Peregrine's Bird Photographer Recommendation
Remaining in Africa I am going to recommend Vincent Grafhorst a Dutch Photographer living in Botswana. His website "Khwai Photography" is HERE.
Sunday 24th February
Slept pretty well woke around seven and went outside as dawn chorus was pretty intense. There was also the lion roaring in the distance. The main birdsong was coming from a Black Chested Prinia that had a tiny nest adjacent to the bungalow
The Red Eyed Bulbul's were everywhere and there was also a male and female Scarlet Breasted Sunbird.Here is a photo of the rather drab female.
Penny and I went and had our breakfast served to us by Doreen
next to an enclosure which contained Cheetah's and this one arrived just outside window. Rather a nice backdrop to having breakfast.
After Breakfast we went with our guide on the "Big Cat Experience". We drove in an open topped 4x4 through the double gates and into the 60 hectare enclosure. It was very steep and bumpy driving down this valley. Infact so steep at one point that I had to close my eyes. We arrived at the valley bottom and the guide chucked out some zebra heart and lungs onto the ground. Within a minute five cheetahs were running down the hill towards us and stopped right beside the vehicle.
The five cheetahs were only 8 months old when they came to the Amani Lodge after being caught on farmland. Namibia is a large country with an area of 824 300 km² (321 500 sq.miles) 12 times the size of Ireland with half the population of only 1.9 million people. All regions of the country still have wildlife, including carnivores, although population numbers are often unknown . Namibia is home to approximately 25% of the world's cheetah population of which 90% live on the unique farmland habitats. It is the inevitable conflict with humans on farmland that created the demand for the establishment of these rescue centres. In nature they stay with their mothers for a year and a half. So these five have been rehabilitated and are waiting to be introduced to a national park where they can live and breed. We were told that there is only paperwork remaining before they can be released.
While we were watching there was a very loud Cape Turtle Dove in the nearby trees and a Red Backed Shrike.
We decided we had to get a move on as we had quite a long drive ahead of us. So we settled up in the office. This was the view from the office
We left Amani Lodge to drive to the Desert Homestead Lodge.
The roads are gravel and one cannot travel faster than 80k or 50mph without the danger of sliding and potentially tipping the car over.
We set off initially for Solitaire and proceeded through the bush and saw our first Pale Chanting Goshawk of which we were to see a great many.
It has to be one of the commonest birds in Namibia. You nearly always see them perched on telegraph poles. A few miles further on we saw a Yellow Billed Hornbill in this small acacia bush.
The amazing thing with Namibia is that you drive 150 kilometres and the terrain completely changes.
We went the route that Alain at Amani had recommended not the quickest but the most scenic. We left the bush into the semi desert and my main worry was whether we had enough fuel as Namibia is one of those countries that you always fill up at every petrol station as they are so far apart. Once we had left the C26 to Walvis Bay and turned left to Solitaire the countryside was absolutely vast with mountain ranges to our left and open plains to our right.
I stopped to take a few photos and a vehicle passed us and stopped a couple of kilometers in front of us which is generally a sign there is an animal or something of interest.. We caught up with it and there was the Tropic of Capricorn sign which Penny had decided she must be photographed next to.
Fortunately the Elderly Australian tourists (Assumed by the fact they had strong aussie accents and Queensland T-Shirts) were still there and took our photos and asked us where we came from I said Sydney rather tongue in cheek and they said oh are you. We are from Australia as well ☺ We left them and shortly after I spotted a Ruppels Korhaan.
After five hours of driving at this point I was pretty chuffed to see it. The Ruppels Korhaan is a near Endemic in that it only lives in the west of Namibia and a few hundred kilometers into Angola. It is in the Bustard family.
We finally made it to Solitaire a tiny settlement in the middle of nowhere. I filled up with unleaded and ordered two sandwiches, which turned out to be one of the best I have ever had. The bread was homemade with caraway seed and totally unexpected. The only problem now was that the road we wanted to travel on had had a part of the road unpassable because of a flash flood in the mountains. So a fifty kilometer detour was in order which after five hours was not what I wanted.( We later heard a tourist in an Audi had been swept down the river, we didn’t find out whether he survived or not.) I was getting pretty tired by now and hacked off as we didn’t really know how far it was to our lodge. Things did brighten up when I spotted a pair of Lappet Faced Vultures which are becoming increasingly rare.
We also spotted a Greater Kestrel which I took a few photos off.
Finally seven and a half hours after we set off we arrived at the Desert Homestead where we were welcomed by a fresh glass of ice cold orange juice again. The sun was going down and there was a lovely sunset.
We went to our bungalow which was really a thatched room with shower and loo behind a dividing wall. It looked really nice and there was a verandah outside with a couple of chairs. We had a shower and headed for dinner which was excellent even if the meat was a bit tough.(I shared it with the lodge cat) We also arranged to go to Sossusvlei (Saus ouf fly) in a tour the following morning.