Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Part 6 of our Southern African holiday, still in Botswana.

On the morning we left Kasane River View Lodge, (see parts 34 and 5) we had a short drive ahead of us, (about 200 km or 125 miles) to our planned two night stop at Elephant Sands game park on our way back to Mahikeng in South Africa. More about the place later on!
Cruising southwards along the almost empty tarmac ribbon, Patrick's observant eyes suddenly spotted several of the rare Southern ground hornbills (Bucorvus leadbeateri) by the roadside...


Despite the fact that their name sounds as if the live on the ground, they do in fact fly, (as you can see above!) and also roost in trees.  This hornbill is the largest in the world, featuring striking red facial and throat skin which contrasts with its black plumage.  It has a wing span of 120 to 180 cm (4 to 6 feet) and it is on the endangered list. It is long-lived, apparently reaching 50 or even 60 years old.  It has a varied diet, mainly consisting of insects found on the ground.  They lay only two eggs, of which only one chick generally survives.  They do not breed very often; spaced anywhere from a few years up to at least nine years. So that might explain the rarity!

Arriving at Elephant Sands, we found the roads were quite wet and there was much mud around. It was the rainy season after all, but there had been exceptionally heavy falls in the two months before we arrived.

A warthog, having just got up from having a very welcome mud bath.  The mud cools them (they do not have sweat glands) and it also removes ticks and other skin parasites, which then become embedded in the mud.


Mum and baby.  Common warthog, (Phacochoerus africanus), is a wild member of the pig family that lives in grassland, savanna, and woodland.

The white-faced whistling duck (Dendrocygna viduata)  breeds in sub-Saharan Africa and also in much of South America.  At night, the birds fly to foraging areas to feed on a varied diet that includes grass, seeds and aquatic molluscs, by wading, swimming or diving. 

The yellow-billed oxpecker, (Buphagus africanus), is from the starling and myna family.  It feeds exclusively from the backs of large mammals, eating ticks and insects on their hides.  As with the tick birds in my last post, it is good for the animals and provides food for the birds, a win-win arrangement!

African three-banded lapwing (previously known as a plover) (Charadrius tricollaris).  It lives near water, feeding on land and aquatic insects and their larvae, crustaceans, small molluscs and worms.


As the name of the resort suggests, there are plenty of elephants to see in the open landscape. The safari tent accommodation is placed around a large waterhole, so the elephants can  freely come in very close to drink and bathe;  care must be taken to keep out of their way!  You can see  one of the safari cabins on stilts in the background.  We were sitting in the relative safety of the main lodge building, taking these photos with a long lens!

As close as I ever want to get!!!  Eyelashes of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

We each had a safari tent; here are Christelle and Patrick on their balcony.   We both slept like logs while here, but Patrick was up and about in the middle of the night, and on his balcony, taking videos of elephants very close by!   Brave, or a little mad, I am not sure which!!!!

Christelle, Patrick and Nigel in the heat of the day, relaxing with a cool drink....

from the bar opposite.  The pool was perfect for cooling off from time to time.

The elephants mostly arrived later in the day and into the evening, looking for water to drink and to cool off in.

Getting the fire ready to barbecue our dinner.  No fences anywhere here, so we were keeping a watchful eye out for large intruders; thankfully they left us alone.  The elephants and all game have total freedom and can wander anywhere, which they do!

Another amazing African sunset.

The next morning, we were greeted by a glossy starling (Lamprotornis  genus). There are a number of very similar starlings and I am not sure which one this is.  In low light these birds appear to be almost black, but in the right light they radiate the most spectacular array of blues, greens and magenta. However, there are no pigments in the feathers that give rise to these colours. It is simply a trick of the light!

Red-billed teal. (Anas erythrorhyncha).   This duck is not migratory, but will fly great distances to find suitable waters.  Very common.

 Rock pigeon (Columba livia). Feeds mainly on seeds, rarely eating fruits and leaves. It typically forages on the ground, usually on farmland, lawns or roads.  Also very common!

