We walked around the lodge grounds watching all the animals, mostly Red Duikers, Sunis and an occasional Impala and Nyala. Yellow Babboons were present and we enjoyed the antics of the Samango Monkeys. We only managed one new bird for the trip list, Orange-winged Pytilia. We had a lovely stop by a waterhole where someone had kindly left two chairs. It was just so relaxing watching the animals and birds come and go. We had the best views of the Tamborine Doves as normally they are just so skittish. We returned to the lodge where the lodge owner was going to arrange our covid tests when we reached Beira as it was a requirement for boarding the flight back to Ethiopia. Passports and flight numbers were needed. With constant government changes in the UK, USA, South Africa and Mozambique without any phone signal, internet and intermittent electricity we were at the mercy of the lodge owner keeping us informed as to whether we could get back home. Some of the group had flights cancelled and we were faced with 10 days quarantine at a cost of £3700 to line a tory party donor's pocket no doubt (don't get me started) How we were meant to sort any of this out without internet goodness knows in this remote region whose people spent all their time outside.
At 3pm we went birding in the forest again and watced Crested Guineafowl and more bee-eaters.
View over the River Thames and the O2
The view of the River Thames from my window
Looking westwards from my window
Sunrise over the O2
Day 11 of quarantine
Today was a typical winter's day in the UK in December and I know why I want to spend time in a hot and sunny country at this time of year. After testing positive for Covid I have been a bit up and down. Mostly I have been ok, initially with a bit of sneezing, runny nose, sore throat and a bit of a headache but these symptoms did not last long and I have been up and about BUT I am fatigued and by lunchtime I often slump on the sofa. So after a bit of a whirlwind of unpacking, washing and Christmas present wrapping for my grandchildren and sorting out presents for my children I have finally caught up with myself and found time to watch a Red Kite from my lounge window!
Now my granddaughter has Covid too. Poor little mite.
Edward, Sarah, George and Sue
After doing 16 days of quarantine, negative lateral flow tests and a huge variety of release dates from the nhs and government and feeling well I drove to my son's for Christmas. The twins had great fun putting the carrot, mince pie and a drink out for Santa and the reindeer. It was just wonderful to be with my family once again. The boys were so excited!
I saw several Red Kites on the way and a few Redwings too!
Jonathan and Sue
Merry Christmas everyone! I hope that your Christmas has been as happy as mine (but possibly not as exhausting with twin boys scampering around but I would't have changed it for the world!)
Sue lining up the scope on the Belted Kingfisher
After the angst of the last couple of weeks of being in quarantine for 16 days, being in isolation after catching covid from the hotel and having a wonderful family Christmas, John and I were finally free to twitch the Belted Kingfisher that has been in the UK for weeks giving birders the run around. We had heard of tales of dangerous muddy slopes with air ambulances being called out, friends only seeing it for a couple of seconds down other birders scopes after travelling for hours to see it and tales of the kingfisher disappearing all day after coming out of roost and having to stand all day waiting for it to come back to roost.
So after negative news last night John and I set off during the night with some trepidation. However luck was on our side and somehow we got the wrong parking place and met the farmer whose field we were going to cross who was going to charge the other birders £10 for access but said we could leave our car near the bridle track and go through his gate, and so we did! It didn't take long for the birder next to me to spot the Belted Kingfisher flying in, but I managed to miss it! After a bit of a panic and most of us slithering around in the mud a bit further along the river, we returned to our original spot after a birder climbed the fence and flushed the bird back to tree infront of us. It was quite distant but we had excellent views which we all enjoyed. I managed lots of phone-scope photos in the gloomy light. We watched it until we had our fill watching it dive for fish several times. We were thrilled as I edge ever nearer to my 500 for my UK list. The excitement certainly beats train spotting and the joy of being with friends sharing the day was wonderful!
A very happy 3rd birthday to this little sweetheart Brodie Bryan, my gorgeous grandson. After Brodie told me all about his wonderful day counting the carp fish that he saw, I settled down to work on my trip report of Mozambique. I seem to take more photos of every trip that I do and so it takes longer to write. I thought about going to see the Great Northern Diver at Pentney that Steve told me about but the rain put me off and I wanted to make progress on my report.
My concentration has been poor during covid and so I had fallen behind with my work, but today I had the chance to write uniterrupted and so I did!
However several messages arrived and I was soon thinking forward and all the foreign travel plans that I have for the coming year. Having now had covid I just hope that this appalling government don't wreck them again.
The only birdwatching I did today was watching a few Blue Tits and Blackbirds in my garden.
Great Northern Diver
I set off in the rain to Pentney Gravel Pit where I met with Ian, Paul, Chris and David. The Black-necked Grebe was showing well along with Mallard, Tufted Duck and Wigeon when viewed from the road at the right hand end of the lake. The Great Northern Diver had other ideas though and I had to wait half an hour before it appeared right over on the back of the lake. It was raining quite hard by now and I had to fetch some waterproof trousers and an umbrella in a vain attempt to keep dry whilst trying to phone-scope some images. They are poor at best but at least you can see what the bird is! Two Great Crested Grebes were also present along with Cormorant and Black-headed Gulls.
Needing some fresh air and exercise to work off all my Christmas cake and Christmas pudding I set off for West Newton to check out the Hawfinch site. Although I could hear one calling I could not locate it but was surprised at a Raven calling overhead. It's been a while since I last saw one here. Nine Fieldfare were sat at the top of a tree but soon moved on. On my way back to the car two Egyptian Geese flew over. Goldcrest were calling from the trees above me but the light was poor and I only saw them very badly as they flew across the track.
I have nearly finished my trip report to Mozambique. Just the mammal list to go now!
Taiga Bean Goose
John and I started our day at Buckenham where we saw 3 Taaiga Bean Geese lurking in the ditch across the marsh. Most of the time we could only see their heads and only once did one of the geese walk up on top of the field. It was good to meet up with Dot and Steve once again. There were many Wigeon present here as a Grey Heron flew across the marsh.We left to go and see the Eagle Owl but could not find it. Locals told us that it flies around at dusk but can sometimes be seen sitting out in the open. Next we visited Ormesby Little Broad where the Red-necked Grebe put on a good show across the other side of the broad. Great Crest Grebes interacted with it but we failed to find the Great Northern Diver that had been reported.
Postscript to 2021
Covid aside 2021 has been a fantastic year and I have fulfilled several of my bucket list dreams. I have never had so many holidays and lovely trips as I have enjoyed this year. St. Kilda, Cape Wrath, Anglesey, The Scilly Isles, Isle of Skye, The Lake District and of course an amazing foreign holiday to Mozambique were all enjoyed immensely. I have watched my family grow and thrive. My eldest son was promoted to a director of a major international company, my second son captained the over 35s England hockey team and my daughter welcomed my seventh grandchild Lucy into the world and in a matter of days came to support me at my second graduation ceremony in Oxford which has been postponed from last year.
I wish to say a special thanks to John, Tim and Jim, my family and the Titchwell team who have all been amazing who not only supported me and had good times with but rallied round when I had covid.
I hope 2022 will be as good to you all and I look forward to the best that birding and friendship can offer us all. Thank you for the many kind messages and emails that you send me and thank you for reading. Sue