Fishing Party

As the season progresses and the waters of the rains recede, every shrinking body of water appears to host a fishing party. The ox-bow lakes  and lagoons that lie adjacent to the course of the Luangwa river, teem with life that is often difficult for predators to access. But when these waters shrink back and start to disappear, all of this life is suddenly placed on the smorgasbord and the hungry birds arrive to feast.

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The Yellow-billed storks, Marabou storks, Great White egrets, Hamerkops, Grey herons and Saddle-billed storks ring the pools as they probe the water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) for signs of life.

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Sometimes the fishing parties are dominated by one species and with the large colony of Yellow-billed storks based  a short flight across the river, it is no wonder that many of the parties are dominated by these large birds. When you hear the sound of the wind fluting through their extended flight feathers, you can be forgiven if you suddenly search the skies for harpies.

yellow billed stork feeding party

At other lagoons it is Marabous that dominate, or Spoonbills that out-compete all others.

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 The fishing parties occur year-after-year in the same lagoons and you would be excused for believing that one day the bounty must fail due to over-fishing.

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But just as you think that there cannot be anything left alive in the water, the birds move on, indicating that the fish have submerged themselves in the mud for another year.  They have dug down deep in the thick clay, away from the probing bills and sifting feet, to hibernate until the rains arrive again in November.

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