Early morning stroll, having taken a bath.  Note he has his trunk resting on his tusks; guess it gets a little heavy to carry around all day!

Giraffe (Giraffa) A newborn giraffe is about 1.9 meters tall (6 feet) at birth and weighs about 68 kilograms (150 pounds). Fully grown giraffes stand 4.3–5.7 m (14.1–18.7 ft) tall.​ Males are taller than the females. I have given more information in some of the previous giraffe photos.

Steenbok (Raphicerus campestris).  A small common antelope which is only about 60cm (2 feet) high at the shoulders.  Mostly solitary but occasionally they will pair for life.  Visitors will often think that they are babies as they are so small!!


Various mix of butterflies, the one with open wings is (I think) Small grass yellow (Eurema brigitta), and the white and orange one could be the Bushveld orange tip (Colotis pallene).  If anyone can help with identifications, I would be delighted as I am not a lepidopterist!


The white-browed sparrow-weaver (Plocepasser mahali).  Found in groups of two to about eleven individuals including only one breeding pair. One dominant male and female; the remainder are helpers! They build a number of untidy looking nests that look like a bunch of straw; inside is soft grass, feathers and woolly type material. The breeding nest has only one entrance while the roosting nests have two entrances.  The babies are fed by all the birds in the colony. Co-operation at its best!


Also see my daily diary HERE



and My Life Before Charente (updated  25 September 2016) I will get back to this eventually! 

34 comments:

  1. Diane always amazing me yours puctures especially about animals and birds and these lovely butterflies!
    my favorites are from elephants and giraffe what beautiful !
    thanks by sharing your beautiful trip ♡♡♡

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    1. Thanks so much Gloria for the comment and I am happy that you are enjoying our holiday in Africa. It is a pleasure to share with friends who may never get there to see for themselves.
      Have a good week Diane

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  2. It looks like an amazing experience, Diane! I love elephants! And so lovely to see the variety of beautiful birds, too! Thank you so much for sharing.

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    1. Linda it was the most magical holiday and it is only a pleasure to share with you. Lots more to follow :-)

      Take care Diane

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  3. Hi Diane - delightful ... so love seeing the African veld .... your shots are brilliant - so clear and thanks for the descriptions. Love the warthogs - they are my favourites!!! Wonderful looking camp ... the tents we stayed in were proper tented villages, or we camped one time too ... nothing as superior as 'legged' tents! The butterflies are pretty special too ... that ox-pecker is a fantastic photo ... oh oh Africa ... one day I shall return - cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary I certainly hope that one day you will return. We waited a long time but it finally happened, now we just want to go back again! I am happy that you are enjoying these posts and it is bringing back happy memories for you. So much more of this holiday still to follow.
      Take care Diane

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  4. The animals and all the birds are beautiful, Diane! Interesting post, gorgeous photos, and I esp like all the elephant pics and the gorgeous sunset. Thanks for sharing! Take care

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    1. Pam one of our best ever places now to go on holiday is Botswana, amazing wild life, and such lovely people and African sunsets are amazing. Keep well Diane

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  5. Spectacular photos and just the right amount of info. There is nothing to beat an African sunset. Really lovely post Diane. Keep well, Kim

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    1. Thanks Kim. Comment appreciated. As many people who read my blog have not been to RSA, I do not want to overwhelm them with info, but it is (I think) good to learn a little about the animals. For you it is different as you would learn little from the info I give. Hope that all is well and the weather has improved. Stay safe Diane

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  6. I loved catching up on your wonderful holiday in South Africa...it had to be memorable. The photos are great and let us enjoy following along.

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    1. Very memorable Karen and we would like to return in the not too distant future :-) I hope you continue to enjoy following. Keep well Diane

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  7. I have never seen a ground hornbill fly. Such a spectacular place to stay right in the animals habitat. Yet another thing I haven't done. Your photos and story are wonderful.

