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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 Okavango Delta
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
Sally's Bird List - Africa 2015
African Barred Owlet
African Green Pigeon
African Grey Hornbill
African Harrier Hawk
African Marsh Harrier
African Pied Wagtail
African Sacred Ibis
African Wattled Lapwing
African Yellow White-eye
Bearded Scrub Robin
Chestnut-backed Sparrow Lark
Southern White-crowned Shrike
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
Striated (Green-backed) Heron
Collared Palm Thrush
Dark Chanting Goshawk
Double-banded Sand Grouse
Great White Pelican
Greater Blue-eared Starling
Green Wood Hoopoe
Grey Go-away Bird
Lesser Striped Swallow
Western Great Egret
White-browed Scrub Robin
White-browed Sparrow Weaver
Southern Black Tit
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow
Southern Ground Hornbill
Southern Pied Babbler
Southern Red-billed Hornbill
White-crested Helmet Shrike
White-faced Whistling Duck