Some more photos from our amazing trip to Chobe National Park in early January:
This female lion seemed very peaceful even with our safari vehicle only about 10 meters away. Everyone was busy taking photos (I think I took about 200 of this particular lion.)
Suddenly, the lion lept to its feet and I thought it might charge the vehicle, but it headed into the trees. Even though our cranky tour guide tried to blame it on someone making a sudden movement, I had a good view of everyone and no one did anything that I could see. A reflection of a camera lens or something else might have spooked her, but it was a good reminder that even thought these animals are used to tourists, they can be unpredictable. We came back a short time later and found her again on the dirt track, peacefully resting.
Chobe is famous for its elephants and they were found in great numbers all over the park. This one was cooling off in some mud along the banks of the Chobe River.
Most of the hippos you see are halfway or fully submerged in water so it is a treat to see them on land.
The red lechwe is a species of antelope that is only found in habitats with plenty of water such as Chobe National Park or the Okavango Delta.
This group of banded mongoose was right on the dirt track as we made our way back to the area where we had spotted a leopard the day before.
The cape buffalo is a massive animal. We saw a large bull buffalo chase a lion away from a giraffe kill.
A small herd of female kudu.
A large monitor lizard we viewed from our boat tour into Chobe National Park.
This female baboon was carrying her little one. Large troops of baboons are frequently seen inside Chobe National Park as well as close to urban areas.
One last post to round off the birds we spotted at Chobe National Park. I’m running out of bird captions!
Hamerkop. I’m guessing this bird got its name because the backwards crest makes its head look like a hammer. It is a common resident around freshwater areas.
Greater blue-eared starling. Very glossy greenish sheen on the feathers that changes color in the light.
Yellow canary. This is one of several varieties of canary in southern Africa.
Magpie shrike. It might be hard to notice the long tail hanging down in this picture, but that feature makes it very easy to identify this black and white bird, a common resident of Botswana.
Long-toed lapwing. Another lapwing checked off the list! This bird is much less common than the blacksmith lapwing and can be found mainly in the Okavango Delta and Chobe River System.
Squacco heron. This heron’s habitat is freshwater shorelines.
Black-crowned night-heron. My best guess for this bird. They are usually nocturnal.
Wire-tailed swallow. This little bird decided to take a ride on the bow of our our tour boat on the way out of Chobe National Park. They are usually found in pairs.
Here are some more birds from our 3 day, 2 night trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana.
Osprey. Slightly smaller than a fish eagle with a broad eye-stripe that wraps around to the back of its head.
Giant kingfisher. Much larger than all other kingfishers in the region. This bird has a speckled body and a rufous chest.
Great egret. The largest white egret. Very similar to the yellow-billed egret, but the legs are completely dark in color. A large monitor lizard is visible in the background.
Little egret. Not entirely sure that my identifications of these egrets are correct. Unfortunately the telltale bright yellow feet of this species are not visible here.
Red-billed oxpecker. These birds eat the ticks and other parasites of large animals. This bird has a prime spot on a cape buffalo. This variety of oxpecker is considered near-threatened.
Yellow-billed oxpecker. This diseased giraffe’s parasites were prime feeding grounds for both variety of oxpeckers. The yellow-billed variety can be distinguished by the partly yellow bill and by the lack of a yellow ring around the eye.
Lilac-breasted roller. Commonly seen on safaris in southern Africa. Very strikingly colorful bird, especially in flight.
Swainson’s spurfowl. Prefers grassland near water. The dark legs distinguish it from the the red-necked spurfowl.
Red-billed hornbill. This is a common resident, one of many varieties of hornbills in southern Africa.
Blue waxbill. Common resident bird found in flocks during the non-breeding season. We saw a couple of these birds during a bathroom break from our safari drive. You always have to have your camera ready in Chobe!
Chobe National Park has exceptional birding, especially when we were there during the rainy season in early January. All of my bird facts are taken from Roberts Bird Guide, a great birding resource for Southern Africa. We saw some nice birds out in the bush as well, but the river boat tours have been the best for spotting and photographing birds.
Pied Kingfisher. We also spotted this variety of bird on the Kavango River, but this is the first good photo I was able to get. The double breast band indicates that this bird is a male.
Southern red bishop. The elusive red bishop! We were all pretty excited to see this bird looking like he had just put on his finest for church. The female of this species looks like a small brown sparrow and would be hard to distinguish.
White-winged tern. This is the smallest freshwater tern in the region and migrates to southern Africa during the breeding season.
African sacred ibis. These large water birds are a common resident to the wetlands of southern Africa. Here they posed for a nice bill shot. We call that the “money shot” in birding.
African openbill stork. One of the smaller storks in the region. The bill is used like a nutcracker for its main prey of snails and mussels. This bird is classified as near-threatened. This was the “yoga bird” in the last post.
Goliath heron. The largest heron in the world! Eats mostly large fish and frogs. It can reach a height of 1.4 m and weigh 4.3 kg.
Another photo of the goliath heron. The boat spooked it a bit and it flew off but it was a nice display of its massive wingspan.
African fish-eagle. Looks very similar to the bald eagle of North America. Very common in the river habitats of Namibia and Botswana that we have visited.
African jacana. Also called the “Jesus bird” for its apparent ability to walk on water. Its large splayed toes allow it to wander on lily pads in search of food. I think this might be its nest. Another bird who can build its own island!
In early January, we finally had our first overland border crossing in Africa on our way to Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park. We stayed at Jollyboys Backpacker in Livingstone where we also booked our safari tour to Botswana. Chobe National Park is home to between 60,000 and 100,000 elephants as well as many other species. I consider it to be the best game viewing of any park we have visited so far.
On our way to Livingstone, we encountered a bit of a delay. We were about midway between the Zambia/Namibia border and Livingstone when our taxi got a flat tire. With very little traffic on that section of road, we were a little worried about how long this minor repair would take (of course there was not a spare tire in the vehicle!), but we were rolling again in less than two hours. The new tire was a little too big for the car, but it worked until we switched vehicles at the next major town.
Getting from Livingstone, Zambia to Chobe National Park in Botswana was exciting and involved a water taxi across the Zambezi River which was about a half mile wide in this section. Four countries are visible from the river here: Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Our friends Mona and Chris got the last two seats in this boat, and we got to know a curio salesman as we waited for the taxi to return to shuttle us across the Zambezi.
A large group of hippos are halfway submerged in the Chobe River. The river widens here as it forms an island and provides prime habitat for a variety of animals and birds.
This bird’s strange pose is to dry its wings. Or it might be doing yoga. It stayed in this pose for several minutes. More on this bird and others in the next post.
The view from our safari vehicle in Chobe National Park. There are impala and baboons visible and the Chobe River is in the distance.
A large female crocodile staying close to her young to protect them. You can see two of the little ones on the tree trunk on the right.
Male impala. Part of a bachelor herd we spotted our first day in the park. Impala are very plentiful and their herd numbers grow quickly. They are frequently prey for lions and leopards.
Chobe is home to an amazing amount of wildlife as evidenced here by a large group of elephants and cape buffalo.
This is actually from the last day of our trip to Chobe and one of the big highlights: A leopard sleeping in a dead tree. It had just rained and our guide told us that leopards don’t like to get their paws wet.