A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about cormorant

Lake Natron

Fish pedicure and hominid footprints


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Lake Natron Camp

We can see the camp from a distance, initially looking little more than dark pointy hillocks or large boulders on the landscape.

large_da5a4540-5892-11ea-80f6-39feccb4d104.jpg

large_ca2d6550-581d-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

The 'boulders' are in fact large camouflage Bedu style net covers, hiding the accommodation. Like everywhere else we have been so far, a whole army of helpers arrive to help carry our stuff as soon as we pull up in the car, and we are ushered into the open mess tent which doubles as a reception.

large_a00fcfd0-5820-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

large_372a8ca0-581e-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

large_428be8f0-581e-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

After the usual formalities, we are shown to our tent. They are well spread out, making them very private. The whole tent, as I said, is under a huge fly sheet, offering shade from hot sun.

large_967d5200-581e-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

The accommodation is relatively spacious and offers three parts – first the screened veranda , with a couple of chairs and a table. The staff leave our lunch boxes here, which we brought with us from Kilimamoja this morning.

large_c6c601f0-581e-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

The main part has a large double bed, a writing desk and a day bed which in our case doubles as a luggage rack.

large_e84a0650-581e-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

large_f414f9e0-581e-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

A partial wall separates the bedroom from the bathroom, where there is a wash basin, compostable eco-toilet and bucket shower.

large_1b9c25b0-581f-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

We dump our stuff, change into swimwear and head down to the 'spa area'.

large_36b678a0-581f-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

This is another area shaded by a large fly sheet, offering chairs, day beds and a couple of hammocks alongside a natural spring which feeds the main lake.

large_a6116610-581f-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

large_b42ed520-581f-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

We take our picnic boxes with us and enjoy our lunch overlooking the spring and the marshland.

large_c189de90-581f-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

The main attractions here, however, as far as I am concerned, is the little freshwater spring. As soon as we step into the cool water, the endemic cichlids start to nibble at our feet.

large_f97953d0-581f-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

For a number of years I have wanted to have a fish pedicure, but I have always been concerned about the hygiene in the tanks in British salons (they have since been banned in the UK for that very reason). Here, however, I have no such concern, and am loving every minute of it!

large_037e0650-5820-11ea-9fe9-612978adbed7.jpg

David, on the other hand, is way too ticklish to get pleasure from it, and merely dips his feet in briefly.

large_c4c52a40-5d3f-11ea-9f4e-011d518ca828.jpg

I could spend hours here, but the sun is very strong and I worry about my photo-sensitive dermatitis on my shins; so we reluctantly go back to the tent.

This area is affectionately known as 'Zanzibar' to the locals, as it is very much hotter than Arusha and the northern safari circuit. We try to have a little siesta, but it is really rather too hot to get any decent sleep.

The not-so-distant thunder than rumbles on and on and on doesn't exactly help. We prepare ourselves for a deluge, but it appears the storm travels all around us, and by the time we are ready for an afternoon excursion, it is thankfully still dry.

large_b8e62490-5880-11ea-82ca-d7772f633e44.jpg
Malisa, ready to see what nature has to offer us this afternoon

Homenid Footprints

Malisa is taking us, along with a local Maasai guide arranged by the camp, to see some old footprints left on the mud flats. When we spoke with Malisa about it yesterday, he had some concern about whether we would be able to reach the site because of all the flooding, and indeed we do get a little lost this afternoon as the road has washed away.

large_2d5608e0-5881-11ea-82ca-d7772f633e44.jpg

The floods and subsequent receding water have left some strange formations in the mud.

large_7655fc30-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_82d301b0-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

When I say “some old footprints”, I am grossly understating, of course, these impressions captured for eternity are seriously cool.

large_d8e78b20-5881-11ea-82ca-d7772f633e44.jpg

Some 19,000 years ago, the nearby Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano erupted, spewing out its innards down to the shores of the lake. Unable to outrun the fast flowing lava, the local people left their footprints in the hot magma as they made their desperate escape attempts.

large_ef9ada70-5881-11ea-82ca-d7772f633e44.jpg

Judging by the way the footprints are facing in different directions, it is assumed that the family (there are different sized prints too) were overcome with panic, unsure of which way to run.

large_3cb2e050-5882-11ea-82ca-d7772f633e44.jpg

While these imprints are seriously cool to see, I can only begin to imagine the anguish the people felt at the time, stepping on the ground which measured at 600 °C.

large_589bcde0-5882-11ea-82ca-d7772f633e44.jpg

The Ol Doinyo Lengai is unique in that it is the only active volcano known to erupt carbonatite lava. What that meant for these people, is that the thin silvery lava flowed faster than they could run, so there was no escape.

large_efb71f90-5882-11ea-82ca-d7772f633e44.jpg

Today the volcano looks peaceful.

large_0c41cb60-5883-11ea-82ca-d7772f633e44.jpg

From here we continue on foot down to the lake edge for bird watching.

large_47d8d9f0-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
Great White Pelican, Lesser Flamingo, Great Cormorant, Long Tailed Cormorant, Slender Bill Gull

large_54dac6e0-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
Blacksmith Plover

large_65f1c6e0-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
Chestnut Banded Plover, our second lifer on this trip.

large_8077c910-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
Eurasian Avocet - I love the way they move their head from side to side to stir up the bottom, just like a spoonbill.

large_c247c700-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
Thomson's Gazelle

large_3c206780-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg
The Gang

Flamingos

As I said in my previous blog entry, this time of year normally sees thousands of flamingos descend on the lake to breed. Here the water evaporates leaving behind very high concentrations of soda. Algae and zooplankton thrive in this water, which in turn supports great numbers of flamingos. The combination of remoteness and the hostility of the soda mud-flats provides the flamingos with a relatively safe area to breed and rear chicks. This year, however, as a result of the heavy rains, the vast majority of them have remained at Big Momella Lake in Arusha National Park. We still see a few here though.

large_a62de8f0-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_9613b4f0-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
Greater Flamingo

large_a2c7a8f0-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
Lesser Flamingo

large_09ff2700-5886-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg

large_2040c8c0-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_2d579d40-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_c0092c30-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_dfb75f20-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_f2895590-5886-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

There is a group of four South Africans staying at the camp tonight too, and we see them walking with their guide much nearer the lake edge.

large_74ca36a0-5887-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

They look rather unsteady as they cross a small stream, and I keep my camera handy should one of them take a tumble. I am all heart!

large_7fffef10-5887-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg
No-one fell!

large_8a1d0b90-5887-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

We return to the camp via the spa area, where Malisa also finds the fish pedicure too ticklish!

large_2c01dbd0-5887-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_26629130-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
Little Egret

large_32a4feb0-5885-11ea-ad3b-d5731046b236.jpg
White Throated Bee Eater

Sundowners

It is time to sit and watch the sunset with a drink or two.

large_cc626090-5887-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_d6542750-5887-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_e1787aa0-5887-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

The camp fire is lit, but the sunset is rather unimpressive.

large_1d85dc90-5888-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_29f2b570-5888-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

It turns out we've all been facing the wrong direction, the clouds away from the sunset are colouring up beautifully!

large_68eb0250-5888-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_74dc69a0-5888-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_7f8153c0-5888-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

large_893c7a20-5888-11ea-b73c-87d5dd518978.jpg

Sustainable Tourism

Lake Natron Camp prides itself on being eco-friendly, with $15 per guest per night going to the local village (as well as an annual fee for rental of the land). It has been agreed that this money be used primarily for secondary education. They are also involved in community projects that have been requested by the villagers themselves such as building new classrooms at the school, teaching the local community about permaculture, making keyhole gardens in the local bomas and creating a vegetable patch by the school.

