AFRICA 2015

By Phyllis Dawson
Part 13
Moremi, Botswana

 
 
August 5  
    
We were sad that the trip was coming to an end. I am usually ready to go home by the end of a vacation, but not when I am in Africa! After breakfast we said goodbye to the camp, and also to Open, KP and Mosa. We set out with Gee for a short game drive on the way to the air strip. 
    
Mary pointed out that Sally had 194 birds for the trip, so if we found six new birds this morning it would bring the total up to an even 200. A reed buck stood in some tall grass; this was a new antelope we hadnít seen before. Gee told us they often hide in the reeds, and make a loud alarm cry if threatened.   

  
Reed Buck

     We drove through a beautiful forest. A family of giraffes waited for us beneath the trees, several large adults and a couple of youngsters. They stood watching us. Gazing at us with their gentle eyes, it seemed as if they had come to say goodbye.  I was missing them already.

  

     Two vividly colorful green pigeons were perched on a branch. A red-billed hornbill looked down on us from a tree branch, and francolins ran along beside the road. Two squirrels sat crowded together in the crotch of a tree. We watched a group of banded mongoose busily digging holes searching for insects. Sally identified two new birds, the chirping cisticola and the rattling cisticola Ė both were LBJs.


African Green Pigeon

     We drove back through the dreamscape of Paradise Pools. We scanned the trees, and soon we were seeing leopards on every horizontal branch, at least in our mindís eye. Leopards or no leopards, I still fanaticized about galloping a horse through that enchanted forest, jumping the downed trees.
    
Zebras and warthogs paraded by us; they seemed to be making a farewell appearance. We searched for elephants, but there were none to be found anywhere. I was disappointed - I wanted to see them one more time, and tell them goodbye.

     We stopped by a large lagoon surrounded by forest, with the silvery trunks of dead trees rising eerily up out of the water. It was a peaceful, magical place. A large herd of red lechwe grazed on the far side of the lagoon, their reflections clear in the mirror-like surface. A troop of vervet monkeys moved among the trees near us. We were surrounded by paradise. But no elephants.  
    
As we left the forest, a gorgeous green little bee-eater was sitting on a twig, the stiff breeze ruffling his feathers.  We were close enough to catch the gleam in his eye when photographing him. I tried to catch him in flight, but that was no easier than with the roller birds.

 
Little Bee-eater

       We came out to the marshes. Gee pointed out a path made by the hippos, which helps the water channels flow during flooding. The path seemed very narrow compared to the width of a hippopotamus. 
    
A brown-hooded kingfisher perched on a reed. A coucal hid in the grass, and a jacana waded in the shallow water. Sally identified a ruff, which was another new bird. And I took my best lilac-breasted-roller-in-flight photo of the trip!  ĎAmazing,í Gee proclaimed when he saw it.

 

     I didnít want the drive to ever end, but time flew by like the wind. As we got near the air strip, a pair of petite little steenboks rested under a bush; they were so accustomed to vehicles that they seemed almost tame. A herd of impala ran beside the land cruiser for a while. It seemed that most all of the animals had come out to say goodbye this morning, except for the elephants.

 
Steenbok

     When we came to the airstrip we were up to 198 new birds for the trip, but we couldnít find those last two to make it an even 200 - I guess Sally will just have to come back! The airstrip consisted of a dirt runway, and a little shed referred to as The Terminal. We jokingly wondered how long it would take to get through security. A small canvas shelter that looked like a bus stop had a sign on it that read VIP Lounge. It contained a bench, a shovel, and several fire extinguishers. Throughout the trip we had been worried because this last flight had a 44 pound per person weight limit, including all luggage, carry on and camera gear - but there were no scales, and nobody checked. Darn, if I had known that I might have shopped in Victoria Falls!

 
The VIP Lounge!

     Gee parked the land cruiser and we had our last morning tea with him. I have a custom of taking home a rock from places I travel to as a souvenir, but looking around in this sandy environment I couldn't find a single stone. There were tracks in the sand, signs of elephants and impala, mongoose and birds. I gazed at this last morning report, sad to be leaving. 
     
I looked up, and to my amazement there were elephants walking in a single file line across the airstrip in a stately procession. There were seventeen of them. I couldnít believe my eyes. We had wanted to see the elephants one more time, and now here they were. They had come to say goodbye! We watched in awe as they crossed the runway, and then disappeared into the brush. Moments later our plane landed and taxied over to pick us up.  

 

      Gee helped load our luggage into the small plane, and then it was time to go. It was hard to say goodbye; I was practically in tears. The plane taxied to the end of the runway and turned around - and as we lifted off we could see Gee, standing by the land cruiser at the edge of the runway, waving goodbye.  

     On the flight to Maun, we looked out at the aerial view over the Okavango Delta. It was vast, much larger than I had appreciated from the ground - a vast network of channels and islands. The plane flew low so we could enjoy the vista. We could see elephants below us, and hippos in the water. A bataleur eagle soared underneath us. I was already planning when I could come back.

