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Biggest Twitch
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The Biggest Twitch Birding Adventures in Botswana Begin

We arrived in Botswana at Maun airport, the gateway to adventures in the Okavango Delta, and were promptly whisked away by Dishu from Letaka Safaris to our first lodge of the trip, Thamalakane River Lodge just outside the town on the banks of the River Thamalakane. Together with Jacqui & Kevin and Helen & Chris, who we were going to be sharing our safari adventures with, we quickly checked into our comfortable cabins and immediately started encountering great birds right in the grounds of the lodge.

Thamalakane River Lodge 1

Jacana 1, our comfy home for the night

From our terrace, we watched Swamp Boubou preening itself in the tree right in front of our cabin.

Tropical Boubou

Swamp Boubou having a wash-and-brush-up

A pair of Red-headed Weavers was making a penduline nest in the trees just behind our cabin.

Red headed Weaver

Male Red-headed Weaver adds a splash of colour in the acacia tree

With temperatures in the 30's, quite a shock from December temperatures in North Wales, we loitered in the shade of the terrace and enjoyed the views of the river and the birds.

Thamalakane River Lodge 2

The perfect place to enjoy a cool drink, or two...

A noisy gang of Arrow-marked Babblers arrived and bickered and squabbled nearby.

Arrow marked Babbler

The leader of the pack: Arrow-marked Babbler

A cautious Red-billed Francolin crept through the grass hoping we hadn't noticed it...

Red billed Francolin

Red-billed Francolin cautiously picks its way past the terrace

... while a Groundscraper Thrush boldly marched right up to us...

Groundscraper Thrush

Groundscraper Thrush approaches close to the terrace

... and a stunning pair of African Paradise-Flycatchers chased each other through the canopy.

African Paradise Flycatcher male

With a tail like this, it's hard to fit a whole male African Paradise-Flycatcher into one photo!

The view up and down and across the Thamalakane River was pretty stunning.

Thamalakane River Lodge 3

The view down the Thamalakane River

We saw our first African Fish Eagles of the trip perched up in the trees, while White-faced and White-backed Ducks and Pygmy Geese crossed the waterway. Collared Pratincoles hawked over the water while Little Swifts flew high overhead. African Jacana pottered amongst the waterlilies...

African Jacana

Delicate African Jacanas seem to walk on water

... while a stately African Openbill looked for its preferred food, large freshwater snails in the damp areas.

African Openbill

African Openbill showing how it earns its name

Looking straight across the river, the vegetation opposite the lodge was quite dense and much drier.

Thamalakane River Lodge 5

Scrubby vegetation as a backdrop to local fishermen

The trees provided ideal perches for a real variety of birds, including Red-necked Falcon - our only sighting on this trip, several Woodland Kingfishers, a Levaillant's Cuckoo, Red-backed Shrike, and very excitingly, a Souza's Shrike, an extremely rare bird in this area. Having seen this bird before on our travels in 2008, we were confident in the ID, and the white carpal bar on the wing was clearly visible to everybody through the scope. We hope more local birders have the chance to catch up with this bird.

Woodland Kingfisher

Woodland Kingfisher poses obligingly on a branch

So many great birds and the tour proper hadn't even started yet! After a long day travelling we crashed early to be ready to meet up the next day with Grant Reed, our guide and one of the founding directors of Letaka Safaris. Bring on the birding, we couldn't wait!

If you'd like to enjoy great birding closer to home, why not join us for one of our day trips or birding weekends, spaces are still available on the following tours:

  • Weds 28th Dec 2011: North Wales coast and Anglesey
  • Tues 3rd Jan 2012: Get your yearlist off to a flying start with a birding day in North Wales
  • Fri 6th - Sun 8th Jan 2012: Norfolk Yearlist Boost Weekend

For more details of these and our other forthcoming trips, please email us on or call on 01492 872407. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing great birds with you!


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