A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about wildlife photography

Ndutu VII - bat eared foxes, cheetah with cubs, mating lions

Some unusual sightings this afternoon


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

After our picnic lunch overlooking the marsh, we continue our drive to see what nature has to offer us.

Pratincole

Not a bird we've seen a lot on our safaris, so I am therefore really surprised to find a pond absolutely full of them! They are, of course, a northern migrant, so the time of year will have an influence.

large_b2c17ed0-8327-11ea-b559-4f84619ae137.jpg

large_bd195a60-8327-11ea-b559-4f84619ae137.jpg

large_d3805e70-8327-11ea-b559-4f84619ae137.jpg

large_ddc24100-8327-11ea-b559-4f84619ae137.jpg

large_eb916900-8327-11ea-b559-4f84619ae137.jpg

Eurasian Avocet

large_a74842d0-8329-11ea-9ecf-5f18d47595e1.jpg

large_b5f56ec0-8329-11ea-9ecf-5f18d47595e1.jpg

African Cuckoo

large_ccf67e00-832b-11ea-b14c-4f5a62f310eb.jpg

large_d7df27e0-832b-11ea-b14c-4f5a62f310eb.jpg

large_e117d7d0-832b-11ea-b14c-4f5a62f310eb.jpg

Dickson

Near the marsh we bump into Dickson, our guide from our safaris in Tanzania in 2007, 2011, and 2014, who now has his own safari company and was out with clients. It is great to see him again, and we chat for ages with him, as well as his passengers, before moving on.

Zebra

large_e539dad0-8339-11ea-85e6-bbd3a5a1aa96.jpg

large_f0379350-8339-11ea-85e6-bbd3a5a1aa96.jpg

large_0cddb660-833a-11ea-85e6-bbd3a5a1aa96.jpg

We follow the zebra and wildebeest into the forest, but soon come out of there, as the flies are just too bothersome!

large_3e42abc0-833a-11ea-85e6-bbd3a5a1aa96.jpg

large_b4a42a10-833e-11ea-b9b5-554722c00faa.jpg

large_c03dad60-833e-11ea-b9b5-554722c00faa.jpg

Tortoise

It isn't often we see a tortoise in Tanzania, and even less often we see one run! In fact he was so quick he managed to get into the bushes before I had a chance to photograph him.

large_3f29be20-833f-11ea-b9b5-554722c00faa.jpg

Bat Eared Fox

It is rare to see a fox so near, they are usually really skittish.

large_88ade550-85a4-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

There appears to be at least six of them!

large_fb8cf070-85a4-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

large_05e9ae00-85a5-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

The are obviously chasing something, and suddenly Malisa spots what it is: a black mamba! Wow! David and I just get a brief glimpse of it as it slithers into the bushes, and I am way too slow to get a photo.

One brave little soldier decides to go after it!

large_8614ce70-85a5-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

Some of the others follow at a safe distance.

large_b58cc0e0-85a5-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

Suddenly the snake raises his head as if to attack, and they all scamper. Not such brave little soldiers now.

They all gather on a sandy patch to chill out.

large_5b4d9d60-85a6-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

large_6af555f0-85a6-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

large_75033030-85a6-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

large_82d1bbf0-85a6-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

Crested Lark

large_bd04dfa0-85a6-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

large_c5c5c780-85a6-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

large_cfada330-85a6-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

Black Shouldered Kite

large_04eaa2a0-85a7-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

large_0f6c4d50-85a7-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

Secretary Bird

She is probably looking for that Black Mamba!

large_4b703960-85a7-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

large_58a0b060-85a7-11ea-9079-9d64699dce30.jpg

Cheetah

We see a cheetah in the bushes, and it looks like she has a cub.

large_fd75c3b0-865f-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

No, there are two cubs!

large_16899840-8660-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_21639c20-8660-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

Mum wanders off to find another place to rest.

large_44fa7af0-8660-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_8790fd30-8660-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

The cubs follow.

large_5fd3cd40-8660-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_76b6df20-8660-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_b6be7920-8660-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_d74754a0-8660-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

I fire off shot after shot using the high speed continuous function on the Canon 1DXII, which can shoot at up to 16 frames per second. The shutter is also quite loud, and for a while my camera is getting more attention from people in the other cars than the cheetah!

large_2ed93d00-8661-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

The cubs are seriously cute, and we would love to stay and watch their antics, but if we are to be back at the lodge before dark (as is a requirement in the parks), we need to get going.

Cattle Egrets

The egrets are heading home too.

large_920b1150-8661-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_9b1ed420-8661-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_b78f6840-8661-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

Impala

Down at the marsh, three impala are crossing the water, keeping a watchful eye on a hyena in the distance.

large_f873a6a0-8661-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_01e42f70-8662-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

large_0cb2e8b0-8662-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg

The zebra take the more aggressive approach, and chase away the unwanted predator.

large_372acbd0-8662-11ea-bce2-594ad5ee6f2a.jpg
The impala are much more relaxed now

Giraffe

large_c7da7e00-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_1061cda0-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_1cae2630-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

Seeing a giraffe drink from a puddle on the ground is always a treat. Mostly they get their moisture from the leaves they eat, as drinking like this is uncomfortable and risky business. They have been known to fall and break their bones, and with their heads down and their legs splayed like that, they are much more vulnerable to predators.

large_31c7c2b0-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_3af2de10-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_d22d5080-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

Stuck - again

As we make our way down towards Lake Ndutu, we get stuck in a deep hole in the road. Thankfully, this time there are three of Malisa's friends nearby, who help to push us out, using their powerful vehicles to nudge us along.

large_96831d30-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_a7ce73a0-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_b28b0470-8667-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

Wildebeest

As we wait for Malisa and his friends to catch up on news and gossip, I entertain myself with taking photos of backlit wildebeest.

large_5c46dc50-8668-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_668340a0-8668-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_719d81d0-8668-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

Lions
Just the other side of the lake, we see a couple of lions. It looks like our male from earlier blog entries has finally found his long lost love!

large_91f9cf10-8668-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

And love seems to be on their mind tonight.

large_b32bbbd0-8668-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_bd1e6cf0-8668-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_c6674980-8668-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

Until she growls at him.

large_fa3835d0-8668-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_0bedbfc0-8669-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

large_1b538d50-8669-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

It's a strange light tonight, with the clouds appearing like crepuscular rays.

large_42f6f3b0-8669-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

Ndutu Lodge

We make it back to the lodge just as it is getting dark, with enough time for a quick shower and change before dinner.

large_83c18f90-8669-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg
Butternut squash tart

large_921b6b60-8669-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg
Chicken pasta

large_a1fe5830-8669-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg
Ginger, walnut and toffee tart

Stars

The African sky seems to be bigger than anywhere else we've been, mainly down to the lack of light pollution here in the bush. I try my hand at some photos this evening; as I cannot wander away from the lodge because of wild animals, I decide to include the camp fire in my photo. Today's lesson (which I did know from previous experience): do not try your hand at astrophotography after a few drinks.

large_3fc85390-866a-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

I soon realise my mistake and opt to go to bed instead. Thank you Calabash Adventures for all the arrangements.

large_606be300-866a-11ea-a9a9-5f08d144f536.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 15:35 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals wildlife kite africa dinner safari tanzania zebra snake birding cheetah fox lions giraffe stars egrets avocet tortoise impala stuck wildebeest astro cuckoo game_drives ndutu lark calabash_adventures bat_eared_fox dickson secretary_bird pratincole astrophotography wildlife_photography black_shouldered_kite ndutu_lodge african_animals bird_wacthing black_mamba crested_lark lions_mating Comments (1)

Ndutu VI - vultures, hartebeest, elephants, jackals, lions

A lovely morning on the savannah


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Zebra

Looks like we have us some zebra love here.

large_00ce6f70-801c-11ea-97c3-8f813a50bdcd.jpg

large_90e0c270-801c-11ea-9bba-bf6c356f4457.jpg

It's pretty obvious that this liaison isn't going to result in any zebra babies!

large_bd67af70-801c-11ea-9bba-bf6c356f4457.jpg

It looks like a kinky threesome to me.

large_0d35fbb0-801d-11ea-9bba-bf6c356f4457.jpg

large_cdd34250-801e-11ea-9bba-bf6c356f4457.jpg
Cattle Egret

Wildebeest Buffet

Marabou Stork and a variety of Vultures feast on a wildebeest carcass left behind by a much larger predator. These scavenging raptors are the hyenas of the skies, playing a vital ecological clean-up role by disposing of decomposing carcasses.

large_e9674c10-8171-11ea-8fb6-f99ebde399ec.jpg

There is always a strict pecking order at such buffets, with the Lapped Faced Vulture being the first, as with their powerful hooked beaks they are the only raptor able to open up the carcass to allow other, smaller vultures to access the innards.

large_2fda1e20-8172-11ea-8fb6-f99ebde399ec.jpg

These huge and aggressive birds stand more than a metre tall with wingspans of around three metres. They are also, however, known for being particularly affectionate and mate for life, which in the wild can be up to thirty years.

large_6dc2a8b0-8172-11ea-8fb6-f99ebde399ec.jpg
I have to say that he doesn't look very 'affectionate'.

large_92d55210-8172-11ea-8fb6-f99ebde399ec.jpg

Their heads are free of feathers to avoid blood clinging to it as they bury themselves deep into the carcass to get at the sinew, their preferred food. Potent stomach acids help them deal with the most putrid carcass.

large_b5d6f5c0-8172-11ea-8fb6-f99ebde399ec.jpg

Vultures can store up to one kilo of consumed flesh in the distensible section of their oesophagus, called a crop. They have been known to eat so much that they become too heavy to physically take off; although should they sense danger, they are able to empty the crop for a quick get-away.

large_f2841a20-8172-11ea-8fb6-f99ebde399ec.jpg

large_fdc2fa50-8172-11ea-8fb6-f99ebde399ec.jpg

Different species of vultures have different shaped beaks, which means they eat different parts of a carcass, hence they should - theoretically - all be able to eat peacefully at the 'dinner table'.

large_4ca0f320-8173-11ea-8fb6-f99ebde399ec.jpg

Hartebeest

A large antelope, standing at around 1 metre at the shoulders (3 feet), hartebeest are gregarious animals that are usually found in herds, such as here.

large_335e29e0-8174-11ea-a636-214cb5ae88e5.jpg

large_3dd79730-8174-11ea-a636-214cb5ae88e5.jpg

large_47f772d0-8174-11ea-a636-214cb5ae88e5.jpg

Now let's go back to what I said about the size of the Lapped Faced Vulture: should the bird be standing next to the Hartebeest, this is what it would look like.

large_8c95f480-9c17-11ea-ae5d-c340613716a3.jpg

Giraffe

A lonesome giraffe eats his way across the savannah.

large_7c7abf30-8174-11ea-a636-214cb5ae88e5.jpg

large_862f55e0-8174-11ea-a636-214cb5ae88e5.jpg

Golden Jackal

She is sniffing around, looking for something, maybe food or a scent.

large_89ea9910-8188-11ea-b156-cd1fcb4efcd8.jpg

large_94736fb0-8188-11ea-b156-cd1fcb4efcd8.jpg

She finds a hole and disappears into it.

large_9d9674c0-8188-11ea-b156-cd1fcb4efcd8.jpg

Elephants

large_a4720560-8189-11ea-b156-cd1fcb4efcd8.jpg

large_ae16e4a0-8189-11ea-b156-cd1fcb4efcd8.jpg

It's interesting to see the different lengths and angles of the tusks of these two elephants.

large_b82c38f0-8189-11ea-b156-cd1fcb4efcd8.jpg

large_0fc2a570-819b-11ea-a0fc-a72bce846f5d.jpg
Kori Bustard

large_e85234b0-8244-11ea-ac91-c76f44b16d88.jpg
Eurasian Avocet

large_1a56ddc0-824b-11ea-a801-a948f259bc59.jpg
Common Pratincole

Lions

At first the only evidence of the lions sleeping under this tree, is a paw sticking up.

large_9e53e660-824e-11ea-b792-91ccc74b5f9e.jpg

Later we a head appears, then drops down again.

large_aa24cd60-824e-11ea-b792-91ccc74b5f9e.jpg

We let sleeping lions be, and carry on exploring.

Another Lion

A young male lion is surveying the landscape from a hillock overlooking Big Marsh.

large_6f678360-8254-11ea-b373-2545d0170f9e.jpg

We can tell he is young – less than seven years old – from the fact that his nose is still pink. As they get older, their nose becomes black all over.

large_7b63e730-8254-11ea-b373-2545d0170f9e.jpg

He gets up and walks down onto the flat area.

large_86c2d280-8254-11ea-b373-2545d0170f9e.jpg

large_b3ddded0-8278-11ea-882f-1752620101bf.jpg

large_bf5a6440-8278-11ea-882f-1752620101bf.jpg

We move down to the flats too, and at one stage he comes up and lies under our car for the shade!

large_f1248410-8278-11ea-882f-1752620101bf.jpg

large_01dd3770-8279-11ea-882f-1752620101bf.jpg

large_0bfec0c0-8279-11ea-882f-1752620101bf.jpg

Eventually he seems to settle down and go to sleep – in the middle of the sun – so we drive off to find somewhere to have our lunch.

large_2f896a90-8279-11ea-882f-1752620101bf.jpg

Picnic at Big Marsh

Malisa finds a great lunch spot overlooking a sea of wildebeest on Big Marsh.

large_0f5d44e0-8304-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

There is something really special about getting the picnic chairs out, in the company of wild animals.

large_7a9bcc40-8304-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

large_d80b0920-8347-11ea-916c-23b90f866ab7.jpg

There are literally thousands of wildebeest down on the marsh.

large_c3254950-8304-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

large_d2511b20-8304-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

large_dc2ebda0-8304-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

Judging by the number of Superb Starlings who join us, I would guess this is a popular picnic spot.

large_0b518b30-8305-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

large_1c77a660-8305-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

large_2673f470-8305-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg
"Got any food for me?"

I might just accidentally drop a piece of cake on the ground while I was eating; it is so easily done.

large_dd8b7200-8305-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

large_e6ae9e20-8305-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

Just as we are packing up, we hear a commotion down on the marsh, with thousands of hooves beating the ground as the whole herd – or confusion as a group of wildebeest are known as – make a run for it. Soon there are none.

large_3579c050-8308-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg
Just a couple of minutes ago, this was heaving with animals

I have no idea what spooked them, so we pop down to find out.

