Presenters: Rick and Elis Simpson
Reporter: Keith Walker
Rick Simpson gave a most amusing and informative talk about their trip to Southern Africa which is detailed below and was preceded by details of their crusade to conserve Wader Species.
Details of their trip focussing on the Waders seen is as follows:-
Airports are often the place where you pick up your first ticks on a trip and at Johannesburg it provided them with the ubiquitous Blacksmith Lapwing.
After meeting their friends from Wader Quest South Africa – Jenny Sharland and Sue Oertli, they headed south to the delightful Garingboom guest farm in Free State Province with Sue, picking up the equally common Crowned Lapwing along the way. The reason for this mad 6-hour dash on the first day was to try to connect with a difficult courser species. In the morning, guided by guest house owner Riëtte Griesel, they saw a group of seven Burchell’s Coursers at Gariep Dam, along with a first Kittlitz’s Plovers and Black-winged Stilt.
They returned to Johannesburg and the following day started a ten-day road trip with the Wader Quest South Africa crew. They headed north along the N1 on their way to Botswana. Shortly before getting there, stopped on the bridge over the River Mogalakwena. Here they saw their first Three- banded Plover along with both Wood and Common Sandpipers.
They entered Botswana and headed towards the Elephant Sands Camp. Set up next to a watering hole, it is possible to get very close to elephants when they come to drink. Indeed, the elephants spend much of their time at night wandering between the flimsy accommodation huts. The next morning the party did some birding around the sandy tracks looking for thick-knees and coursers and the water hole for Three-banded Plovers. They then drove to the top right-hand corner of Botswana where the mighty Zambesi and Chobe rivers meet, as do the nations of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
A stroll along the banks of the Chobe to a point with many rocks produced the much hoped for species, Rock Pratincole. Rick had hardly dared to hope to see this little beauty, and was not disappointed, the reality living up to the expectation. Staying at Water Lily Lodge they organized a boat trip the following morning along the Chobe River.
In the space of four hours, they picked up six new species for the
quest. Starting with Water Thick-knee and African Jacana, at the
same site where they returned to look at the pratincoles – from the
water side this time. Heading up stream they came to a large flat
grassy island in the middle of the river. Over it were many birds flying
back and forth, one stood out as it had such brilliantly white wings. This was one of the attractive Vanellus lapwings, the Long-toed Lapwing, a real beauty. Other smaller, browner birds were whizzing about too, which turned out to be Collared Pratincoles.
Once they had spotted the White-crowned Lapwing on the bank they edged closer. This stunning bird seemed unperturbed by human presence and allowed close approach where its attractive colouration could be appreciated to the full. It had the most amazing, bright yellow wattles which really caught the eye, with grey, brown, black and white plumage that set this off really nicely. And to round it off the most subtly coloured lime-green legs.
Running out of time and returning swiftly to the accommodation they stopped suddenly to add species number six, another stunning Vanellus, African Wattled Lapwing.
From here they drove across and into the thin arm of Namibia that separates Angola and Botswana called the Caprivi Strip reaching the destination in the late afternoon, Island View Lodge.
They went out and explored any piece of standing water or marshy area nearby. They had one exciting moment when they flushed a snipe but were disappointed when it turned out to be Greater Painted Snipe.
More can be found about the excellent work of Rick & Elis on their website: About - Wader Quest including details of their mission and their fund-raising efforts which exceed £50,000.
Please feel free to read through our reports from our monthly indoor / online meetings.