Friday, August 31, 2018


The hamerkop is a very unusual looking bird that I saw one of in northern Kenya four years ago. 
The hamerkop's pointed back of the head stands out. 
We saw another one this year in the Okavanga Delta of Botswana. Like four years ago, my pictures are poor, but it is still fun to see it. Just as I saw it and started to aim at it, it took off. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Southern Warthog

The common warthog (Phacocoerus africanus) has four subspecies: (1) the Nolan warthog (P. a. africanus); (2) Eritrean warthog (P. a. aeliani); (3) Central African warthog (P. a. massaicus), which we saw four years ago in Kenya and Tanzania; and (4) southern warthog (P. a. sundevallii), which we recently saw in Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. 

On our drive to Etosha NP in Namibia we drove through a lengthy area with regular signs warning to watch-out for warthogs. We did see several warthogs crossing the road during that stretch, but were unable to get photos of them. 
Warthog sign in Namibia.
In Botswana, while staying at Kadizora Camp in the Okavanga Delta, we encountered a sounder (yes, that is what a group is called) of warthogs, 5, 6 or more, about 20 yards from our tent. We were a little tentative, not knowing if they could be aggressive or not and they were right next to the trail we needed to take. They did scatter, piecemeal, and we got some poor pictures of them. 
Warthogs near Kadizora Camp

A warthog seen while on a driving safari.
In Hwange NP in Zimbabwe we had warthogs visit the waterhole at The Hide where we were staying. Those were the best photos I got, though none are great. 
Near the waterhole at The Hide.

They are ugly, but not nearly as ugly as the Central African warthog. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

South African Nile Crocodile

Although the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) has not officially been broken down into subspecies, a number of subspecies have been proposed based on variations in appearance and size. I get the sense that when the IUCN reviews this issue next, the breakdown will occur. 
This is a map of the distribution of the Nile crocodile, found here
This is the first croc we saw, laying in very shallow water in the middle of the river.  We got quite close and I went up to the bow of the boat for a good look. 
A close head-shot.
A close shot of the amazing skin. 
Based on the proposed subspecies, it appears that Nile crocodiles we saw four years ago would be Kenyan Nile crocodiles (C. n. pauciscutatus) and those we just saw in the Okavanga Delta of Botswana would be South African Nile crocodiles (C. n. corviei). 
This croc was on the bank and flashing its pearly whites. 
A view of its skin in nicer light. 
Quite an array of teeth. Fun to see how the mouth is shaped to accommodate them. 
This croc has slipped into the water. 
We were guests at Kadizora Camp and went on a motorboat ride down a river. We saw quite a few crocodiles and got very close to several of them, the boat nudging up within yards of where they were sunning themselves. That boat ride was one of the very most fun experiences we've ever had. 
They open their mouths when they are hot and it is an impressive display. 

Our boat going up to get closer to this croc. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

African Great Egret

There are four subspecies of the great egret, also known as the great white egret, great white heron and common egret (Ardea alba): (1) American great egret (A. a. egretta), found in Southern Canada south to Tierra del Fuego and the West Indies; (2) African great egret (A. a. melanorhynchos), found in Sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar; (3) Eurasian great egret (A. a. alba), found in central Europe to central Asia, south to Iran; and (4) Australasian great egret (A. a. modesta), found in southern and eastern Asia to Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. 
I've seen the American great egret a number of times in Florida and recently we just saw an African great egret in the Okavanga Delta of Botswana. 

Monday, August 27, 2018

Glossy Ibis

The glossy ibis is a beautiful bird, but only in the right light. It is found spottily around the globe, with the southeastern U.S. as one area, large swathes of Africa, large portions of Australia and India, and patches in western Asia, eastern Europe, the Middle East and northern South America. I've seen them in Florida and my post has some at their prettiest. 

We saw some glossy ibis in the Okavanga Delta of Botswana and the birds all look quite brown and dull, none of the rust or neon light blue or iridescent greens I saw in Florida. 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Blacksmith Plover

We saw the blacksmith plover, also known as the blacksmith lapwing, in East Africa and recently also saw them near the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and in the Okavanga Delta. My prior post goes into some detail. 
My photos in South Africa aren't as good as the photos in Botswana, so only Botswana photos are posted. 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

African Leopard - Okavanga Delta

When we pulled into Kadizora Camp in the Okavanga Delta of Botswana our guide, K.T., let us know that a red lechwe kill had been found with a mother and her two year old cubs feeding on it. We stashed our bags in our tent and hopped in our modified Toyota Land Cruiser to go find them. 