This safari was arranged by Calabash Adventures, the best safari operators by far.

large_df4b4310-8308-11ea-8af0-096050007715.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 07:10 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals wildlife elephants bird africa safari tanzania zebra birding african picnic start lions giraffe egret vultures avocet starlings wildebeest jackal kori_bustard bustard ndutu calabash_adventures hartebeest marabou_stork pratincole golden_jackal picnic_lunch picnic_box wildlife_photography big_marsh wildebeest_carcass feeding_the_birds superb-starling Comments (2)

Ndutu IV: zebra, stuck in mud, lion in a tree

What an adventurous afternoon!


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Picnic Lunch

We find the only tree for miles around, under which to have our picnic this lunchtime. There is something very special about eating our lunch in the wild.

large_20e541c0-75b4-11ea-a914-432c9c5dfe70.jpg

large_2ca538d0-75b4-11ea-a914-432c9c5dfe70.jpg

After lunch we go on our way again to see what else nature has to offer us today.

Zebra

The first wildlife we see is a few zebra.

large_4ddf14d0-75b4-11ea-a914-432c9c5dfe70.jpg
One month old baby

large_60602c20-75b4-11ea-a914-432c9c5dfe70.jpg
Two month old baby suckling

This Grant's gazelle is all on its own, miles from anywhere and any other animals. Most odd.

large_3bb5ec10-75b5-11ea-a914-432c9c5dfe70.jpg

Bogged Down

There are not many animals in this area, so we decide to move on elsewhere. Although there is a track, it is very muddy and pot-holed, so Malisa drives off-road; heading towards a forested area we can see in the distance. While the plains look fine on the surface, the ground is sodden underneath, hidden by the long grass; so Malisa speeds up to try and avoid sinking in to the soft soil. It makes for a very bouncy ride, and poor Bertha (my 600mm lens) falls off the seat onto the floor and gets detached from the camera body. Hoping she has not suffered any damage, I put her back together again and leave her on the floor - at least then she can't fall anywhere!

The ground gets wetter and wetter, but Malisa manages to stay afloat so to speak, by turning on the four wheel drive and some skilful driving skimming across the surface. Until we hit a hole created by termites. We come to an abrupt halt, and no amount of revving the engine or turning the wheels makes any difference. We're stuck. Well and truly bogged down.

large_90503b50-75e1-11ea-a3bd-678ddd8f9a6a.jpg

Malisa gets out the spade and tries to dig us out, while David and I make sure we are facing opposite directions as we scan the horizon for wild animals. In areas with lots of plains game such as wildebeest, antelopes or zebra, you know you are reasonably safe from predators; whereas here there are no signs of life, human or animal for as far as the eye can see. I stare so intently at the surrounding area that every bush and tree becomes a cheetah or a lion. This is not good for my blood pressure! Five minutes later the same bush again looks like a big cat - I soon become paranoid and start seeing signs of danger with every small movement of the vegetation. David admits to his imagination playing havoc with him in the same way too.

large_a2c8c720-75e1-11ea-a3bd-678ddd8f9a6a.jpg

large_afa10c00-75e1-11ea-9270-3704ff31e4e0.jpg
David on the look-out

Having worked up a sweat trying to shift the heavy wet soil and make a sold path for the wheels, Malisa gets back in the car and tries to drive off again. The wheels just spin and spin. It's no good, we are still stuck.

large_f89817f0-75e1-11ea-9270-3704ff31e4e0.jpg

Time to radio for help. All morning the radio has been going, with the occasional message about an exciting cat sighting, but mostly calls for help to get out of a sticky situation like this. Malisa grabs the microphone. Nothing. Completely dead. We can hear others, but they can't hear us. He keeps trying but it is obvious the microphone is faulty. Kaput.

large_be11a420-75e1-11ea-9270-3704ff31e4e0.jpg

Plan C: Modern technology to the rescue, Malisa whips out his mobile phone to call for help. No signal. I try mine. Also no signal. David, who is on a different network to me, has a very weak signal, so Malisa uses it to make a call to the lodge. After initially having to explain to the confused receptionist why he is calling from a British phone, Malisa is able to let them know what has happened, explain where we are as best as he can, and ask for assistance.

Meanwhile continues to try and dig us out, using a spade and a mud board. David and I go back to scan the horizon, not just for predators, but also for any other cars that may be able to help us out of this mess.

large_1a81bbf0-75e2-11ea-9270-3704ff31e4e0.jpg

In the far, far distance, we spot three cars heading from right to left. They are too far away to see us, we can only just make them out using binoculars. How to attract their attention? Malisa tries using his torch, and David waves his mobile phone around with the light on. Both are way too weak to be seen, and anyway, the others will probably just think it is a reflection of the sun.

large_dd9851e0-75e1-11ea-9270-3704ff31e4e0.jpg

I have a bright idea. Taking the speedlight flash gun from my camera bag, I set it on full power and use the TEST button to fire it. Again and again and again. It seems to work, as the vehicles change direction and appear to be heading towards us, coming closer and closer. What a relief! When they are within shouting distance, Malisa tells them not to come any nearer, as there is no point for them to get stuck in the mud as well. Protecting himself with a stick against any potential wild animals, he walks over to the other cars.

large_4a59cfc0-75e2-11ea-9270-3704ff31e4e0.jpg

All three drivers come back over with Malisa – these are the same guys who we helped rescue earlier this morning down by Lake Ndutu – and discuss a plan of action. A few more attempts at digging us out are made, then the decision is taken that David and I should go with the others, who will take us back to the lodge. Meanwhile Malisa will stay with the car and wait for help. I argue. I don't want to leave Malisa on his own, but I am talking to deaf ears. I guess he is right when he says that we would be more of a hindrance than a help to the rescuers.

We quickly grab all our stuff and walk across to the other cars. Or at least try to. On my third step I sink knee deep in the mud. I manage to get my left leg out, but in the struggle to free the other one, my shoe gets left behind. Malisa ends up having to use his spade to dig it out. Someone mentions: “all that brown stuff is not just mud, you know...” Thanks a lot for that thought!

The passengers in the other cars are very welcoming, cheering as we arrive and offering us welcome drinks (cartons of juice) and cakes when we get inside the car. Thank goodness they have some spare seats! Only when we drive away do we realise that Malisa is stuck in the middle of the wilderness, surrounded by wild animals (potentially) and without any form of communication. We should have left David's phone with him, the only one that worked! I feel really bad about that, but he is too far away to hear me shout, and anyway, none of us feel like traipsing through that mud (!) to go back to where he and the car is.

Douglas, our hero rescue driver, explains that we need to go back to close to the point where we had lunch (they had lunch not far away too - we could see them when we were picnicking) before trying to find the road that will take us back to the lodge. Like Malisa did, he drives at great speed over the boggy landscape, resulting in the windscreen being splattered with mud!

large_05c56530-75e3-11ea-9270-3704ff31e4e0.jpg

As we carefully make our way towards the area where we can safely meet up with the track again, we chat to the other passengers. They are on their last day of a five day safari, and are disappointed that they haven't seen a cheetah yet. We try to explain to them where we saw the mother and cubs yesterday.

large_3ed22350-767d-11ea-96e2-b78f5c286c15.jpg

Being in a full car (seven passengers plus driver), also makes me realise how spoilt we are for space with just the two of us. Plus Malisa, of course. Having a private safari is the only way to go in my opinion!

large_4c387760-767d-11ea-96e2-b78f5c286c15.jpg
Beautiful late afternoon light over Lake Ndutu

Wildebeest

We drive through large areas dotted with hundreds – no thousands – of wildebeest, some with young babies. Like us, the passengers in this car are on the lookout for a wildebeest-mama just about to give birth. They have not been lucky enough to witness that either, and of course, this afternoon is their last chance. We all frantically scan the herds to look for large bellies.

large_c457da80-78bf-11ea-a4b5-f9f9e61a2197.jpg

large_cdd47140-78bf-11ea-a4b5-f9f9e61a2197.jpg

We also see a couple of Black Backed Jackals running away. I am sitting in the front seat next to the driver, where photography is not so easy as standing up is difficult because the roof hatch doesn't line up with the footwell, and there is no 'aisle' to stand in like there is at the back. With all my camera gear on my lap, it is hard to manoeuvre myself in any direction.

large_614fb8d0-78c0-11ea-a4b5-f9f9e61a2197.jpg

large_cd58bc20-78c0-11ea-a4b5-f9f9e61a2197.jpg
Giraffe

Stuck. Again.

Making our way back to Ndutu and the lodges, we have to cross the same boggy area near Lake Ndutu where we helped the car out of the mud earlier this morning. Guess what? Maggie, one of the other drivers in our convoy, gets stuck in the mud.

large_92633d60-78c1-11ea-a4b5-f9f9e61a2197.jpg

large_9b900670-78c1-11ea-a4b5-f9f9e61a2197.jpg

Douglas drives our car as close as he dares, then gets out and attaches a tow rope to Maggie's car.

large_00f0efc0-78c2-11ea-a4b5-f9f9e61a2197.jpg

Here we go:


Easy peasy!

The plains are bathed in a glorious warm glow from the setting sun.

Zebra

large_e9b5c0e0-78c3-11ea-a6a2-6d36b9adde2a.jpg

large_f4084540-78c3-11ea-a6a2-6d36b9adde2a.jpg

Grant's Gazelle

large_0bdbf8b0-78c4-11ea-a6a2-6d36b9adde2a.jpg

large_15c50ce0-78c4-11ea-a6a2-6d36b9adde2a.jpg

large_214d7930-78c4-11ea-a6a2-6d36b9adde2a.jpg

large_188803d0-78cc-11ea-9315-db92c83ff8d4.jpg
Lappet Faced Vulture

Someone in the car complains that they haven't seen anything 'interesting' this afternoon. Another good reason why I am so grateful we are not travelling in a group - to me every wild animal we see is interesting in its own right, it is not just about the big cats and other 'popular' animals. He does take a bit of stick for his comments from the others in the car, to be fair.

Lions

Back by the lake, our three lions are still hanging around. I hope our whinger from earlier is happy now. We notice a vehicle from the KOPE Lion Conservation Project is here too. They have followed these particular lions making their way from Ngorongoro Crater to Ndutu. I later find out that these are the same lions we saw as tiny cubs in the crater back in May 2016 - how cool is that!?!

large_2559eed0-78c6-11ea-a666-ad0aad494f31.jpg

Being in a convoy of three cars means that the lead car (which on this occasion is us) can't just find the best position at a sighting, he has to make sure the other two cars can get a good view too.

large_8821d660-78c9-11ea-9315-db92c83ff8d4.jpg

We move along to give the other two cars access.

large_a8f157d0-78c9-11ea-9315-db92c83ff8d4.jpg

It looks like the lions have been asleep all afternoon, and are now just waking up.

large_885ca000-78ca-11ea-9315-db92c83ff8d4.jpg

large_d6640ef0-78ca-11ea-9315-db92c83ff8d4.jpg

He's on the move!

large_333b4d00-78cb-11ea-9315-db92c83ff8d4.jpg

His brother follows.

large_39188b00-78cd-11ea-9315-db92c83ff8d4.jpg

OMG! He's climbed the tree again!

large_0d6fba40-78d3-11ea-a89e-dd81a1b14c24.jpg

“I might not make it, but I am going to try. Hold on tight!” says Douglas as he drives straight for the bushes. Not just into undergrowth, but shrubs the height of the car. He cuts through them as if they are just tall grasses. These cars – and their drivers – are amazing!

large_45b48f90-78e0-11ea-9224-0fa360efad76.jpg

The King looks magnificent as his surveys his domain. What light! What colours!

large_8d8bde30-78e1-11ea-9224-0fa360efad76.jpg

large_cffc3ad0-78e1-11ea-9224-0fa360efad76.jpg

He doesn't look all that comfortable.

large_4e5f6c80-78e2-11ea-9224-0fa360efad76.jpg

That's better!

large_9135b6e0-78e2-11ea-9224-0fa360efad76.jpg

Definitely not comfortable!

large_09b0b140-78e5-11ea-9187-e586810ad94c.jpg

Unfortunately we have to leave as Douglas is dropping us off, and then taking his original passengers to another camp further away. When we arrive at Ndutu Lodge, he gives the manager the co-ordinates of Malisa's position from his GPS. We are relieved to later hear that help has gone out and have located Malisa; and they promise to let us know when Malisa and his rescuers arrive back safe and sound.

Shower

My feet and legs are filthy dirty after this afternoon's wallow in the mud, and I take my shoes and sock with me into the shower. There is mud everywhere and I feel guilty for using so much water to wash off. I am normally very conscious of my water usage when we travel, so it goes against the grain to stay in the shower for a long time.

large_e294e5e0-78ee-11ea-93fa-a9bc7a550431.jpg

Dinner

The first thing we do when we get to the main building, is to ask the manager if Malisa is back. He is not. It is dark outside now and I am really concerned, but I am reassured to know that he is no longer on his own and they are working hard to rescue him.

There are not so many people in the restaurant tonight, two if the large groups from last night have moved on.

large_6ff05aa0-790d-11ea-a2df-e55c423f1840.jpg
Starter of Greek Quesadilla drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Followed by a very nice tomato soup which I did not photograph

large_96836270-790d-11ea-a2df-e55c423f1840.jpg
Peppered beef - tender and tasty. One of the many things I like about Ndutu Lodge is that they serve extra vegetables on the side. We eat a lot of veggies at home and I so miss them when travelling, as I find most restaurants merely plonk a bit of greenery on the plate for visual impact (if you're lucky).

large_ed0b06c0-790d-11ea-a2df-e55c423f1840.jpg

The dessert – described as After Dinner Chocolate Slice – is served too cold for my liking. I dislike any cold food straight out of the fridge! I even take ice cream out 10-15 minutes before serving it, or put it in the microwave at home. OK, so I'm weird, we all know that.

Small Spotted Genets

Ndutu Lodge is famous for its resident population of genets – small cat-like creatures who live in the rafters of the lodge. They are wild, but have become habituated to people (and flash guns). The kitchen staff tempt them into the lounge after dinner with leftovers, but they are free to come and go as they like. We later see them roaming the ground and climbing bushes when we go back to our room.

large_52823a60-7912-11ea-aa02-edfb609e33dd.jpg

large_5b982010-7912-11ea-aa02-edfb609e33dd.jpg

I refuse to go to bed until Malisa is back, even if it means staying in the reception area half the night! We position ourselves in the bar so that we can see up the pathway leading to the car park, hoping that Malisa will come down this way before going to the drivers' quarters. Thankfully we don't have to wait too long, and when he arrives at around 21:30, we give him the biggest hug ever.

Malisa explains how his rescuers were unable to drive right up to where he was stuck, but like we did, they walked across and helped him dig out the car and place mud boards underneath the wheels. While waiting for them to turn up, Malisa also managed to fix the radio to get the microphone working again. He is such a star! We can go to bed happy and relieved now.