The camp employs local staff, with 19 Maasai woman working on a 6-week rotation to give an opportunity to other Maasai ladies who may wish to have a job here.

The structures are 100% removable, the toilets compostable with all human waste taken off the site. All kitchen waste is taken off site with all non-biodegradable waste removed to Arusha for disposal, while paper waste is incinerated. Limited charcoal for cooking comes from eco-friendly brickettes – made from recycled wood or coconut husk sources. The decking and furniture in the mess area and pool area, is made out of recycled plastic by a local company from discarded items collected from Arusha.

The glassware they use is from Shanga Shaanga. Over the years Shanga has grown to employ more than 60 people with a range of disabilities to make creative products including weaving, glass blowing, beading, paper making and metal work, using recycled materials wherever possible. We were lucky enough to visit this enterprise in 2011 and 2016.

large_699c17f0-588a-11ea-8418-7fd0bc22ef5b.jpg

Dinner

Once the colourful clouds have disappeared, we move on to the mess tent for dinner.

large_a1887ff0-588a-11ea-8418-7fd0bc22ef5b.jpg
Tilapia fish from Lake Victoria - fish and chips Tanzania style

large_c1706080-588a-11ea-8418-7fd0bc22ef5b.jpg
Ginger pudding with custard

By the time we have finished eating, the camp fire has gone out. So much for toasting marshmallows!

large_7616b700-588b-11ea-8418-7fd0bc22ef5b.jpg

I set my camera up on a tripod with a wide angle lens to try and capture some of the amazing stars; but the bright moon and bottle of wine (as well as a couple of rum and cokes) that I have consumed this evening, renders it a complete failure.

large_80656ad0-588b-11ea-8418-7fd0bc22ef5b.jpg

Instead we watch parts of Malisa's wedding video on his laptop before retiring to our tent for the night.

Thank you Calabash Adventures for arranging this trip for us.

large_8c543a10-588b-11ea-8418-7fd0bc22ef5b.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 15:53 Archived in Tanzania Tagged birds sunset volcano tent safari tanzania camping wine moon birding spa hot lava seagull maasai flamingo thunder eco egret pelican avocet community_projects glamping magma cormorant sustainable gull bird_watching sundowners camp_fire calabash_adventures shanga plover bee_eater lake_natron ol_doynio_lengai volcanic_eruption lake_natron_camp compostable_toilet fish_pedicure freshwater_spring homenid_footprints footprints_in_lava carbonatite_lava shanga_shaanga Comments (1)

Sunset Cruise from Mandina Lodges

What an amazing amount of birds!


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

This afternoon we are taking another boat trip, this one with two added bonuses: a bottle of wine and the sunset! Hopefully. The sunset, that is, the bottle is most definitely present!

large_495dd520-aec4-11e9-ba05-2377c29eee6f.jpg

large_b5bf31a0-aec4-11e9-ba05-2377c29eee6f.jpg

large_0efb7930-aec6-11e9-9468-af3c2e977f6c.jpg

My plan of action this evening is to take photos of birds just as they take off. I always like a challenge and to step outside my comfort zone. I start with this Long Tailed Cormorant.

large_0a232b40-aec8-11e9-abcb-27ebc93ed2a1.jpg

large_5cf52850-aecd-11e9-9844-73cae9928b86.jpg
Fishing centre

large_90993840-aecd-11e9-b106-75d2fa348bb2.jpg
I have a soft spot for baobab trees

large_214abc00-aecf-11e9-8c73-19c619678c9f.jpg
Whimbrel

large_6c0bcf00-aece-11e9-8c73-19c619678c9f.jpg
Wattled Plover

large_494c3600-aed1-11e9-a4f8-833a99faa165.jpg
Black Kite taking off

large_a30d6730-aee1-11e9-bca0-295e59c1731a.jpg
Palm Nut Vulture

large_39bc0d00-aee5-11e9-831b-6306d8171314.jpg
Great White Egret

large_a2f11350-aee6-11e9-adb5-bd39c8ff2012.jpg
Preening

I think she's going to fly...

large_2c237370-aee7-11e9-adb5-bd39c8ff2012.jpg

Here she goes!

large_94027c20-aee7-11e9-adb5-bd39c8ff2012.jpg

It looks like she is having a blast!

large_0a6b7150-aee8-11e9-adb5-bd39c8ff2012.jpg

We see a tree full of Pink Backed Pelicans.

large_4bfd9000-aef5-11e9-8b6f-692b6f608cab.jpg

large_597a5240-aef5-11e9-8b6f-692b6f608cab.jpg

large_63e567b0-aef5-11e9-8b6f-692b6f608cab.jpg

large_bc2c8af0-af24-11e9-a2e0-9144e19566f6.jpg

large_da63e0b0-aef5-11e9-8b6f-692b6f608cab.jpg
Yellow Billed Stork

large_ab696cc0-af23-11e9-a2e0-9144e19566f6.jpg
African Spoonbill

large_88e96900-b240-11e9-a16f-df722d255168.jpg
Goliath Heron

large_3794ea50-b553-11e9-b011-e16c85473ec2.jpg
Black Kite

large_dd22d3d0-b6af-11e9-90aa-e55591e14d66.jpg
Blue Cheeked Bee Eater

The sun is getting low now, and depending which direction I point my camera, the sky glows a warm yellow, glistening in the ripples on the water surface.

large_c2ce7380-b6b0-11e9-90aa-e55591e14d66.jpg

large_81c6b220-b6b1-11e9-90aa-e55591e14d66.jpg
Great White Egret

large_bcf668d0-b6b2-11e9-90aa-e55591e14d66.jpg
Common Sandpiper

large_9bb5e0a0-b6b3-11e9-90aa-e55591e14d66.jpg
Sacred Ibis

large_d8507fb0-b6b9-11e9-9fb6-c1626cfb739f.jpg
Sacred Ibis

large_47a99100-b6bd-11e9-9212-5bc3cb40e6cb.jpg
Whimbrels

large_69983e10-b6bd-11e9-ac8d-f1b40a4219f3.jpg
And they're gone

large_7c381610-b6bf-11e9-9ff2-4f73c5657d79.jpg
African Darter

large_ad65b250-b6c0-11e9-9ff2-4f73c5657d79.jpg
Cattle Egret

The sun is only just above the horizon now, as we have entered an area enclosed on three sides by mangroves and an island in the middle.

