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Posts Tagged ‘wildebeest’

 “Most of us don’t need a psychiatric therapist as much as a friend to be silly with.” – Robert Brault.

 

Sharp-eyed Kim spotted this serval in the bush. It was a rare daytime find. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

African Safari: The Rest of the Day

Joseph picked us up after the hot air balloon ride for yet another exciting Safari day. Right off Kim spotted a cheetah – No, we quickly saw it was a serval, a rare daytime find, said Joseph, who quickly followed it off the road to give us a better look before it slunk off.

Then we watched a river full of crocodiles dining on a dead hippo, the same dead one we had seen them guarding the day before. Joseph had told us that hippos’ thick hides were too tough for the crocs to eat, and that they were waiting for it to rot a bit so they could tear it apart.

I thought you might enjoy this picture of a live hippo enjoying its spa day better than the one of the dead hippo being chomped up by crocodiles. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And that’s exactly what they were doing. Several toothy snouts had hold of it and were twisting their bodies in circles to tear off chunks. Really gruesome to watch, but Kim and I were fascinated.

Our big event for the day was to watch wildebeest on migration cross the Mara River. We watched for hours but it never happened. All it would take is for one wildebeest to start across and the all the rest would follow in a mad dash. Such a crossing is prime dinner time for the Nile crocodiles, but the mass swim allows most of the wildebeest to survive the day.

The animals make the crossing twice a year.

Today's wildebeest preferred dry land to water -- Photo by Kim Perrin

But this day, despite many a wildebeest approach right up to the river, they all skittishly turned back.

Finally Joseph gave up, as disappointed as Bilal was at not finding rhinos for us to watch, and went in search of lions and cheetahs for us to watch. He always found them, and watching their feline ways was never disappointing.

It was a wise choice because we heard over dinner that night the wildebeest never did get up the nerve this day to cross the river. The cat-watching, meanwhile had been great, Among other things, we got a glimpse of a hyena that was stalking a cheetah that was stalking a tommy.

The gazelle ran, the cheetah slinked away, and the hyena decided there might be easier prey around and trotted off as well.

Pink-backed pelican -- Wikipedia poto

Toward the evening, Joseph lingered in a swampy area of the park, where birds were plentiful.

I spotted what I thought was a pink-backed pelican, which would be a lifer for me. Joseph, however, thought it might be a white pelican, which would have been a lifer for him.

So off we went for a closer view. While I felt sorry for Joseph, I’m glad my identification proved right. It would be one of only two lifers I would get this day, the other being a black-chested snake eagle. I was still happy, however. We saw lots of birds I had seen earlier and it was becoming easier for me to recognize the common ones.

Back in camp, Kim and I bemoaned that our African Safari was coming to an end. We only had one more wildlife drive with Joseph in the morning and then we would be flying back to Nairobi, and from there home to the United States. .

We made it a two Jack and Coke night, celebrating both the adventure and the fact that our friendship had survived over two weeks of 24-hour togetherness. Given how quirky and different from each otherwe are, that was as important to celebrate as was our fantastic safari.

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 “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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