Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Spotting Wildlife at the Okavango Delta

DSC07595 Bateleur Eagle cropped

The Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus)

Our grand life at Stanley’s Camp continued as we indulged in an afternoon siesta after high tea.

DSC07347 Stanley Camp tent interior

Refreshed, we climbed back into the Landcruiser for our afternoon game drive, eager to explore the territory. We were all on the lookout to score the next big find. Maybe we could spot an elephant, a lion, or even a leopard. A couple of us were very interested in birds, so we also scanned the trees for unusual profiles.

DSC07777 Hamerkop nest

We asked our guide, Poniso, what bird builds these uncommonly large nests. We were convinced that it belonged to a giant eagle or oversized stork.

DSC07778 Hamerkop Nest

The architect of this mansion, he told us, is a medium-sized wading bird called the Hammerkop. Believe it or not, this compulsive nest builder may build 3 to 5 of these nests every year. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammerkop

DSC07874 Hamerkop
Hammerkop (Scopus umbretta), also known as the Hammerhead Stork.

Even from a distance, we knew this silhouette showed promise.

DSC07580 Bateleur in tree

I was bowled over when we drove closer:

DSC07600 Bateleur

Named the Bateleur, it is no surprise that this eagle is sometimes called the “Pine Eagle”. As the top photo reveals, its fluffed feathers sometimes resemble a conifer cone.

Here’s another unusual profile in a tree. Is it another nest?

DSC07500 Southern Giraffe hiding

Here another hint:

DSC07502 Southern Giraffe hiding

Surprise!

DSC07511 Southern Giraffe

If find her Red-billed Oxpecker bird “tiara” quite fetching:

DSC07509 Southern Giraffe ox-pecker bird

Here’s where one of us shouted “Elephant!”

DSC07398 Landcruiser wading

Not! It was only a pump, not a baby elephant.

I don’t have a photo of the termite mount that I declared to be a giraffe. A bit gun-shy now, I was hesitant to call out a dark shadow in the distant grass. Poniso smiled as he drove unhurriedly in its direction.

DSC07441 African Buffalo skeleton

Known as one of the “big five”, the African Buffalo is a formidable foe with its considerable size and impressive horns. It probably took multiple lions to bring this one down.

DSC07446 African Buffalo skull teeth

With their impressive row of incisor teeth, the African Buffalo can eat tall, coarse grass more quickly than most other African herbivores.

***
It takes no talent to spy impalas. The impala is the most ubiquitous antelope in the region. Poniso said some locals refer to it as the McDonalds of the delta. McNuggets on the hoof? Running at 50-75 km/hr, impalas give new meaning to fast food. They were so plentiful, we eventually dismissed them as “only impala”. They are easily identified by the two vertical stripes on both sides of their tail.

DSC08555 impala herd

DSC07421 impalas


When they don’t think they can outrun their predators, impalas sometimes try to stand perfectly still, hoping to blend with the environment.

DSC07623 Two impalas

Even when we don’t see game, the tranquil terrain is a treat to explore.

DSC07413 two trees reflection

15 comments:

CC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CC said...

Fabulous pictures. Especially intriguing, the "bird's nest" Giraffe/silhouette.

OXO, C

beth said...

wow....these are amazing photos !
what a trip !

Kris said...

just amazing! so inspiring and great photo taking.

Sandy Salle said...

Fabulous pictures, brings me back to my days at Savuti & the Okavango Delta. Thank you very much for sharing!

dutchbaby said...

Dear CC,
Thank you! Game spotting can be tricky, eh?

Dear beth,
Thank you, it was a spectacular trip!

Dear Kris,
Thank you. I hope you have a chance to visit Botswana one day.

Dear Sandy Salle,
The Okavango Delta is a magical place. I'm glad you enjoyed my photos.

paris parfait said...

You must have had such fun seeing one wondrous sight after another! Thanks for capturing some of these amazing images with your lens!

Vagabonde said...

What a great trip and the pictures are fantastic. I had never seen that Bateleur bird and the giraffe looks so grand. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

Renee said...

So beautiful, thank you for the trip.

Renee xoxo

robin bird said...

i would have loved to look for the birds and to have seen (and petted?) that beautiful giraffe! how lucky you are!
XO

Ruth said...

Seeing the animals so close is what it's all about, isn't it? And that bed in that tent still just makes me swoon. Your water shots are luscious too, so clear and sharp. What an amazing trip it must have been. I hope you're going to put together a book of pictures and memories via Shutterfly or some such company?

dutchbaby said...

Dear paris parfait,
You're welcome; this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Dear Vagabonde,
Thank you; I was not familiar with the Bateleur either.

Dear Renee,
I hope you held on tight in the Landcruiser

Dear robin bird,
No, we did not pet any of the wild animals.

Dear Ruth,
Being able to see a great variety of animals up close is the reason why we chose Botswana. As soon as I'm finished sorting through my photos, my daughter and I will be putting together a joint photo album.

dutchbaby said...

Dear Ruth,
P.S. I included the bed picture just for you ;-) We were surprised when we went to bed in the cold night and found hot water bottles between the sheets.

studio wellspring said...

what an incredible journey ~ and your photos are so stunning! i love the giraffes most of all. so glad you had such a wonderful african adventure! xxoo

Relyn said...

WOW!! OH my gosh! A whole pride of lions, I bet. Oh, what a trip you had. I'm with swellspring, I love the giraffes. They are my favorite. Well, at least until I think of zebras. Or elephants.

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