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Safari! Part 1: Birds


Mondo Verde Expeditions March 18 – April 2, 2024 Photos by Bob Gress / Birds in Focus

Lilac-breasted Roller, Shinde Camp, Botswana

Ecotourism is important to the economy of Botswana, not just Safaris to see large mammals, but also safaris that include discovering the diversity of birds and other wildlife.

Wattled Crane, Kanana Camp. There is no better place in the world to see Wattled Crane than the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

Common Ostrich, female (left) and male (right), Kanana Camp

Some birds like Common Ostrich (above) and Southern Ground-Hornbill (below) are large and easily noticed among large mammals. But many birds are shy, secretive and difficult to spot. On our safari we found about 35 species of mammals and 250 species of birds.

Southern Ground-Hornbill, Kanana Camp

Mondo Verde Expeditions — at Shinde Camp
(left to right), Carolyn Schwab, Terry Schwab, trip leader Bob Gress, Laura Groeneweg, Kevin Groeneweg, Jim Marlett, Tom Ewert, Rod Wedel, Melinda Jett, Tom Jett, Patty Marlett, and Bill Langley

Shinde Camp, Our Mondo Verde Expedition travelers came to Botswana to experience the culture, landscapes and wildlife.

Yellow-billed Oxpecker on Plains (Burchell’s) Zebra, Shinde Camp

The oxpecker family of birds is found only in Africa. There are two species, and both feed on ectoparasites. Their flattened bills are used to scissor-off ticks. We saw them on zebras, giraffes, hippos, several antelope species and cattle. They usually occurred in small flocks of both species and sometimes six or more individuals were seen on a single host mammal.

Red-billed Oxpecker, Shinde Camp

Kori Bustard, the National Bird of Botswana, Dinaka Camp

Black-bellied Bustard, Shinde Camp

Swallow-tailed Bee-eater about to swallow a Wandering Donkey Acraea. What a crazy name for a butterfly! Kanana Camp

Little Bee-eater, Shinde Camp

Botswana has seven species of Bee-eaters. All are brightly colored with down-curved bills and eat a variety of insects. True to their name, they specialize in eating bees and wasps.

White-fronted Bee-eater, Kanana Camp

Burchell’s Sandgrouse, Dinaka Camp

Coppery-tailed Coucal, Shinde Camp

Kalahari Desert with the Okavango Delta on the horizon, Botswana

Botswana is a landlocked country in the center of Africa’s southern plateau. Most of Botswana lies within the Kalahari Desert. It is semiarid with rainfall ranging from 10-26 inches. It has two seasons, a hot, rainy season from November to April, and a dry season from May to October. The desert vegetation may be arid woodlands, shrublands, bush savannas or grasslands.

Shinde Camp, getting afternoon plans on a safari into the bush savanna.

Marico Sunbird, Shinde Camp

Sunbirds feed on nectar and have long tubular tongues like New World hummingbirds. They are not related to hummingbirds but like all nectar feeding birds are small and hide easily among the leaves.

Collared Sunbird, Shinde Camp

Gray Go-away-bird, Kanana Camp. The name is derived from its call, go-waaaaay. It is a large bird, rather common, and feeds in the tree canopy on shoots, flowers and fruits.

Red-faced Mousebird, Dinaka Camp. Their feathers do not grow in tracts and give the impression of fur. Like mice, they have long tails. They are strict vegetarians and eat mostly leaves along with some fruits and other plant matter.

African Harrier-Hawk, Kanana Camp

Over 600 species of birds have been found in Botswana, including over 70 species of raptors!

Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Kanana Camp

Shaft-tailed Whydah, Dinaka Camp

Black-collared Barbet excavating its nest cavity, Kanana Camp

Shinde Camp overlooks part of the Okavango Delta wetland.

The Okavango River seasonally floods a portion of Botswana’s Kalahari Desert in a unique alluvial fan with floodwaters that never reach the ocean. The water comes from Angola after the rainy season and may take up to six months to reach Botswana. The water arrives in the dry season. Waterbirds gather annually to breed when water levels are highest. Over a few months nearly all water in the delta evaporates.

African Fish-Eagle, Shinde Camp

Saddle-billed Stork, Shinde Camp

Hamerkop, Kanana Camp

African Sacred Ibis, Shinde Camp

The world-famous Okavango Delta is a World Heritage Site and home to 22 globally threatened species of birds.

African Jacana, Shinde Camp

Black Crake, Shinde Camp

Shinde Camp, exploring the Okavango Delta

Woodland Kingfisher, Kanana Camp

Pied Kingfisher, Shinde Camp is a free website containing over 15,000 publication-quality bird photographs, representing over 2,600 species from 38 countries.

Malachite Kingfisher, Shinde Camp