large_75650990-b6c1-11e9-9ff2-4f73c5657d79.jpg

Max, the captain, explains we will wait here for the sun to go down and the birds to come back to roost.

large_606de710-b85f-11e9-966b-4d2ca9a8fd2b.jpg

We see a few single birds flying around in the sunset, then coming in to the island to settle down for the night.

large_37a316a0-b6bd-11e9-9212-5bc3cb40e6cb.jpg
large_74f204e0-b860-11e9-966b-4d2ca9a8fd2b.jpg

large_ba96bc10-b861-11e9-966b-4d2ca9a8fd2b.jpg

large_9aff1700-b864-11e9-8a28-f1fdc4841ca7.jpg

The sun has painted the sky a deep orange now.

large_c89bcee0-b866-11e9-9835-6f8d3a03d1f8.jpg

large_d39a71c0-b866-11e9-9835-6f8d3a03d1f8.jpg
Beautiful reflections on the water

large_efcfed20-b870-11e9-9f73-c3059d9f662b.jpg

Where there were initially just one or two, they are now coming in thick and fast, it seems to be never ending, and they seem to appear from nowhere.

large_dd8da1a0-b872-11e9-9f73-c3059d9f662b.jpg

large_29e5b2e0-b873-11e9-9f73-c3059d9f662b.jpg

large_95595730-b877-11e9-ba7a-e335038ae3ff.jpg

large_a27a64e0-b877-11e9-ba7a-e335038ae3ff.jpg

large_e614e9a0-b877-11e9-ba7a-e335038ae3ff.jpg

large_a98d6470-b9d1-11e9-a759-d131d68c09f2.jpg

large_93743cd0-b9d2-11e9-a759-d131d68c09f2.jpg

More and more egrets are gathering in the trees, and when you think there is no room for any more birds, a whole lot of others arrive.

large_f3ee5940-b9d4-11e9-a99c-a577d66306f2.jpg

large_8fcc0310-b9d7-11e9-a727-a9240efb2c90.jpg

large_54af7ee0-b9d9-11e9-a727-a9240efb2c90.jpg

It is hard to know where to look, the birds are coming from three out of four directions, and seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere from behind us with a whoosh. It is an air traffic control nightmare!

large_e6afdbb0-b9d8-11e9-a727-a9240efb2c90.jpg

large_bb400d90-b9e4-11e9-a025-3ddb7d442764.jpg

When there is no more room at the inn and the light is fading rapidly, we start to make our way back to the lodge, stopping from time to time to take photos of the sunset. To say this evening's performance has been spectacular is an understatement!

large_cc503a50-b9e5-11e9-a025-3ddb7d442764.jpg

large_153f63c0-b9f6-11e9-9683-9f1c8878c4ae.jpg

large_6834abd0-b9f1-11e9-be68-5fce43d56dcb.jpg

large_336a9d00-b9f2-11e9-be68-5fce43d56dcb.jpg

large_b1607170-b9f3-11e9-9683-9f1c8878c4ae.jpg

By the time we reach the hotel, darkness has all but enveloped Makasutu Forest and the twinkling lights of Mandina Lodge welcome us back.

large_bce3a180-c0e1-11e9-986f-25d98c009784.jpg

large_7178eb90-c0e3-11e9-9419-07d3fe23298b.jpg

large_2cd1bc50-c0e4-11e9-9419-07d3fe23298b.jpg

Dinner

As time is getting on, we go straight to dinner from the sunset cruise; the boat conveniently lands at the jetty right by the restaurant anyway.

large_016961e0-c0e8-11e9-8197-3b07721b6384.jpg
Pre-dinner drink of Pina Colada

large_4f7eb380-c0e8-11e9-8197-3b07721b6384.jpg
Prawn Cocktail

large_a4f0a210-c0e8-11e9-8197-3b07721b6384.jpg
Butter fish with Lyonnaise potatoes and a delicious home made tartare sauce

large_Samosas.jpg
David's Samosas

large_986e14e0-c1c5-11e9-9c80-098154c165a4.jpg
Gambian Rice Pudding with ground peanuts - a very delicate flavour

We decline the offer of an early morning coffee in the room tomorrow, in favour of a lie in, and sneak off to bed after a magical day in Makasutu Forest.

Posted by Grete Howard 15:16 Archived in Gambia Tagged trees birds fishing reflections sunset pelicans kite africa dinner forest birding captain baobab stork vulture ibis egrets spoonbill birdwatching mangroves cocktail west_africa samosas cormorant gambia boat_trip fores sunset_cruise piña_colada darter roost plover bee_eater sandpiper the_gambia butter_fish mandina_lodges makasutu makasutu_forest whinbrel flying_birds birds_flying air_traffic_control prawn_cocktail rice_pudding Comments (5)

Morning Boat Trip at Mandina Lodges

Such variety of bird life


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

I get up early this morning to catch the sunrise – there is a beautiful mist rising over the river.

large_451f5d10-ab1f-11e9-a17e-a5fac96c6d9c.jpg

Sensing some movement out of the corner of my eye, I spot a new bird (to me) in amongst the foliage: a Mangrove Sunbird.

large_c26b5cf0-ab20-11e9-b8f3-4746ff9342aa.jpg

large_b17a28e0-ab2a-11e9-b41d-054acf267e93.jpg

large_19b163b0-ab2b-11e9-b41d-054acf267e93.jpg
Speckled Pigeon

Catching the sunrise was not the only reason I got up early today; we are off on a boat trip through the mangroves this morning.

large_f3a2fb90-ab32-11e9-8eea-bf548f098b53.jpg

It's a glorious sunrise.

large_01881c90-ab33-11e9-8eea-bf548f098b53.jpg

large_46e6e690-ab33-11e9-8ca2-dda305c53afc.jpg

An old boat lies moored near the lodge.

large_7819a860-ab33-11e9-8ca2-dda305c53afc.jpg

large_02ab4a60-ab34-11e9-8ca2-dda305c53afc.jpg

The water is very still, creating beautiful reflections.

large_2863f7c0-ab34-11e9-be09-ad4d3a6ccffc.jpg

Guinea Baboons

Just around the corner from the lodge, where our tributary meets a wider river, the trees are full of baboons. There are five different species of baboons worldwide, and the Guinea Baboons found here in The Gambia are the smallest.

large_8c72f030-ab35-11e9-8ca2-dda305c53afc.jpg

large_97053cb0-ab35-11e9-be09-ad4d3a6ccffc.jpg

These are a new (sub)species for us, and I am very excited to see and photograph them at such close quarters.

large_dfbb20f0-ab35-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

large_39d38d20-ab36-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

It looks like there may be more baboons here in the future.

large_8b8fc6b0-ab36-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

large_d751b270-ab36-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

I am so in love with their facial expressions.

large_935f0620-ab37-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

large_75c0aaf0-ab38-11e9-b27b-a7ef9b801d84.jpg

large_7f6ba4b0-ab38-11e9-b27b-a7ef9b801d84.jpg

large_109dbf90-ab39-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

large_2b50b010-ab37-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg
African Darter drying out his wings.

