Safari Socializing

With less zips going throughout the night due to inventive in-tent toilet facilities having been fashioned, we did hear a few more sounds of the African night. Our camp was relatively close to a water channel and the occasional grunt of a hippo drifted in. In the early hours of the morning we were surrounded by the excited, fast chattering of ground birds in the bush which, we think, were some kind of Francolin.

Red-billed SpurfowlTake that with a pinch of salt, though, ‘cos I originally thought this was a Francolin but it’s actually a Red-billed Spurfowl (Pternistis adspersus).

There’s a lot of effort put into finding a Leopard; these fabulous solitary cats really are the main celebrities. After another 06:00 wake-up call which we didn’t really need courtesy of the bird cacophony, we left soon after 07:00 to try again. We did have a quick drive around the local environs but were soon heading out of the park gates to return to where a Leopard had supposedly been sighted yesterday.

On the road there’s a lot of pausing to chat to drivers of other safari vehicles coming in the opposite direction. This is both social and the bush information sharing system. Many of the drivers knew Bibi, whose reputation seemed to precede him. There’s an etiquette to the drivers’ talking, involving muttering “ehhh”, quite frequently. Muttering “ehhh” softly while the other chap is talking is polite and shows respect by demonstrating that you are listening.

While we’re loosely on the subject of language, Botswana is the country whose local language is Setswana, with the people being Batswana [plural] and Motswana [singular]. Tswana is the ethnic group. [ehhh]

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce again, Leopard was there none. It’s about time I included a Zebra, though. There are three species of Zebra in Africa, those in this area being Burchell’s Zebra, which is a subspecies of the Plains Zebra. These’re the ones with the fainter so-called shadow stripe between the bold black stripes. In Namibia you can find Mountain Zebra which lack the shadow stripe. Grevy’s Zebra further north are the now endangered fine-striped pyjama jobs, restricted to the horn of Africa: northern Kenya and southern and eastern Ethiopia.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe happened across another bathing Hippo that was intent on showing us how fine its dentition was and another Saddle-billed Stork that displayed the splendid markings on the aforementioned bill. What I hadn’t noticed before was the yellow patch above what I assume is the black “saddle”.

Yellow-billed Stork 1Yellow-billed StorkThe afternoon game drive produced a good example of some interesting behaviour. A Yellow-billed Stork was working a modest water body. At a couple of points it extended one or both of its wings as it peered into the water. I have seen this technique before; the extended wing shields the water surface from the bright sunlight and helps the bird see prey beneath. Clever.

Red LechweLooking as if it fancied being “Monarch of the Savannah”, a handsome Red Lechwe struck a pose for us.

We got back to camp at 19:00 for a freshen up before dinner. Finally I had to charge three batteries, two in the M1X and one in the M1. I’d found I’d been using both cameras, really the lenses, a 300 prime and a 40-150 zoom, in almost equal measure. Power bank #1 came out and did the job nicely, once I’d realized that I needed to use a straight USB C to C cable to recharge in camera. Bibi looked interested in the set-up on the dinner table.

Turning the cameras off while they’re sitting in your lap makes a big difference. This is because they activate the electronic viewfinder if they think your eye gets close, in other words when light is cut off from the viewfinder. Putting a camera in your lap whilst in the truck causes the viewfinder to be darkened by your body and so the viewfinder gets powered up wastefully. We were going to have no trouble with power running out. We’d got far too many power banks. Still, better safe than sorry. I actually found that the camera activated more quickly on the power switch than it did with a half-press of the shutter, too.

Dinner was roast chicken, rice and butternut squash but the star turn had to be what went with our now customary custard: pears with mint chocolate biscuits. This time it was warm, too. Very adventurous.

Posted in 2022 Botswana
2 comments on “Safari Socializing
  1. Steve says:

    We were so lucky in Botswana, nearly sitting beneath the Leopard in the tree. We also saw it walk down the tree, an unusual sight.

    Thankfully the tents we stayed in did not have zips, but the older style rope loops. You don’t seem to have had the elephant walking within feet of the of the tent. That event, happened twice, definitely got the heart racing.

    Do you have the facility on your camera where when you press the trigger (electronic shutter set too high), you get 15 pictures in half a second before you actually press the button to take the picture? Useful when you are expecting the animal to do something. A feature on my new camera.

    Ime getting about a day and a half on a battery, shooting 500 plus a day, and lots of video.

    • Franco says:

      We did get the Leopard but that’s a day I haven’t written yet.

      Yes, my Olympus bodies have something called Pro Capture mode which, when the button is half pressed, buffers shots but keeps discarding them until you fully press, whereupon it writes shots to the card. You can set the number of shots to save before and after the press. I use it to get bees and wasps taking off so the wings are open and you can more easily see the markings on the abdomen.

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