Lilac-breasted Roller – (Coracias caudatus) – Chobe National Park

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We started our visit to Botswana with an afternoon safari in Chobe National Park. The wildlife, vegetation and the landscape are truly unique.
One of the first birds seen in the park was the Lilac-Breasted Roller. 
The Lilac-breasted Roller prefers to reside in open woodland and savanna. Usually found alone or in pairs, it perches at the tops of trees, poles or other high vantage points from where it can spot insects, lizards, scorpions, snails, small birds and rodents moving about at ground level. 
The sexes are alike in coloration but juveniles do not have the long tail feathers that adults do. 
The photo of the roller shown above was taken just after we entered Chobe National Park from the western entrance near the Namibia border. 

This species is the national bird of Botswana.

Nile Monitor

In Australia, we have Goannas – a monitor lizard. In Botswana, we saw another type of lizard called the Nile Monitor.

Just after seeing the Monkeys in the tree, we were treated by seeing a Nile Monitor [Varanus niloticus]- a very powerful lizard. It was walking along the ground and then made its way to the Chobe River. It is a little unusual, but the Nile Monitor are very proficient swimmers and readily take to water. The Nile Monitor can grow up to 2 metres – the one we saw was about 1.5 metres.

Southern Ground Hornbill – Chobe National Park

The Southern Ground Hornbill [Bucorvus leadbeateri] is one of two species of ground hornbill and is the largest species of hornbill.

The Southern Ground Hornbill is characterized by black coloration and vivid red patches of bare skin on the face and throat (yellow in juvenile birds), which are generally believed to keep dust out of the birds eyes while they forage during the dry season. The white tips of the wings (primary feathers) seen in flight are another diagnostic characteristic.

Hornbills are among the most conspicuous, noisy and engaging of large birds in savanna and forest.

Vervet Monkeys at Chobe National Park

We had a great experience on an early morning safari when we saw a leopard going from branch to branch chasing monkeys.

The Vervet Monkey [Cercopithecus aethiops] is one of the most endearing animals for guests to see on safari, but they are usually pests around lodges where they raid kitchens and food tables.

The Monkeys main predator in Botswana is the Leopard, and the noise that follows a Leopard after it has been spotted is deafening. This is what attracted our Safari Guide to allow us to have the experience of seeing the leopard in the tree with the Monkeys.

White Egret at Chobe National Park

Part of the Heron Family, the Great White Egret is a large bird and can stand up to about 1 metre with an all white plumage. the above photo is looking almost head on and the bend in the neck is almost obscured. The photo below provides a great profile of the Egret.

Eagle at Chobe National Park

There are numerous birds of prey in Chobe National Park – I was really pleased that I was able to capture this Eagle sitting on the top of branches of a tree along side the Chobe River. You almost get the feeling that they are looking straight at you.

At the present time I have not been able to identify the exact species – so if anyone can assist, please let me know.

African Fish-Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer) at Chobe National Park

One of the things I was not quite ready for was the number of species of Animals and Birds that we saw very close together.

We had just started the day safari and came close to the River in the Chobe National Park. Looking up we could see an African Fish Eagle. A beautiful, graceful bird with a white head, golden beak and an almost black wing with the leading edge a golden brown. The bird reminded me of the Wedge Tail Eagle and the way they soar.

We were very fortunate that this Eagle landed on the top of a river tree so we could get a really good look at this magnificent creature.

Early Morning Safari – It is worth it to see the Leopard

Zambo, our guide in Botswana, wanted to show us something special when we started out in the dark. We were not allowed into the park before 6:00am – but we were at the gate waiting to enter when we were given the OK to enter.

Every so often, he would stop the 4WD and look at the side of the track – looking for tracks. We continued…..stopped….continued….stopped and then all of a sudden, we were off the track as we heard a lot of monkeys making a lot of noise.

We stopped and looked up a tree and there was a leopard going from branch to branch chasing the monkeys. They were able to avoid the leopard. Just as we were getting camera focused on the leopard, it climbed down the trunk of the tree and off into the vegetation.

What a great experience. We drove back to track and stopped and looked at our photos. Many were blurred of slightly out of focus, but overall we were all really excited that we were able to see a leopard “in action”.

We then turned and looked out the front of the 4WD and there in front, just off the side of the track was the leopard…just looking at us

Of course, the camera were focused and aimed and I was thrilled that it just seemed to pose for us. It slowly stood up and walked directly in front of us (about 20 metres away), across the track and then into the bush on the other side of the track. As it did, it walked through a section that had great morning light. The light made the rosettes on the coat of the Leopard really stand out.

Having to get up at 5:00am for the early morning safari was really worthwhile – and you can guess we had a great deal to talk about when we got back for breakfast!!

Sunset at Chobe National Park

Towards the end of our afternoon safari, we stopped by the Chobe River and looked towards the west. As the sun lowered in the horizon, the colour of the sky changed dramatically. From the normal daylight, to a golden colour and then to a brilliant red.

I was fortunate to have a white egret standing in the water just at the spot that the yellow reflection of the sun appeared.

What a great way to enjoy “Sundowners” at Chobe!

Puff Adder at Chobe National Park

We had just hopped out of the small boat and into a 4 Wheel Drive vehicle. Looking up the track we could see plenty of tracks in the sand. Just a short distance up the track we found the source of these tracks – a Puff Adder.

The Puff Adder (part of the Viper Family) is a venomous snake species found in Africa and is a thick robust heavily built snake. It has the distinctive triangular head and chevron markings down length of the snake. This species is responsible for more fatalities than any other African snake, including the Black Mamba.

Although the puff adder is classified as the most dangerous snake in Africa, it is neither the deadliest, nor the most venomous snake in Africa. Regardless – it is a good idea to stay away from them!!

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