large_92299690-ab3b-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg
Great White Egret

large_92baf690-ab3a-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg
Green Backed Heron

large_ae50dac0-ab3d-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg
Blue Breasted Kingfisher

large_a9b6f560-ab3f-11e9-8f96-07292cb89a7a.jpg
Pied Kingfisher

large_2ad25b80-ab3b-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg
Rose Ringed Parakeet

large_59a25510-abb2-11e9-80c0-a35ef0010375.jpg
African Darter

A crocodile sunbathes on the bank of the river.

large_ab587650-abc1-11e9-b55c-99369f3affdd.jpg

He doesn't look too friendly.

large_acb31260-abc3-11e9-926f-4341c7f01ef6.jpg

I hope he didn't hear me and is coming for his revenge!

large_698e6470-abc4-11e9-926f-4341c7f01ef6.jpg

I am very excited to see this elegant and flamboyant Violet Turaco fly over – another new one for me.

large_ec5131a0-abc2-11e9-8f04-bbd37d9d28a6.jpg

One of the birds on my wish list when I came over here, was the Western Plantain Eater. Here they are two-a-penny!

large_be310600-abcd-11e9-857b-1f0192c86dd8.jpg

Oyster Factory

Oysters are big business around here, with the meat being eaten, and the shells burnt to make lime which is mixed with water to make house paint, and with sand to make cement. There are no wasted elements as anything left is used for chicken feed.

large_ca5b33c0-ae42-11e9-a015-3124cf46c30b.jpg
Oysters growing on the mangroves

large_af581250-ae42-11e9-a015-3124cf46c30b.jpg

large_3d7ec1f0-ae43-11e9-a015-3124cf46c30b.jpg

large_79a10310-abe0-11e9-9f85-9ffa941e925d.jpg
Pied Crows mobbing a Harrier Hawk

large_3059fc30-abfd-11e9-a63a-d366355bb4bb.jpg
Greenshank

large_cc67a190-abfd-11e9-a63a-d366355bb4bb.jpg
Spur Winged Plover

large_214391b0-abfe-11e9-a63a-d366355bb4bb.jpg
Senegal Thick Knee

large_9d3acc70-abfe-11e9-a63a-d366355bb4bb.jpg
Common Sandpiper

large_a2968cf0-ae46-11e9-824d-5b7f620de683.jpg
Whimbrel taking off

large_c53fec90-ae48-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg
Long Tailed Cormorant drying his wings out

And so the morning's boat trip is over, and we are back at the lodge in time for lunch.

large_af2899b0-ae49-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

I am absolutely fascinated by the bats in the ceiling of the restaurant.

large_ba96aac0-ae4a-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

Isn't he cute?

large_c526ad50-ae4a-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

Look at him yawn! ♥

large_cfe42880-ae4a-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

Today there is also a Speckled Pigeon in the rafters.

large_7c2bb450-ae4b-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

Mr Heron is back in position in amongst the mangroves as usual.

large_065b6030-ae4c-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

He is after the crabs, of course.

large_82b09970-ae4c-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

large_caa8d300-ae4c-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

I am not sure what is happening here – it looks like the big crab is stalking the little one.

large_477ab650-ae4d-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

large_5148c870-ae4d-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

We return to the room for a little siesta, but find we are not alone.

large_62501b90-ae4e-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg
This girl is looking down on us from the rafters.

It looks like she is raising a family.

large_95e68500-ae50-11e9-b611-6bef1c106185.jpg

I know every mother thinks their babies are the most beautiful in the world; but, I'm sorry, there is nothing remotely attractive about these chicks.

large_1f3b6140-ae51-11e9-b611-6bef1c106185.jpg

I drift into a light snooze, knowing that I am being looked over by the pigeon family.

Posted by Grete Howard 05:36 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds wildlife river sunrise africa crocodile hawk lunch forest birding pigeon dawn crabs baboons bats heron parakeet croc west_africa kingfisher cormorant oysters siesta gambia boat_trip bird_watching crows sunbird darter thick_knee plover sandpiper river_trip the_gambia the_gambia_experience greenshank plantain_eater wild_birds mandina_lodges makasutu mandina makasutu_forest guinea_baboons turaco oyster_factory Comments (6)

Lazy afternoon at Mandina Lodges

Taking it easy in the shade


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

After lunch we retire to the room, and I notice to my horror that my legs have come up in a dreadful rash with red skin and little blisters. It is burning, stinging and itching so much that I jump straight in the shower, hoping the cold water will relieve it. It doesn't. Smothering it in antihistamine, I take myself off to a shady spot on the terrace while David goes on a boat trip with Nicola and AJ, our guide.

large_9b580060-977e-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg

large_a833ab30-977f-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg

As a result of previous severe sunburn, I now have an area on my shins that suffer from photosensitive dermatitis, hence why I do not want to expose my legs to the sun this afternoon.

large_7339b270-ac6b-11e9-b47d-49499d08ff05.jpg

I spend the time with my long lens pointing at the sky, trying to catch flying birds while keeping out of the sun. The wind has dropped and it is blisteringly hot. Literally in my case.

large_d66a8790-977e-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Hooded Vulture

large_428712e0-977f-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Long Tailed Cormorant

large_652d2910-977f-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Oyster collectors

large_50a7b640-977f-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Black Headed Heron

large_74840280-977f-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Some strange, elongated fish in the river.

large_852e0fe0-977f-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
White Throated Bee Eater

large_93fa3580-977f-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Collecting firewood

large_b6eb8580-977f-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Black Kite

large_0613a6b0-9780-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Western Plantain Eater

large_1788f350-9780-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Pied Crows

large_3b507f10-9780-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Bearded Barbet

large_46da4af0-9780-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
They are funny looking birds when they fly

large_55e37990-9780-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
A much bigger bird. Although we are fairly near the airport, the flights are so infrequent that they do not bother us.

large_7d27a8f0-9780-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Whimbrel

large_92db6290-9780-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Common Swift

large_df34fa70-9780-11e9-8c65-4d7430b725eb.jpg
Pied Crow

large_ca20dc30-9780-11e9-8c65-4d7430b725eb.jpg
More oyster collectors returning home

large_a5edbd60-9780-11e9-8c65-4d7430b725eb.jpg
Pied Crows into the setting sun

As soon as David returns, we have a shower and sit on our private deck with a drink before dinner. The chef came round to the room earlier to take our orders for this evening.

large_25e87f00-9781-11e9-8c65-4d7430b725eb.jpg
Starter - Vegetable Spring Rolls

large_345ebc70-9781-11e9-8c65-4d7430b725eb.jpg
Chicken and rice for main course

large_44790cf0-9781-11e9-8c65-4d7430b725eb.jpg
Dessert is Banana Fritter and Ice Cream

When we return to the room, we find that the mosquito net over the bed has been lowered while we were eating, and the room is thankfully very much cooler now, which will hopefully aid sleep tonight.

