A Travellerspoint blog

Serengeti Day II Part II - Research Ponds

A smorgasbord of animals


View The Howards' 40th Anniversary Tour on Grete Howard's travel map.

Making our way across the savannah, I am surprised to see how dry the grass is already considering we are still in the wet season, albeit towards the end.

large_Driving_Ac.._Savannah_1.jpg

Parched from the hot sun, the surface of the earth has cracked, forming a thin crust easily disturbed by passing animals.

large_Parched_Earth_31.jpg

large_Parched_Earth_33.jpg

large_Parched_Earth_34.jpg

large_Hartebeest.jpg

large_C8EB6BAFB69BDA14A2F17106D9F49F5C.jpg

With the gentle movement of the car, the warm sun and the number of tablets I am taking for my chest infection; I go into a deep sleep. Only when the car slows to a standstill nearly an hour later, do I wake up.

large_2CD3DCB9F77E261F87E03B60AD1D89E1.jpg

Our reason for stopping soon becomes obvious.

large_C906B975BBE3D091C956C48C4A342D55.jpg

On a nearby rock, another lioness is sunning herself.

large_CA927CC1DB70B6BFDA43042E4C5F52BA.jpg

While we are busy photographing the cats, my Facebook friend Jim and his family / friends turn up. Serengeti is a large place, so the chances of seeing him here today is very small. We have already seen them once in Ndutu. It really is a small world.

large_Photographing_the_Lions_1.jpg

large_Jim_and_Co_1.jpg

large_Jim_and_Co_2.jpg

Bored with sunbathing, the lioness jumps down and takes a stroll in morning heat.

large_Lion_402.jpg

large_Lion_403.jpg

large_Lion_404.jpg

large_Agama_Lizard.jpg

The Red Headed Rock Agama doesn't seem the least bit bothered about a lioness walking past his rock.

large_Lizard__Re.._Rock_Agama.jpg

large_F5B024640CF632DD74DBB7E0EAB4C84E.jpg

Nor does the Black Backed Jackal.

large_Jackal__Black_Backed_401.jpg

large_C8CC8114071D6FB6E70223DFF83FEC7E.jpg

Resting peacefully in the shade of a tree, two 'Rasta Lions' momentarily sit up, barely opening their eyes to check us out, then lie down to sleep again. Oh, it is such a hard life to be a lion here.

large_Lion_405.jpg

large_Lion_407.jpg

large_Lion_408.jpg

large_Lion_411.jpg

large_Lion_406.jpg

large_Lion_414.jpg

large_Lion_415A.jpg

large_Starlings.jpg

This picture shows the difference between the Superb and the Hildebrand Starlings.

large_Starling__..debrand__51.jpg

The Superb in the foreground has a white band on his chest and a white eye; whereas the Hildebrand (singing his little heart out) has no marking between the orange and blue, and the eye is black.

large_2F5B535BC9DD3276919D06563851258B.jpg

large_Topi_101.jpg

large_2F59BD14B0603A3D9F5F35B4A3B2C32F.jpg

This guy has obviously lost a horn while fighting for a female. I hope she was worth it!

large_Gazelle__G..-horned__51.jpg

large_2F7FB22BF85A5D6BF32747968362234E.jpg

A very similar antelope to the topi, but as you can see, the colouring is not the same (the topi has very dark markings on the head and legs), and the horns are different shapes.

large_2FA166D60CEC515F1F50224F146F7BF3.jpg

large_Endless_Plains.jpg

The name 'Serengeti' comes from a local Maa word 'sirenget' (the language spoken by the Maasai tribe) meaning 'endless plains'. Driving for what seems like an eternity (in reality probably no more than around half an hour) across the flat, parched landscape, seemingly devoid of all life, I can certainly see that the name is very fitting.

large_300C229BF3DB474D2C59E8A6757F8D52.jpg

large_Research_Ponds.jpg

Arriving at a series of waterholes known as Research Ponds, we stay for a while to watch the goings on at the water's edge. Although initially appearing somewhat uninspiring, with just a couple of buffalo and some Grant's gazelle grazing in the background, this place proves to be rather fruitful in terms of animal sightings and interactions.

large_Buffalo__Cape_201.jpg

A dazzle of zebra (other collective nouns for zebra include zeal and cohort) make their way to the ponds.

large_Zebra_405.jpg

More and more animals arrive as we sit by the ponds in the oppressive midday heat.

large_Zebra_407.jpg

It's like Happy Hour at our local bar!

large_Zebra_408.jpg

Additional animals are constantly appearing, their hooves throwing up clouds of dust that hang heavily in the hot air.

large_Zebra_415.jpg

large_Zebra_417.jpg

The zebra, like the buffalo before them, immerse themselves in the still water, drinking, bathing and cooling down.

large_Buffalo_and_Zebra_1.jpg

large_Zebra_418.jpg

On the horizon a herd of eland nervously make their way towards the waterhole. Normally extremely shy (as a result of being endlessly hunted for their delicious meat), we wonder if – or more likely when – they will start running in the opposite direction.

large_657861BFB6313B83A88516F0DFCB85B6.jpg

So far so good as they cautiously move nearer and nearer the water.

