Black Guillemot

A trip out to Eastbourne today, for a look at the wonderfully confiding first winter Black Guillemot that has taken up residence.  It’s a cracking bird and really gave us a show, coming incredibly close, fishing and generally being very busy.

Done and dusted

One last game drive had almost everything popping up to say goodbye. A Lion stayed awake just long enough to give some nice poses, a new Leopard gave us our 11th encounter, probably involving 6 different Leopards, and the Zebras finally came back down from the hills to add themselves to the list (a herd of 5 is hardly the Masai Mara, but you can see Zebras anywhere).

You can have everything: we had two fantastic evenings with a pack of 22 Wild Dogs, having seen three very distantly before.  These animals are fantastic: far more impressive than I had expected and also a huge amount of fun.  When you arrive you have a large number of sleeping dogs, with the pups a bit like kids on Christmas morning, desperate to get up.  Eventually the adults stand up and the doggy mayhem begins.  Finally the pups are allowed to join in, and it gets very silly.  Here are a few shots, there are many more to go through when we’re home.

Zambia III

Our last night in Zambia at the end of a stellar week.  With one drive still tomorrow we have had 10 encounters with Leopards, most of them excellent.  Not bad, considering we would have settled for half an inch of tail at the start of the week.  It hasn’t just been Leopards, but obviously they have been the highlight.

I suppose the week could have been improved had we seen Wild Dogs, which some people saw, but you can’t have everything.

Zambia II

There may be a time when I become bored of looking at Leopards, but I’m confident that it won’t be in this century.

Yesterday started well, with a Leopard seen from our Bed in Three Rivers camp (other things on our bed list include Elephant, Giraffe and Greater Painted Snipe) and went on to produce an outstanding night drive with more Leopards and a failed Lion hunt.

This is a fairly random selection of pictures: it’s not too easy to select and process on an iPad with limited storage when you’re half asleep.  They are rather cut down to get them through the slow wifi as well.

Zambia

We’re having a week in Zambia to a) celebrate the fact that Karen has just turned 50, b) celebrate the fact that I’m still only 49 ( for 5 more weeks) and c) have another go at finding a Leopard. This is our fifth attempt, so as time goes by without a sighting, the tension is sure to mount…

… until 6:50 on our first morning, when we encountered this stunning Leopard up a tree – it gave us the full show.  On then to more fun with some stunning Southern Carmine Bee-eaters.  Has there ever been a more beautiful trash bird?

Some fairly low res shots here, as uploading in our lodge is a bit slow.

Mellow Yellow

Weird weather yesterday, with it practically dark at three o’clock and the sky a deep yellow.  These panoramas haven’t been retouched that much: it really was that weird.

Sunny Minnesota

Another work trip, this time to Minnesota, gave me a chance to do some birding on a glorious Sunday.  Quite a lot had gone south already, but there were hundreds of American Robins and Myrtle Warblers passing through, with flocks of Cedar Waxwings and Ruby-crowned Kinglets everywhere.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker was my 4000th world species, and back at the swamp by the hotel in the evening, I came across three Eastern Bluebirds, still hanging around in the north to add another lifer.

Singapore Stunners

A Sunday in Singapore before a week’s training means I get to do some birding while getting some daylight to help beat the jetlag.

Many thanks to Martin Kennewell who gave me a fantastic day out.