Posted by Grete Howard 16:41 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds boat wildlife airport crow kite birding plane canoe heron vulture whimbrel west_africa cormorant barbet gambia boat_trip blisters bird_watching rash firewood swift spring_rolls itching bee_eater wildlife_photography plantain_eater dermatitis red_skin mandina_lodges makasutu rive floatinf_lodge oyster_collectors collecting_firewood dug_out_canoe banana_fritter mosquito_net Comments (4)

Baku Creek

Another lazy-ish day


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

The plan this morning is to take the path from the Observation Deck, through the mangroves, onto the main road and down to the bridge.

large_9c4a2250-95ee-11e9-a982-bb4670ac45ee.jpg

large_88631260-95ee-11e9-a982-bb4670ac45ee.jpg

large_a477a700-95f2-11e9-bced-f5956b27f189.jpg
Village Weaver

large_b0a246c0-95f2-11e9-bced-f5956b27f189.jpg
Hooded Vulture

large_c563ff40-95f2-11e9-bced-f5956b27f189.jpg
Long Tailed Glossy Starling

The trail meanders along the edge of the creek and heads for the road, but ends in a builders yard, obviously private property. There is a gate, but it is locked, so there is no way for us to join the road here, so we end up having to walk all the way back to the observation deck and through the hotel again.

large_bbd8f420-95f3-11e9-bced-f5956b27f189.jpg

large_b729d910-95f5-11e9-bced-f5956b27f189.jpg

In the hotel grounds we spot some Green Vervet Monkeys, including a very young baby clinging to his mum.

large_e34496c0-95f5-11e9-bced-f5956b27f189.jpg

large_ebdfce30-95f5-11e9-bced-f5956b27f189.jpg

Out on the road we are amused to see a sign for Tesco Mini Market – in reality a small shack selling bottled water, ice cream and a few essentials.

large_0a8af390-95f7-11e9-8647-99f7a1b22cbc.jpg

Having spend the last four days almost exclusively in the company of birds, Kotu is proving a bit of a culture shock. Outdoor cafés are full of fat, middle aged cougars with tattoos, piercings, bleach blonde hair and the obligatory toyboy Gambian hanging on their arms. We hurry past to reach the bridge over Kotu Creek, a well known bird watching spot.

large_7b59f880-95f9-11e9-b3cc-473c6ea95583.jpg
Pink Backed Pelican

The place is teeming with the gorgeous little Long Tailed Cormorants:

large_cac12910-95fa-11e9-b3cc-473c6ea95583.jpg

large_4b0f88f0-95fb-11e9-b3cc-473c6ea95583.jpg

large_21ca8b10-95fc-11e9-b3cc-473c6ea95583.jpg

large_96d41750-95fc-11e9-b3cc-473c6ea95583.jpg

large_27006580-95fe-11e9-b3cc-473c6ea95583.jpg
Pink Backed Pelicans, African Spoonbills, Long Tailed Cormorant and Great Egret

large_01740600-9603-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Grey Heron, Sacred Ibis and Marsh Sandpiper

large_7c2f6560-9603-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
African Spoonbills

large_f0286c00-9603-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Common Redshank

large_4d7bdef0-9604-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Pink Backed Pelican

large_d36ca8a0-9604-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg

large_279cef70-9605-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Sacred Ibis and Grey Headed Heron

large_9ee08d30-9605-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Senegal Thick Knee

We are approached by a couple of guides offering their services, but we are pleased to find they are much more likely to take “no” for an answer than the people we encountered during our visit to The Gambia 23 years ago.

Lunch

Back in the hotel, I request my food “extra spicy. Gambian spicy, not tourist spicy”. It still only arrives as a 2-3 on Grete's scale of 10.

large_bab3b360-9606-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Cheese and chilli omelette

large_cbd70f70-9606-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Burger and chips

large_d5832530-9607-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Refreshing fruit juice - youki?

After having asked for our food “extra spicy” at lunch, we are amused when we return to the room to find this large pack of toilet rolls sitting on our patio table. Are they trying to tell us something?

large_ca468ef0-9607-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg

We are chilling in the room with a drink and some snacks when we overhear someone outside mentioning the name “Mandina Lodges”. Our ears prick up, as we are waiting to hear about what time our transfer to Mandina will be tomorrow. Yesterday we waited for 45 minutes for the rep to turn up (at the advertised time), but he didn't show. This afternoon, however, he is here, although he's knocking on our neighbour's door instead by mistake, so we go out and ask if he is looking for us. At least we now know that we are leaving here at 10:30 in the morning.

Dinner

large_7d06dcd0-9607-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Chicken Saté

large_8c055d10-9607-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Seafood mornay with crepe

We spend the rest of the evening chilling on our private patio with a few drinks.

Posted by Grete Howard 05:41 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds monkeys trail birding heron egret vulture ibis pelican spoonbill whimbrel mangroves west_africa starling weaver cormorant tesco spicy gambia bird_watching nature_trail thick_knee sandpiper vervet_monkey the_gambia gambia_experience bakotu bakotu_hotel kotu observation_deck kotu_creek tesco_mini_market toilet_rolls Comments (7)

Abuko

Big day today: Lifer # 1000


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

I spent most of the night tossing and turning, trying to find a position that didn't hurt my arm. That'll teach me for spending so long at the waterhole photographing the birds. Not. I even struggle to bring my hand up to my face this morning, affecting washing, brushing my teeth and hair, and eating. Photographer's elbow. A bit like a tennis player having played in an all day tournament after normally just having a game once or twice a week. The pain won't stop me going out taking photos of birds though.

Abuko

This morning Malick is taking us to Abuko. He's decided that we are going to be better off walking along the plantations just on the outskirts of the woods, rather than inside the thick forest itself, where the conditions will be rather difficult in terms of photography: dark and too many branches in the way. Sounds good to me.

large_fcdcc380-7338-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg

large_e5507950-7338-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg

large_f1299db0-7338-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Onions

large_c922c520-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Bitter Tomato

large_df0a11e0-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Sweet Potato

large_ee887080-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Mango

large_fc48f280-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Tapping the palm toddy

large_2b3346c0-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg

large_38d12590-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg

large_43f59ff0-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Scarecrow. Or should that be scaredog?

large_5db544e0-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
I don't think the strips of cloth hung from this pole to keep the birds away from the crops are working too well.

