Today's the day. I am about to see some of the birds Marg has been promising me for forever.
It's O-Dark-Thirty when we gather in the dining area at the main lodge. Because this camp is fenced, and there's very little chance of meeting a lion or a Cape buffalo or a hippo, we don't have to wait for security guards to escort us.
We have a quick cup of coffee or tea, and soak a rusk in it so we don't break our teeth. Then off we go.
|No one wants their photo taken before daylight.|
We head back to the lagoon where the lions got their revenge on us for interrupting their nap and where the hippos bared their fighting tusks. This time, however, we take a different trail through a heavily wooded area.
Margarite parks next to some solid fencing, opens the gate, and leads us down a long descending tunnel to another locked door.
Inside is a narrow room with laminate flooring, several rolling executive chairs, and tripods with heads. All we have to do is mount our cameras/lenses.
|This photo was taken after daylight, a while later than our arrival.|
There is a long narrow window front and back. The glass is special one-way glass inported from Europe. One window is covered with a black curtain. She explains that we must be very careful about raising the rear curtain, as it might enable the birds to see us inside.
This practice shot to check exposure accidentally captures a giraffe on the far side of the lagoon.
Still too dark to shoot birds. Wait, wait, wait,
And then, much to my delight, bm favorite African bird shows up and entertains us with its raucous laughing cries. This hamerkop walked right up against the glass, shuffling its feet to scare up the little fishes and things that it eats.
I missed some of the hysterical cries in this video, but this will suffice. Volume up, please.
I love watching these funny-looking birds and it tickles me that ornithologists can't decide if they are storks or herons. While it has some of the features of both, recent studies have shown a relationship to pelicans and shoebills, and their feet are similar to a flamingo's.
Standing less than two feet high, these ambitious birds build nests in trees that can be six and a half feet high (including the roof) and just as deep. The nests are strong enough that a grown man can sit on one.
Some sources claim that is the female doesn't approve of the nest, the male will build her another and another and so on. The assumes, of course, that the male doesn't get tired of the fussy Miss Pris and go looking for another mate.
A great egret showed up, and was photo-bombed by the hamerkop. In this photo, you can see how they got their name, which translates to hammer-head.
|The photo bomber.|
The great egret in the rising sun.
A green-backed heron. Still too dark as the sun was rising directly across from us.
And then the pied kingfishers showed up. These active little birds were catching fish right and left. It astonished me how many of my photos showed them holding fish in their bills.
The ubiquitous Egyptian goose.
And the hamerkop, of course.
|Lots of reflections on this coy hamerkop.|
The great egret at sunrise.
And a little later.
The legs of the egret.
The pied kingfisher with a fish.
And a beautiful gray heron:
Then it was back to the lodge for breakfast. We have much to do in the next few hours as we will be going to the overnight hide and waterhole, where we will be from 3 P.M. this afternoon until 9A.M. tomorrow morning,
|This is not what the lodge serves; this is what I ordered. I certainly could have had more--cereal, fruit, etc.|
For more info about Zimanga's hides: