Road trip into the Miombo

16th November 2011
Yesterday, I decided to explore a little bit of the interior of the park, the 40km wide strip away from the river. As you leave the valley floor, the temperature changes noticeably, and the surrounding vegetation changes even more. At this stage, you are beginning to enter the vast central African plain, which is mostly covered in Miombo woodland.

This miombo habitat is made up mostly of Brachystegia, Julbernadia and Isoberlina tree species, and supports a very different variety of life from the valley floor. In fact, as someone who is very familiar with the wildlife of this area, it's a bit of a shock (and a pleasure) to be thrown into an environment where I can't identify things at a glance!

The scenery is also stunning as you get into the foothills of the escarpment which marks the edge of the bottom of the Rift Valley.

I was in search of Sable, Roan, Eland and Hartebeest, all antelope species which can survive in the more marginal areas, and thrive doing so. Unfortunately, apart from a line of Sable tracks which I followed for about a kilometre (with no luck) I saw no sign of these big mammals. No worries, there were plenty of unrecognisable birds to keep me (and my bird book) busy.

The Red-headed Weaver is a charismatic mixed woodland dweller which builds messy nests in the mature trees.

I didn't recognise this little brown and white bird, except to know from its behaviour that it must be a flycatcher of some type. It took me a long while to get a photo because it kept flitting from branch to branch and the dappled light made it hard to follow. But lucky I perservered, because it is a Collared Flycatcher. So what? Well, after consulting the experts, it's only the second time that this species has been recorded in the Valley, and the first time so low down off the escarpment plateau! You never know what you are going to find in the bush.

To top it off, as I was coming down off the ridge, I found this Leopard Tortoise on the road. Initially nervous, he kept his head deep inside his shell, but soon worked out that I wasn't planning to eat him, so continued his journey.

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