The Okavango Delta is an inland delta in southern Africa, with waters formed by seasonal flooding. When the water is here, wildlife abound.
More info: Okavango Delta Wikipedia.
The Delta is flat and vast, covering 5,800 square miles (15,000 sq. km.); on the edge of the Kalahari Desert.
We visited this UNESCO World Heritage Site years back in August, when the Okavango River floods the Delta and wildlife congregate.
Large African antelope called waterbuck are often found around water because they cannot tolerate dehydration.
Little Bee-eaters perch as they wait for bees. If you watch bee-eaters long enough, you have the pleasure of watching one sally out in a flash, grab a bee, whack it against a tree, and come back to the perch to consume it.
Hippopotamuses are semiaquatic mammals; they spend their days in lakes and rivers, staying cool in water or mud. At night they graze on grasses.
This is a rufous-bellied heron we watched wrestling with a carp. He swallowed it whole.
Other bird species we commonly found foraging in the Okavango Delta waters were jacana and the fish eagle.
Jacanas have feet designed to evenly distribute the weight of the bird so they can walk atop lily pads. But in many parts of the Delta their long legs take them through shallower waters.
The African Fish Eagle, a raptor, was fierce and vigilant and commonly found in many watery parts.
Other raptors were the African Barred Owl and Black-shouldered Kite. They, too, found their perches and stealthily waited.
Wattled cranes, the largest cranes in Africa and globally threatened, forage on aquatic tubers and rhizomes of submerged sedges and water lilies. It was thrilling to find this trio, for this crane species is rare to find.
The hamerkop is one of my favorite birds, named for the hammer shape of its head. We didn’t see them too often but when we did, we watched intently.
Blacksmith Plovers in their bold patterning were often seen in the waterways.
We passed this hippo pond at sunset and watched their antics until the day’s light had receded.
There are over 5,000 species of wild mammals and over 10,000 species of birds on this planet. I am glad I could share a few of them from the Okavango Delta with you.
Written by Jet Eliot.
All photos in the wild by Athena Alexander.