Posts Tagged ‘Dickinson’s Kestrel’

Hi all

We are nearly done.  You must be exhausted by now.  We certainly were !

AJS and I got back to Harare quite late in the afternoon of the 21st of September.

The next day we went shopping for beer and water.  Daz arrived at about 13h00 and we set off northwards, in his Honda CRV, on the Bindura road and turning left just after Mazowe headed to and beyond Centenary towards Muzarabani.  In the Zambezi Escarpment we stopped at the Mavuradonha Wilderness headquarters and quickly settled into our accommodation.

Mavuradonha Wilderness Basha

Simple Basha Accommodation

This camp is all about eco-tourism and is a Campfire Project.  Campfire is an acronym for Communal Areas Managment Program For Indigenous Resources. Zimbabwe’s CAMPFIRE programme is widely regarded as one of Africa’s most successful conservation initiatives. It permits the residents of communal lands—basically poor, black people—to share in the benefits generated by wildlife utilization on those lands. Despite its achievements the programme still faces challenges. In particular where the of households in CAMPFIRE areas are focusing on land uses that are incompatible with wildlife and increased livestock numbers.   Ah well – they made a few bucks out of us.

What on earth were we doing there 300 km north of Harare ?  Simple really.  About 20 years ago I had been birding up there and remembered a place of great beauty.  So about 5 years ago I took AJS there. And we got lostish, without enough water, so we abandoned our attempt. That situation could not be allowed to prevail.  So back we went.

We had a few hours to kill so we started off by going to Sowe Falls.

Mavuradonha Wilderness Sowe Falls

Sowe Falls

Obviously September is the dry season so there was very little water. In the wet season we could not have been where we were !

Sowe Falls Mavuradonha Wilderness

Daz takes a dip

Mavuradonha Wilderness Sowe Falls

Sowe View

The view from the falls is great.

We spent a very pleasant evening in camp. Daz did dinner for us and we all slept very well.  Now for the big one – Eagles Crag !

It’s a long way up to the top of the mountain.

Eagles Crag Mavuradonha Wilderness

On the way up

We had to keep reminding ourselves to stop and look back at the changing view as we ascended.  It too us an hour and a half to climb to the very top…………………….

Eagles Crag Mavuradonha Wilderness

Musengezi View

Wow !!   That is the Musengezi River down there.  A long way down there !

Eagles Crag Mavuradonha Wilderness

The haze was disapointing

Of course it is hazy in September.  We always knew that.  It is still a fantastic place to be – Eagles Crag.

Eagles Crag Mavuradonha Wilderness Musengezi River

Another tick in the Bucket List

AJS was well pleased !  We are about 900 metres above the river. I have seen Black Storks from here and a very nice Black Kite flew past at about 20 metres whilst we were there and I have been told that Taita Falcon live in this gorge.

Cahora Bassa Mocambique Mavuradonha Wilderness

The Cahora Bassa viewing point

Again the haze was the problem but from here, on clear day, One can see the western extremities of the huge Cahora Bassa Dam in Mozambique. I know ‘cos I saw it when I was first here.

After about an hour gawping at the views we went back down the mountain – much easier when gravity is on your side – in about forty minutes.  Straight back to camp, packed up and drove back to Harare.

A quiet evening followed by a morning showing AJS the difference in our shops since he was last here in 2008 followed by a fantastic lunch at Harare’s well known Allo Allo  restaurant then off to the airport where I deposited AJS to catch his flight to Jo’burg and onward to London.

The marathon was over.  It was brilliant !  Thank you AJ the Elder – we are indebted forever.

Cheers all

Thanks for listening and looking.  I will be back sooner than you think with yet another very different little excursion.

Tony

Hi again

At last after weeks of neglecting those of my followers who are birders I can get back to the core subject of this blog.

This, however, does not mean that the marathon journey is over !!  No it is not.

Whilst in Chizarira CvC took some amazing photo’s of birds and has very generously agreed to share them with you all.

Let’s start with one of the nicest little fellows that turn up quite frequently in the drier woodlands.

Namaqua Dove

Male Namaqua Dove

One of the loveliest sights that immediately tells you that you are in a wild and remote spot……….

Bateleur Eagle

Soaring female Bateleur Eagle

And we were very lucky to see her when she joined up with her mate !

Bateleur Eagles

Bateleur Eagles

A bird frequently heard in the morning and evening but much less frequently seen……………

Shelly's Francolin

Shelly’s Francolin

Why some species are now Spurfowl and others remained Francolin I can’t fathom.

Another indicator species of the wild bushveld is the seriously reduced Ground Hornbill.  What a fantastic shot !

Southern Ground Hornbill

Southern Ground Hornbill

Along the banks of the Kaswiswi River, both up and downstream from our camp site we encountered this gorgeous chap…….

White-fronted Bee-eater

White-fronted Bee-eater

….. and with a very quick trigger finger CvC got this………………..

White-fronted Bee-eater

White-fronted Bee-eater

Amazing !

Hiding in the riverine thickets and the thick stuff at the base of hills is a difficult to see and even harder to photograph rather lovely little songster and mimic………

Bearded Scrub Robin

Bearded Scrub Robin

A big ‘tick’ for birders from further south in Africa is this elusive bird of the Mopane woodland…………….

Arnot's Chat

Male Arnot’s Chat

On the subject of Chat’s this fellow was stealing thatching material to line his mud nest – several of which were on the cliffs along the river.

Mocking Cliff Chat

Mocking Cliff Chat

Sometimes your chosen subject can get a little too close………….

Black-bellied Bustard

Black-bellied Bustard

Yet another bird of the bushveld that is quite stunning but photographed  much less frequently than his very popular cousin is the Purple Roller.

Purple Roller

Purple Roller

A big surprise  along the river was a couple of pairs of Mountain Wagtail.

Mountain Wagtail

Mountain Wagtail

I was extremely lucky to spot (pun intended) this little chap landing in a tree and keeping him in sight until CvC came along.

Pearl-spotted Owlet

Pearl-spotted Owlet

Another delightful bird of the drier woodland…………..

Retz's Helmet-shrike

Retz’s Helmet-shrike

The familiar and distinct call of these voracious fruit-eaters drew our attention.

African Green Pigeon

African Green Pigeon

I think it is time for some more Raptors………………….

Dickinson's Kestrel

Dickinson’s Kestrel

…..and finally…………..

White-headed Vulture

White-headed Vulture

Well I am sure you will wish to join me in sincerely thanking CvC for such a special treat of so many fantastic photo’s.

We will continue with the Marathon Journey soon.

See you then

Cheers

Tony