Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached (Click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa and Mollie and our Cape Vultures; Bennie and N207, for the past week.

Please also find attached photos of the growing chick accessed this week from our nest camera.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

http://www.projectvulture.org.za/

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

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BLPN 2019 Calendar – the best yet.

 

BLPN-Calendar-2019_

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Tanglewood Farm NR Outing

Report by Elena Russell

1 September 2018

We had an excellent outing to Tanglewood.

It was the first day of September, in other words Spring Day and the flowers were blooming all over the hillsides where the grass had been burnt.

There was a good turnout of members and visitors and from all accounts we had some great birding.

Thanks to Sandi for the bird list. Click here to view the list.

Thanks to all the photographers, John Bremner, Dave Rimmer, Mike Jackson, Mike Stead & Sandi du Preez, for all the superb photos not just of birds but flowers and game as well.

The dassie is called Teddy Bear and I am told has been trained to use the spare loo!!

We had tea at the Boat House and were entertained by all the Weavers; Cape, Holub’s Golden and Eastern Golden (aka Yellow).

Many thanks to Caryl for always making us so welcome to this magical place.

Cheers

Elena

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News from Nylsvley

Friends of Nylsvley and Nyl floodplain

News from Nylsvley

Edition #100

September 2018

Greetings!

I hope we find you well?

So here we are presenting the 100th edition of ‘News from Nylsvley’, what a ride it has been…..The first newsletter was circulated by post in August 1991, 27 years ago and we are still here! The most important innovation was the introduction of e-mail communications, and coloured pics. Julia’s drawings are classic and I plan to reuse a lot of them! I have learnt a lot but not how to get a new ipad to send e-mails! I had hoped to find a more modern font and update the 2 duck logo for this edition….

We thank the hardy souls who helped set up and man the stall at the BirdLife South Africa Bird Fair. It was a great networking event. The weather was either very cold or very very windy, I had to vacuum the felt notice boards before I stored them away!

We recently purchased a spotlight (thanks to a special offer on ‘Takealot’ which included delivery directly to the reserve!) for the staff members that have banded together to do night patrols as a preventative measure to protect the reserve and their families. What they have discovered is that the spotlight picks up damage or deliberate cuts in the fence much more easily than daylight patrols!

News from the reserve is that Marabou Stocks have been seen frequently at Vogelfontein, not the handsomest of birds, nor the nicest. They are predators and eat fish from drying up pools. Red billed Queleas attract opportunists and Marabou hang around them picking up scraps as they do in KNP on elephant carcasses. They also catch live rats and mice and have been known to attack, kill and eat Flamingo’s!

Natasha is very pleased to announce that the Working for Water project will be removing Bankrupt bush, have you noticed how it is expanding in the Jacana hide area? The Grey Poplar that needs regular attention and the Spanish Reed are also to be dealt with. One of the jobs we are offering at the upcoming work party weekend, 28 -30 September, is to do a walkabout of the campus and remove Cacti, Syringa and Lantana.

Other jobs include: re-waxing the Crake and Jacana hides…nice job but messy! Lowering the shelf in the Jacana hide, carpentry skills needed, and repainting the road signs at the railway crossing. The tree labels need loosening and to list the ones that need replacing. The Monument recording a Boer war the skirmish nearly opposite the Shumba’s Rest gate also needs tidying up. The group camp long drop walls require some attention if someone could carefully measure what is needed and do a ‘shopping list’ the reserve staff will complete the repairs. Salome Beeslaar from Imerys Refractories has delivered a sign for the Stemmerskop hide; a really nice job to walk or cycle there and screw the sign up? Please let me know ASAP if you will be attending and which job you would like to do? The group camp is also available if you would like a short holiday weekend at Nylsvley. The accommodation will cost R200 per person per night (children half price). Except that I will put out the tea station, the weekend will be self-catering. We plan to go to the Spoonbill for supper on the Friday evening.

