On their way to the newly replenished waters of Lake Ndutu.
These stunning little birds caught my eye as they engaged in little display/courtship/territorial flights at the side of the road as we passed by.
In the Serengeti you can always seem to find Hyrax around rocky outcroppings. They seem like rodents but are actually related to Elephants.
They can climb anything and the grippy pads on their feet allow them to scale nearly vertical branches.
Here is a closer look at those phenomenal feet.
You can also find them at most visitor centers. This one takes an afternoon rest cradled in a cozy rain gutter.
Grey Crowned Cranes are one of those improbably coiffed, unbelievably plumaged apparitions you see in the grass and discount as the murmurings of your imagination. Look again… they are real.
This one is preening in the reeds. I’d never seen one alone before and a few moments later I discovered its mate.
Settled into the grass disguised as some sort of flower. It is hard to tell if that is a nest or just a bird taking a break. I know almost nothing about them so I’m happy to live with the mystery, even so I’m leaning towards it being a bird on eggs. Tough location though given the Leopards in the vicinity.
Time to find a nearby field to forage in.
This is obscured but I like that it shows the headdress stowed away in an aerodynamic position.
Sorry for my absence lately. That’s life I guess. BLW is back and I’ll try to get into consistent form again. Thanks for all of your comments and for the wonderful feedback. It’s great to know these images have a meaningful life out in the world and that they are appreciated.
They not only eat termites, sometimes they evict them. This family of Banded Mongoose has taken up temporary residence in a termite mound in the Serengeti.
This is the part where I write something interesting about Mongoose but I really know nothing about them except that they’re the bees knees.
If you see an eagle like this in Northern Tanzania and call it a Tawny Eagle you’ll be right most of the time. They do have a cousin from the north called a Steppe Eagle which has an amazing gape. The mouth extends nearly level with the back of the eye. So now that I take a closer look at this image I think it is a Steppe… but I’m open to advice on the matter.
They certainly are impressive. This one was keeping company with a juvenile bird of another species…
a young Bataleur, a strangely shaped yet supremely talented thermal rider.
They have hardly a tail to speak of but don’t seem hampered in the least. Great birds.
When crossing rivers in the Serengeti use caution. That tiny ripple in the distance is actually a drop off and we sunk hood-deep in the current as we crossed. We were the last to attempt it that particular day. You can use that little mirror on the left to get a sense of the depth.
Not far from Oldupai Gorge, the cradle of mankind, you’ll find a few Pale Chanting Goshawks making their living in the arid scrubland. The rains have come and the Thompson’s Gazelles have arrived along with the Wildebeest and Zebra. This Tommy’s Gazelle doesn’t phase the Goshawk in the slightest.
Nothing can distract it from the lizard sunning itself on a rock out of the frame. Yes, moments later it got its meal.
Time to cool off.
I’ve posted images of the Martial Eagle which is the largest in Africa… here is the stunning African Pygmy Falcon, the smallest raptor in the continent. It is actually smaller than an American Robin.
I love tiny birds with immense attitude like Anna’s Hummingbirds or Northern Saw-whet Owls. Now I have a new favorite to add to that diminutive list of minuscule marauders.
Here is a quick VIDEO befitting a quick bird.
The best thing about roaming around in a new land is seeing things that are brand new to you… like this dark grey beauty in the Serengeti. Any falcon is cause for an increase in heart rate but an unknown falcon always stops you in your tracks.
I have to give my Mom and friend props for being patient with me while we sat by the roadside watching a little grey bird in a distant tree. These pics were digiscoped from the back of our truck.
It looked back to keep tabs on a Lilac-breasted Roller nearby and then shifted forward as it prepared to depart.
Grey into gray. The kestrel dips into flight and flaps powerfully away. It’s probably about the size of a Eurasian Kestrel (slightly bigger than the American model).
Well now it’s a falcon that I know… and admittedly, I’d still stop in my tracks for another look at one. Great bird.
Hippos are amazing. They make extraordinary noises. Heavy long distance grunts and hollers. They secrete sunscreen. They spray feces with their paddle-like tails. They graze in fields at night. They run much faster than you. They are the most dangerous animals in Africa. Yup, see those teeth. If you trouble them they’ll have no compunction about disemboweling you on their way back to the water. Respect!
This river in the Serengeti is a Hippo hotspot. They gather in the eddies and pass the daylight hours in large groups.
The roiling waters aren’t always caused by the current. The Hippos sometimes snap out of their sedate reverie and swirl around furiously as they address their space issues.
A friendly warning is issued to a younger hippo who strayed too close.
With order reestablished, a Hippo feels comfortable cooling his exposed back and momentarily sunning his pallid feet.
A mother feels comfortable enough to encourage her baby to climb on the back of a submerged neighbor.