Thank you Calabash Adventures for arranging this safari, and Malisa for looking after us so well. We love you guys!

large_6b8df0d0-798f-11ea-bc23-97c4691bb91e.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 15:05 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds sunset wildlife adventure phone dinner mud safari tanzania zebra flash dirty birding dirt radio picnic shower lions giraffe mobile_phone gazelle stuck wildebeest douglas bird_watching maggie ndutu calabash_adventures jackals game_viewing picnic_lunch wildlife_photography malisa tree_climbing_lions ndutu_lodge lion_in_a_tree stuck_in_mud bogged_down rescued cell_phone no_phone_signal mud_board speedlight flash_gun camera_flash kope genets Comments (2)

Ndutu III: migration, dung beetles, hyena, heron with snake

In the midst of the action


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

After breakfast we continue on our quest to see the wildebeest migration and maybe even a female giving birth.

The first thing we come across, is a less-than-a-day-old baby suckling his mum.

large_a3159e00-6f93-11ea-bcfe-9947a99cfe88.jpg

Large herds of wildebeests attract a number of followers as they cut across the savannah, in the form of flies, which again entice birds, in this case Cattle Egrets, who ride along, hoping for a tasty snack.

large_a2a9a490-713a-11ea-97b4-778cd81073d0.jpg

large_acc20620-713a-11ea-97b4-778cd81073d0.jpg

large_bd0cb570-713a-11ea-97b4-778cd81073d0.jpg

Marabou Stork

large_4946bad0-713c-11ea-830b-5f11f15ace87.jpg

large_541ec2e0-713c-11ea-830b-5f11f15ace87.jpg

large_5dd02540-713c-11ea-830b-5f11f15ace87.jpg

Grant's Gazelles

large_db0fe590-713c-11ea-830b-5f11f15ace87.jpg

large_e540d830-713c-11ea-830b-5f11f15ace87.jpg

Thomson's Gazelle

The difference between Grant's and Thomson's (affectionately known as Tommies), is not just that the latter is much small (which of course isn't easy to see in a photograph), but also the shape of the horns, and the dark stripe along the side.

large_d1b4eb20-713d-11ea-915c-772c023c013d.jpg

Here you can see them together – Grant's in the front with the paler body and the curved horns, and Thomson's at the back: smaller with a distinctive dark stripe.

large_da17d480-713d-11ea-915c-772c023c013d.jpg

Dung Beetles

Hundreds of thousands of wildebeest in one place naturally produces a lot of waste, with the waste again attracting dung beetles. Lots of them. Malisa knows what a fascination I have with these cool little recyclers, and stops for me to take some photos as they roll away their prized balls of shit.

large_a49e3da0-71b3-11ea-bc9d-a35e5c8a41df.jpg

So, why do they do it?
While there are different types of dung beetles, these little critters we see here, start by converging on a fresh pile of dung and rolling it into a ball. Sometimes you see several beetles on a pile of dung, and they can transform a huge mount of manure into perfect balls in minutes.

large_b576d510-71b3-11ea-bc9d-a35e5c8a41df.jpg

large_146f1e60-71b4-11ea-bc9d-a35e5c8a41df.jpg

Usually it is the male doing most of the rolling – they can roll up to 50 times their own weight – with the female simply hitching a ride.

large_454679c0-71b4-11ea-bc9d-a35e5c8a41df.jpg

Things don't always go to plan.

large_5e0d8de0-71b4-11ea-a158-ed76b960c661.jpg

When a spot with soft soil is found, they stop and bury the ball.

large_9805cb70-71b4-11ea-bc9d-a35e5c8a41df.jpg

After mating under ground, the female lays eggs inside the dung. Once the new brood has hatched, they eat their way out of the ball, thus the dung doubles up as housing as well as food.

large_f0da6d00-71b4-11ea-bc9d-a35e5c8a41df.jpg

By burying and consuming dung, they improve nutrient recycling and soil structure; as well as the dispersal of seeds found in the animal waste. Additionally, by removing the manure, they decrease the number of flies that would otherwise be attracted to the wildebeest.

I just love these little animals!

Hyena

A pregnant hyena eyes up a zebra.

large_13765e20-71c2-11ea-9251-6b07ae3a01b9.jpg

While they are known to be opportunist predators, hyenas generally go after abandoned kills. In this case, our female is looking for placentas left on the ground after animals have given birth.

large_26b1c4c0-71c2-11ea-9251-6b07ae3a01b9.jpg

The zebra nearest us is limping badly, and we momentarily get quite concerned for safety, but either the hyena doesn't notice, or she has not got the energy in her at her current state to pursue a potential prey. There is less chance of losing her baby by foraging for leftovers than chasing a large animal.

large_38275f80-71c2-11ea-9251-6b07ae3a01b9.jpg

Marabou Stork

Meanwhile, a Marabou Stork circles above. They too are carrion eaters, so probably looking for placentas too.

large_620a7cb0-71c2-11ea-9251-6b07ae3a01b9.jpg

large_6c1c4e90-71c2-11ea-9251-6b07ae3a01b9.jpg

large_766cd720-71c2-11ea-9251-6b07ae3a01b9.jpg

And an Abdim Stork

large_137f6530-71ca-11ea-b7d8-c97fa34c19c1.jpg

Kori Bustard

Judging by his flamboyant courtship display, this guy doesn't have food on his mind, he is looking to attract a female.

large_5f9531c0-71d4-11ea-bfe5-996b5defd917.jpg

large_692af5d0-71d4-11ea-bfe5-996b5defd917.jpg

Zebra with Young

large_5e53a9b0-71d7-11ea-be99-3b34b88f177d.jpg

large_1bdf1b30-7283-11ea-9393-d134bfa5035b.jpg

large_683543d0-71d7-11ea-be99-3b34b88f177d.jpg

large_723b55e0-71d7-11ea-be99-3b34b88f177d.jpg

large_d3b8a5b0-7282-11ea-9393-d134bfa5035b.jpg

large_fcfc5e80-7296-11ea-b200-636b7acc5977.jpg

This guy seems to have a lot of passengers.

large_524a7f30-71d8-11ea-8303-3359b6ba0a50.jpg

large_e7ebd4a0-7294-11ea-8234-c3133a5d895d.jpg

large_f04f87c0-71d8-11ea-8303-3359b6ba0a50.jpg
Wattled Starlinsg

Black Headed Heron

large_11453fb0-72a6-11ea-9d3a-b1327eb44f65.jpg

Far in the distance we see him stalking something on the ground, then dip down and reappear with a snake in his beak!

large_93d22570-72c8-11ea-bafa-9197cc67e87d.jpg

For the next ten minutes we watch the battle of wits between the still-live snake and the hungry bird.

large_a082be10-72c8-11ea-bafa-9197cc67e87d.jpg

large_ab07eb30-72c8-11ea-bafa-9197cc67e87d.jpg

It is a tough flight. The snake keeps trying to slither out of the heron's mouth but obviously the heron gets the better of it.

large_b782f4e0-72c8-11ea-bafa-9197cc67e87d.jpg

While trying to re-arrange the snake within his beak, he drops it at one stage, but is very quick at picking it up again.

large_c6954b40-72c8-11ea-bafa-9197cc67e87d.jpg

large_d2c960e0-72c8-11ea-bafa-9197cc67e87d.jpg

We are fascinated by the spectacle unfolding before us - this surely has to be today's highlight!

Knob Billed Duck

As we are watching the heron, Malisa calls out to alert us to a Knob Billed Duck flying overhead. I grab my other camera (I have been using Big Bertha for the heron, but find that too heavy and cumbersome for birds in flight), but by the time I get myself sorted, it has almost passed us over.

large_4f51b0b0-72cc-11ea-a728-8b721afb0176.jpg

Wildebeests

As we continue our journey across the flat meadows near Ndutu, we find ourselves surrounded on all sides by wildebeest. There are literally thousands of them, everywhere we look, as far as we can see into the distance.

large_0e677780-72cf-11ea-b6c6-9b84c15e3d22.jpg

large_aff383f0-72cf-11ea-b6c6-9b84c15e3d22.jpg

Today's challenge is to find a wildebeest – or zebra – just about to give birth so that we can witness the beginning of a new life. It seems, however, that we are too early for the wildebeest, and too late for the zebra.

large_06f58860-72d0-11ea-b6c6-9b84c15e3d22.jpg

large_a144b4e0-72d0-11ea-8aa6-0d3c88dd496f.jpg

large_55616000-7334-11ea-bccb-c7b093321f2c.jpg

Zebra Dust Bath

large_ea73f1f0-734b-11ea-ac9a-c9f10765025d.jpg

large_f48e7660-734b-11ea-ac9a-c9f10765025d.jpg

large_fe2720a0-734b-11ea-ac9a-c9f10765025d.jpg

Zebra on Heat

Someone ought to tell this female zebra on heat that mounting another female zebra is not going to satisfy her sexual urges, nor is it going to produce baby zebra.

large_216b96b0-736d-11ea-9229-ed43b7960dac.jpg

large_2bd7e4a0-736d-11ea-9229-ed43b7960dac.jpg

“Stop it! You're scaring the children!”

large_3bfa4b70-736d-11ea-9229-ed43b7960dac.jpg

The other female is obviously not in the mood for lesbian love, and kicks out before making her escape.

large_5fd67b30-736e-11ea-9229-ed43b7960dac.jpg

Car stuck in the Mud

In the distance we see a car at an odd angle; obviously unable to get out of a bit of a hole, quite literally.

large_03907b60-7444-11ea-a5da-811003e457a7.jpg

The ground is so deceptive here: the savannah looks its normal grassy self on the surface, yet – in some place – as soon as you drive on it, it is all boggy underneath.

large_2c3a7c50-7444-11ea-a5da-811003e457a7.jpg

There are already other people helping the female driver of the grounded vehicle. A few years ago there were no female drivers here in th Northern Circuit, but that is slowly changing as the lodges prepare accommodation to support both genders. On this trip we see two lady drivers.

large_3c495b20-7444-11ea-a5da-811003e457a7.jpg

It rather concerns me seeing the vultures circle above – what do they know that we don't? The presence of a number of wildebeest, however, indicates that we are reasonably safe from predators.

large_4596f2a0-7444-11ea-a5da-811003e457a7.jpg

At the beginning of this trip, Malisa mentioned about making sure he had a couple of tow ropes in the car, now I am beginning to understand why, as a rope is attached to the stuck car, with another vehicle ready to pull them out. They are travelling together in a group of three cars, with the passengers being a bunch of very friendly Americans.

large_d3ba1fd0-7444-11ea-a5da-811003e457a7.jpg

The lead car goes full whack in top speed and makes it all look very easy. One of the passengers, however, makes the mistake of standing up in the vehicle as they are being pulled out, and ends up completely airborne. I am pretty sure she must have hit her head on the roof – that's gotta have hurt!

large_3a341a40-7445-11ea-a5da-811003e457a7.jpg

Malisa tells us to hold on for dear life as he drives across the boggy area at full speed too, creating some serious bounce, resulting in painful jarring of my back. We stop the other side of the bog to make sure all the vehicles get across. The atmosphere here is like that of a party, with everyone treating it as an adventure. There is lots of clapping and cheering going on.

large_66fc7d10-7445-11ea-a5da-811003e457a7.jpg
There's an enormous amount of surface water about!

Hyenas

We see four hyenas scattered in different places, in amongst the zebra. Neither species seem that bothered by the other.

large_fae20d00-74e6-11ea-816d-0b9785ac7c7f.jpg

large_04a94150-74e7-11ea-816d-0b9785ac7c7f.jpg

large_1d6c84e0-74e7-11ea-816d-0b9785ac7c7f.jpg

large_2753eb60-74e7-11ea-816d-0b9785ac7c7f.jpg

As we move to get closer, we almost run over this fifth one in a den.

large_91ecbce0-74e7-11ea-816d-0b9785ac7c7f.jpg

Eland

A small herd of eland appear on the horizon. Traditionally hunted for their delicious meat, these large antelopes are usually very skittish.

large_590afb90-74eb-11ea-af69-89fbc49afa3d.jpg

large_62de3dd0-74eb-11ea-af69-89fbc49afa3d.jpg

For that reason there is no point in trying to get any closer to get a better shot, so I grab Big Bertha instead (my 600mm lens). Because of how far away these critters are, there is a lot of atmospheric distortion in the air, making the images quite soft.

large_7ce35030-74eb-11ea-af69-89fbc49afa3d.jpg

large_7209c180-74eb-11ea-af69-89fbc49afa3d.jpg

large_db84ed30-751b-11ea-b9fc-2be10e837c16.jpg
Abdim Stork

Pee break

Unlike the Serengeti where there are a number of organised picnic areas with modern toilets, here at Ndutu it's au naturel. You'd think that after all these years I would have learned to face into the wind when 'marking my territory', especially on a gusty day like today. Not a chance. The only casualty is my knickers, my jeans remain unscathed, and thankfully there are no other tourist vehicles around as I take them off. The wildebeest don't seem to mind.

You - and I - will be pleased to know there are no pictures.

Thomson's Gazelle

A mother and her ten day old baby.

large_effc31f0-7599-11ea-80de-79329e39fdc6.jpg

large_e2f9cfd0-7599-11ea-80de-79329e39fdc6.jpg

large_d590bca0-7599-11ea-80de-79329e39fdc6.jpg

We race across the savanna – not because we're in a hurry, but in order to prevent ourselves getting bogged down in the marshes - to reach a tree which will provide shade for our picnic lunch.

