Friday, October 27, 2017

Ngorongoro Crater -- Feathered Friends and Hippos too

So funny.  We told our guide, Vincent, that we wanted to see hippos and he assured us we would see lots.  He drove us to a body of water covered in birds.  We were so excited!  And zebras, wildebeests.  You name it.  The area was full of birds and mammals.  We spent a long time identifying birds -- storks and spoonbills and pelicans.  Then Vincent started laughing.  He said, "I thought you wanted to see hippos!"  And by golly, when we looked closer, there they were -- under the birds' feet!  Be sure to click on the pictures to enlarge and watch the video of the secretary bird.  It's really cool the way it walks.

This is the scene we came upon in our search for hippos.  We were excited to see so many beautiful birds!!
We got busy identifying all the beautiful birds.  This has got to be a black-headed heron.

And these are yellow-billed egrets sitting on . . . a sand bar?

Black-headed heron strutting along.

So many interesting birds around this water hole.  Wait.  Are they really sitting on sand bars?  This is when our guide laughs and says, "You wanted to see hippos!"

Oh my goodness.  All those sand bars are . . . hippos!!!  We were too busy watching the birds and all the animals in the distance . . . 

. . . such as the gazelles

. . . but there in the water are many, many hippos.  The most we've seen thus far in Africa!!

Now we're zooming in for a closer look.  Yes, there are ears and eyes of . . . hippos!  Yeah!
Vincent says they are pink when they have enough water.  I remember in Masai Mara seeing a hippo roll over in the water and his underside was pink.  Who knew?

Hippos are the most dangerous animals in Africa.  They look clumsy on land and they look lazy in water but at night when they come out, they can run really fast and they forage at night for miles.  They are more dangerous to humans than lions.

Click to enlarge and you will see that the bird in the center is a yellow-billed stork.  Or is it?  There's a better picture of a yellow-billed stork coming up.  Maybe this is something else.

I had a hard time identifying this bird.  But that is because from this angle you can't see the shape of its bill.  Look at the following pictures.

Click to enlarge and you can almost see the bill . . . Keep looking.

Trying to capture the shape of that bill!

Aha . . . at last.  There it is . . . an African spoonbill.  Its beak is in the shape of a spoon!  How cool is that?  More on the spoonbill later.

Beautiful yellow-billed stork.

Love the reflection of the yellow-billed stork.

Great white pelican.  You can see why we missed seeing the hippos -- there were so many birds!

Great white egret

Yellow-billed egrets sunning themselves on the backs of the hippos.

Was interesting to watch the mother spoonbill feeding these baby spoonbills.

Now we've gone from the hippo pool.  It was an amazing place and we spent a long time there.  Now we're to the controlled burn area.  Interesting to see wildlife in the burned area.  I believe this is a bustard.

The Kori bustard is the largest flying bird in Africa, according to Vincent.  Wikipedia says that "In fact, the male kori bustard may be the heaviest living animal capable of flight."

When the kori bustard is trying to attract a mate, it fluffs up its neck.  Check it out on google images.  

Our only look at flamingos.  Apparently in the rainy season, there are thousands of flamingos here.  

I think the helmeted guinea fowl are interesting.  As are the vulturine guinea fowl we saw in Tsavo West Park.

From very far away, I spied with my binoculars, a secretary bird!!

LeRon zoomed in and captured it.  But later we would see some very close to the road.  This is the day for birds!

Love these pictures LeRon took of the secretary bird.

I'll put a video of its interesting way of walking at the end of this post.

The quills on its head are supposed to be like a secretary's many pens, at least back in the day when pens were made of quills.

The secretary bird has pink legs and red eyes.

Beautiful picture of the secretary bird!

Usually we only see a few crested cranes in the parks we've been to.  But in Ngorongoro Crater we saw many, many crested cranes.  They are gorgeous birds.

On our visit to the Masai Mara, I took a cool picture of two crested cranes against the background of a lake.  Their crests were beautifully displayed.  You'll have to check them out in a previous post (back in March or so).

Crested cranes are my favorite birds!

Blacksmith plover

Egyptian goose

Does anyone know what bird this is?  Google images says "best guess is a duck!"  I was a bit disappointed with google.  Usually I can put in a photo of say, a building somewhere in Europe, and google will tell me exactly what it is.  But not so this "duck."

This is to remind me that we saw LOTS of ostriches.  It was a great day for bird watching.


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