When we arrived there were two other Land Cruisers sitting there and we joined them, but I couldn't see the leopards. K.T. and Judy finally pointed a leopard out to me laying in the grass. 
After watching awhile I asked where the other one was. They looked at me incredulously, "right next to it." 

Eventually the young female got up and ventured toward the red lechwe kill sitting under a low tree and we watched the young male for awhile.

Then we drove over near the tree to watch the young female eat. She bit into the lechwe and tugged pieces of meat off. My pictures of that did not turn out well because it was dim light and my shutter setting was longer. The movement of ripping off the flesh cause blurriness  in those photos. 
Leopard chewing on the red lechwe.
We came back the next morning and K.T. saw the mother run off. We watched just for a short period of time and left. K.T. did not want the young leopards to think that vehicles are something to be afraid of. 

These leopards were one of the highlights of our trip to Southern Africa. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Verreaux's Eagle Owl

Verreaux's eagle owl is also known as the giant eagle owl or milky eagle owl. We saw several of them on our trip to East Africa and my prior post gives more information on them. 

We saw this owl our first evening in the Okavanga Delta of Botswana and actually saw at least one more we were not able to get a photo of. 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Carnivore Restaurant - Johannesburg

When I learned we had an evening layover in Johannesburg, South Africa and that there was a Carnivore Restaurant there I made arrangements for our travel agent to get us there and back. 

It was almost embarrassing. We were met right off our plane by a man with a sign with our names on it. He walked us over and through customs, walked us to a woman who then took us outside to our waiting vehicle and introduced us to our driver. We checked in to our hotel right next to the airport, then were driven about 70 kilometers to Muldersdrift. Our driver waited for us while we ate, then took us back to our hotel. 
The area where the spits are. It was winding down by this time. 
Small bowls with various salads and the pot had a local mash (it was not potatoes). 
It was quite late when we get there, maybe 9:00 p.m., on a week night, and they started winding down. We were put in a very dark place where it was difficult to get good photos and our service was just okay. 

When we ate at Carnivore in Nairobi we were with a large group and the group generated some fun discussions and comments with the various meats. 
The lighting was horrible, so the photos are marginal. Kudu meatballs are to the right. A slab of zebra is to the back right. 
The game meats available were: (a) crocodile, my piece was overly cooked and very bony, a C-; (b) kudu meatballs which were very good, but I'd much rather have the game meat in a recognizable form; (c) impala, several pieces and the rarest piece was best; and (d) zebra, which was amazing. I've had zebra before and it was very, very tough and very, very, very gamy, some of the gamiest meat I've ever tasted. So I was in rapture over the zebra meat. It came around on a spit and a piece was carved off. I had several slices. 
Some sliced impala in the center. 
Given all we had to do to get there, the experience was a disappointment. I think it would have been better if we'd arrived earlier and had a better selection of meat and better service and better seating. I'm not totally put off by the Carnivore brand, but the brand was diminished in my view. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Crowned Plover

I previously posted on the crowned plover, also known as the crowned lapwing, which we saw in Kenya and Tanzania four years ago. 

I got some photos of the crowned plover in Etosha NP in Namibia, although they are not great. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Gurney's Helmeted Guineafowl

While visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden outside of Cape Town, South Africa we encountered another one of the nine subspecies of helmeted guineafowl, the Gurney's helmeted guineafowl (Numida meleagris coronata), or at least I believe this is that subspecies. 
Gurney's helmeted guineafowl near Cape Town, South Africa. 
This one has a smaller helmet. I'm assuming it may be a younger bird and that the helmet must grow with age. 
A front view showing its wattles sticking out. 

It is found in eastern and central South Africa and western Swaziland. In recent years flocks of guineafowl have appeared in the northern and eastern suburbs of Cape Town, an area outside their normal range. That is part of what we were seeing.