More to follow in the next blog entry. Thanks to Calabash Adventures for arranging this safari for us.

large_66b40a70-759a-11ea-80de-79329e39fdc6.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 06:42 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds wildlife mud safari tanzania zebra birding duck hyena heron egret stork starling wildebeest kori_bustard bird_watching bustard wild_animals eland ndutu dung_beetle calabash_adventures marabou_stork grant's_gazelle game_viewing thomson's_gazelle wildlife_photography wild_birds abdim_stork stuck_in_mud baby_animal wildebeest_baby heron_with_snake knob_billed_duck dust_bath zebra_on_heat car_stuck pee_break Comments (2)

Ndutu II: lion in a tree, lots of birds, migration

A cool morning at Ndutu


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

We go down to the lounge area early this morning to grab a coffee and check out the internet before we set off for the day; only to find the man with the key to the reception isn't there yet, so no internet.

large_a727b180-6deb-11ea-a644-49786dafbb9c.jpg
Moonlight over Ndutu Lodge

Lions

Our 'breakfast' this morning (Malisa's expression for the first sighting of the day), is a male lion purposefully striding through the undergrowth quite near to the lodge.

large_c155dd70-6df0-11ea-9748-5331b7fee472.jpg

He is taking a great interest in a couple of men working down by the lake.

large_dc1984e0-6df0-11ea-9748-5331b7fee472.jpg

Each lodge in the area have their own borehole at the edge of the lake, and fill their water tankers from there to take back to the lodges.

large_6cc0c4e0-6df1-11ea-9748-5331b7fee472.jpg

We are joined by another couple of vehicles.

large_5da7b060-6df4-11ea-b3d1-4fbb039f9176.jpg

Even more safari vehicles arrive

large_04ffceb0-6df5-11ea-ad64-2de1eed2bb43.jpg

The lion disappears out of sight into the bushes.

large_0f9fd6d0-6df5-11ea-ad64-2de1eed2bb43.jpg

But there's another one!

large_77e653e0-6df5-11ea-ad64-2de1eed2bb43.jpg

From behind us a third lion appears, walking right by the side of the car.

large_5fe9ed50-6df6-11ea-ad64-2de1eed2bb43.jpg

He disappears too, but we hang around for a bit watching the flamingos on Lake Ndutu.

large_6c4ed6f0-6df6-11ea-ad64-2de1eed2bb43.jpg

large_d0efa490-6df6-11ea-ad64-2de1eed2bb43.jpg

Suddenly someone notices that one of the lions has climbed a tree, so we set off, literally driving through the dense thicket to get nearer.

large_633a0d40-6df7-11ea-ad64-2de1eed2bb43.jpg

large_34730a90-6e13-11ea-8e15-cb5491f5d956.jpg

large_413ecc50-6e13-11ea-8e15-cb5491f5d956.jpg

large_6055a140-6e13-11ea-8e15-cb5491f5d956.jpg

large_6b24f6c0-6e13-11ea-8e15-cb5491f5d956.jpg

large_751759c0-6e13-11ea-8e15-cb5491f5d956.jpg

After a while of being settled on the branch, he starts to fidget. Is he going to jump down?

large_30f3d970-6e14-11ea-8e15-cb5491f5d956.jpg

No, he is just rearranging himself.

large_3aca9e20-6e14-11ea-8e15-cb5491f5d956.jpg

Meanwhile, I am distracted by a Beautiful Sunbird.

large_e039a9c0-6e17-11ea-9569-991a5044f6d4.jpg

large_ed69f9b0-6e17-11ea-9569-991a5044f6d4.jpg

This time our lion is definitely on the move.

large_76fc0600-6e18-11ea-9569-991a5044f6d4.jpg

He does not look overly confident here.

large_ee967650-6e18-11ea-9569-991a5044f6d4.jpg

large_e086a660-6e19-11ea-9569-991a5044f6d4.jpg

“Should I go this way?”

large_1ec6ede0-6e1a-11ea-9569-991a5044f6d4.jpg

“Hmm, maybe not...”

large_8dac5d30-6e1a-11ea-9569-991a5044f6d4.jpg

Here we go!

large_dba85a70-6e1a-11ea-9569-991a5044f6d4.jpg

He soon disappears into the bushes, probably looking for a female on heat. We continue on our way, “to see what nature has to offer us” as Malisa would say.

large_bbb93c00-6e1c-11ea-a93c-f1006794fe69.jpg
Jacobin Cuckoo

large_ade8e610-6e1d-11ea-a93c-f1006794fe69.jpg
Southern Red Bishop

Lesser Flamingos

large_33a34100-6e1f-11ea-a93c-f1006794fe69.jpg

large_3f2c97b0-6e1f-11ea-a93c-f1006794fe69.jpg

large_4a0f7530-6e1f-11ea-a93c-f1006794fe69.jpg

large_768db390-6eb7-11ea-8199-f5bfc068aa16.jpg
Marsh Sandpiper

large_8c2fe100-6eb7-11ea-8199-f5bfc068aa16.jpg
Kitlitz' Plover

large_9ee74a90-6eb7-11ea-8199-f5bfc068aa16.jpg
Lots of them flying

large_ac791b70-6eb7-11ea-8199-f5bfc068aa16.jpg
Crowned Lapwing

Mud

In a low-lying marshy area, we see a car stuck in the mud. A lot of helpers are milling around, assisting in towing the vehicle out.

large_38da9410-6ebb-11ea-b50c-b9ee819f54a4.jpg

large_eb5e2710-6eba-11ea-b50c-b9ee819f54a4.jpg

Fearful of suffering the same fate, Malisa drives across at great speed. It works, we are fine.

large_f7b26ee0-6eba-11ea-b50c-b9ee819f54a4.jpg

Southern Red Bishop

Usually very timid, this small bird surprises us by staying put on his perch as we pull up alongside him. It's not until another car drives past that he flies off.

large_784c7660-6ebe-11ea-b50c-b9ee819f54a4.jpg

large_8276b240-6ebe-11ea-b50c-b9ee819f54a4.jpg

large_6951f850-6ebf-11ea-b50c-b9ee819f54a4.jpg
Greater Spotted Thick Knee

Wattled Starlings

large_e729aa80-6ecd-11ea-b796-bfd136cde788.jpg

large_f10b1d90-6ecd-11ea-b796-bfd136cde788.jpg

large_fb372e30-6ecd-11ea-b796-bfd136cde788.jpg

Marabou Stork

large_30c74f50-6ed1-11ea-b796-bfd136cde788.jpg

large_3e8e39f0-6ed1-11ea-b796-bfd136cde788.jpg

large_1bbbf390-6ee5-11ea-b11d-c1be00de6b3e.jpg

large_5f4134e0-6ee0-11ea-a9f3-1dd9b1cbaf22.jpg
This baby wildebeest didn't make it

large_00688c10-6ee1-11ea-a9f3-1dd9b1cbaf22.jpg
Secretary Bird

large_e453ac80-6ee0-11ea-a9f3-1dd9b1cbaf22.jpg
Steppe Eagle

large_615c16e0-6ee6-11ea-b11d-c1be00de6b3e.jpg
Eurasian Roller

White Backed Vulture

large_a77900c0-6ee6-11ea-b11d-c1be00de6b3e.jpg

large_d4f9b710-6ee6-11ea-b11d-c1be00de6b3e.jpg

large_e0be6910-6ee6-11ea-b11d-c1be00de6b3e.jpg

large_a8f15370-6ee7-11ea-8aa3-3198f08f4178.jpg

large_013c52a0-6ee8-11ea-8e0c-d1300593e79d.jpg
Spotted Hyena

The Great Migration

We've seen the migration on our previous visits, including being right in the middle of huge herds of animals in Togoro; plus we have been lucky enough to witness the wildebeest and zebra cross the mighty Mara River in the far north of the country; but never before have we seen it like it is here: one single line. This is how I have always imagined the migration to look like. The reason they walk behind each other in this way, is a scent emitted from the hooves of the animals at the front, which leads other to follow in exactly the same pathway.

large_7e685d40-6f7f-11ea-a15b-13809f1d36b4.jpg

large_8fde9440-6f7f-11ea-a15b-13809f1d36b4.jpg

large_99b1fd90-6f7f-11ea-a15b-13809f1d36b4.jpg

large_a2e97500-6f7f-11ea-a15b-13809f1d36b4.jpg

This tiny little baby struggles to keep up with mum; he's two hours old at the most.

large_93ca7f00-6f80-11ea-a15b-13809f1d36b4.jpg

large_9c2b1e70-6f80-11ea-a15b-13809f1d36b4.jpg

There are a few more youngsters today than there were yesterday. The whole idea of coming this time of year was to see the babies, and hopefully even a birth.

large_f6299a00-6f80-11ea-804c-0b8f26a3c78c.jpg

large_33cb7ea0-6f81-11ea-804c-0b8f26a3c78c.jpg

We stop to have our breakfast in the car this morning, as there is a cold wind out. More to follow in the next blog entry.

large_55433e40-6f92-11ea-9bc3-6deb006e3fb2.jpg

Thank you Calabash Adventures forarranging this safari.

large_7f48fc70-6f83-11ea-925d-71650f33e9a4.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 01:21 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds wildlife well africa mud safari tanzania eagle birding moonlight lion flamingo roller internet stork vulture starlings wifi migration wildebeest cuckoo bird_watching wild_animals sunbird ndutu calabash_adventures ngorongoro_conservation_area wildebeest_migration plover lapwing sandpiper borehole game_viewing great_migration wildlife_photography red_bishop ndutu_lodge african_animals lion_in_a_tree ndutu_lake stuck_in_mud sead_wildebeest baby_wildebeest Comments (6)

Ndutu I: chameleon, lions, migration, cheetah

Goodbye Serengeti, hello Ndutu


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

It's late afternoon as we leave Serengeti National park behind and head for pastures new, with five nights in the Ndutu region of Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

There are just as many zebras here as there were the other side of the park border. Of course the animals don't have to check in and out of the parks as we do, and there are no physical borders.

large_f0e58450-6913-11ea-864c-cb28ddf2f402.jpg

Wattled Starling

A tree by the side of the road is alive with these colourful and impressive-looking birds.

large_bbc4a2f0-6914-11ea-864c-cb28ddf2f402.jpg

large_c660da80-6914-11ea-864c-cb28ddf2f402.jpg

They get their name from the long wattles found on the throat of breeding male birds, who also display unfeathered yellow skin and a black forehead (the rest of the year they are a dull grey)

large_d3ef5000-6914-11ea-864c-cb28ddf2f402.jpg

large_dcefd8f0-6914-11ea-864c-cb28ddf2f402.jpg

large_f5913ca0-6914-11ea-864c-cb28ddf2f402.jpg

large_ff248fb0-6914-11ea-937d-2fac90657d54.jpg
Female

Jackson's Chameleon

Without warning, Malisa comes to a screeching halt on the apparently empty road. Except it is not so empty. Malisa's eyes never cease to amaze me – he has spotted a chameleon crossing the road!

large_b1e12cb0-6917-11ea-b0dc-4b753bedd9e3.jpg

They are seriously bizarre in the way they walk.


Having safely crossed the road, our little friend disappears up the bank and into the undergrowth. What an exciting sighting!

large_bc6f8190-6917-11ea-b0dc-4b753bedd9e3.jpg

large_52c48b20-691a-11ea-9af8-3b57b1d81955.jpg
European White Stork, a seasonal migrant

large_a189f2e0-691a-11ea-9af8-3b57b1d81955.jpg
The dark line you see just before the horizon is thousands upon thousands of zebra and wildebeest making their annual migration through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. Some 3-4 million animals in total are part of this spectacle.

Lions

Also watching this amazing phenomenon is a pride of seven lions, but not for the same reasons as us: they see it as a line-up of prospective lunch choices.

large_38d36400-691c-11ea-bc75-37280df93c28.jpg

Although this one seems to be watching us.

large_43e71580-691c-11ea-bc75-37280df93c28.jpg

Wildebeest

We soon find ourselves in the midst of the hoofed melee, surrounded by wildebeest on all sides.

large_ca583710-69fe-11ea-aa7d-5336bf737671.jpg

large_f9515c90-69fe-11ea-aa7d-5336bf737671.jpg
There are a few zebra amongst them too, but nowhere near the numbers we saw just a little bit further north in Serengeti.

At this time of the year, the plains of Ndutu are descended on by what is known as the 'Great Migration', and the animals are here to give birth to their babies before continuing on their never-ending quest for greener pastures. It is in the hope of seeing the young animals or even babies being born that we have chosen to come here now; we are therefore a little disappointed to see that there do not appear to be any little ones around, at least not in this herd.

large_e538dc60-69fe-11ea-aa7d-5336bf737671.jpg

We finally see this one single youngster in amongst all the adults.

large_12ea0270-6a08-11ea-b009-e7ffeed5ed77.jpg

He's full of life as he explores his new world.

large_456d0430-6ac7-11ea-b23e-4327cf48f350.jpg

large_4f7efd20-6ac7-11ea-8703-d341e2e13e99.jpg

large_58adc200-6ac7-11ea-b23e-4327cf48f350.jpg

At just a couple of days old, he doesn't know what to make of this egret.

large_9edf9370-6ac7-11ea-b23e-4327cf48f350.jpg

“I think I'll go back to mum.”

large_034fb420-6ac8-11ea-b23e-4327cf48f350.jpg

Mum, meanwhile, has a non-fare-paying passenger in the form of a wattled starling.

large_4d08b080-6ac8-11ea-b23e-4327cf48f350.jpg

The fare-dodger is soon evicted, however.

large_bda23870-6ac8-11ea-b23e-4327cf48f350.jpg

Cheetah

In he distance we see a few cars gathered and go off to investigate.

large_ebf2cc70-6ac9-11ea-bbfc-099fba8ceab3.jpg

Initially we can't see what they are all looking at, but then we spot a little head in the long grass.

large_15818b40-6ace-11ea-bbfc-099fba8ceab3.jpg

There is a mum and two young cubs, somewhere in the region of 5-7 months old, and they have a kill that they are feeding on. Their dinner, however, it completely overrun with flies!

large_400dd430-6ae3-11ea-b2ba-b3943a180500.jpg

large_3fb859d0-6ae6-11ea-8885-3f7f7b47317b.jpg

large_41509290-6ad1-11ea-a914-3da59606106b.jpg

Mum tries to move the carcass, but it proves too heavy for her.

large_8811de80-6aec-11ea-831c-0d5c12bb85ec.jpg

Having had enough to eat, they all join together and roll in the grass in an attempt to rid themselves of those pesky flies.

large_f4477600-6b6e-11ea-ac3b-efbc5fd82d13.jpg

large_feefbb80-6b6e-11ea-ac3b-efbc5fd82d13.jpg

large_088ad6c0-6b6f-11ea-ac3b-efbc5fd82d13.jpg

large_1d6128b0-6b6f-11ea-ac3b-efbc5fd82d13.jpg

large_11868ea0-6b78-11ea-8ad3-1961d8fe092d.jpg

large_27636a30-6b6f-11ea-ac3b-efbc5fd82d13.jpg

It's getting late and we need to be at the lodge before dark; and as we don't know what we might see on the way to delay us, Malisa wants to get going.

Great White Egrets and Abdim Storks

We are not the only ones heading for home – a great number of egrets and storks fly low on the way to their roosting sites for the night.

large_3d266730-6c4d-11ea-902d-0f61fcd3471b.jpg

large_4e9216e0-6c4d-11ea-902d-0f61fcd3471b.jpg

large_df7aa5a0-6c4d-11ea-902d-0f61fcd3471b.jpg

large_d1f6b770-6c4d-11ea-902d-0f61fcd3471b.jpg

Road Block

More and more ungulates are joining the migration this point, with the road being blocked in several places by wildebeest and zebra.

large_925c7250-6c5a-11ea-ba53-8f3deb0f5634.jpg

large_87824760-6c5a-11ea-ba53-8f3deb0f5634.jpg

Uh uh. It looks like there may be a road block of a different kind here; I hope we can manage to get through the puddles.

large_c0b0ba60-6c5c-11ea-9451-756f53dbf0b9.jpg

The cars in front of us have made it, so we should be OK. It probably looks worse than it actually is.

large_d6f62cb0-6c5c-11ea-9451-756f53dbf0b9.jpg

large_737c5d70-6c5d-11ea-9451-756f53dbf0b9.jpg

We're through!