An exciting development has been the expansion of wild dog packs in the Waterberg. Some Ranchers are not so impressed as some stock animals have been killed. EWT have a project going where you can visit them and make a donation towards supplying meat. Take a look at: WWW.waterbergwilddogs.com for more information.

Joseph Mokoka a bird guide and staff member at Nylsvley sent this very sad pic of his binoculars that broke while he was guiding a tourist, if anyone has a pair looking for a good home, please let me know.

We welcome new member Barbara Brown and thank our ‘renewees’:  Hedley & Lainey Herring, Pierre Reinecke, Francois Dubb. . elman, Ann Banfill, and Carol Taylor your support is much appreciated, a new batch of reminders will be sent soon.  A donation labelled ‘Paradine’ was received on 3 August? We do not have a member of that name????

I hope you will enjoy the article from Africa Geographic originally published in August 2008 by Ian McCallum telling us why we love our Wild Areas.

An article by our esteemed treasurer Liza Walls about her trip to Lesotho is published in the September edition of Go! Magazine, charming reading….enjoy

Do we have a member who would like to advertise his/her company in the gate brochure?

We need a reprint and would like to include a sponsor’s logo? The Nylsvley Bird Quick guides have proved very popular, the first edition is nearly sold out, that too will need reprinting very soon.

Cyril Ramaphosa recently quoted that South Africa’s biodiversity can create 1000’s of jobs. I firmly believe that one of the ways ordinary people can help care for our precious environment is by securing/helping to look after as many small and interrelated nature areas especially within towns / suburbia as possible.

For many years, as well as being project co-ordinator of Friends of Nylsvley and chairlady of Friends of Smuts I have been Friends Groups adviser for the WESSA Friends Groups all around the country. The

Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) is busy restructuring and the small honorarium I used to receive has fallen away????

The Owls course in October is fully booked, I will be sending more info out soon and we are thrilled to announce that a bird photography course is being negotiated with Robbie Aspeling for early March next year. Did I tell you that a Green-winged Pytilia and Pearl-spotted Owlet were seen near the Dabchick hide?

It was a hot, busy and sometimes hectic 3 weeks in the UK. My family in the UK are well; I loved spending time with sisters (x3) nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. I did not enjoy seeing Verbena brasiliensis being sold in the plant nurseries; it is one of our problem plants!

Since my return at the beginning of August I become a granny for the fourth time, have run a FoN team building weekend and a stall at the Bird Fair hence the delay in sending news.

We congratulate my son Malcolm and Tammy on the birth of their second daughter Kate Sarah on 21 August; 4 year old big sister Rose is so excited!

Cheers for now, God Bless, with love Marion xxx

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Latest Cape and Beared Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached (Click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa and Mollie and our Cape Vultures; Bennie and N207, for the past week.

I have also attached a photo of the sibling of the chick in our nest with a camera. This sibling hatched from an egg collected by Shannon Hoffman and her team from Bred 4 The Wild as part of the Bearded Vulture Breeding Programme. Bearded Vultures only raise one chick, therefore if the second egg hatched, the chick would not survive. This provides an opportunity for us to harvest the second egg for the breeding programme which aims to establish a captive stock of this critically endangered species. The advantage of the camera on the nest is that the potential impact of the harvest activity can be monitored. The egg was collected last month and although the parents were off the nest for a few minutes, they continued incubating soon after and hatched the chick successfully (as per the photos emailed last week). Both the wild and captive chick appear to be doing well.

BV_Chick 2018-09-05

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

http://www.projectvulture.org.za/

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

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Water, Birds and Biodiversity -Key Elements of Education

This Biodiversity Observations Research Paper can be read by clicking here.

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Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached (Click Here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa and Mollie and our Cape Vultures; Bennie and N207, for the past week.

Attached also find some recent images from our nest with a camera- one with the proud parents, one with chick circled in red (born mid-August) and one showing some interesting food items.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

http://www.projectvulture.org.za/

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

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Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Welcome to the 500th email of our vulture movements

Please find attached (Click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa and Mollie and our Cape Vultures; Bennie and N207, for the past week. I am happy to report that the proposed wind farm (renewable energy development) that is overlapping with N207’s movements, is no longer planned for development.