large_Eland_32.jpg

large_84A467539A1CA41F3CC93E36A89B780A.jpg

large_Eland_and_Zebra_2.jpg

I am so excited to see them drinking – this is definitely a first for us!

large_Eland_33.jpg

The other elands are looking at us apprehensively, as they consider whether it is safe enough to quench that thirst.

large_Eland_and_Zebra_4.jpg

The zebra, on the other hand, do not seem to have a worry in the world.

large_Zebra_423.jpg

Another eland has braved it to the water's edge.

large_Eland_34.jpg

But will he drink?

large_Eland_35.jpg

Yes, he will. They are getting very brave now.

large_Eland_36.jpg

The zebra look on with amazement (or is that my overactive imagination again?) as a band on mongooses make their way down to the water for a drink.

large_Mongoose__Banded_101.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_103.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_104.jpg

They are loving the water, rolling around in the mud at the shoreline.

large_Mongoose__Banded_106.jpg

large_Mongoose__Banded_107.jpg

From a quiet waterhole with just a couple of sleepy buffalo, the place has now come alive with activity and several different animal species. This is awesome!

large_6693D618D192EC1A5365F785AD4FFBAA.jpg

large_Eland_and_Zebra_5.jpg

There is even a couple of amorous Egyptian Geese on the water.

large_Zebra_and_Eland_1.jpg

Having all these newcomers disturbing his hitherto peaceful morning siesta, Mr Buffalo gets up and moves on to pastures new.

large_Buffalo__Zebra__Eland_1.jpg

large_Buffalo__Cape_204.jpg

He looks thoroughly pissed off.

large_Buffalo__Zebra__Eland_2.jpg

large_Buffalo_and_Eland_1.jpg

The mongoose have had enough too.

large_Mongoose__Banded_108.jpg

Even the zebra are on the move.

large_Zebra_425.jpg

large_Zebra_426.jpg

large_Zebra_428.jpg

I have never noticed before that zebras vary so much in colouration. Look at how dark the one on the left is compared to the zebra behind him.

large_Zebra_429.jpg

large_Zebra_430.jpg

Just as we decide to leave, a European White Stork arrives. They are not native to the African continent (the clue is in the name), rather a migrant. A bit like us then.

large_Stork__European_White_4.jpg

large_Stork__European_White_1.jpg

large_Stork__European_White_3.jpg

Another stork arrives, much to the bemusement of the eland.

large_Stork__European_White_5.jpg

And another.

large_Stork__European_White_7.jpg

large_Stork__European_White_8.jpg

The moment Malisa starts the car engine, the shy elands scatter. As expected. I am surprised they stayed this long.

As we travel towards Ogol Kopjes, we see a few animals on our way.

large_F5C23575C8FA5687678B82963F3B836D.jpg

A spotted hyena who barely raises his head from the puddle he was sleeping in when we pass.

large_Hyena_201.jpg

large_Pratincole.jpg

Common Praticole - a nice little lifer (a new bird species for us)!

large_Pratincole__Common_1.jpglarge_Pratincole__Common_4.jpg

large_Eurasian_Roller.jpg

Another lifer, the European Roller. This one has been on my wish list for a while now, so I am particularly excited to see him. Or her. I really can't ell from this distance.

large_Roller__Eurasian_2.jpg

large_F598253FC7B765094B2CD3639F22F3FA.jpg

large_Hartebeest_401.jpg

large_F59E09B9C46CD3B6B1C00BEE621DB3B7.jpg

A couple of topi on a mound looking out for predators.

large_Topi_401.jpg

large_F59FAA61A93BC1BAA2B82F4DA2D3012E.jpg

A cute little zebra foal, grazing with his mummy.

large_Zebra_438.jpg

large_Zebra_439.jpg

large_F5CE97BA0DFC355C868D47592CE26B7F.jpg

And some eland - running away from us of course.

large_Eland__Running_21.jpg

large_Eland__Running_22.jpg

Eland are pretty huge animals (around the size of an average horse), and create quite a considerable amount of dust as they gallop across the dry savannah.

large_Eland__Running_23.jpg

large_Eland__Running_29.jpg

We leave Ogol Kopjes behind and search for some shade for our lunch picnic.

large_Lunch_Picn..ol_Kopjes_2.jpg

large_Lunch_Picn..ol_Kopjes_1.jpg

large_Lunch_Picn..ol_Kopjes_4.jpg

Be sure to check out my next blog entry for the rest of this afternoon's safari experiences with Calabash Adventures, the best safari operator by far.

large_F533EA9E9BF1CED0A446583FB1CABAB7.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 05:56 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds travel africa safari tanzania zebra lizard birding dry buffalo lions roller serengeti hyena stork starlings topi mongoose jackal bird_watching eland calabash_adventures hartebeest cape_buffalo kopjes grant's_gazelle endless_plains research_ponds cracked_earth parched pratincole eurasian_roller agama_lizard ogola_kopjes

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

Amazing Africa !!!! Yes, Zebra's colour are different at places. I have read about them . Topi is a new addition my list!

Awesome reading Grete !

by Goutam Mitra

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Enter your Travellerspoint login details below

( What's this? )

If you aren't a member of Travellerspoint yet, you can join for free.

Join Travellerspoint