Great White Egrets
As we cross the narrow strip of land between Lake Masek and Lake Ndutu, we see hundreds and hundreds of egrets fly low over the water as they are coming home to roost. The light is gorgeous with the setting sun giving the whole scene a warm, yellow glow.

large_382fca70-6dd1-11ea-b0c4-9b843c58933c.jpg

large_41102130-6dd1-11ea-a9cf-6587a9aa4c79.jpg

large_587eaa30-6dd1-11ea-a9cf-6587a9aa4c79.jpg

It's a spectacular sight, and we stay as long as we can before having to make the journey to the lodge for the night.

large_65ee7420-6dd1-11ea-a9cf-6587a9aa4c79.jpg

large_6f1bb260-6dd1-11ea-a9cf-6587a9aa4c79.jpg

large_812ace00-6dd1-11ea-a9cf-6587a9aa4c79.jpg

Ndutu Lodge

This is the third time we have stayed here at Ndutu Lodge, and as yet we've never arrived early enough to be able to have the time to sit around the camp fire before dinner.

large_8120a190-6de1-11ea-9c12-bf23da039322.jpg

Today is no different. By the time we have a shower and change, we are the last to arrive in the restaurant. The food here has always been excellent, but as they are under new management, we are a little concerned that this may have changed. We needn't have worried, it every bit as good as it always was.

large_0dabad20-6de3-11ea-9c12-bf23da039322.jpg
Another good thing about Ndutu Lodge which hasn't changed, is that they serve Savanna Cider.

large_b9d85360-6de2-11ea-9c12-bf23da039322.jpg
Mini tomato tart

large_c90ab4e0-6de2-11ea-9c12-bf23da039322.jpg
Chicken curry with coconut and banana, mango chutney, rice and poppadum; with vegetables on the side

large_005cb1a0-6de3-11ea-9c12-bf23da039322.jpg
Chocolate mousse

Thank you so much to Calabash Adventures for arranging this trip.

large_815f9470-6de3-11ea-9c12-bf23da039322.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 15:58 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds sunset wildlife africa cats safari tanzania big zebra birding flies cheetah lions egret stork migration starling wildebeest chameleon bird_watching african_safari ndutu calabash_adventures ngorongoro_conservation_area lake_ndutu lake_masek wildebeest_migration game_viewing great_migration wildlife_photography flying_birds wildlife_viewing cheetah_cubs abdim_stork ndutu_lodge Comments (4)

Serengeti VII: lions, elephants, giraffes, zebra

From Serengeti to Ndutu


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

I slept well last night, but am awake at 4:30 this morning. As usual we set off before daybreak at around 6:00.

large_33823fc0-66b1-11ea-a4b5-b35b4b1ded36.jpg

large_3de67760-66b1-11ea-a4b5-b35b4b1ded36.jpg

With no rain overnight, the roads are slightly less muddy this morning, but there are some very deep ruts. Even when it dries up completely, it is going to take some major maintenance to get all these tracks back to 'normality'.

large_5e019cf0-66b1-11ea-a4b5-b35b4b1ded36.jpg

Safari Ants

It is still pretty dark out, so this photograph is not going to be able to show you how the soldier ants stand to one side of the 'path' created by the workers, in order to protect them as they collect building materials and food.

large_8c106270-66b1-11ea-a4b5-b35b4b1ded36.jpg

David recorded a couple of videos, however.


Sunrise

The sun is just starting to make its appearance over the horizon. We are hoping for another rainless day.

large_c4200e40-66cf-11ea-af13-4d75c4624408.jpg

large_ce73cb20-66cf-11ea-af13-4d75c4624408.jpg

large_fe29d800-66cf-11ea-a782-1b5b7c6c2c25.jpg

large_09583d70-66d0-11ea-a782-1b5b7c6c2c25.jpg

large_79beacd0-66e3-11ea-a6c6-1d270cd273db.jpg

Not only does the pond provide a great setting for the sunrise, there is quite a bit of wildlife around here too.

large_a3bf8b30-66e3-11ea-a6c6-1d270cd273db.jpg
Hippo

large_a75f16c0-66fc-11ea-89c0-61702c63c33c.jpg

large_af0967e0-66e3-11ea-a6c6-1d270cd273db.jpg
Black Crake

large_bba39250-66e3-11ea-a6c6-1d270cd273db.jpg
Marabou Stork

large_8e98ed00-66fc-11ea-89c0-61702c63c33c.jpg
Helmeted Guineafowl

large_beac5c20-66fc-11ea-89c0-61702c63c33c.jpg
Common Sandpiper

large_def98e30-66fc-11ea-89c0-61702c63c33c.jpg
Grey Heron

Elephant

We see a lone old chap in the green grass.

large_f2b20fe0-6703-11ea-9c17-09b5c62818c0.jpg

large_0f9d2b30-6704-11ea-9c17-09b5c62818c0.jpg
And a hot air balloon on the horizon

large_2016b2b0-6704-11ea-9c17-09b5c62818c0.jpg

large_6e1d2fe0-6707-11ea-a948-0d033a3d3222.jpg

large_7b60b9b0-6707-11ea-a948-0d033a3d3222.jpg

large_0469c740-6705-11ea-ad2d-bb607e8a4b35.jpg
White Browed Coucal

Amethyst Sunbird

An exciting lifer.

large_e269adb0-6707-11ea-a948-0d033a3d3222.jpg

I am so busy photographing this bird, that I totally miss a hyena walking right by the car.

large_eca2ddb0-6707-11ea-a948-0d033a3d3222.jpg

Cape Teal

The newly formed puddles in the road provide a great place for various ducks to hang out.

large_b2c59040-6709-11ea-8e69-c3736745386b.jpg

large_bd6f8370-6709-11ea-8e69-c3736745386b.jpg

Elephants

Word has it there are elephants up on the hillside. We go to check it out.

large_5e023bc0-670a-11ea-8e69-c3736745386b.jpg

The tracks are not in a good state, however.

large_7bf6d7d0-670a-11ea-8e69-c3736745386b.jpg

large_612928d0-670b-11ea-8e69-c3736745386b.jpg

large_7328db20-670b-11ea-8e69-c3736745386b.jpg

large_83d5a7a0-670b-11ea-8e69-c3736745386b.jpg

large_9fb06460-670b-11ea-8e69-c3736745386b.jpg

The car ahead is abandoned, with the passengers rescued and taken off in another vehicle. It must be bad around here. Malisa goes off on foot to check out the conditions before continuing.

large_11b5ff70-670c-11ea-8e69-c3736745386b.jpg

Not even the grassy verges look solid enough to drive on. Malisa deems the risk of getting bogged down too great, and decides to turn around.

large_bff0f6d0-670c-11ea-8e69-c3736745386b.jpg

As it is, the puddles are so deep, the water goes over the top of the bonnet of the car!

large_f351bc30-670c-11ea-8e69-c3736745386b.jpg

Secretary Bird

large_fa6d6c30-6793-11ea-9b65-c3d0959d1e6c.jpg

large_04da7d70-6794-11ea-9b65-c3d0959d1e6c.jpg

large_0eacd550-6794-11ea-9b65-c3d0959d1e6c.jpg

large_21fb00a0-6794-11ea-9b65-c3d0959d1e6c.jpg

large_2aeb35e0-6794-11ea-9b65-c3d0959d1e6c.jpg

Lions

We see two male lions in the far, far distance, extremely well hidden by the long grass. They are watching a herd of wildebeest even further away.

large_2f8d42b0-67c0-11ea-aae8-fbfb58c7146d.jpg

Topi

large_d4e5c3a0-67c4-11ea-8fc9-adfd03404c3f.jpg

Serengeti Visitors Centre

We stop at the picnic area for breakfast, and as usual the place is overrun with rock hyrax.

large_47ae7010-6853-11ea-955a-115847d5a050.jpg

large_4e83e040-67d2-11ea-be6e-65e61fb6756a.jpg

large_5817f6a0-67d2-11ea-be6e-65e61fb6756a.jpg

large_62e158b0-67d2-11ea-be6e-65e61fb6756a.jpg

And a pair of Marico Sunbirds – another nice little lifer.

large_8345bc40-67d2-11ea-be6e-65e61fb6756a.jpg

large_8d77e760-67d2-11ea-be6e-65e61fb6756a.jpg

large_96f652e0-67d2-11ea-be6e-65e61fb6756a.jpg

large_eb7459a0-67d4-11ea-b0eb-6d6a3c42fd9b.jpg
Lilac Breasted Rollers

We leave the picnic site and continue this morning's game drive.

Stuck Car

We see a car leaning dangerously to one side, stuck in the mud on the track. There are lots of people helping, with many hands making light work.

large_ecbc6d30-67d8-11ea-9223-8b0a8d1e2969.jpg

They're out!

large_f7de9da0-67d8-11ea-9223-8b0a8d1e2969.jpg

They're a little bit muddy, but otherwise fine; and the clients are still smiling. It's all part of the fun.

large_5c1d4e10-67d9-11ea-9223-8b0a8d1e2969.jpg

We rush through as I have some 'urgent business' to attend to. I do not understand what Malisa shouts out at the other drivers for them to move aside as you would for an ambulance; but I gather it is in the vein of “toilet emergency”. We are heading for the small airstrip at Seronera, and the same thing happens there: the gates magically open as Malisa calls out to the security guard. The toilets at the airstrip are clean, modern and there is thankfully no queue. Phew.

After my urgent visit, we are able to continue on our quest to “see what nature has to offer us”, along more muddy tracks and through more dirty puddles.

large_2e90e210-6854-11ea-955a-115847d5a050.jpg

large_3bb969d0-6854-11ea-955a-115847d5a050.jpg

Giraffes

I still think giraffes are my favourite animal, and seeing them close by like this is always special.

large_60f19a60-6845-11ea-aa7c-31282105f5e1.jpg

large_6a94cbf0-6845-11ea-aa7c-31282105f5e1.jpg

large_74286d20-6845-11ea-aa7c-31282105f5e1.jpg

Fan Tailed Widowbird

A colourful widowbird flits around, but never gets close enough, nor sits still long enough, to get a decent photo of him.

large_a57e3460-6852-11ea-955a-115847d5a050.jpg

large_ae34e310-6852-11ea-955a-115847d5a050.jpg

large_b75d6660-6852-11ea-955a-115847d5a050.jpg

Lions

As usual, a lion sighting has attracted quite a crowd, and there is a bit of a queue to get near enough to actually see these three males. While we wait for our turn, I amuse myself by taking photos of tourists taking photos of.... themselves (despite being in a prime viewing spot for the lions).

large_7d200220-6855-11ea-955a-115847d5a050.jpg

large_85e7eee0-6855-11ea-955a-115847d5a050.jpg

While big cats have always been big draws, this is currently compounded by the fact that huge parts of the Serengeti is out of bounds as a result of flooding and inaccessible roads; concentrating safari traffic in a much smaller area.

large_43f09630-687e-11ea-83a2-b9a47c4bcaac.jpg

large_4dd2f3a0-687e-11ea-83a2-b9a47c4bcaac.jpg

This guy decides to leave the cool shade under a tree to go and lie in the midday sun. Is he mad?

large_5aea1640-687e-11ea-83a2-b9a47c4bcaac.jpg

large_65ca5bb0-687e-11ea-83a2-b9a47c4bcaac.jpg

large_6fb1e940-687e-11ea-83a2-b9a47c4bcaac.jpg

large_7a4ee420-687e-11ea-83a2-b9a47c4bcaac.jpg

His brother looks very old and scruffy – look at the state of his mane and the skin in folds across his torso. He seems to have lost the will to live!

large_11e85af0-6889-11ea-acee-3185ac4a584e.jpg

We leave the lions – and the crowds they've drawn – behind and head south towards the park gate at Naabi Hill. We had been hoping to drive down to Ndutu via Moru Kopjes, but that whole area is inaccessible at the moment, which only leaves us this one option.

Verreaux's Eagle Owl

He is one large owl!

large_bf5376d0-6897-11ea-aed0-0fb33129a145.jpg

large_ce3435e0-6897-11ea-aed0-0fb33129a145.jpg

large_d7c2ce00-6897-11ea-aed0-0fb33129a145.jpg
Look at those pink eyelids.

Zebra

As we get nearer the gate, we see lots of tiny specs on the landscape: literally thousands of zebra! I don't think I have ever seen so many in one place over such a large area before.

large_87859250-68a2-11ea-976e-77a11099183e.jpg
Naabi Hill behind

large_98421640-68a2-11ea-976e-77a11099183e.jpg

large_a4ce36f0-68a2-11ea-976e-77a11099183e.jpg

large_b2f67b70-68a2-11ea-976e-77a11099183e.jpg

Dust baths seem popular.

large_f5a826d0-68a2-11ea-976e-77a11099183e.jpg

large_03c8f140-68a3-11ea-976e-77a11099183e.jpg

large_10e6a390-68a3-11ea-976e-77a11099183e.jpg
The other three zebra seem to be looking on with bemusement

large_292ffc30-68a3-11ea-976e-77a11099183e.jpg

There are not as many babies as I expected to see.

large_3fc3b590-68a3-11ea-976e-77a11099183e.jpg

large_4a1aa6c0-68a3-11ea-976e-77a11099183e.jpg

We enjoy our packed lunch while watching the zebra.

large_6e56fb80-6d10-11ea-b2cc-27c5a1c5ee5c.jpg
I love these sweet little finger-sized bananas

We do, unfortunately, have to leave this stripey spectacle in order to get to our lodge at Ndutu before dark.

Thank you Calabash Adventures yet again for all the arrangements.

large_edfaedc0-6d14-11ea-aae1-f388c71e2b7a.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 05:30 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds wildlife elephant sunrise safari tanzania zebra birding lions hippo giraffes ants roller serengeti heron stork topi owl bird_watching game_drive sunbird teal calabash_adventures naabi_hill serengeti_visitors_centre rock_hyrax coucal secretary_bird guineafowl sandpiper naabi_gate wildlife_photography crake widowbird abandoned_car afroca toilet_emergency Comments (6)

Serengeti V: mongoose, baboons, klipspringers, gazelles

North to Lobo. Or maybe not.