We almost immediately spot birds in the trees and on the ground. As before, any lifers (new species to me) will be denoted with *

large_3eb8a850-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Sacred Ibis

large_4dc1afe0-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
African Grey Hornbill

large_659c4120-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Hooded Vulture

large_89b34c70-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Blue Breasted Kingfisher*

large_a243e740-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Grey Woodpecker*

large_b17e8620-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Woodland Kingfisher

large_175589d0-733a-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Spur Winged Plover

large_5fc08260-733a-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Striated Heron

large_90014310-733a-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Black Crake

Malick warns us to be careful as we step over the ants who are making their way along a well-defined path.

large_c0148b20-733a-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg

large_d7498d90-733a-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg

large_e411a5d0-733a-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
African Jacana

large_0b3777c0-733b-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Senegal Coucal

large_9d80c7a0-733e-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
White Billed Buffalo Weavers*

large_b05ecc00-733e-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Two different species of Egrets - Intermediate and Cattle

large_c70ee700-733e-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Squacco Heron

large_d588a6e0-733e-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Black Heron

large_eeaf6730-733e-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
David testing out his directional microphone, hoping to cut out some of the "click click click" he normally gets on his videos from my photography.

large_1cd250f0-733f-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Blue Bellied Roller*

large_2fd47f20-733f-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Giant Kingfisher with a Tilapia in his beak

large_45043bb0-733f-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Rose Ringed Parakeet

large_5868ae20-733f-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Pied Crow

large_64f65570-733f-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Gull Billed Tern*

large_79dcacf0-733f-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Red Eyed Dove

large_8e40b510-733f-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Long Tailed Cormorant

large_a2c95c30-733f-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Senegal Thick Knee*

This is a very special and important moment in my birdwatching mission – my 1000th lifer!

Ta da!

While I have been interested in seeing and photographing birds for a very long time, it is only in the last 13 years or so that I have taken it to the next level and making a point of identifying and recording the birds I see. I would not consider myself a serious birder, but I am an ardent list-maker, so to make 1000 different species makes me jubilant and proud.

large_1088cca0-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Little Bee Eater

large_8602a6e0-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Hammerkop

large_afe0ec10-7c97-11e9-8a03-bd7d481cd39d.jpg
Broad Billed Roller

large_bcc18b60-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Hooded Vulture

large_ccb60460-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Reef Heron

large_da0d1630-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Purple Heron

large_e86b10b0-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Long Tailed Cormorant

large_f5e2f0f0-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Great White Egret

I came to The Gambia with a very short wish list, consisting of only three species that I really wanted to see: Western Bluebill, Western Plantain Eater and the Abyssinian Roller. Having ticked off the first two yesterday, Malick promised me the roller today. He succeeded in spotting it, and the bird put on a delightful display for us.

large_4dea3060-7342-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg

large_72fd00d0-7342-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg

large_648a45d0-7342-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg

large_843f2f80-7342-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg

large_8da8b370-7342-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg

The perfect finish to a perfect morning's birdwatching. Thank you Malick.

Posted by Grete Howard 06:36 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds crow birding mango ants roller woodpecker heron egret vulture ibis parakeet dove west_africa kingfisher plantations garlic cormorant sweet_potato tilapia gambia bird_watching hornbill hammerkop thick_knee coucal tern the_gambia malick_suso crake afraica abuko bitter_tomato palm_toddy scarecrow 1000th_lifer lifer life_tick Comments (3)

Tadoba National Park - Part IV

Great afternoon birding


View Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright - India 2017 on Grete Howard's travel map.

On the way to the park gate this afternoon, we stop to see the cotton fields and women collecting grass for their cattle.

large_Cotton_101.jpg

large_Workers_in_the_Field_101.jpg

large_Black_Shouldered_Kite_101.jpg
Black Shouldered Kite

This afternoon it has been decided that for a bit of variety, we will enter a different part of Tadoba Tiger Reserve, the Agarzari Buffer Zone.

large_Agarzari_Zone.jpg

Seeing leopard paw prints just inside the gate, gets us off to a promising start.

large_Leopard_Paw_Prints_101A.jpg

We see lots of beautiful and colourful butterflies around a particular meadow, but they are so hard to photograph when they are on the move.

large_Butterfly_101.jpg

large_Butterfly_102.jpg

large_Purple_heron_101.jpg
Purple heron

We head for some wetlands and spend most of the rest of the afternoon in and around this area.

large_Wetlands_101A.jpg

There are lots of birds around, but mammals are sadly lacking.

large_Purple_Heron_102.jpg
Purple heron

large_Grat_Cormorant_101.jpg
Little Cormorant

large_Black_Ibis_101.jpg
Black Ibis

The fickle Asian Open-Billed Stork

large_Asian_Open..d_Stork_102.jpg

I'm coming in to land... get off my perch!

large_Asian_Open..rmorant_101.jpg

Ooh! Changed my mind... I think I will find somewhere else to sit.

large_Asian_Open..d_Stork_103.jpg

Nah, you can keep your rock.

large_Asian_Open..rmorant_102.jpg

Well.... actually, I think I prefer it over this side anyway.

large_Asian_Open..d_Stork_104.jpg

Perhaps this wasn't such a bad place after all.

large_Asian_Open..d_Stork_105.jpg

large_Asian_Open..d_Stork_106.jpg

large_Intermediate_Egret_102.jpg
Intermediate Egret

large_Black_Headed_Ibis_101.jpg
Black Headed Ibis

large_Lesser_Adjutant_101.jpg
Lesser Adjutant

The first mammal we see this afternoon is this sambar hiding in the tall grass.

large_Sambar_102.jpg

large_Oriental_Magpie_Robin_101.jpg
Oriental Magpie Robin

large_White_Fron..ter_Hen_101.jpg
White Fronted Water Hen

large_White_Fron..ter_Hen_102.jpg
White Fronted Water Hen

large_Stork__Asi..en_Bill_108.jpg
Asian Open Billed Stork

large_Little_Cormorant_103.jpg
Little Cormorant spreading his wings to dry them out

large_Wetlands_105.jpg

Our fickle Openbill is back, with a snail in her beak.

large_Asian_Open..a_Snail_101.jpg

large_Asian_Open..a_Snail_102.jpg

large_Asian_Open..a_Snail_103.jpg

large_Asian_Open..a_Snail_106.jpg

large_Asian_Open..a_Snail_108.jpg

Sunset over the marshland.

large_Sunset_101.jpg

large_Sunset_102.jpg

The light is fading really fast now, as we make our way back to the park gate.

We see one more animal on our way out, in the near darkness.

large_Gaur_101.jpg
Gaur

large_Gaur_102.jpg
He is eyeing us suspiciously from behind the grass.

And that brings a very abrupt end to my blog from our 2017 India trip. For some reason I did not take any photos after this. To be fair, I had an upset tummy in the evening and the next day for our long journey home (Tadoba - Jabalpur-Delhi-London-Bristol (including a stop in Delhi during their awful smog problem when schools and offices were closed).

For my birding friends: We ended up with a trip count of 71, 31 of which were lifers. That is what I consider a successful birding trip! And, of course, we did see FIVE tigers, so all in all it was a very good safari.

large_D5B86EF304D5AB4F46BDE838C4B9DB8F.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 14:46 Archived in India Tagged sunset india kite safari birding butterfly cotton wetlands heron egret stork ibis cormorant gaur tadoba sambar bird_watching tiger_park adjutant buffer_zone agarzari_zone openbill open_bill magpie_robin water_hen Comments (2)

Pench National Park - Part I

A very rare and endangered sighting this afternoon


View Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright - India 2017 on Grete Howard's travel map.

