Thursday, July 12, 2012

Etosha, 6 - 9 July

After leaving Khamanjab we entered Etosha at Okakuejo, and drove east to our camp at Halali. We spent two nights there, then two further nights at a camp just outside the gate at Namatoni. Our last two nights in Namibia were in Bushmanland at Tsumkwe, near the Botswana border.

The birding changed between Halali and Namatoni. In Halali there were still a few Namibian specials, specifically Violet Woodhoopoe and Bare-cheeked Babbler (though I failed to find the latter at this site), by the time we got to Namatoni these had disappeared, being replaced by birds more common in the east. The camp staff at Halali have two or three owl species staked out, and it's well worth asking where the roosts are. Other birds of note included Kori Bustard and Red-crested Korhaan.

From a mammal perspective it was a great trip. The grass was still long which made it hard to find some things, and the waterholes were fairly full, meaning that the game was not as concentrated as it might be, but it was still brilliant. We saw Lion on every drive, and a good selection of plains game at almost every waterhole. Variety was less than similar parks elsewhere in Africa, but the size of the herds, and the ease with which we found predators made this a minor niggle. Elephant were strangely absent, with only one male being seen, though sign of their presence was everywhere. The star mammals for me were undoubtedly the Black Rhinos which are easier to see here than anywhere else in the world.Our mammal list included (Angolan) Giraffe, Black-faced Impala, Gemsbok, Springbok, Steenbok, Damara Dik-Dik, Red Hartebeeste, Blue Wildebeeste, Burchell's Zebra, Black Rhino, Elephant, Warthog, Kudu, Lion, Black-backed Jackal, Spotted Hyena, Black-tailed Scrub Hare, Ground Squirrel, Mopane Tree Squirrel, Banded Mongoose and Large-spotted Genet.

We didn't get around to any night-drives, way too expensive, but we were treated to a visit in our camp at Namatoni gate by a Large-spotted Genet, as well as Black-backed Jackal.

Tsumkwe was also interesting, with the pans at Nyae-nyae being full to the brim, with breeding flocks of both Greater Flamingo and Lesser Flamingo. Lots of other waterbirds, including a surprise Slaty Egret on one of the smaller pans in the area, and a Bradfield's Hornbill on the Maun road.

African Scops Owl roosting in Halali camp. Wonderfully chamouflaged, I would never have found this without help.
Roosting Barn Owls, also in Halali.
Double-banded Sandgrouse, male...
...and female.
Violet Woodhoopoe. Easy to find in the grounds of Halali.
Meyer's Parrot, which replaces Ruppell's parrot somewhere between Halali and Namatoni.

Southern White-crowned Shrike.
Crimson-breasted Shrike. Very common, but always a treat to see.
Kori Bustard. Another bird which always gives me a thrill.
This strangely marked Burchell's Zebra stood out like a sore thumb, surely a dangerous trait in a land with so many predators...
Damara Dik-Dik. A wonderful new antelope for me. The oddest thing to me is the strange, almost mini trunk-like nose.
This large female Lion was part of a group of five which killed a Gemsbok a few minutes before we arrived at the pan. She is so fat she may even be pregnant as well!
Black-faced Impala.
It was fantastic to see Black Rhino again, it's been many years since I saw one in the wild, possibly not since I was a child in Luangwa...


  1. Wow! What a wonderful collection of birds and animals. Really love both the roosting owls.