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Breakfast Picnic

We are unable to get into the actual picnic site as the ground is too sodden and muddy, so we set up our table and chairs on the side of the road instead. We are the only people here, so it doesn't really matter.

large_370e0550-6492-11ea-8e52-2f21eabec4f3.jpg

New for this year, are the posh chairs, with little foldable tables attached, complete with cup holder.

large_5558d7b0-6492-11ea-8e52-2f21eabec4f3.jpg
Another great breakfast provided by Matawi Serengeti Camp

large_7e28a8c0-6495-11ea-abcd-054068aabb8a.jpg
What a great idea to have a shape cut out to include the cup handle.

We may be the only humans here, but a couple of lions have walked right through the site this morning.

large_d47ba880-6495-11ea-abcd-054068aabb8a.jpg

On the other side of our table are fresh hyena prints. We are definitely out in the wild here.

large_1af6ecc0-649b-11ea-9229-0f59c6b27c83.jpg

Butterflies

We have seen more butterflies on this trip than any other safari in the past, with some places featuring literally hundreds of them. They are very difficult to photograph as they rarely hang around for very long, although I managed to catch this one as it landed for a few seconds.

large_c42718b0-6496-11ea-abcd-054068aabb8a.jpg
Tiger Butterfly

Swallows

Swallows dart around, pausing briefly to pick up crumbs left on the ground.

large_728db720-649b-11ea-9229-0f59c6b27c83.jpg
Lesser Striped Swallow

large_8073c280-649b-11ea-9229-0f59c6b27c83.jpg
White Rumped Swift

In the distance we see a car being helped out of the mud by several other drivers.

large_b0ef4240-649b-11ea-9229-0f59c6b27c83.jpg

Martial Eagle

This huge eagle is easily recognisable by its relatively short tail. Such a powerful bird, it has been known to just fly down and pick up baby antelopes. Farmers fear it as it will attack livestock, which in turn makes it one of the most persecuted eagle in Africa. It is classed as 'vulnerable', heading towards extinction as a result.

large_adc65c90-649e-11ea-b567-c1ce3820e3a9.jpg

large_b7194b40-649e-11ea-b567-c1ce3820e3a9.jpg
Here you can better see the short tail without the confusion of the branch behind

Marabou Stork

large_0c53d950-64a3-11ea-92c1-19aac3b90381.jpg

These really are such ugly birds.

large_303d44f0-64a3-11ea-92c1-19aac3b90381.jpg

Nile Crocodile

large_ecf334b0-64a3-11ea-92c1-19aac3b90381.jpg

Hippos

large_0e163ed0-651c-11ea-9932-7b147b15f198.jpg

large_72165fa0-651c-11ea-9932-7b147b15f198.jpg

Dwarf Mongoose

large_38de0f50-651f-11ea-82e4-091e58b0f441.jpg

large_42875b60-651f-11ea-82e4-091e58b0f441.jpg

large_5f050ee0-651f-11ea-82e4-091e58b0f441.jpg

large_6a00cb90-651f-11ea-82e4-091e58b0f441.jpg

large_73ebdb90-651f-11ea-82e4-091e58b0f441.jpg

Lilac Breasted Roller

large_bbe19130-652c-11ea-a8ec-4dfcfa7f2b46.jpg
He's found a bug

large_ebd25d20-652c-11ea-a8ec-4dfcfa7f2b46.jpg
He briefly lands on the road

large_fbbc27c0-652c-11ea-a8ec-4dfcfa7f2b46.jpg
Then takes off again

large_78ea9810-652f-11ea-b52e-ddf29c466bb8.jpg
The roads are still very muddy

large_87286060-652f-11ea-b52e-ddf29c466bb8.jpg

Sausage Tree

Named for the huge sausage-like fruits hanging down, which in fact are poisonous when raw. They can, however, be dried, roasted or fermented to make an alcoholic beverage.

large_6cf86d70-652f-11ea-b52e-ddf29c466bb8.jpg

large_b18baa10-652f-11ea-b52e-ddf29c466bb8.jpg
Eastern Chanting Goshawk

Lobo

Malisa suggests we head north towards Lobo, partly to get away from all the crowds in Seronera, and also in the hope of seeing some elephants. I have been very surprised at the lack of pachyderms on this trip.

large_aba6f230-6552-11ea-82ea-23a65bd52e89.jpg
We need to get out of this mess

large_b42620b0-6553-11ea-82ea-23a65bd52e89.jpg
Another flooded river crossing

Cape Buffalo

The first thing we see is a large herd of buffalo; although all we can really see is the top of their backs sticking up over the long grass.

large_9d935c40-6554-11ea-82ea-23a65bd52e89.jpg

Olive Baboons

A large troupe of baboons walk past our car on the road.

large_8ce8a0b0-6556-11ea-a45f-e5c23be7a00d.jpg

large_9aec1f20-6556-11ea-a45f-e5c23be7a00d.jpg

large_a55e1260-6556-11ea-a45f-e5c23be7a00d.jpg

large_af965800-6556-11ea-a45f-e5c23be7a00d.jpg

Little Bee Eater

large_05c77080-655a-11ea-8484-b335302e15f0.jpg

large_107f4660-655a-11ea-8484-b335302e15f0.jpg

large_1e3f4040-6567-11ea-9c8b-af24250adfa2.jpg
Pin Tailed Whydah

large_2c1e94e0-6567-11ea-9c8b-af24250adfa2.jpg
Fan Tailed Widowbird

Orangi River crossing

Apparently this was full and overflowing yesterday. It's amazing how quickly it dries out in this heat.

large_b766b5a0-6567-11ea-9c8b-af24250adfa2.jpg

large_7d2dd020-6568-11ea-9c8b-af24250adfa2.jpg
Red Billed Hornbill

large_e89c1a10-6568-11ea-9c8b-af24250adfa2.jpg
Lilac Breasted Roller

Topi

large_928a7e30-656a-11ea-b709-09f723d54d24.jpg

large_9dfa5970-656a-11ea-b709-09f723d54d24.jpg

large_a870b980-656a-11ea-b709-09f723d54d24.jpg

large_7e14e9e0-656a-11ea-b709-09f723d54d24.jpg
The landscape is very different up here.

large_f7bc4130-656a-11ea-b709-09f723d54d24.jpg
Impala

Grant's Gazelles

large_6f4ef3e0-656c-11ea-9009-dfc7fdd5921c.jpg

large_8ae29580-656c-11ea-9009-dfc7fdd5921c.jpg

large_9434e7f0-656c-11ea-9009-dfc7fdd5921c.jpg

large_dac0e750-656c-11ea-9009-dfc7fdd5921c.jpg
Eastern Chanting Goshawk

Turtle

Malisa spots the tiniest little turtle, his shell not much bigger than my thumbnail, trying to climb the mountainous (to him) tyre track in the road. We stop and make sure he gets out of the way before we carry on. He's heading for a small pond at the side of the road.

large_2d9663a0-656e-11ea-9009-dfc7fdd5921c.jpg

large_3a078240-656e-11ea-9009-dfc7fdd5921c.jpg

As soon as we stop, we get eaten alive by the &*%@# tsetse flies!

White Headed Vulture

The rare and endangered White Headed Vulture beaming down on us.

large_3d618d40-656f-11ea-9009-dfc7fdd5921c.jpg

large_47b80940-656f-11ea-9009-dfc7fdd5921c.jpg

large_529fc8c0-656f-11ea-9009-dfc7fdd5921c.jpg

It seems the only animals around here are the tsetse flies. We take a joint decision to return to Central Serengeti

large_08efb090-6570-11ea-9009-dfc7fdd5921c.jpg

large_a204fd80-6570-11ea-9009-dfc7fdd5921c.jpg
Another turtle

large_0b610940-6571-11ea-9009-dfc7fdd5921c.jpg
Topi

large_9176e720-6571-11ea-9009-dfc7fdd5921c.jpg
Klipspringer

large_1ced1cc0-6572-11ea-9009-dfc7fdd5921c.jpg

large_3a16dcd0-6574-11ea-bba9-5550f68380cb.jpg
Yet another Lilac Breasted Roller

large_4a872aa0-6576-11ea-bba9-5550f68380cb.jpg
Pallid Flycatcher

large_d0e6bbb0-6576-11ea-bba9-5550f68380cb.jpg
Little Bee Eater

More Klipspringers

large_f30db6d0-6576-11ea-bba9-5550f68380cb.jpg

large_8600e2a0-6577-11ea-bba9-5550f68380cb.jpg

large_90a7c890-6577-11ea-bba9-5550f68380cb.jpg

He's not happy with us!

large_d4a1ab60-6577-11ea-bba9-5550f68380cb.jpg

Another turtle – the water here is incredibly clear!

large_b685e2d0-6578-11ea-bba9-5550f68380cb.jpg

We meet a ranger who tells us there elephants the other side of the kopje. We check it out, but they are so far away that I don't even bother to try and take a photograph. Instead we stop for our lunch picnic. More in the next blog entry.

Thank you Calabash Adventures for organising this safari.

large_22ed80e0-6579-11ea-bba9-5550f68380cb.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 02:35 Archived in Tanzania Tagged birds wildlife africa safari tanzania crocodile birding buffalo hippo baboons turtle roller serengeti butterflies stork vulture flycatcher lobo impala gazelle topi mongoose bird_watching hornbill lilac_breasted_roller swift calabash_adventures klipspringer swallow grant's_gazelle breakfast_picnic bee_eater game_viewing sausage_tree orangi_river togoro goshawk wildlife_photography whydah wildlife_viewing widowbird lion-prints hyena_prints picnic_chairs eacgle Comments (4)

Serengeti IV: hyena chase, 3 old lions, leopard, mongooses

It pays to be out early


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Sunrise

We are greeted by a somewhat unusual and intriguing sunrise this morning, with crepuscular rays appearing to radiate from the glow of the sun on the horizon. Very dramatic.

large_97092780-6304-11ea-bf84-29aafae10ea0.jpg

large_f5985950-6305-11ea-bf84-29aafae10ea0.jpg

The chase

Our 'breakfast' this morning (Malisa's expression for the first animal / bird we see of the day) is a pack of hyenas chasing a herd of impala.

large_82dc7780-630e-11ea-9df9-e92bfd42ad16.jpg

large_a0eb0430-630e-11ea-9df9-e92bfd42ad16.jpg

We take off in hot pursuit.

large_f6e116e0-630e-11ea-9df9-e92bfd42ad16.jpg

large_249a6960-630f-11ea-9df9-e92bfd42ad16.jpg

large_441bbff0-630f-11ea-9df9-e92bfd42ad16.jpg

The hyena is no match for the super-quick antelopes, and they all get to live another day.

large_05b37e10-630f-11ea-9df9-e92bfd42ad16.jpg

large_578896d0-630f-11ea-9df9-e92bfd42ad16.jpg

large_67bfe530-630f-11ea-9df9-e92bfd42ad16.jpg

The hyenas wander off in search of something else for breakfast.

large_7ac4d280-630f-11ea-9df9-e92bfd42ad16.jpg

The sun is just making an appearance over the horizon, colouring the sky with a promise of a beautiful day.

large_c3a79320-630f-11ea-9df9-e92bfd42ad16.jpg

Lions

In the distance we see three lions, they are brothers, aged around ten years, which is considered old as far as lions go (they generally live for 12-15 years in the wild).

large_9715c170-6453-11ea-84ea-7b648bf1bad6.jpg

large_dd82a010-6453-11ea-84ea-7b648bf1bad6.jpg

One by one they wake up, making the most of the early morning sunlight.

large_b4e4ad10-6453-11ea-84ea-7b648bf1bad6.jpg

large_e7f333c0-6453-11ea-84ea-7b648bf1bad6.jpg
Shaking the sleep away

Strolling along the road, they walk straight past our car, one after the other.


large_49fefea0-6454-11ea-84ea-7b648bf1bad6.jpg
He's looking up at David as he passes. "Is that a Sony camcorder you are using?"

large_5e8757a0-6454-11ea-84ea-7b648bf1bad6.jpg
Marking his territory

Looking bedraggled and grumpy, his fur still damp from the morning dew; the second lion doesn't look to amused to be confronted by the paparazzi just after waking up.

large_d4aa6a30-6454-11ea-84ea-7b648bf1bad6.jpg

I'd say he's got more problems than a few eager photographers: just look at his left eye!

large_fd1da3b0-6454-11ea-84ea-7b648bf1bad6.jpg

He too marks his territory in the same place as his brother.

large_223ca920-6455-11ea-84ea-7b648bf1bad6.jpg

The last one to walk past us looks a much healthier specimen.

large_9226b730-6455-11ea-84ea-7b648bf1bad6.jpg

They leave the road and soon disappear into the long grass.

large_b8095ac0-6455-11ea-84ea-7b648bf1bad6.jpg

large_c95fd4c0-6455-11ea-84ea-7b648bf1bad6.jpg

We move on to “see what else nature has to offer us today”.

Red Necked Spurfowl

He is trying his very best to impress her, but she is having none of it!

large_c46f8340-645d-11ea-a00d-6b458df06def.jpg

large_cedd09b0-645d-11ea-a00d-6b458df06def.jpg

large_d9531ba0-645d-11ea-a00d-6b458df06def.jpg

large_e348da00-645d-11ea-a00d-6b458df06def.jpg

Leopard

He may be far, far away, but this is the fifth leopard we have seen in three days. Quite unbelievable.

large_3e68aea0-645f-11ea-a00d-6b458df06def.jpg

I can't even make out what it is with the naked eye, but using my 600mm with a 1.4x extender on a crop factor camera (making it an effective focal lens of 1344mm) and cropping in Photoshop, I can definitely see it's a leopard!

large_52152690-645f-11ea-a00d-6b458df06def.jpg

large_5bf70ed0-645f-11ea-a00d-6b458df06def.jpg

The distance is making photography unsatisfactory as the atmospheric distortion creates soft images; so we don't hang around for very long.

Last night we were chatting with the Swedish couple during dinner, and they were not leaving the camp until eight this morning. It is now coming up for eight o'clock, and we've already seen a pack of hyenas chase a herd of impala, had three lions walk right by our car, and seen a leopard in the tree. I cannot understand people who come on safari and don't take advantage of the first couple of hours of daylight, which is when the animals are usually most active.

