Chobe River Photographic Safari - Sept 2014, Day 5

03rd October 2014
The final excursion for the first ODP Safari group met and surpassed all expectations.

A clear, beautiful morning as we travelled upriver, enjoying the scenery, the wildlife, the whole atmosphere. Hippos lay on the banks of the river, or were in the river, some cavorting, and yawning widely, while others simply relaxed.

Once again, the sheer variety and number of birds would be too long and boring to list. Some of the most photogenic highlights included Jacanas trotting around on the beautiful lily pads, Fish Eagles sitting watchfully on the river banks, and flying now and then - giving us some great take-off shots, while Open-billed Storks put in a regular appearance.

A Goliath Heron was fishing in the shallows, and also decided to take off and treat us to a fly-past. Pied Kingfishers were as busy as ever this morning and it seemed as though more than usual were out and about for this final excursion.

With all the engrossing photography we suddenly realised that had travelled up as far as the Savannah Backwater, where the Yellow-billed Storks were fishing in their favourite shallows. There were no other birds trying to get close so they picked on one another today. Frequent little quarrels and disputes over fishing rights, favoured spots, or simply just because, kept the birds interacting all the time - and our cameras very busy, indeed.

A White-crowned Lapwing was sitting on newly laid eggs right next to the river, and not far away Long-toed Lapwings constructed their nests on the grassy banks, stopping occasionally for a mating session.

We spent quite a while with a group of African Skimmers. They were flying in and out to and from their nests, and because of the wind, they sometimes seemed to hover in the sky for a while before landing.

And naturally, there were buffalo, elephants, crocs - and plenty of general game to see. Hippos were also plentiful and we drifted close to some of them for closeups.

Then it was time to say farewell to the group, and to welcome the new arrivals, who opted to start with a river trip.


In particular, everyone loved that we could drift really close to the elephants along the riverbanks until we were so close that we had to take out wide angle lenses. Even then we had to pull back to fit a photograph into the frame. It is such an overpowering feeling and a privilege to be able to approach so close to these beautiful animals on the river, without causing any reaction from them. Talking of elephants, we saw a few swimming across the river to one of the islands.

And again, everyone was struck by the wonderful angle one gets from the water, giving a totally different perspective of whichever animal we stopped to photograph. The buffalo, elephants, buck, baboons - all look even more impressive than ever from water level.

Besides the birds mentioned above (Fish Eagles, Skimmers, Jacanas, Yellow-billed Storks, Lapwings, Kingfishers), that everyone was delighted to see and photograph this afternoon, we also spotted a Black-winged Stilt fishing along the edge of the river, and a Purple Heron fishing in a small bay next to the river.

The sun started to set ... a signal for us to return to the elephants for some of those iconic shots with the red orb of the sun in a crimson sky and an elephant silhouette in the foreground - a sight that never fails to be impressive.

We are thinking of a land based game drive in the morning - but that is tomorrow's decision. Right now, we are steeped in the moment, far from civilisation, with peace, beautiful night sounds …

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