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Posts Tagged ‘Ruppell’s griffin vulture’

 “A journey is best measured in friends than in miles.” Tim Cahill

Morning pickup at the large Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge was somewhat of a traffic jam. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

African Safari

Our morning started early, supposedly with a packed breakfast. We thought Bilal would provide it, and he thought we were supposed to pick it up at the lodge before we left, which is the most likely.

Anyway, it was a day without breakfast, although thanks to another guide whom we met up with during a wildlife watching stop we did get coffee. He had brought some along for his two safari clients and was kind enough to share.

Zebras enjoying a patch of green grass in the crater. -- Photo by Pat Bean

His passengers were a delightful Irish couple, Des and Karen. Des had bought an African spear souvenir, and joked that he wanted to be able to protect his own woman and not have to depend on the guide.

The remark jogged my memory about Bilal’s comment about women guides, and so I asked his fellow guide what he thought about the idea.

Mom and young wildebeest. We would see a lot more in Kenya where most of the wildebeest had already migrated for the season. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Oh they would be too scared,” he replied, echoing Bilal’s comment.

Karen, meanwhile, commented that Des actually bought the spear “to protect his beer from me.”

After we parted from our friendly interlude with the other safari team, Bilal began seriously searching for the rhinos that supposedly make their home in the Ngorongoro crater. I say supposedly because we never saw any.

Sacred ibis -- Photo by Steve Garvie

The crater is one of the very few places left in Africa where one can see black rhino, and the fact that we couldn’t find any brought home the fact that this species has been dwindling significantly in recent years.

Bilal, who kept muttering “no rhino” all morning seemed more disappointed than we were. He was on the radio frequently quizzing fellow guides in the area, but everyone it seemed no one was seeing any rhino .

One of the black rhinos in the Ngorongoro Crater that we didn't see. -- Wikipedia photo

But what we did see this morning included wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, elephants, hyenas, lions, buffalo and jackals. The latter always came in pairs with one leading and one following. Bilal said the female is always in front.

“She leads the male.”

The morning’s drive also turned up another nine life birds for me, as well as a lot of those I had already seen. Some of my new birds were now becoming old friends that I recognized on sight without the help of my bird field guide. That make me feel good.

Ruppell's griffin vulture -- Photo by Rob Schoenmaker

Bilal, however, was still bemoaning the lack of any rhino sighting when he dropped us off for lunch back at the lodge. I don’t remember what we had, except that it was good and Kim and I ate enough to make up for our skipped breakfast.

Bird Log of New Lifers: Rufous-tailed weaver, grey-crowned crane, black-bellied bustard, chestnut-bellied sandgrouse, Ruppel’s griffin vulture, sacred ibis, black-headed heron, wattled starling, and common stonechat. Aug. 26, 2007, Ngorongoro Crater.

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 “The very idea of a bird is a symbol and a suggestion to the poet. A bird seems to be at the top of the scale, so vehement and intense his life … the beautiful vagabonds, endowed with every grace, masters of all climes, and knowing no bounds – how many human aspirations are realised in their free, holiday lives – and how many suggestions to the poet in their flight and song.” – John Burroughs

They say ostriches stick their heads in the sand. Maybe so. But the ones we saw in the Serengeti preferred to stretched out their legs and run. It made for a glorious parade. -- Photo by Pat Bean

African Safari: Colorful Birds

Kori bustard -- Photo by Kim Perrin

The drive from Lake Manyara to the Serengeti was one of the most exciting bird-watching days in my life. I saw my first free roaming ostriches. Much bigger than I imagined, and boy could they run.

We passed a Kori bustard, which strutted across the grasslands like it owned them. We were close enough for Kim to even get a great photograph. This was a big bird, standing over three-feet tall.

There was this great big red-faced fellow, a lappet-faced vulture. he made ugly look beautiful, well at least to the addicted birder.

A flock of Ruppell's griffin vulture, with a lone lappet-faced vulture on the far left. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

A face only a mother could love, or not. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

And then there were the secretary birds,  so named because someone thought the stiff neck feathers looked like the quill pens secretaries used to stick behind their ears. it hunts its prey — small mammals, snakes, lizards, young birds, on the ground.

Secretary bird: Do you think this bird's neck feathers look like quill pens? -- Wikipedia photo

Like the bustard, the secretary bird we saw was strutting across the savannah as if it owned it.  

Next : the Serengeti’s Sopa Lodge

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