At the end of November 2017 my friend Niel Cillié phoned me: "There is a Pitta calling in Zimbabwe, not far from Vic Falls, lets go!"
The African Pitta is probably the most sought after bird to twitch in Southern Africa. It is a beautiful bird, which definitely plays a role, but the fact that it is so difficult to find makes it even more sought after. They only call for a short while (usually first week or two in December), and if they are not calling close to impossible to find in their preferred habitat: the leafy undergrowth of riparian thickets.
So with the opportunity to photograph this stunning bird, we decided to pack our bags for the weekend and give it ago...we were not disappointed!
After settling in at Lukosi Safari Camp (https://birdingsafarisvictoriafalls.com/) our nerves almost got the better of us, as the Pitta didn't call the first afternoon. Luckily the Pitta started calling before sunrise the next morning, so the search began. We got some decent photos, but nothing to write home about...but seeing an African Pitta is already an accomplishment! After spending a few hours with the Pitta (without decent photos) it stopped calling, so we decided to head out into the concession to try and find some other birds.
Our first sighting, a mere 5 minutes from camp, was a pack of the highly endangered African Wild Dogs. So cool when you scroll through photos on the back of your camera, and you toggle between African Pitta and African Wild Dog...not bad!
In the summer Zimbabwean heat we added Arnot's Chat and Racket-tailed Roller to our lists.
Our afternoon stint with the Pitta was unsuccessful again, with only a quick sighting of the bird in the undergrowth, and only one quick call. We decided to call it a day, and try again the next morning.
The following morning we were treated with the most incredible African Pitta sighting. It displayed for close to 2 hours, and we were able to get some stunning photos (if you take the difficulty into consideration!) We were ecstatic, I don't think even an elicit drug could get us more excited!
We stayed at Lukosi Safari Camp (https://birdingsafarisvictoriafalls.com/), a tented camp on the banks of the lovely Lukosi River, in the Deka Safari Area bordering Hwange National Park.
It would be amazing to visit the area again in the future, but then for more than just 2 nights, there is so much to explore!
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