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Day 4 (Sunday, 21st February)

     Mole (morning)

First morning in Mole NP, and the first order of the day was to return to the disused airstrip to search for White-throated Francolin again. Kalu seemed to have a thing about finding these birds, constantly trying to lure them out Ė we only assume they are a speciality that tour groups aim for, but werenít hugely personally disappointed when we failed to find them again. Too many other good birds to see.

Mole bush Water Hole Guard
Bush within Mole Water hole Ever alert guard from Mole NP

The morning was spent parking uphere and there in the bush, looking for known water holes were the birds should be concentrated. While the heat of the morning wasnít as high as expected, and no real evidence of annoying flies, there had apparently been a lot less rain than would normally fall over the last few months, leaving the bush very dry and parched, and the water courses drained. This made the birding a little more hard work, with some good birds spaced out. The bush itself wasnít too difficult to walk through, since it wasnít too dense, although every now and again we would come across very rough areas where the elephants had trodden in mud, leaving large holes. First stop was outstanding, however. We walked a little way up the track, picking up the first of many Red-throated Bee-eaters, with Greater Honeyguide and Golden-tailed Woodpecker overhead. A sharp turn to the left and only a few metres from the road was a standing pool, likely to be part of a stream in wetter days, but now a magnet of around 20 metres long by 2 metres, and surrounded by bushes. We must have spent around 45 minutes sat at the open end watching the plethora of birds making their way down to drink, and they generally werenít too perturbed by our presence. Initially drawn in by the groups of small finches, the more common Red-billed Firefinches and Cordon Bleus were found to also contain Red-winged Pytilia, and Orange-cheeked Waxbill & Black-faced Firefinch. An African Blue Flycatcher hung around in the overhanging branches, while a Swamp Flycatcher was busy feeding around the water. A couple of African Golden Orioles were initially at the back of the pool, but ventured to the waterís edge eventually. Oriole Warbler was overhead, but Spur-winged Francolin and Hamerkop stayed to the rear. Walking around towards the back of the pool also unearthed a Blue-breasted Kingfisher and Brown-throated Wattle-eye, with Striated Heron flying up to the trees above, and Violet Turaco on flypast. The drier area behind held a large group of small finches, all in non-breeding plumage, but sifting through turned up Yellow-mantled Widowbird, and Northern & Black-winged Red Bishop.

After looking for a once promising area for Pelís Fishing Owl, but finding the stream bone dry, we visited the largish pool with viewing hide viewable from the hotel. This held the star attraction for the non birding guests Ė a couple of Elephants, and some Kob, Green Monkeys, and Olive Baboons in the vicinity. Main birdlife here were Black-crowned Night Heron, Hamerkop, Squacco Heron, and a Blue-breasted Kingfisher.

Elephant pool Dry pool
"Elephant pool" Dry pool

The last pool we visited wasalmost dry, with a few fish clinging on to their existence with the last bit of life giving water. Kalu mentioned that only 5 days ago there was significantly more water here, but it was going quickly. A Lizard Buzzard didnít seem to mind too much, plying to and fro between perches around the clearing. This seemed to be the only bird worth noting but a quick search in the margins unearthed Gambaga Flycatcher and Green-backed Cameroptera.

African Firefinch African Thrush Bearded Barbet
African Firefinch African Thrush Bearded Barbet
Blue-breasted Kingfisher African Blue Flycatcher Double-spurred Francolin
Blue-breasted Kingfisher African Blue Flycatcher Double-spurred Francolin
African Golden Oriole Oriole Warbler Red-throated Bee-eater
African Golden Oriole Oriole Warbler Red-throated Bee-eater
Swamp Flycatcher Wattle -eye Yellow-fronted Canary
Swamp Flycatcher Brown-throated Wattle-eye Yellow-fronted Canary
Elephant Hadada Ibis Lizard Buzzard
African Elephant Western Cattle Egret and Hadada Ibis Lizard Buzzard

     Mole Hotel

After lunch and a cool down, the grounds of the hotel were covered for a while. Still hot, but with a slightly cooling wind, some good birds were found. The grounds seem unexciting at first glance, with a pool centrepiece and attendant sun worshippers, alongside the restaurant area and couple of accommodation blocks. But these are bounded by trees, which run down to the bush and natural pools below. Birds seemed to keep popping up when all seemed quiet. Initial standards were African Grey Woodpecker, Senegal Batis, Green-backed Cameroptera, and Northern Black Flycatcher. However, with patience a couple of Greater Honeyguides and Northern Puffback came into view for some time. These seemed to be part of a small bird party, with a couple of Senegal Eremomelas added in. A tree containing three more Black Flycatchers then stumped up a couple of Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weavers, and the same tree a short while later a White-shouldered Black Tit. Finishing off the mÍlťe before going back to the room was a Blue-breasted Kingfisher.

Mole Hotel Senegal Batis Northern Black Flycatcher
Rear of Mole Hotel Senegal Batis Northern Black Flycatcher
Green-backed Cameroptera Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver Familiar Chat
Green-backed Cameroptera Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver Familiar Chat
Northern Pufback White-shouldered Black Tit Wart-hog
Northern Puffback White-shouldered Black Tit Wart-hog

     Mole (afternoon)

This late afternoon / evenings look out was a little strange in some ways, in that Kalu wanted to look for a couple of local speciality birds, which failed to materialise, but the late show was impressive. We headed back into the bush again, at a location a little further along from this morning, passing the recently opened Zaina Lodge hotel in the park on the way (3 Elephants and a Violet Turaco near the artificial pool here). A short way along the track within the bush, Kalu asked if we had seen Brown-rumped Bunting? This was to be the bird to find here, but we were out of the car for only minutes when he called the search off (it did seem very quiet). So the next plan was to look for Forbesís Plover, at a site where there is a collection of open expanses, ostensibly grassland but with very little on the parched earth. We drove around here searching for the quarry but only picked up a few Sun Larks. Plodding further on in the quest, we spotted a pair of Northern Carmine Bee-eaters perched on top of one of the larger trees. After a couple of tree hops, we finally managed to get some images. At this time, the sweat bees were proving more than a nuisance Ė I found later that 50% deet is less to their liking than the earlier Incognito. After searching another area for Forbesís Plover without success, we headed back to the first area again. This yet again turned up no plovers, but a Martial Eagle gliding behind the nearby treeline was adequate recompense. Shortly after, an African Scops Owl was successfully lured in. The fun didnít end here Ė the return journey in the car shone 6 separate Long-tailed Nightjars in the headlights on the track in front of us.

OPen ground Sweat bees
Open ground Anything to stop the sweat bees!

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Introduction

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Day 7 Day 8

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