There appears to be some sort of confusion about our park tickets for today. It seems our agent booked them for the wrong gate, some 60km away. Hence the very early start of 04:30. Rakesh (the driver who brought us down from Jabalpur) is picking us up and driving us to the gate in his car, where we will change into the open top safari vehicle (known as a 'gypsy'), so that we won't get frozen solid by taking the long journey in an open top car. Wise move.

4:30 comes and goes. No Rakesh. At 05:00 I ask the young receptionist what is happening. He wanders off to check with the manager. After a few minutes, he comes running back and continues on to the car park.

A short while later a Gypsy arrives for us. There has been a change of plan. We are going to the nearest gate just a few kilometres away after all; and will pay for a new ticket instead, saving all the hassle of the long journey. That sounds good to me, as it would take well in excess of an hour to travel 60 km on these roads.

large_Pench_National_Park_1.jpg

We also have to pay for a (compulsory) park guide who will accompany us on this morning's safari. Once that is all in order, we can enter the park.

The first thing we spot, is an Oriental Honey Buzzard, another new tick on our life list.

large_Oriental_Honey_Buzzard_1.jpg

Seeing very fresh tiger pug marks is promising for a sighting this morning.

large_Tiger_Pug_Marks_51.jpg

The sun is just beginning to break through the mist as we make our way deeper into the forest.

large_Sunrise_in_Pench_1.jpg

Dhole
We are very excited when our guide spots a rare and endangered dhole (Indian wild dog) in between the trees. Our very first sighting of this species in the wild.

large_Dhole_1.jpg

There are thought to be fewer than 2500 of these animals left in the wild, so it is in fact even more rare than the tiger.

large_Dhole_3.jpg

large_Dhole_4.jpg

large_Dhole_7.jpg

We follow him as he makes his way through the forest.

large_Dhole_9.jpg

large_Dhole_11.jpg

large_Dhole_13.jpg

large_Dhole_14.jpg

large_Dhole_20.jpg

large_Dhole_25.jpg

large_Dhole_36.jpg

large_Dhole_38.jpg

Indian Ghost Trees
Found all throughout the park (as well as being quite common elsewhere on the subcontinent), the bark of this very distinctive tree (Sterculia urens) exudes a gum that is used for laxatives.

large_B0AB48BAB04B7825698154CE2A8FF2B0.jpg

large_B0DA86FCBA38AC50F337DBA89354F6B1.jpg

large_Rufous_Treepie_21.jpg

Rufous Treepie

Jungle Fowl

large_Jungle_Fowl_21.jpg

large_Jungle_Fowl_22.jpg

large_Jungle_Fowl_23.jpg

The sun is slowly warming up the air, but the mist is still hanging over the lower ground, creating a mystical and eerie atmosphere.

large_B4432C0DDADA42A8C91BCBAF81D7E696.jpg

large_B4550353AFDE25DF96F567A0C82C5BDC.jpg

large_B45815ACB21BBF4028A7F74A0CB41DA0.jpg

large_B46D590ABBBA51C0D61B9AA78696AD2A.jpg

large_Yellow_Foo..n_Pigeon_52.jpg
Yellow Footed Green Pigeon

large_Spotted_Dove_51.jpg
Spotted Dove

large_Peacock_51.jpg
Indian Peafowl

large_Indian_Pond_heron_51.jpg
Indian Pond Heron

large_Indian_Pond_heron_52.jpg
Indian Pond Heron

Changeable Hawk Eagle

large_Changeable_Haw_Eagle_51.jpg

large_Changeable_Hawk_Eagle_52.jpg

large_B50F7AF5BB64590C7C89FEC017802288.jpg
Another Peacock sunning himself

large_B52EBD4B9A45C1D95AC3080467CD2ACA.jpg

large_B53981FDCDA3A0F014674D026855E3CD.jpg

Brown Fish Owl
The guide keeps telling us the name of this bird, but I just can't get what he is trying to say. It sounds something like 'ground peace owl'. It is not until very much later that I realise he is saying 'Brown Fish Owl'.

large_Brown_Fish_Owl_3.jpg

large_Brown_Fish_Owl_1.jpg

We pass a flooded area with a Green Sandpiper feeding in the shallows.

large_A13.jpg

large_B5880977DBB2A25AC45F62631E8AF3E1.jpg

large_Green_Sandpiper_1.jpg

large_Golden_Jackals_51.jpg
Golden Jackals in the far distance

large_Indian_Roller_52.jpg
Indian Roller

Breakfast
We stop for breakfast in a dedicated picnic area. A structure has been created to provide shade or shelter you from the rain, but as the temperature this morning is still very much on the cool side, everyone remains outside to catch some warmth from the sun's rays.

large_A14.jpg

large_Breakfast_Picnic_52.jpg

The breakfast box is rather disappointing this morning, especially considering how superior the food was at the lodge yesterday.

A rather hideous plastic Mowgli adorns the site, which is appropriately called Mowgli Picnic Area.

large_Mowgli.jpg

We continue to a large wetlands area that is teeming with birds, and spend some time with binoculars picking out various species, many of which are new to us. It is all rather exciting.

large_Indian_Cormorant_51.jpg
Indian Cormorant

large_Bonelli_s_Eagle_1.jpg
Bonelli's Eagle

large_Green_Sandpiper_52.jpg
Green Sandpiper

large_Little_Ringed_Plovers_51.jpg
Little Ringed Plovers

large_Painted_Storks_51.jpg
Painted Storks

large_White_Rumped_Vulture_51.jpg
White Rumped Vulture

large_Indian_Pond_heron_53.jpg
Indian Pond Heron having a bad hair day

large_Greta_Egret_51.jpg
Great Egret

There are also a couple of jackals around.

large_Golden_Jackal_53.jpg

large_Golden_Jackal_54.jpg

large_Golden_Jackal_55.jpg

We reluctantly leave the pond area behind to go in search of more wildlife.

Hanuman Langurs

large_A15.jpg

large_B622291DBEEE36213B976B37E2CAA607.jpg

large_Red_Wattled_Lapwing_51.jpg
Red Wattled Lapwing

large_Hoopoe_51.jpg
Hoopoe

large_Chital_51.jpg
Chital

Nilgai
This is the first nilgai we see on this trip, and then only for a few seconds as she disappears into the forest.

large_Nilgai_51.jpg

large_Nilgai_53.jpg

large_Nilgai_54.jpg

large_Jungle_Owlet_53.jpg
Jungle Owlet

large_Black_Drongo_52.jpg
Black Drongo

Upon hearing loud warning calls, the driver stops the car and we sit and wait. There is obviously a predator in the vicinity, and a lot of very distressed langurs. We wait. And wait. And wait. As time is now getting on, we eventually have to move, despite not having seen any tigers.

It is time to leave the park and return to the Lodge as the park rules have very strict timings for just morning and evening safaris rather than the whole day as we are used to from Africa.

large_Time_to_Leave.jpg

On the way we spot these two gorgeous Indian Rollers, one with his lunch.

large_Indian_Rol..ith_Worm_52.jpg

large_Indian_Rol..ith_Worm_51.jpg

As we were up so early this morning (plus I didn't sleep well last night), I decide to forego lunch and spend the time snoozing instead.