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    1. I have also have photos of them in the trees, but somewhere I have to cut back on the photos I post or I will run out of time to get the trip posted before the next one :-))))) Both reserves we stayed at in Botswana we were in unfenced accommodation so you had to watch your back. Even more so in the first one as the bathroom was outside the A frame where we slept! Have a good trip Diane

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  8. Oh how I enjoy your animal/bird shots Diane, you really are a pro with that long lens. One of my biggest regrets was not going on safari when we lived in Africa, my fear of flying will probably prevent that from happening now sadly ☺

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    1. I think you have to master that fear of flying, you manage to go to Sydney and back. You would find it well worthwhile to take a trip back to Africa especially Botswana. Thanks for the kind comment Diane

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  9. An adventure of a lifetime! I am so happy for you. Wonderful photos!!

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    1. I agree with that but we would love to go there again:-))) Take care Diane

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  10. Wonderful posts, Diane!
    So good to dive back into the african bush through your great and diverse photos!
    I am planning a trip to Kenya in january hoping to stay there for 3 weeks...
    I'll be thinking of you a lot, but there's still time!
    Many thanks for your kind thoughts and 'gentle' hugs ;-))))
    Same from me and take great care, enjoy your WE

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    1. Thanks so much and great that you are thinking of going to Kenya. Botswana though has me totally hooked and I really love the place. Although I had been there before several times, it was never to see wild life now I regret not having checked out the National Parks more when we were there.
      Take care and hope the ribs are feeling better but still gentle hugs ;-) Diane

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  11. Your wonderful post with the amazing wildlife images is, once again, in danger of stirring up the wanderlust in me that has remained relatively dormant for a few years. This time your accommodation seems very civilised! If you keep twisting my arm like this, I may have to give in!

    Have a great weekend - - - Richard

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    1. Richard I am trying hard to stir up the wanderlust, it will be interesting to see if I get anywhere :-) Watch that arm I will keep twisting it LOL. Best wishes, cheers Diane

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  12. Fantastic pics, Diane. I really enjoyed seeing them. You have certainly given us a real feel for your adventure. Best wishes
    Gaynor x

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    1. Thanks Gaynor and good to hear from you. I hope that you enjoy the remainder of the holiday as well, lots to come yet. Cheers Diane

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  13. It must have been very exciting to see these amazing animals and birds in their natural habitat. Fabulous photos Diane, so interesting!

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    1. Denise we loved every second of our holiday thanks to amazing friends who arranged so much for us. It was like returning home :-) Take care Diane

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  14. Wonderful - what a stunning array of animals - I so want to go to this part of the world.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. So what is stopping you? It is so well worth while, but we were lucky to have so many friends still there willing to enjoy the countryside and game with us. Keep well cheers Diane

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  15. I just caught up with your last post and this one. The birds there are magnificent! And it must have been wonderful to stay at the elephant reserve. They are magnificent looking creatures, although I'm certain that one must tread lightly around them despite their seeming placid nature. I've really enjoyed these photos, Diane; I was just discussing this series of posts of yours with a friend, and commenting on the exquisite wildlife.

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    1. HI Marjie glad you have caught up. The elephants are only placid if they are not upset. One mother charged us while in the car, she had a very small baby at foot. A serious warning to keep away. Luckily she came from behind so it was easy to put foot and get out of her way. Sadly no chance for a photo!! Africa is beautiful, country and wild life. Hope that all is well Diane

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  16. A wonderful set of images. It is hard to pick favourites because I love the African wildlife! I also like the photo of Nigel and your friends relaxing. It looks like they are taking the relaxing activity seriously ;-)

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    1. Ha ha, they were taking relaxing seriously. I agree, lo=ve African wildlife it is amazing. Take care Diane

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  17. Wow that sure is living up close to the animals. You have spectacular photos especially of the birds. The colours in the glossy starling are amazing.

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    1. I think I took more photos of birds than anything. Despite leopard and Wild do being on my wish list they did not materialise! Keep well, t'other Diane

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