Tag Archives: Water thick-knee

Chobe National Park – Botswana

In previous blogs we have talked about our wonderful holidays in Botswana, in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the Central Kalahari, as well as up in the Savuti area.  In all these places the wildlife has been abundant and we’ve had the privilege of viewing it in relatively remote and isolated conditions with few other people around us at the time.

The Chobe River area is also well worth a visit as it probably has the greatest variety of wildlife in Botswana – the only downside being that it is easily accessible so one has to share this piece of paradise with lots of other tourists.   Nevertheless, it remains one of our favourite spots and we’ll venture back there at every opportunity.

Hippo gives us the evil eye

There are some great camping spots along the Chobe and our choice of a site at the Chobe Safari Lodge in Kasane was ideal.  Nestled privately amongst the trees, with the water lapping a couple of meters away (and the protection of a fence to keep intruding crocs and hippos at bay), our campsite was well positioned to give us excellent views of the animals coming down to the river to drink.


The highlight of any visit though has to be a sundown boat cruise on the Chobe as the birdlife on the banks and islands is superb.

Water thick-knee

If you’re not into bird spotting, you will be just as enthralled at the vast numbers of animals that congregate on the riverfront towards the end of the day – elephants, buffalo, kudu – the list is endless.  Top all this off with an ice cold beer and an amazing sunset and you’ll wonder why you don’t spend every holiday here.

Who is watching who?

We also enjoyed our stay at the Kubu Lodge campsite which gave us the chance to do a self-drive into the Chobe National Park.  The Lodge offers game drives into the Park, but we preferred going on our own as it enabled us to stop and photograph at our leisure. Kubu  (Kubu means hippo) Lodge has enormous grounds to walk around in and we had little buck peeping at us through the trees.  We were warned to be on the lookout for a stray buffalo that had come ashore from the river – fortunately we didn’t encounter it while we were out birding.


If you’re planning a visit, don’t limit your time in the Chobe area as there is so much to see and do.  If birds and animals don’t interest you, then try your hand at tiger fishing – it’s guaranteed to give you a thrill when you land one of these amazing fish.  All in all a very special part of Botswana and a photographer’s delight.

Bird of the week – Week 27 : Water thick-knee

Previously known as a “dikkop” from the Afrikaans for “thick-head”, I suppose the recent change to “thick-knee” could be seen as a small improvement! Its relatives in some parts of the world, though, are known as “stone-curlews”, which somewhat less derogatory of the birds intelligence or physique. On the other hand, one of its relatives is apparently called a “goggle-eyed plover”, so it could be worse.
The Water thick-knee is a plover-like bird with a length of about 40 cm and a wingspan of about 200 cm when fully grown. The sexes are alike;  streaked dark brown on light brown over the upper body, with grey wing bars that are conspicuous when the bird is not flying. The underparts are lighter in colour and the birds are streaked with brown on the chest. The eyes are yellow or pale green; the bill is black and the legs and feet a greenish-grey.
Locally common, the Water thick-knee is found in the wetter eastern parts of Southern Africa, and in Namibia is limited to the wetter extreme northern part of the country. They are generally found along rivers or at dams, lakes, swamps or on beaches, where they feed on termites, insects, molluscs, small fish, and crustaceans.
They are usually solitary birds, found in pairs when breeding but may also be found in small flocks when not breeding. They are mainly nocturnal or crepuscular but may be quite vocal in full daylight, calling with a mournful “ti-ti-ti”. Although they can fly strongly, they seem to prefer to run than to fly when disturbed.
Water thick-knees are monogamous and their nest is no more that a scrape in the sand, usually hidden amongst stones or bushes on the bank of a river or dam, usually quite close to the water. The female lays a clutch of two pale cream-coloured eggs that may be marked with brown splotches and that hatch after an incubation period of around 24 days.
The scientific name for the Water thick-knee is Burhinus vermiculatus; “Burhinus” from the Greek meaning a huge nose and “vermiculatus” from the Latin for vermiculated (which, in simple English means “decorated with wormlike tracery or markings”). According to its name, then, a bird with a large beak and which is decorated with wormlike tracery or markings.