Stay tuned for the next entry.

large_B694ABCDBB94D181D226E67C4276A731.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 02:37 Archived in India Tagged animals birds india sunrise breakfast safari eagle mist birding picnic national_park pigeon peacock roller heron egret stork vulture dove langur gypsy owl cormorant jackal chital drongo bird_watching pench nilgai buzzard early_morning hanuman_langur owlet plover tiger_park breakfast_picnic pench_tiger_park pench-tree-lodge pench_national_park tiger_pug_marks dhole indian_wild_dog wild_dog ghost_tree indian_ghost_tree treepie jungle_fowl early_morning_mist mowgli sandpiper hoppoe snooze Comments (3)

Kanha National Park Part III - Moki Zone

Yet another tiger?


View Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright - India 2017 on Grete Howard's travel map.

I slept very well last night, and wake up this morning to an alarm call by the lake: a deer of some sort making a lot of noises to warn other animals of impending danger.

When Rahim arrives, he tells us he saw a leopard when he was on his way to the lodge this morning on his bicycle. Gulp. I guess everyone here must learn to co-exist with wild animals.

Kanha National park

This morning we are allocated the Moki Zone, which is a long drive from the gate, almost an hour. But of course we can game view on the way.

large_Driving_in..e_Sunrise_1.jpg

large_Driving_in..e_Sunrise_2.jpg

Wild boar
It seems the wild boar we saw just inside the gate last night is still here this morning. And there is still not enough light to take a decent photo.

large_Wild_Boar_31.jpg

We hear desperate warning calls from the langurs, and can safely assume there is a tiger in the thicket of bamboo. We cannot see him/her, however, so when the calls stop we move on.

A few minutes later we spot a pug mark in the road. This is looking promising.

large_Tiger_Pug_Marks_1.jpg

The sun is staring to come up now, teasing us with warm rays through the mist and the trees.

large_Sunrise_33.jpg

large_Sunrise_th..the_Trees_1.jpg

Spider
We've seen a number of pretty impressive spider's webs these last couple of days, and the largest belong to the Giant Wood Spider (Nephila pilipes). This is the female, who is about the size of a small dinner plate. Chris is not happy – he hates spiders with a passion.

large_Giant_Wood..r__Female_1.jpg

We also see a lot of these odd shaped webs belonging to the funnel spider. We never see the spider itself though, as they are hiding in the bottom of the funnel.

large_Funnel_Spider_1.jpg

Morning are really quite cold here in the park, we are all dressed up with hat and gloves and Kipling Camp provides a blanket for our legs. I love the effect the cooler temperatures has on the weather: creating some beautiful early morning mist, esepcially over water.

large_Cormorant_31.jpg
Cormorant

large_Misty_Morning_31.jpg

large_Misty_Morning_32.jpg

Tiger
Three game drives, three tigers. We can't believe our luck when we spot another one this morning. He is very much hidden behind the vegetation, so it is not quite such a good / clear sighting as the presvious two, but we are still very excited.

large_Tiger_301.jpg

When he makes his way towards the road, Rahim races ahead to see if we can get closer for a better view.

large_Tiger_302.jpg

The tiger is certainly very much nearer, as he explores the undergrowth in great detail.

large_Tiger_303.jpg

There are now a number of vehicles on the road, but he doesn't seem to be the least bit bothered.

large_Tiger_304.jpg

large_Tiger_305.jpg

He crosses to the other side of the road and continues his exploration.

large_Tiger_306.jpg

large_Tiger_307.jpg

large_Tiger_308.jpg

He sniffs and sprays and sniffs again.

large_Tiger_309.jpg

And continues his early morning stroll.

large_Tiger_310.jpg

large_Tiger_311.jpg

large_Tiger_312.jpg

large_Tiger_313.jpg

large_Tiger_314.jpg

Making funny faces while yawning.

large_Tiger_315.jpg

It looks like the tip of his right front tooth has been chipped off.

large_Tiger_316.jpg

large_Tiger_317.jpg

large_Tiger_318.jpg

And spray...

large_Tiger_319.jpg

large_Tiger_320.jpg

This is a most amazing sighting in terms of distance, activity and time span: we are so close, the tiger is not just walking in a straight line, he is actually doing things, and it has been several minutes already.

large_Tiger_321.jpg

large_Tiger_323.jpg

large_Tiger_324.jpg

large_Tiger_325.jpg

large_Tiger_327.jpg

He certainly is a pretty boy.

large_Tiger_328.jpg

And then he was gone.

large_Tiger_329.jpg

large_Tiger_330.jpg

Wow! 18 minutes in total from the first spot until he disappeared out of sight again.

We continue our quest.

large_Backlit_Grasses_21.jpg

large_84B88CF5AFD8828B0AA1F76D09691E53.jpg

large_Collared_Scops_Owl_21.jpg
Collared Scops Owls, beautifully camouflaged in a tree

large_Barashina_Backlit_1.jpg
Male barashinga with their magnificent antlers

At a designated site, we stop for a breakfast picnic. The toilets here are somwhat unusual – a fence made from long thin sticks joined together vertically encloses a small square area for 'doing your business'. No pit, no long-drop, no nothing. Just flat ground. Great if you are just having a pee...

large_857DA094A6C9B0F83697DD06A9A37E95.jpg

You'll be grateful that I don't take my camera when I go, and that I can't be bothered to go back.

large_Alexandrine_Parakeet_1.jpg
Alexandrine Parakeet - a new one for us

large_Jungle_Owlet_31.jpg
Jungle owlet

Rahim stops the car for us all to sniff the air – the smell of a fresh kill. But there is nothing to see, unfortunately.

large_Indian_Pond_Heron_31.jpg
Indian Pond Heron

large_Large_Cuckoo_Shrike_1.jpg
Large Cuckoo Shrike

large_Gree_Bee_Eater_31.jpg
Green Bee Eater

large_Black_Hooded_Oriole_21.jpg
Black Hooded Oriole

large_Hanuman_Langur_31.jpg

large_Hanuman_Langur_32.jpg

large_Hanuman_Langur_33.jpg

Hanuman Langurs

large_Giant_Wood_Spider_41.jpg
Giant Wood Spider

large_White_Bellied_Drongo_1.jpg
White Bellied Drongo

large_Male_Sambar_31.jpg

large_Male_Sambar_32.jpg

Male Sambar

On our way out of the park after this morning's session, we spot the same (maybe, they all look alike to me) Wild Boar as earlier. They must live just inside the gates as we have seen them in the same small area on every visit.

large_Wild_Boar_33.jpg

And so it is time to return to base (Kipling Camp) for some rest, followed by lunch, before this afternoon's game drive.

large_91391285D161CC225698698C0CAAA8E8.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 02:54 Archived in India Tagged india sunrise spider mist tiger kanha parakeet cormorant sambar drongo jungle_owlet wild_boar barashinga kilping_camp langurs cuckoo_shrike bee_eater pond_heron scops_owl funnel_spider moki_zone Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 9 of 9) Page [1]