Driving in Africa is a dirty affair.
A rather odd Sunday. At least compared to those in Montreal Skiing, those in London staying out of the snow and all cosy with the papers or those in Trinidad on the beach, also those who did anything today other than wake up and go searching for rare and near extinct birds called Shoebills.
The Shoebill is an enormous bird, sort of like a stork that is very rare, there are only 138 in all of Uganda and between 2000-8000 in the world, mostly in Sudan. Bird watchers spend thousands of dollars to fly here and seek out these birds, but then bird watchers also spend thousands to fly to Trinidad to see the ugly and elusive Oil Birds.
We woke up at the crack of dawn, with bleary eyes threw together a picnic and stumbled into the Beast ( with fingers crossed). An hour and a half south west and we arrived at a spot by a papyrus swamp where our friendly guide, Hannington, directed us all into dug out boats. For the next 3 hours we drifted through the swamp searching for the Shoebill and got tangled in thick lilly pads, stuck in dense swamp ( I named it a Swamp Jam) and looked longingly through binoculars, hoping, searching and waiting for this ugly grey prehistoric creature to appear.
Finding a Shoebill is like coming across an elephant in the swamp. It is enormous and unexpected. I am not a bird watcher and I was along for the ride and the day out, more than the thrill of seeing a bird, however weird and rare it maybe.
I never got close enough to take a picture as I was standing at the back of the third boat with lots of tall people standing in front of me, but I did see it and its very strange beak through my trusty binoculars. I also saw it fly away, and it has quite an elegant flight style for a bird so large and ugly.
Here are pictures to show you what all the fuss is about. How sad that I had to download it from Wikipedia. The shame of it.
The question, of course, is what kind of shoe is that exactly?
Far more delightful were the gorgeous Lillies that covered the swamp like a lush purple blanket. Some were so pale as to be almost white, some closer to pink and some deep purple. I couldn’t take my eyes of them.
These I did take. Thankfully.
Something different for a Sunday, non?