Tag Archives: Pel’s Fishing Owl

South Luangwa Nationalpark/ Zambia

ErdbeerköpfchenEventually we are standing on the Luangwa Bridge. Crocodiles sunbathe on the other side of the river, baboons and impalas roam through the woods. The call of the African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer) is the final proof. That’s Africa!,

Luangwa Bridge offers already great photo opportunities. The Luangwa Bridge leads into the park. Immediately you are introduced to the scourge of South Luangwa, the tsetse flies (Glossina sp.). This noiseless, painful stabbing tormentor is not a disease carrier in this area, but allows only two alternatives: driving with closed car-window and switched on air conditioning or to be equipped with enough fly swatters. Taking pictures with the window open requires a certain degree of self-control, so that the shots do not blur.

South Luangwa is normally be visited during the dry season from June to October. During the heavy rainy season, the park is largely flooded and only a handful of specially created road on upper levels provide very limited movement possibilities. It will be very hot from the end of August. In September and October, the Luangwa River has reached its lowest level and the water holes are drying. But in contrast to some other parks in Zambia, accommodations are also available during the rainy season when the birds are in the breeding plumage.

The fees are heavy. $ 30 per person and $ 15 per vehicle will be Continue reading South Luangwa Nationalpark/ Zambia

African skimmers in the Chobe Nationalpark/ Botswana

Afrikanischer ScherenschnabelMorning haze lays over the wide river plain. Perched low on a Sandbank dozens of black and white colored birds with a strikingly long red bill are standing. These are the long-awaited African Skimmer (Rynchops flavirostris). When we’ve left the river bend for a while, the whole flock starts moving with a heavy, powerful wing beat. First, the flock turns a round over the sandbar. Then the flock turns into low altitude flight. The black-and-white-colored, roughly tern-sized birds with their long, elegant wings fly a few centimeters above calm water, hovers prey-hunting parallel to the water surface. Suddenly they pull out their oversized, laterally flattened and sharp-edged lower beak and pull it, flattening its wings, through the upper layers of water. They fly until their beaks come into contact with a fish. Shortly thereafter, these birds close their beak abruptly, and a small silver fish disappears wriggling in the throat of the successful hunters.

Because of their peculiar hunting style these birds are called skimmers in English. Many years ago I was fascinated by a very special species of bird at the Madre de Dios, a tributary of the Amazon. In the silence of dusk, these birds flew over the wide river in small groups, holding one another strangely over the water. Their sweeping wings almost touched the surface of the water every time they hit. Her flight was straightforward, not too fast and her flapping wings steady, elegant and had something of a provocative phlegmatic slowness. They were “my” first Skimmers, more specifically Black Skimmer (Rynchops nigra), as I soon realized. Her submerged beaks plunged furrows into the red colored water of the Amazon.

This spectacular species of prey can only be observed in three species today: the Skimmers of the genus Rhynchops, which are native to the Asian and African tropics and along the American coast. An excellent spot to see African Skimmers in Africa in the Sanaga River  in Cameroon.

The beaks of the Skimmers have over thirty special adaptations to Continue reading African skimmers in the Chobe Nationalpark/ Botswana