A lone Cape Buffalo

large_6fee4f90-6458-11ea-a204-2fdfe197d3bf.jpg

large_ee890070-6462-11ea-b96d-5b0ae3193d75.jpg

large_f96e9d10-6462-11ea-b96d-5b0ae3193d75.jpg

The buffalo comes complete with passengers: Red Billed Oxpeckers.

large_1f664f40-6463-11ea-b96d-5b0ae3193d75.jpg

Banded Mongoose

A band of curious little mongooses check out the parking area near a picnic site.

large_976ed190-648d-11ea-b2d6-af9919e9fbe0.jpg

large_b1f9dcd0-648d-11ea-b2d6-af9919e9fbe0.jpg

large_bef5fd60-648d-11ea-b2d6-af9919e9fbe0.jpg

large_c927da60-648d-11ea-b2d6-af9919e9fbe0.jpg
Inspecting the suspension of another safari vehicle

large_dcc97ce0-648d-11ea-b2d6-af9919e9fbe0.jpg
Peek-a-boo!

large_ed2a2530-648d-11ea-b2d6-af9919e9fbe0.jpg
"I want THAT blade of grass!"

large_0494b690-648e-11ea-b2d6-af9919e9fbe0.jpg

Nearby a Dwarf Mongoose is sunning himself on a rock.

large_2489dd90-648e-11ea-b2d6-af9919e9fbe0.jpg

large_a8bcd530-648f-11ea-b2d6-af9919e9fbe0.jpg
White Rumped Helmetshrike

It's time for us to go and have our picnic box in a designated area, and for me to finish this blog entry. Stay tuned.

Thank you Calabash for another exciting morning on safari.

large_ef0ece40-648e-11ea-b2d6-af9919e9fbe0.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 02:32 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds wildlife sunrise africa safari tanzania birding buffalo lions serengeti leopard hyena impala mongoose bird_watching calabash_adventures banded_mongoose spurfowl dwarf_mongoose helmetshrike wildlife_photography matawi matawi_serengeti_camp matawi_camp oxpecker matawi_serengeti hyena_chase three_old_lions old_lions male_lions marking_his_territory Comments (6)

Serengeti III: lost lion cub, pond life, croc, leopard

What an amazing afternoon!


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Serengeti Visitors Centre

Always busy at lunchtime, we get the last free picnic table in the grounds. The place may be commercialised, but it has a very decent toilet block these days, and there are always lots of birds, rock hyraxes and lizards around to amuse us.

large_fc0d69b0-60c6-11ea-a72c-e9f79a90b576.jpg
D'Arnaud's Barbet

large_0d8f8790-60c7-11ea-a72c-e9f79a90b576.jpg
Grey Headed Social Weaver

large_1dd295c0-60c7-11ea-a72c-e9f79a90b576.jpg
Rock Hyrax

large_2d14aeb0-60c7-11ea-a72c-e9f79a90b576.jpg
Hildebrand Starling

large_3beb82b0-60c7-11ea-a72c-e9f79a90b576.jpg
Speckled Fronted Weaver

large_4a6bab30-60c7-11ea-a72c-e9f79a90b576.jpg
Mwanza Flat Headed Rock Agama

Once we have finished eating, we move on “to see what else nature has to offer us” - Malisa's favourite saying.

Warthog

large_ed3412c0-60c8-11ea-ad99-c3d565536f38.jpg
He looks like he is smiling

Impala

large_afbe51c0-60c9-11ea-ad99-c3d565536f38.jpg

large_ffa0c240-60c9-11ea-ad99-c3d565536f38.jpg

This poor guy has a bad limp and barely gets out of the way of the passing car.

large_34b997e0-60ca-11ea-ad99-c3d565536f38.jpg

I fear he will come a cropper sooner rather than later.

large_e7203790-60ca-11ea-ad99-c3d565536f38.jpg

Pond Life

We spend a long time watching the comings and goings at a small pond.

large_ae4178f0-60cd-11ea-ad99-c3d565536f38.jpg
Grey Heron

A baby baboon has found a bottle top that someone has dropped. He hope he doesn't choke on it.

large_605f3ab0-60cc-11ea-ad99-c3d565536f38.jpg

large_03a00690-60ce-11ea-ad99-c3d565536f38.jpg
Big Bertha* tries to get inside the nostrils of a hippo (*my 600mm lens)

large_23ea8410-60cf-11ea-ad99-c3d565536f38.jpg
Spur Wing Plover

large_77f604d0-60cf-11ea-ad99-c3d565536f38.jpg
Marabou Stork

large_b5bd99e0-60cf-11ea-ad99-c3d565536f38.jpg
"Look into my eyes..."

large_e53230f0-60cf-11ea-ad99-c3d565536f38.jpg
Another Grey Heron

large_fdb8eb40-60d0-11ea-ad99-c3d565536f38.jpg
Three Banded Plover

large_a65c0d40-612b-11ea-82b6-5372ef74f57e.jpg
A Rueppell's Long Tailed Glossy Starling shows off his beautiful feathers

He later also shows off his singing voice – he's a bit of an extrovert, this one.

large_cedd8220-612c-11ea-82b6-5372ef74f57e.jpg

large_5cc41b80-612d-11ea-82b6-5372ef74f57e.jpg
Black Crake

large_f3bdbef0-612e-11ea-b986-f9e98796429c.jpg
Marabou Stork

large_4e213de0-612f-11ea-b986-f9e98796429c.jpg
Nile Crocodile

large_09962220-6130-11ea-b986-f9e98796429c.jpg
Blacksmith Plover

Olive Baboons

Nearby a family of baboons eat their way through the vegetation.

large_9f151700-6132-11ea-8756-d75903fd6027.jpg

large_b61e9ca0-6132-11ea-8756-d75903fd6027.jpg

large_bfe35ff0-6132-11ea-8756-d75903fd6027.jpg

We reluctantly tear ourselves away from all the activities that are going on here by the water's edge, and move on to pastures new.

Banded Mongoose

large_53aacbb0-6133-11ea-8756-d75903fd6027.jpg

large_b77de910-6133-11ea-8756-d75903fd6027.jpg

large_f4a23940-6133-11ea-8756-d75903fd6027.jpg
A young giraffe

The sky is dark and foreboding and a sudden gust of wind blows across the savannah. Are we in for a storm?

Dik Dik

I love how names in Swahili are very often repeated, such as Dik Dik. These, the smallest of Tanzania's antelopes, mate for life, and when you see one of them, there is usually another one nearby - here you can see his mate in the bushes behind.

large_ab22ce00-6134-11ea-8756-d75903fd6027.jpg

Lion Cub

When a lioness with young goes off hunting, she will leave her cubs behind, with strict instructions to stay where they are (we have seen this in action previously – fascinating!). This little cub obviously did not do as he was told, and wandered off. Now he can't find his siblings, nor his mum.

large_8203b230-6136-11ea-8c5d-11705ce6b505.jpg

large_af4df9c0-6137-11ea-b9e1-9b0cf1c1d881.jpg

He walks out onto the road, but is unsure of which way to go.

large_07ee9300-6138-11ea-b9e1-9b0cf1c1d881.jpg

large_35c44720-6138-11ea-b9e1-9b0cf1c1d881.jpg

Maybe she went this way?

large_8fc24d80-6138-11ea-b9e1-9b0cf1c1d881.jpg

Maybe not...

large_d80aa2e0-6138-11ea-b9e1-9b0cf1c1d881.jpg

He strikes a lonesome, forlorn figure. We follow him for a while as he makes his way along the road, aimlessly darting into the grass on the left, only to pop over to the right hand side soon after.

large_80863d20-613a-11ea-b9e1-9b0cf1c1d881.jpg

large_e379a8e0-613a-11ea-b9e1-9b0cf1c1d881.jpg

large_edbb3d50-613a-11ea-b9e1-9b0cf1c1d881.jpg

large_1af28e90-613b-11ea-b9e1-9b0cf1c1d881.jpg

Eventually he changes his mind completely, and walks back the way he came, right by our car.

large_4eae6c40-613b-11ea-b9e1-9b0cf1c1d881.jpg

large_79ee8160-613b-11ea-b9e1-9b0cf1c1d881.jpg

large_d95709f0-6141-11ea-a124-fb582e0ee04c.jpg

Providing he doesn't deviate too far from where she left him, there is every chance that they will be reunited. When the mum gets back, she will call out for him.

large_efecbf20-6141-11ea-a124-fb582e0ee04c.jpg

Rain Storm

I was right earlier when I surmised we'd get a bit of a storm – after some huge lightning bolts and deafening thunder, the heavens open.

large_bdb5de50-6142-11ea-a124-fb582e0ee04c.jpg

Followed by a rainbow.

large_3481e5a0-6144-11ea-a124-fb582e0ee04c.jpg

Nile Crocodile

This one is very much bigger than the one we saw earlier.

large_5a0b1e90-6144-11ea-a124-fb582e0ee04c.jpg

African Hoopoe

It is still raining, and the poor hoopoe is looking somewhat bedraggled.

large_037972b0-6145-11ea-a124-fb582e0ee04c.jpg

large_fd5168b0-6145-11ea-a124-fb582e0ee04c.jpg
Two Banded Courser

large_a4d280e0-6148-11ea-b1aa-b55d3745b4b1.jpg
Nubian Woodpecker

Giraffe

An old male giraffe is being greatly bothered by the Oxpeckers all up his spine. His tail cannot reach that far so he shakes his neck violently to try and rid himself of the birds.

large_92545d80-614d-11ea-9ce7-8f2a921cd45e.jpg

large_88aa3c30-614f-11ea-bffa-1df090d2390e.jpg

large_923eeed0-614f-11ea-bffa-1df090d2390e.jpg

large_9d767c00-614f-11ea-bffa-1df090d2390e.jpg

Unusually, he is feeding on the ground rather than from a tree.

large_f4b932f0-614f-11ea-bffa-1df090d2390e.jpg

large_0ea73ae0-6150-11ea-bffa-1df090d2390e.jpg

large_4a739c30-6150-11ea-bffa-1df090d2390e.jpg

large_9b7eae30-6150-11ea-bffa-1df090d2390e.jpg
Augur Buzzard spreading his wings to dry after the rain

large_d7a37dd0-6152-11ea-8a57-fb8af77c89fe.jpg
Fischer's Lovebird

Leopard

Seeing a leopard on safari is always rewarding, as they are the most difficult of the three big cats to spot. Seeing two leopards is lucky! Seeing THREE leopards in the same day is just greedy! (we saw two others earlier in the day at two different sightings)

large_fea662b0-62f8-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

This guy is posing beautifully for us.

large_18743870-62f9-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

large_27f221e0-62f9-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

He's a big male, and judging by his restlessness, he's about to jump down from the tree.

large_5e287570-62f9-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

large_a542f930-62f9-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

He is soon on the move.

large_7c333190-62f9-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

Is he going to jump or just rearrange himself in a different branch?

large_c7e20a80-62f9-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

As he disappears the other side of the trunk, I expect he will be gone without a sight now.

large_449c9540-62fa-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

There he is! He's coming down!

large_8c05d540-62fa-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

All around me I can hear the high speed clicking of cameras. Unlike everywhere else we've been at any time in Tanzania, this sighting has attracted a number of serious photographers, including half a dozen other Big Berthas.

large_9ab2da20-62fa-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

Having a high frame rate certainly increases the odds of capturing the animal just at the right time.

large_afe57ce0-62fa-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

large_cf1f4320-62fa-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

large_d8f8ee00-62fa-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

Soon all we can see is the top of his tail. I can't believe just how long the grass is!

large_f87e6340-62fa-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

It looks like he is making his way towards the road.

large_266ecb50-62fb-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

Could we be lucky?

large_31d027a0-62fb-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

There he goes, between the cars!

large_55e3fea0-62fb-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

He re-emerges briefly the other side of the road, and disappears into the bush for the night.

large_61d7d6f0-62fb-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg

We really need to get going anyway, as the day draws to a close.

large_867fd7a0-62fb-11ea-84cf-9b06067574c7.jpg
We make a brief stop at a very exciting lifer - the Green Winged Pytillia

There is not much of a sunset tonight, but Malisa does stop a couple of times for me to photograph some dramatic cloud formations.

large_aec26760-62ff-11ea-95ac-df9471c7af68.jpg

large_b95bb8c0-62ff-11ea-95ac-df9471c7af68.jpg
Looks like rain in the distance

Sunburn

My lips feel very sore this evening when I get back to the tent. After a couple of incidents over the years, my bottom lip in particular has developed photosensitive dermatitis, and I am quite paranoid that they have become sunburnt. Three years ago an innocent sunburn turned into a secondary infection covering my entire mouth is open sores, something I really don't want a repeat of.

large_39765e70-6300-11ea-95ac-df9471c7af68.jpg

Insect Bites

My arms are itching like mad and I soon discover why – the bites from those horrible little tsetse flies have turned into blisters and angry red patches. I smother them in antihistamine cream and hope they get better overnight.

large_c98b4980-6300-11ea-95ac-df9471c7af68.jpg

Dinner

We have company this evening in the restaurant: a Swedish couple and their driver.

large_f8e1d140-6300-11ea-95ac-df9471c7af68.jpg

After another delicious dinner, starting with green banana soup (which tastes much better than it sounds); we retire to bed to the sounds of a not-so-distant lion.

large_430bdef0-6301-11ea-95ac-df9471c7af68.jpg
Main course: tender steak with croquette potatoes, vegetables and a fruity salad

large_5d7e5920-6301-11ea-95ac-df9471c7af68.jpg
Peach cobbler to finish

Thank you Calabash Adventures for yet another amazing day on safari.

large_6d7d5970-6301-11ea-95ac-df9471c7af68.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 15:06 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds sunset wildlife africa dinner safari rainbow tanzania crocodile lizard birding picnic lion giraffe hippo baboon serengeti leopard woodpecker heron stork sunburn steak impala starling weaver mongoose warthog hyrax barbet courser bird_watching hoopoe big_bertha calabash_adventures serengeti_visitors_centre plover dik_dik agama_lizard picnic_lunch pond_life wildlife_photography crake lion_cub lost_lion_cub rain_storm oxpecker lovebird pytillia dermititis insect_bites tsetse_fly tse_tse_fly peach_cobbler green_banana_soup Comments (2)

Serengeti Part II - Cheetah and Leopard

The ethical conundrum of visiting, conservation versus interference


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Tumbili Picnic Site

This site is part of a public camp ground, and quite large and well organised, with lots of tables and a clean, modern toilet. Oh how things have changed since our very first camping safari in The Serengeti 2007!

large_fb1467c0-5fd6-11ea-9f37-459edaacc52f.jpg

large_3874c270-5fca-11ea-8c9a-59784dd3c26a.jpg

large_4b961160-5fca-11ea-8c9a-59784dd3c26a.jpg

Von der Decken's Hornbill

I get side tracked by a hornbill flitting in amongst the trees and the parked cars at the picnic site.