Farther out, a loner settles into the current and stands firm while the water races by.
A Red-billed Oxpecker gets a free ride on its roaming buffet. They can easily logroll a Hippo if it rolls onto its back, sprinting onto any available surface above water.
Yup, they certainly are fierce. I was glad to be on ledge near the pool with good visibility in all directions.
There you have it. Hippos from front to back. See you tomorrow folks.
Baboons are brilliant. Scary. Cute. Smart. Crass. Social. Intriguing. Below are a few images from the Serengeti. The one above is from Lake Manyara.
What an interesting substance. Satisfying curiosity is the main activity of baby Baboons.
While the adults are slaking their thirst the youngster tries to remind them that it’s also a pool.
After cooling off it’s time for a quick grooming session.
The kids begin to play and an older sibling quickly asserts his dominance.
Fully recovered from being pinned down. Time to investigate something else.
A Giraffe in the Serengeti.
A Leopard Tortoise ambles along not far from the giraffe.
A Yellow Weaver on the prowl. The caterpillar is there though I can barely see it even with the benefit of a frozen moment. But it didn’t escape the gaze of the hunter.
Got it! Juicy and apparently delicious because it was consumed instantly.
Off to find another meal.
I think this is a Yellow Weaver but the range map in my guide was lacking. The bill seemed to fit the pink of the description with a dark line along the top ridge. No other Weavers seem to have this trait but I’m a rookie so feel free to tell me if you know what this bird actually is. It also has little dark areas just in front of and behind the eye… giving the eye a diamond shape. It may also have a more popular common name other than “yellow” which is a poor way to describe a group of birds as collectively yellow as weavers. Thanks for any insight.
A male soars high over the Serengeti plains.
Strolling through the Serengeti on a fine day. The sky darkens as the short rains arrive and flush the lowlands. Common Ostrich seem uncommonly hurried as they strut in formation across the plains.
They aren’t the only ones. In the distant grass, moving, searching, a Cheetah lopes along with purpose.
There have been records of a band of Cheetah brothers hunting together and taking down Ostrich… but the odds aren’t anywhere close to even today. Still, it pays to listen to that little instinct that moves you further away from predators.
Strutting becomes running and then the Ostrich take full flight, as only they can.
Rollers are the size of jays with the alertness of a flycatcher, the predatory instincts of a shrike, and the beauty of a sunbird. Plus they are common in Tanzania. Have I mentioned I love Tanzania?
Seeing prey in the grass below the Roller glides off his perch while keeping a close eye on me.
It devoured something in the tall grass and then it rose again.
On the lookout once more.
Locally known as the White-eyed Kestrel. Photographed in the Serengeti.
This is the superb Augur Buzzard. Tanzania’s Red-tailed Hawk if you will. It was even used in a hollywood movie in place of a Redtail presumably because it could be called a “red tailed hawk” without it being a lie. At any rate, it is a fairly common bird although close encounters like this one in the Serengeti are less common.
Most are lighter birds like this one, but in the highlands you’ll find beautiful dark morphs floating about.
Time to depart. Acacia trees don’t seem like ideal perches but they have to do in the endless plain of the Serengeti.
They make a point of clearing the thorns with the first jump.
This one is for my friend Siobhan who is a molt connoisseur. This bird was in the middle of its transition to adulthood and the retained juvenal plumage stands in lovely contrast to the new adult feathers with heavy black sub-terminal bands.
Vervets are charismatic and eminently watchable as groups of them interact and forage. This one couldn’t be bothered to move and sat right outside the car window.
This pair seemed to be involved in a one-sided discussion. Eventually they both ended up preening in exactly the same position.
A beautiful Speckle-fronted Weaver photographed at the Naabi Gate picnic area in the Serengeti. They look like lovely sparrows and I was surprised to discover it was actually a little weaver bird. Turns out there are an enormous variety of weavers, not just plumage but size and shape and behavior. Cool.
This bird is as close as you can get to being a raptor without a hooked bill and talons. It is a fierce hunter and haunts the dreams of lizards. Plus it is a looker too.
My mother has one nesting in her backyard. As yard birds go this one is pretty thrilling. She also has Bronze Manikins, Spectacled Weavers, Common Bulbuls, Amethyst Sunbirds, and Speckled Mousebirds… but the skittish Coucal is the star of the show.
The Pin-tailed Wydah bird is striking and improbable looking. It is one of my favorites.
This one heads out to forage along the roadside in the Serengeti but I’ve seen them in Dar es Salaam as well.
They have a beautiful rhythmic pulsing flight, no doubt caused by the aerodynamic challenges inherent in carrying such a fabulous tail.
I wish I knew more about them. I’m glad they are fairly common in Tanzania.