The End



The Okavango Delta

 


ďAll I wanted to do was get back to Africa. We had not left it, yet, but when
  I would wake in the night I would lie, listening, homesick for it already.Ē
                                      ~ Ernest Hemingway ~



George, Nick and Rosemary Dawson



Sally and Mike Brenton



Mary Kimm

 

Jineen Reed

 

Phyllis Dawson



Sally's Bird List - Africa 2015

African Barred Owlet
African Darter
African Fish-Eagle
African Green Pigeon
African Grey Hornbill
African Harrier Hawk
African Hawk-Eagle
African Hoopoe
African Jacana
African Marsh Harrier
African Openbill
African Pied Wagtail
African Pipit
African Sacred Ibis
African Skimmer
African Spoonbill
African Stonechat
African Wattled Lapwing
African Yellow White-eye
Amur Falcon
Arnot's Chat
Arrow-marked Babbler
Bateleur
Bearded Scrub Robin
Bearded Woodpecker
Bennett's Woodpecker
Black Crake
Black Heron
Black-backed Puffback
Black-chested Prinia
Black-chested Snake-Eagle
Black-collared Barbet
Black-faced Waxbill
Black-throated Canary
Black-winged Stilt
Blacksmith Lapwing
Blue Waxbill
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Bradfield's Hornbill
Bronze-winged Courser
Brown Snake-Eagle
Brown-crowned Tchragra
Brown-hooded Kingfisher
Burchell's Starling
Bushveld Pipit
Cape Starling
Cape Turtle-Dove
Cape Wagtail
Cattle Egret
Chestnut-backed Sparrow Lark
Chirping Cisticola
Southern White-crowned Shrike
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
Spotted Thick-knee
Spurwing Goose
Squacco Heron
Steppe Buzzard
Streaky-headed Seedeater
Striated (Green-backed) Heron
Striped Kingfisher
Swainson's Spurfowl
Swallow-tailed Bee-eater
Swamp Boubou
Tawny Eagle
Three-banded Courser

Collared Palm Thrush
Collared Pratincole
Collared Sunbird
Common Ostrich
Common Sandpiper
Coppery-tailed Coucal
Crested Barbet
Crested Francolin
Crimson-breasted Shrike
Crowned Hornbill
Crowned Lapwing
Dark Chanting Goshawk
Dark-capped Bulbul
Desert Cisticola
Dickenson's Kestrel
Double-banded Sand Grouse
Egyptian Goose
Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove
Fiery-necked Nightjar
Fork-tailed Drongo
Gabar Goshawk
Giant Kingfisher
Glossy Ibis
Golden-breasted Bunting
Goliath Heron
Gray Heron
Great White Pelican
Greater Blue-eared Starling
Green Wood Hoopoe
Grey Go-away Bird
Grey-backed Camaroptera
Grey-headed Gull
Groundscraper Thrush
Hadeda Ibis
Hamerkop
Hartlaub's Babbler
Helmeted Guineafowl
Hooded Vulture
House Sparrow
Intermediate Egret
Kittlitz's Plover
Knob-billed Duck
Kori Bustard
Lappet-faced Vulture
Laughing Dove
Lesser Honeyguide
Lesser Striped Swallow
Lilac-breasted Roller
Little Bee-eater
Little Egret
Little Grebe
Three-banded Plover
Tropical Boubou
Trumpeter Hornbill
Verreaux's Eagle-Owl
Water Thick-knee
Wattled Crane
Western Great Egret
White Stork
White-backed Vulture
White-bellied Sunbird
White-breasted Cormorant
White-browed Coucal
White-browed Robin-Chat
White-browed Scrub Robin
White-browed Sparrow Weaver

Lizard Buzzard
Long-billed Crombec
Long-toed Lapwing
Magpie Shrike
Malachite Kingfisher
Marabou Stork
Marico Flycatcher
Marico Sunbird
Marsh Sandpiper
Martial Eagle
Meve's Starling
Meyer's Parrot
Namaqua Dove
Palm Swift
Pearl-spotted Owlet
Pied Kingfisher
Plain-backed Pipet
Purple Roller
Pygmy Goose
Rattling Cisticola
Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver
Red-billed Firefinch
Red-billed Oxpecker
Red-billed Quelea
Red-billed Spurfowl
Red-billed Teal
Red-breasted Swallow
Red-crested Korhaan
Red-eyed Dove
Red-knobbed Coot
Red-winged Starling
Reed Cormorant
Ruff
Rufous-bellied Heron
Rufous-naped Lark
Sabota Lark
Saddle-billed Stork
Scaly-feathered Weaver
Scarlet-chested Sunbird
Schalow's Turaco
Secretarybird
Senegal Coucal
Shikra
Slaty Egret
Southern Black Tit
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow
Southern Ground Hornbill
Southern Masked-Weaver
Southern Pied Babbler
Southern Red-billed Hornbill
White-crested Helmet Shrike
White-crowned Lapwing
White-faced Whistling Duck
White-fronted Bee-eater
White-headed Vulture
Whte-throated Robin-Chat
Wire-tailed Swallow
Wood Pipet
Wood Sandpiper
Yellow-billed Duck
Yellow-billed Oxpecker
Yellow-billed Stork
Yellow-fronted Canary
Yellow-throated Petronia
Zitting Cisticola


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