Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Trip report: Limpopo-Lipadi 5-9 February 2015

I just returned from 4 days at Limpopo-Lipadi Private Game and Wilderness Reserve, together with 5 crazy passionate nature loving people - what a pleasure to spend time in the African bush with these good friends!

Black-faced Waxbill
Limpopo-Lipadi Private Game and Wilderness Reserve is a shareholder owned reserve in the Tuli Block, Botswana - and truly a magical place, and one of my favourite places in Africa.  If you would like to become part of the Limpopo-Lipadi family, please email them at enquiries@limpopo-lipadi.org

Selemo, a young female leopard we came across on the beautiful Swartsloot

This is a report on the few days spent at Limpopo-Lipadi.


Black Mamba (Mogorosi River)
February is always good for snakes, and Limpopo-Lipadi didn't disappoint.
The first snake sighting was as we parked our vehicles at unit 6.  We spotted a Western Yellow-bellied Sand Snake.  Luckily they are harmless, and a very beautiful snake indeed.

Mozambique Spitting Cobra (Northern Plains)
Our next snake was a large black mamba, uncharacteristically very relaxed.  We spotted the snake on the Mogorosi-river road, not far from the Mogorosi waterhole.  It was relaxing next to the road, and then crossed the road slowly directly in front of us!  That night we also came across a Mozambique spitting cobra on the Northern plains.

The following day saw us photographing birds at Kloppers waterhole, when Francois (one of the guests) spotted a young African Rock Python in the tree above the waterhole!  It was an excruciatingly hot day, so maybe the python went for a swim to cool down a bit.  As we were spending time with the python, another Western Yellow-bellied Sand Snake made it's appearance as well.
African Rock Python (Kloppers waterhole)
Western Yellow-bellied Sand Snake (Kloppers waterhole)
Not often you get to see 5 snakes in 3 days!

A quick visit to Lipadi Hill produced a very curious Common Flat Lizard.

Common Flat Lizard (Lipadi Hill)


Little Bee-eater

The definite birding highlight was catching up with 2 Three-banded Coursers!  This was my 2nd sighting of Three-banded Courser on the Southern Plains.  I would like to think that this could be a reliable spot to see these elusive birds!

Three-banded Courser

Bronze-winged Courser

Temminck's Courser
Bronze-winged coursers were abundant in the dry Mopani woodland, and we also stumbled across a family of Temminck's Coursers.

We had 2 sightings of Grey-headed Kingfisher, my favourite kingfisher.  The cobalt blue feathers are such a pretty sight.

Greyheaded Kingfisher
Other birds worth mentioning is Dusky lark x2, Collared Sunbird, Tropical Boubou, Icterine Warbler (at the large leadwood east of Mogorosi waterhole), Shikra, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Barred Wren-Warbler, Lesser Honeyguide, Grey Tit-Flycather, Ashy Flycatcher, White-backed Vulture, Southern Carmine Bee-eaters, Common House Martin, Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters, Spotted Eagle Owl, and a few nightjar species including Square-tailed Nightjar to name just a few.  There are such a diversity of habitat ranging from Acacia woodland, Riparian forest, plains, mountain, Broadleaf Woodland - so the list goes on.

Barred Wren-Warbler
Square-tailed Nightjar
Spotted Eagle Owl

Limpopo-Lipadi have become synonymous with African Wild Dog and Leopard, and didn't disappoint.

African Wild Dog (North of Cabbage dam)

While stopping for a Grey-headed Bushshrike just north of Cabbage dam, Marissa (a guest) spotted 6 African Wild Dogs in the sandy riverbed below the bushshrike!  We were able to spend some time with this pack the rest of the afternoon, until they took off into the bushes just before sunset.

After enjoying the African sunset at Cabbage dam, we returned back to camp via the southern plains, where we added Bat-eared Foxes, Porcupine (4 individuals together!), and a single Brown Hyena to our list for the day.

Odirile, a young male seen at Tholo dam
Regarding leopard, we were privileged to spend close to 3 hours with a very relaxed young male (Odirile, the son of Maya) resting on Tholo Dam wall one afternoon.  The next morning we went to Tholo dam again just after sunrise, where we were surprised to find another leopard there drinking water, this time a very large male!  He was a bit more skittish and retreated to the bush behind the dam wall.

Our best leopard sighting however was on our last game drive, in the golden light of early morning, on the magical Swartsloot, where we spotted a known female (Selemo, +-2 years old), sitting quietly on a termite mound.  She then stood up and decided to walk in the road in front of us.  She was extremely relaxed, and what a blessing spending some quality time with such an amazing animal.  Unfortunately she moved into the bushes soon thereafter, but the 5 minutes spent with her in the golden light of morning is something to remember for sure.

Selemo, the young female we came across on Swartsloot
We don't get to spend a lot of quality time with Spotted Hyena at Limpopo-Lipadi, but this time was very different.  We were enjoying sundowners at Mbuzi waterhole, sitting quietly in the hide on the last afternoon.  We could hear the baboons alarm calling in the distance, a sure sign that a predator is mobile.  We waited in anticipation, and out came a Spotted Hyena.  The hyena had a drink at the waterhole in front of us, had a quick stand off with a blue wildebeest, and then moved to the area behind the hide.  There the hyena started with it's characteristic whooping calls, which echoed through the hide... His clan members replied in the distance, and we enjoyed the magical experience...
The next morning we had a quick stop at Mbuzi, where we caught up with a single spotted hyena again.

Spotted Hyena (Mbuzi waterhole)

The mammal sighting of the weekend must go to the Aardwolf, a very secretive nocturnal mammal. We spotted a young individual at his den on the Middle Plains - and spent some time with him where his curious nature made him stick his head up from his den every few minutes!

Aardwolf (Middle Plains)
We also had a sighting of a Thick-tailed Bushbaby at Langope, a first sighting for me on the reserve.
Mogorosi waterhole also delivered a first for me on the reserve in the form of 2 bush pigs!

Thick-tailed Bushbaby

General game included the usuals such as impala, kudu, giraffe, zebra, warthog, eland, Small spotted Genet, etc.  We unfortunately didn't see any elephants - although we saw their evidence all over.

Swallow-tailed bee-eater (juv)
What is truly magical about Limpopo-Lipadi, is the fact that we only spotted another game drive vehicle on 2 occassions!  And that despite the camp being fully booked!


All photos Copyright Anton Kruger

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