Attached also find some images from our nest with a camera.

The poor cell phone signal at the site is preventing us from getting more recent images, but these are being stored for us to access after the breeding season.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

http://www.projectvulture.org.za/

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

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Durban Botanical Gardens

Report by Sandi du Preez

15 August 2018

Nine participants enjoyed a sunny, windless morning of birding.

Just inside the entrance were some very cute juvenile Egyptian Geese being cared for by very attentive and devoted parents.

We looked up and noticed an African Goshawk flying high in the sky. There were also the usual African Palm Swifts darting about.

We then went to see what we could find at the lake. There was nothing out of the ordinary but we saw one Spur-winged and many Egyptian Geese, Sacred Ibis, African Spoonbill, Common Moorhen, and Thick-billed Weavers.

The Village Weavers were very busy noisily constructing their new nests in the Fever tree.

Village Weaver – John Bremner

Refreshment time for the Village Weaver – John Bremner

The best bird at the lake was undoubtedly a lovely Malachite Kingfisher.

Malachite Kingfisher – John Bremner

In the Casuarina trees were Herons nesting – mainly Grey, but also a Black-headed. Several times during the morning we saw Herons flying overhead with nesting material, towards the trees.

Making our way around the gardens we came across a bird that made our brains work – Dusky Flycatcher? ……. Well it seemed to have a flycatcher’s bill. Then it flew off. Ha! White outer tail feathers visible – of course, it was a Brown-backed Honeybird!

A Black-headed Oriole was heard calling close by, and there it was perched beautifully on a branch for all to see!

Black-headed Oriole – John Bremner

An exotic South American tree with large yellow fruit provided a feast for the Speckled Mousebirds and they were also feeding on the fruit that had fallen to the ground.

Speckled Mousebird – John Bremner

A Black Sparrowhawk flew over but it did not perch on it’s usual spot on the Norfolk Pine. We did, however, have a very obliging Yellow-billed Kite which flew into a tree and provided a good view. It was the first for the season for some of the group. Then it flew out and joined another Kite on a branch of a Norfolk Pine – that was a real bonus!

Yellow-billed Kite – John Bremner

Black Flycatchers and restless tawny-flanked Prinias were numerous.

Tawny-flanked Prinia – John Bremner

Only two species of Sunbird were seen – Amethyst and White-bellied, but we did hear an Olive.

There was one Olive Thrush and numerous Kurrichane, but one had us scratching our heads and debating – maybe a hybrid?

Kurrichane Thrush – John Bremner

Pretty Cape Wagtails were seen wagging their tails on the lawns.

Cape Wagtail – John Bremner

Golden-tailed Woodpeckers were quite vocal during the morning and we saw one in a tree making it’s shriek.

Golden-tailed Woodpecker – John Bremner

We came across two Egyptian Geese having a really vicious fight. The thwacking of bills and wings was so loud. They must have been males having a fight over a lady-love. Spring is in the air! Two minutes later we had three Common Mynas involved in a noisy scrap (as mynas are prone to do).

Some other species seen and photographed included:

Time for tea at the kiosk, and the House Sparrows were after all the scraps. A gorgeous Spectacled Weaver perched on the wall watching us and patiently hoping for a treat.

Spectacled weaver – John Bremner

The species count was 50 at this stage.

As we headed off to see what birds we could find at the butterfly dome, a Pink-backed Pelican flew overhead. We also got Grey-headed Sparrows, and a male Chinspot Batis along the way. Then we added Southern Fiscal at the butterfly dome. This area is always good for birds as indigenous trees and shrubs have been planted to attract butterflies and birds. There were Carpenter bees flying around the Polygala Myrtifolias (they are the pollinators of the Polygala).

So with 4 species added the total count was 54. Click here to see the list.

As we were leaving we were lucky to find a stunning Pleasant Hornet moth (Euchromia amoena).

