We’re aboard the MSC Opera, a luxury cruise liner on its way to Walvis Bay (and back, of course). We’re attending the annual BirdLife South Africa AGM, along with over 1,200 other birders. Besides all the entertainment on board (casino, restaurants, shows, movies and music) there are daily bird and photography talks on the go throughout the day. And a shore excursion (more birding) in Walvis Bay in Namibia on Sunday. What a great way to spend a few days
The Group enjoying some onboard birding talks.
Sand Dunes greet us on our birding tour into the desert and surrounding areas. Namibia is the only coastal desert in the world that includes extensive dune fields influenced by fog. We docked at Walvis Bay harbour in Namibia at 8am this morning, where we met our birding tour guide. We spent the next six hours or so in the back of an enclosed land rover, climbing and plummeting sand dunes and exploring the Walvis Bay lagoon. It was an amazing experience
Namaqua chameleon – This is quite a large chameleon found in the Namibia to Angola desert regions. It can run very fast and lives on beetles, insects, scorpions and will even eat smaller chameleons. They remind us of prehistoric creatures.
Tractrac chat – The Tractrac Chat is a small, pale coloured species with an upright stance and longish legs. Appears long-billed and short-tailed in the field. The bill, legs and feet are black and the sexes are alike.
Booted Eagle – Is a small eagle and is a fierce hunter that stoops down on its prey from great heights similar to a Peregrine Falcon. There is a separate population that breeds in Namibia and South Africa.
We came across this Nama homestead happily thriving in the dunes.
The wild tobacco that grows in the dunes.
A Nama church sitting right in the middle of the dunes.
Toktokkie beetle – The Toktokkie beetle is one of the best known insects, with more than 200 species resident in the country, 20 of them living in the Namib Desert. The name ‘toktokkie’ refers to this beetle’s habit of knocking its abdomen against the ground as a means of communicating it’s desirability to a mate, each species of toktokkie having its own unique tapping language to avoid confusion.
Another guide vehicle stuck in the sand.
The red-faced mousebird is a common frugivore which subsists on fruits, berries, leaves, seeds and nectar. Its flight is typically fast, strong and direct from one feeding area to another.
A salt pan, glistening in the Namibian sun – Natural salt pans are flat expanses of ground covered with salt and other minerals, usually shining white under the sun. They are found in dry climates. In Namibia salt pans occur along the coast, for example at Swakopmund.
And just nearby, the saltworks – Southwest of the lagoon is this 3500-hectare salt-pan complex, which currently supplies over 90% of South Africa’s salt. As with the one in Swakopmund, these pans concentrate salt from seawater with the aid of evaporation. They are also a rich feeding ground for shrimp and larval fish.
An almost-tame pelican in the Walvis Bay lagoon, waiting hopefully for a few morsels to be sent their way by the fishermen.
And just a few hours later, the Namibian pilot boat sees the MSC Opera back out of the harbour and on our way back home. What a wonderful time we had.