately the 2 carcasses from yesterday are still untouched and another young hippo has died. Last year I took one crocodile image. This year hundreds. Crocs were all along the river banks. Fish eagle fly by and a young Batleur (I think) too. Further downstream elephants were coming to drink. On the way back to camp there was another young giraffe with its mother.
  23. It's your TR. Do it the way you want.
  24. Lovely Slender mongoose image

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