PHOTOS Known for its Big Game don’t forget to pay attention to Botswana’s birds.
“No cats today.”
“Haven’t seen much other than elephants.”
When passing the infrequent oncoming vehicle in Moremi Game Reserve one of you has to get off the track, so its natural to ask, “Seen anything?”
We found many visitors in search of the iconic wildlife species… elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, and of course the endangered black rhino or white rhino. Although elephant herds and lone bulls can be noted on most safari enthusiasts sighting list, the sought after Big Cats are elusive. Our coming upon a lion kill with the pride still eating was an enviable experience. For but two days there wasn’t a trace left of the fallen buffalo, no skin, bones, horns, no hyena, jackals or vultures, okay a lone vulture sat in the tree above.
However, while watching for the big game its easy to miss the abundance of bird life. From the tiniest Waxwing to the large colorful Black Billed Stork. Kites and Hornbills abound, as do Lapwings and a variety of Doves.
At the pans when we sat and watched we saw Egyptian and Spur Winged Geese, Darters, White Faced Ducks and a number of birds we couldn’t identify.
One of our favorites was the African Jacana with its long legs and huge feet fit for a bird three times its size. Then there was the Spoonbill stirring up dinner in the shallow water as she walked. Watching the lightening speed at which the Grey Heron stabs at fish is amazing.
Hanging out at our campsite along the river in Maun was also a treat. Okay, a hippo did come to graze too, however, the Senegal Calcoun, the HammerKop and a variety of shore birds were frequent visitors. Watching the elegant African Fish Eagle soar overhead and drop into the water was a real contrast to the small Pied Kingfisher dropping from much lower down.
We found two rare Red Hornbills feeding in the tall grasses not far from the camp. The yellow a marvelous contrast to the black bird and their red ‘horns’. My very favorite had to be the Black Billed Stork. Russ had pulled off the track to let another vehicle go by and I looked out into the marsh and there it was walking as if slow motion on its long skinny legs. It was the red and yellow markings that caught my eye. The Creator certainly had fun adding a little yellow wattle at his throat and a red spot on the chest. A fabulous bird!
Rather common, and they always make me chuckle when I hear them, is the Grey Lourie or Go Away Bird it being renamed because of its call.
Most places we’ve camped around Botswana have been rich with bird life.
Glossy Starlings with their beady orange eyes and iridescent feathers are frequent visitors in search of left overs. More unusual is the Crested Barbet which I recall was my mother’s favorite when I was young.
The tiny Waxbills that come in pairs stop by but briefly, unlike the two Lesser Striped Swallows that hang around the waterhole most of the day lighting in the same little dead tree between feeding flights.
Really, I could spend days watching and listening. Botswana’s birds are definitely as intriguing as its big game.
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