large_021630f0-5fcb-11ea-8c9a-59784dd3c26a.jpg

large_7aeb9240-5fcb-11ea-8c9a-59784dd3c26a.jpg

large_f3097880-5fcd-11ea-8b30-5d6b5d90edea.jpg

large_648d54e0-5fd8-11ea-9f37-459edaacc52f.jpg

large_6efc61f0-5fd8-11ea-9f37-459edaacc52f.jpg

They are funny looking things when they are taking a dust bath!

large_93d3b000-5fd8-11ea-9f37-459edaacc52f.jpg

A Rueppell's Long Tailed Glossy Starling has found a large piece of bread left behind by picnickers.

large_7c743140-5fcf-11ea-a0db-d326de6d35cd.jpg

Cheetah

A cheetah mum and her sub-adult cub survey the countryside from the top of a rock. The mum has a nasty gash on her chest, most likely caused by an antelope horn, and is looking very hungry.

large_00af0200-5fda-11ea-9f37-459edaacc52f.jpg

large_44f46cc0-5fda-11ea-9f37-459edaacc52f.jpg

They've spotted some Hartebeest in the distance and are obviously considering their options for lunch.

large_f5305250-5fdc-11ea-93e0-bb3dc06fff0b.jpg

It looks like she might be going for it.

large_95b8f780-5fe8-11ea-aa8b-f7f381f28d0d.jpg

Nope, just having a stretch.

large_2b4b5f40-5fe9-11ea-aa8b-f7f381f28d0d.jpg

Oh yes, she is, she was obviously just limbering up.

large_c08c4ba0-5fe9-11ea-8e14-c71a9272161a.jpg

The cub follows.

large_53fc5db0-5fec-11ea-bdef-d58acc9d1f54.jpg

For a while they stroll through the long grass together.

large_27fa02a0-5fef-11ea-8746-bd68659b90b2.jpg

Mum moves on and somehow the cub gets left behind. Lost and confused, he starts to call out to his mum.

large_6201a980-5fef-11ea-8746-bd68659b90b2.jpg

Mum climbs atop another rock and they are soon reunited.

large_eeaa32b0-5ff1-11ea-b8bb-c5c21502d1e7.jpg

large_f92cc7c0-5ff1-11ea-b8bb-c5c21502d1e7.jpg

He gets left behind again when mum continues her quest for food, ”You need to keep up son.”

large_e3148db0-5ff6-11ea-8429-3fcc8814172d.jpg

The cheetah still has her eye on those hartebeest, but cannot work out how to get to them – there are some 70 or so tourist vehicles between her and them. I know the wildlife is protected as a result of safari tourists coming here, with locals encouraged to conserve the animals rather than hunt them but it still feels all wrong, as if we are interfering with nature.

large_057bb430-5ff9-11ea-ba4c-e3f6b09ca0ab.jpg

large_55793150-5ffa-11ea-ba4c-e3f6b09ca0ab.jpg

Where mother goes, son follows.

large_8288f2d0-5ff9-11ea-ba4c-e3f6b09ca0ab.jpg

She's off again.

large_ed39a730-5ffb-11ea-ba4c-e3f6b09ca0ab.jpg

And so is the youngster.

large_9149ed80-5ffc-11ea-ba4c-e3f6b09ca0ab.jpg

We can hear mum calling him, and suddenly he breaks into a run, bouncing up and down in the long grass as he goes.

large_30ff21a0-5ffe-11ea-ba4c-e3f6b09ca0ab.jpg

large_3bc8d1d0-5ffe-11ea-ba4c-e3f6b09ca0ab.jpg

large_a5dbaa70-5ffe-11ea-ba4c-e3f6b09ca0ab.jpg

Constantly on the move, here and there, back and forth. At one stage we find the cub trying to hide in the long grass right by the car.

large_04455d00-607b-11ea-a386-d952b99d727f.jpg

This rock looks like a good place to get a view over the plains.

large_1619b990-607b-11ea-a386-d952b99d727f.jpg

large_3b2d4d50-607b-11ea-a386-d952b99d727f.jpg

And the cub follows.

large_8147e5e0-607e-11ea-86ef-cf1fa8c1dd14.jpg

large_8b314830-607e-11ea-86ef-cf1fa8c1dd14.jpg

large_94d256e0-607e-11ea-86ef-cf1fa8c1dd14.jpg

Junior has spotted something. Is it suitable for lunch?

large_ca0f87f0-607f-11ea-9739-2fa18482b3e6.jpg

Not at all – the cheetahs may be brave hunters, but a large baboon spooks them and they disappear into the long grass.

large_d58074a0-607f-11ea-9739-2fa18482b3e6.jpg

Olive baboons

The cheetahs are not the only ones feeling concerned as the baboons walk between the vehicles and even jump on top of one of the cars looking for food.

large_74c88480-6080-11ea-9739-2fa18482b3e6.jpg

The can be quite aggressive and cause a lot of damage should they attack.

large_18ffb3c0-6081-11ea-9739-2fa18482b3e6.jpg

Time to move on.

large_6c377450-6082-11ea-9739-2fa18482b3e6.jpg
Three Banded Plover

large_779af380-6082-11ea-9739-2fa18482b3e6.jpg
Pin Tailed Whydah

large_fe6b6ed0-6082-11ea-9739-2fa18482b3e6.jpg
Lilac Breasted Roller

large_6415bd30-6083-11ea-8900-09d1e50951fd.jpg
Silverbird

large_41ba59b0-6085-11ea-a81f-712387b1f0d0.jpg
Striated Heron

Road Repairs

I know this is the main road through Serengeti, which is used not only by safari vehicles, but also by heavy goods trucks; but here the surface was pretty good in the first place! Wouldn't it be so much more sensible to try and sort out some of the smaller, muddier tracks we've been along, where in some places the road is not even passable?

large_34eaf900-6086-11ea-9739-2fa18482b3e6.jpg

large_f1d733a0-6089-11ea-9739-2fa18482b3e6.jpg
Steel Blue Whydah

Leopard

Would you believe we see another leopard in a tree?

large_92345d30-60af-11ea-923c-251a025f87c2.jpg

There are quite a few vehicles here already, but one by one they drive off as the cat just relaxes on a branch, licking herpaws and generally not doing a lot. When she starts to yawn, we know she will soon make a move, and after about half an hour, we are the only people left watching when she slowly makes her way across the tree branches. As always, patience sure pays off!

large_8a000110-60b3-11ea-b10f-6bf8feee78c9.jpg

large_ac553820-60b3-11ea-b10f-6bf8feee78c9.jpg

large_15752fd0-60b5-11ea-b10f-6bf8feee78c9.jpg

large_448eae90-60b5-11ea-b10f-6bf8feee78c9.jpg

Within five minutes, she has made her way down from the tree – unfortunately hidden by the vegetation so no photos.

large_7d7e43d0-60b7-11ea-bf73-a7f9497f0cb4.jpg
White Rumped Helmetshrike

Giraffe

I mentioned to Malisa earlier how surprised I was at the lack of 'plains game' such as giraffe, zebra and antelopes. With that, we come across a giraffe.

large_4a5a9200-60b8-11ea-bf73-a7f9497f0cb4.jpg
Malisa estimates that this youngster is less than three months old

All this excitement has made us hungry, and we call into the Visitor's Centre Picnic Area for lunch.

Thank you Calabash Adventures for another amazing safari.

large_2319a180-60b9-11ea-bf73-a7f9497f0cb4.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 07:10 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds wildlife breakfast africa safari tanzania birding cheetah picnic giraffe baboons roller serengeti leopard heron starling bird_watching hornbill african_safari lilac_breasted_roller calabash_adventures plover breakfast_picnic helmetshrike silverbird wildlife_photography whydah leopard_in_a_tree tumbili_picnic_site cheetah_cub road_repairs road_works Comments (3)

Serengeti Part I - Lions and Leopards

Lions on a rock, leopard in a tree


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Every morning Malisa starts the day with “Let's go and see what nature has to offer us today”.

Yes, let's.

large_91db8d60-5ec3-11ea-9285-41fac20df7df.jpg
It looks like it could be a nice day.

large_9ba49670-5ec3-11ea-9285-41fac20df7df.jpg

Another daily ritual on safari is naming our 'breakfast' – ie. the first animal we see of the day. Today it is a Black Backed Jackal.

large_d4725dc0-5ec3-11ea-9285-41fac20df7df.jpg

large_df0b6100-5ec3-11ea-9285-41fac20df7df.jpg
Eastern Chanting Goshawk

Lion

Fast asleep under a tree, all we can see of the cat is his stomach covered in flies.

large_efc72c30-5ec4-11ea-9285-41fac20df7df.jpg

He has been feasting on a nearby buffalo kill, and a putrid smell still hangs in the air.

large_fd064930-5ec4-11ea-9285-41fac20df7df.jpg

In the trees vultures wait for their turn to finish off what little is left of the buffalo.

large_a0b8b810-5ec5-11ea-9285-41fac20df7df.jpg

In the distance, a hyena sniffs the air as he heads for the carcass.

large_7afb4b90-5ecc-11ea-b9bc-7fadcb554fad.jpg

The road is like a quagmire; any more rain we are going to need a boat!

large_1de51670-5ed1-11ea-ad86-870324b3292b.jpg

large_5cd23fc0-5ed1-11ea-ad86-870324b3292b.jpg

large_c49c39d0-5ed1-11ea-ad86-870324b3292b.jpg

Of course, a lion sighting attracts a huge crowd, which certainly doesn't help.

large_1fb79710-5ed2-11ea-ad86-870324b3292b.jpg

More and more people are arriving.

large_db313640-5ed2-11ea-ad86-870324b3292b.jpg

large_28559830-5ed3-11ea-ad86-870324b3292b.jpg

We leave them to it and carry on to “see what else nature has to offer us”.

large_09badfd0-5ecd-11ea-b9bc-7fadcb554fad.jpg
Black Breasted Snake Eagle

large_b44b3700-5ed3-11ea-ad86-870324b3292b.jpg
Grey Backed Fiscal Shrike

They seem to be everywhere!

large_f69a5ec0-5ecd-11ea-8459-69f540d279ac.jpg

large_5524b920-5ed0-11ea-ad86-870324b3292b.jpg

large_46ead350-5ece-11ea-8459-69f540d279ac.jpg
Fork Tailed Drongo

large_343f2ff0-5ed6-11ea-ad86-870324b3292b.jpg
Close-up using Big Bertha (my 600mm lens + 1.4 converter + 1.6 cropped body = 1344mm)

large_c852c740-5ed3-11ea-ad86-870324b3292b.jpg
Fischer's Lovebirds

A whole tree full of them!

large_06eb19d0-5ed4-11ea-ad86-870324b3292b.jpg
That's a whole lotta loving

large_607affa0-5ed5-11ea-ad86-870324b3292b.jpg
White Rumped Helmetshrike

large_bc9dc550-5ed6-11ea-ad86-870324b3292b.jpg
Speckled Fronted Weaver

large_11286120-5ed7-11ea-ad86-870324b3292b.jpg
Rock Hyrax

Lions

Two lions on top of a rock, not doing much.

large_757a6720-5f06-11ea-b290-4534d4a985d2.jpg

They both fidget a little, and occasionally put their heads up, but never at the same time.

large_94eb42f0-5f06-11ea-b290-4534d4a985d2.jpg

large_b4a2ebc0-5f06-11ea-b290-4534d4a985d2.jpg

large_bd41a5a0-5f06-11ea-b290-4534d4a985d2.jpg

We move along a little to try and get a better view of them.

large_c8cef3f0-5f06-11ea-b290-4534d4a985d2.jpg

We notice one of the females is collared for tracking purposes, but we still can't see them properly, so we move on.

Leopard

Another traffic jam very close by indicates that there is something else about, and Malisa hears on the radio that there is a leopard in a tree.

large_53443450-5f07-11ea-a4de-57dbe8f394a8.jpg

I have no idea what this guy is doing, but I have to admit that I would not be walking about like that knowing that there is a leopard in the vicinity.

large_42a78280-5f09-11ea-9dab-a5efb694fd7f.jpg

As some of the other vehicles move off, we can get nearer to be able to see the big pussy cat.

large_7741ec00-5f9b-11ea-9178-47a2bebd51cb.jpg

When I say “a bit nearer”, this guy is still quite some distance away, but with my long telephoto lenses I can manage to get some semi-decent images. As with most other places, there is some considerable atmospheric distortions when photographing close-ups of objects that far away.

large_1387f4e0-60ac-11ea-ae91-fbfdc9c3d451.jpg

large_8879ba70-5f9b-11ea-9178-47a2bebd51cb.jpg

She is most definitely not settled on that branch and keeps moving around.

large_e5d89f10-5f9b-11ea-9178-47a2bebd51cb.jpg

large_18997af0-5f9c-11ea-9178-47a2bebd51cb.jpg

It looks like she is going to jump down from the tree!

large_42d097a0-5fb4-11ea-ae6c-2dd7da70dd96.jpg

large_58d77a50-5fb4-11ea-ae6c-2dd7da70dd96.jpg

large_66b34c80-5fb4-11ea-ae6c-2dd7da70dd96.jpg

Not so much 'jump' as gingerly making her way down the trunk like a scared y-cat!

large_b80b9420-5fb4-11ea-ae6c-2dd7da70dd96.jpg

large_c6ce6af0-5fb4-11ea-ae6c-2dd7da70dd96.jpg

large_d061e510-5fb4-11ea-ae6c-2dd7da70dd96.jpg

large_e94cfbf0-5fb4-11ea-ae6c-2dd7da70dd96.jpg

She's gone, lost in the long grass. We head back to the lions for another look.

large_5638cae0-5fc5-11ea-8f03-7dc74951276f.jpg

large_607640a0-5fc5-11ea-8f03-7dc74951276f.jpg

Time for our breakfast, and as we make our way to the picnic site, we stop for a couple of little birds.

large_da252820-5fbc-11ea-b739-a1460f14cd1f.jpg
Willow Warbler

large_62edf100-5fbd-11ea-b739-a1460f14cd1f.jpg
Stout Cisticola - another lifer.

And some giraffes.

large_5ea24e80-5fc6-11ea-8f03-7dc74951276f.jpg

Thank you Calabash Adventures for making this safari happen.

large_a583c0e0-5fc6-11ea-8f03-7dc74951276f.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 02:31 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds wildlife africa safari tanzania eagle birding lion giraffe flooding leopard weaver shrike hyrax jackal drongo bird_watching african_safari calabash_adventures rock_hyrax snake_eagle safari_in_africa cisticola goshawk wildlife_photography fiscal_shrike quagmire lovebirds leopard_in_a_tree warbler Comments (2)

(Entries 1 - 12 of 22) Page [1] 2 » Next