Well, hello there. I hope that you are well after another fantastic weekend and have an exciting week ahead planned. Here in the Luangwa, we look up to the skies every morning and check the temperatures as we hope that the rains are coming to an end as we are now fully into the swing of camp building. Enough of that though for today we have some wonderful stories and photos from regular visitor Dawn Perkins who recently spent a week with Perry exploring the Luangwa by car and by boat. So, for today Dawn over to you:
“It’s becoming a bit of a regular fixture for me to come and stay a week at Nkwali during the late green season. I love this time of year, as my favourite animals, the wild dogs, are always the stars of the show and the scenery is beautiful and green and so completely different to the dry season. It’s also a great time for birding.
This year, when I arrived, the Manzi pack were there to greet me in their favourite hunting ground of Lupunga Spur. Having lost their alpha female to a crocodile attack 5 days previously, they were not their usual joyous selves, but kept calling mournfully for their lost pack member. Despite this though we still had some great sightings of them over the week, including this run in with an unfortunate hyena. As well as several sightings of the pack on the hunt.
The cats can often be elusive at this time of year, but this time the lions set the tone by coming to us, with a very well-fed male coming to the lagoon in camp to drink just as we were about to sit down for our first lunch! We also saw lions several times inside the park hanging around the Big Baobab area, where we think they had made a kill off the road, obscured by the dense thickets.
This male came up to sleep off his meal on the road.
The water levels were particularly high, and it was fascinating to see Wamilombe, usually another favourite hunting ground for the dogs, under water. So, in order to take a different approach to game viewing one afternoon we took to the river to explore Wamilombe by boat.
On the way, we came across one of the most unusual sightings of the week – a swimming female impala, in the middle of the Luangwa! We could only speculate about how she got there (chased by dogs perhaps?) but we were cheering her on as she made it to the bank and miraculously scrambled out safe but exhausted.
The birding is always a highlight in the green season, and I ticked off a record (for me) 176 species, including a few firsts – an Emerald Cuckoo, a Black Cuckoo Shrike and a daytime sighting of a white-faced Scops owl which I have seen in Botswana but never in Luangwa.
Thanks to Perry for some excellent spotting! Notably absent from my list was the black crake. This year, it seemed like the usually shy and retiring Allen’s Gallinules had taken over all the locations where black crakes can be seen. Gallinules are usually hard to spot and even harder to photograph, but this year they were out and about with their chicks! We also had a rather brutal sighting of a black headed heron gobbling down three gallinule chicks one by one.
It’s also lovely at this time of year to see the less showy birds in their green season breading plumage, like this little Red Bishop putting on his best show to attract a mate. The sightings continued and were too many to name but another highlight was this dwarf bittern youngster having a dispute with his weaver neighbours.
On our final morning, leaving the park by the main gate, we thought we had said goodbye to the dogs for this trip, only to find 5 dogs from a different pack on the road up to Nkwali! A fitting farewell, until next time and a wonderful end to an incredible trip. Thanks so much to everyone and I so look forward to my next visit.”
Thanks so much for sharing this with us Dawn, what an incredible week of sightings and we look forward to seeing you back out here again soon. Nothing left for me to say after all of this so I shall graciously bid you a very fond farewell and hope that you have a wonderful week ahead with plenty of smiles and laughter.