Pleasant Hornet moth – Sandi du Preez

Thanks to John Bremner for the photos.

Sandi du Preez

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Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached (click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa and Mollie and our Cape Vultures; Bennie and N207, for the past week.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

http://www.projectvulture.org.za/

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

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A Blast to the Past – Flock 2017

Report by Paul and Sally Bartho

24 to 28 April 2017

Paul and Sally on Sinfonia

Flock 2017 was an outstanding birding experience which I know many people would relish doing again. It is incredible that BirdLife South Africa managed to virtually fill all the cabins with birders on MSC Sinfonia. As everyone said, this must be a world record for the largest flock of birders gathered together in one place.

MSC Sinfonia

Almost 2000 birders from all over the world were on board including many of the seabird experts worldwide.

The BLSA organisation of the trip was highly professional. The AGM was well organised, there were interesting talks, prizes and entertainment and the guiding on board was exceptional for us novices.

We left Cape Town on a lovely clear day and were escorted out to sea by a number of seals and dolphins.

The route was planned by the very willing captain according to BLSA wishes.

Our first day of birding started at dawn and lasted to dusk (as did every day) with quick dashes away for food etc. It was also one of those days when numerous different exciting and rare birds appeared. Sometimes we were unable to keep up with a special bird appearing on one side of the boat and another rare bird on the opposite side.

And from our height above the sea we were lucky if we got a few decent photos of any of the birds. For me, virtually every bird was a lifer having never been on a pelagic trip before.

 

A quiet moment at the back of the ship – normally each level was teeming with birders. Also at the front too.

The ship’s entertainment areas were virtually empty during the day, however the bars at night were quite popular. I think the staff were mystified by all us birders as they tried to talk us into the large empty casino and away from the birding.

That first morning there were seven different species of Albatross seen – Black-browed, Indian Yellow-nosed, Light-mantled, Shy, Sooty, Tristan and Wandering. The Light-mantled Albatross had all the guides screaming as this was most unexpected.

For our Bird List click here. Of the 21 species shown 17 were lifers for me, and 7 for Sally. There were numerous other lifers called out which unfortunately we were not at the right place at the right time.

A Ghostly Albatross

Here are some photos of birds I did managed to connect with. I hope I have correctly identified most of the birds in the pictures. Do let me know my mistakes. Note the Tristan Albatross was identified by Peter Harrison. I am aware that there is not full consensus on its ID as there is not enough published about the bird to clearly identify it beyond doubt. However Peter Harrison has done a huge amount of research on the bird and I will happily accept his opinion.

Some birds I have struggled to identify from my photos include this Giant Petrel:

And these two birds:

Mystery UFOs

There was fascinating birding along the sides of the ship each night. The lights from the ship enabled us to see the birds as they bobbed on the water alongside. It was interesting to watch as the Great Shearwaters diappeared behind the boat only to returne to the front and bob alongside again catching squid and other delicious morcels.

We understand that the bewildered captain was so impressed with the BLSA organisation and nature of our trip that he suggested we do it again but for a week or more next time.

Another memorable moment was the sunset and double rainbow at the end of the four nights at sea.

Intense golden double rainbow taken from our cabin

This was a wonderful trip that Sally and I will always fondly remember.

Hope you enjoy the memories.

Paul and Sally Bartho

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Dear All

Please find attached (click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa and Mollie and our Cape Vultures; Bennie and N207, for the past week. Our Cape Vulture seems to be exploring further south every week.

Please also find an article (click here) on how vultures are impacted by lead poisoning from hunting for your interest.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

http://www.projectvulture.org.za/

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

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Namibia

Report by Sally and Paul Bartho

27 April to 17 May 2018

(An aside: Remember by clicking on a photo it will enlarge).

Our trip to the Kgalagadi ended when we got to Tsabong. As we were so close to Namibia we decided to pay a visit to Namibia. Our goal was to get to Epupa Falls and take in the various Parks along the way there and back.

Our first stop – Kalahari Rest Lodge and Camping – was our only stop in Botswana once we had left the Kgalagadi. It was about 25 kms north of Kang on the Kalahari Transfrontier Highway. This was a long journey (some 430 kms taking over 5 hours) to add to the day we had already driven. We left Tsabong mid-day so arrived just before dusk.

We certainly recommend this campsite as a stop over point. It is a small campsite with four bathrooms – each with toilet, shower and basin- as the ablution block. After a long day we ate at the restaurant and the food and ambiance was good.

The next day we headed to Windhoek to a campsite near the inner city Eros airport – Arebbusch Travel Lodge.  A distance of about 710 kms taking close to eight hours. The border post was a tad busy so it took us a while to get through. However checking our insurance documents later we found they had entered the licence place of our campervan incorrectly. We hoped it would not be noticed at the police check points.

Some Namibian Scenery:

At Arebbusch we spent two nights, the first in a chalet and then camping. There are only 4 campsites all of which are under cover round a large glassy patch.

Our provisions needed replenishing otherwise we would have only stayed one night. Unfortunately our night’s camping was loudly disturbed by the antics of an open air concert right next door after a soccer match. Avoid Saturday nights camping here.

No bookings had been made for our time in Namibia. We called Etosha for a booking but all they could offer us was 5 days camping at Halali in three days time – we took it. So we booked a campsite ten kms before Okaukuejo at Etosha Safari Lodge for two nights. Nice grassy sites and entertaining ablutions. 420 kms taking a almost five hours due to the police checks. Very nervous at the first as he was fairly thorough checking the car licence plate. However he did not see it necessary to check the campervan licence plate. This was the case fortunately at all the police stops.

Etosha Safari Camp

Campsite birding was good. We had a nesting pair of Great Sparrows right beside us.

Other campsite birds

Time was spent in Etosha around Okaukuejo puzzling over the various larks and other ground birds favoured by the open flat grassland/scrub area. We saw a good variety of different species which we did not see elsewhere in the park.

However there is one big criticism that I have to make. Outside of the main camps there are no ablution facilities fit for humans at the various run down picnic spots. Some picnic sites are so bad that they have been closed. We never found one that had an even passable excuse for a toilet. I dread to think what foreign tourists think. For the cost of entering and staying in the park this is shameful.

Okaukuejo waterhole – very quiet

Blue Crane – double header

At last we arrive in Halali – the central camp between Okaukuejo and Namutoni – about 70 kms from each. We just miss the best campsite – No. 37 – by about 5 minutes. However we did recamp there when the people left after two nights.

Many overlander safaris visit the camp and they can be very noisy at night. I don’t think we would camp there in future although the waterhole can be interesting at night. While there this time we saw Elephants, Black Rhinos, Hyenas and Jackals there plus hundreds of Double-banded Sandgrouse each night, maybe more.

Sandgrouse in their hundreds at Halali waterhole every evening

Perhaps because of the rains we did not see a wide variety of game. We did have one sighting of three Cheetah on the first morning leaving the camp. After that no big cats. Much of our time was spent away from the camp in and around Namutoni.

Cheetah

There were of course many Black-faced Impala, Springbok, Burdhell’s Zebra, Steenbok, Black-backed Jackals about with campsite Banded Mongooses, Tree Squirells, lizards etc.

In the camp wew had a selection of special birds visiting us. There was a flock of about twelve Violet Woodhoopoes, a Pearl-spotted Owlet, a Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver, Southern Red-billed and Monteiro’s Hornbills, and a Red-billed Spurfowl.

For birding, one of the nearby waterholes – Goas- had the most interest for us.

Goas Waterhole close to Halali

Just north of Namutomi is Fischer’s Pan. It was full of water so we had excellent sightings of numerous water birds.

Great White Pelicans in various poses

At Namutoni picnic site there were some interesting birds.

Palms around Namutoni

Then at the Klein Namutoni waterhole south of the camp there was a mix of animals and birds.

Here are some photos of unidentified birds that we saw which we hope you can identify.

After five nights in Halali it was time to move on. Epupa Falls was our goal via Ruacanna and Kunene River Lodge, then on to Epupa along the recently improved road. We called Epupa Falls Lodge to book a few nights there and quickly learned that flooding had severely damaged this road and we would not be able to get through that way. We would have to go via Opuwo – a route I did not particularly fancy.

So after this disappointment and a disappointing time in Etosha we considered going home via the Caprivi. Not on. Most of the places we were interested in staying were flooded. When we contacted the Caprivi Houseboat Safari Lodge for a campsite so we could see the Leaflove, they told us “Sure you are able to see the bird but we will have to come by boat to fetch you”.

Then we considered simply heading back home.

On the day of departure, Sally said that as we had come this far we ought to go to Epupa Falls. I agreed reluctantly as I was not looking forward to the drive. We contacted Epupa Falls Lodge and booked ourselves in for three nights.

Fruit and Flora which Sally had photoed

We had always wanted to see the recently opened western side of Etosha and decided that we would do so on our way to Epupa Falls. 70 kms to Okaukuejo then another 200 kms to the Anderssen gate at the west of the park.

It was too long a journey to comfortably get to Epupa Falls in one day. That being the case we unthinkingly booked ourselves a campsite in Kamanjab for a night as there was nothing close to the Anderssen gate. Instead we should and could have camped in Ruacana and given ourselves a chance to find the Grey Kestrel. It would have meant backtracking about 40 extra kms compared to going to Kamanjab. Unfortunately we only considered this as we reached Kamanjab.

The west side of the park was quite different from the rest of Etosha. It started much like the area around Okaukuejo for a long part of the journey to the new campsite at Olifantsrus where the road forks. We took the left fork to the campsite and were quite impressed. Although there is no shade nor power for the 10 campsites, they were neatly arranged and the ablutions good. One of the big plusses was the double level hide. Walk along a boardwalk to the hide which is situated overlooking a wetland area.

Continuing along the left fork to the gate the landscape changes and we drive through rugged and hilly country well vegetated. Quite different and unexpected. We would like to spend a short time to explore this area in the future. The problem is that the campsite is extremely popular and hard to book.

Kamanjab to Epupa Falls is about 430 kms and takes a good 6 hours to do when you are towing. In fact it took us four hours from Opuwo – a journey of 180 kms. The last 70 kms travelling through over 100 marked dips in the road. It meant virtually stopping at the bottom of the dip each time to protect the tow hitch.

Smiley sign means dips ahead. We counted over 100 of these on the way back.

The scenery was spectacular along the way especially as we approached Epupa Falls.

Epupa Falls was was worth all the effort to get there. Fortunately we were there when the Kunene River was flowing strongly. The dam gates up river in Angola had been opened.

We checked in to Epupa Falls Lodge. The campsite is right beside the river and from our site we could see the spray as the water started going over the falls. It is a well palm shaded campsite but without power. The solar panels had to be constantly moved every hour to find some sun.

On our first evening we went up to the lookout point over the Falls. What a view especially to see it in flood.

Epupa Falls complete

Truely Spectacular.

The birding was excellent. We had birding round the camp with numerous Rosy-faced Lovebirds, Rufous-tailed Palm-Thrushes and Ruppel’s Parrots amongst them.

Then there was the birding beside the banks going upstream along the road towards Kunene River Lodge. We drove 20 kms along this road without difficulty.

Big Bug. Many in the fields from road to river. Body alone about 4 cms.

The local population were always smiley and friendly.

Undoubtedly Epupa Falls was the highlight of our trip to both the Kgalagadi and Namibia.

Sadly leaving Epupa Falls behind we headed back to Windhoek – the car was due for a service there.

We had a one night stopover at Buschfeld – Igaba camp near Otjiwarongo. 670kms taking about 10 hours. The campsite is small but attractive. The restaurant was excellent and the birding not bad.

In the garden there was a large bird party of Green-winged Pytilias and Violet-eared and Blue Waxbills.