Tanzania Travel Diary - p
There is one
rough road down to the crater and a different, even worse road out. It sometimes takes the
better part of an hour to reach the floor, partly because of all the avian
distractions. We enjoy good views of Variable Sunbird, not to mention
beautiful Tacazze, Golden-winged, and Malachite Sunbirds. They feed on the
nectar of Leonitis, which unfortunately is just coming into bloom.
None is close enough to the road for a photo of the sunbirds enjoying it.
This Rosy-breasted Longclaw posed on an acacia shrub, but
mostly we see them messing around in the tall grass of the crater plains, just
like our meadowlarks. Its overall pattern calls to mind a meadowlark as
well, although it is actually in the same family as our pipits.
Cranes are among the most familiar crater birds, occurring in loose flocks of up
to a dozen. Some appear to be paired off for mating, like the two
shown here. Often we see males (?) turn their backs to the females and
perform a sort of jumping dance, wings outspread, toward which she shows not the
slightest degree of interest.
gazelles are cute, but the most interesting grazing animal here is Plains Zebra.
When a predator attacks, they will fight back with their hooves, and the herd
will protect its injured or sick members. With wildebeest and gazelles, by
contrast, it's every man for himself.
You see lots of social behavior with
zebras too. Mutual head-resting is common among members of a stallion's
harem. It allows each to swat away flies from the other, and enables them
to see in all directions.
This morning brings unpleasantry between
elephant and rhinoceros. For no apparent reason except perhaps to throw his weight
around, the young bull charged a rhino mother with half-grown calf. It was
a complete African tableau: Cape Buffalo in the background, not to mention Kori Bustard, Red-billed Oxpeckers on the rhino, Cattle Egrets trying to get out
of the way; even flamingoes in the distant lake.
The rhino mom stood her ground for a moment, with her calf
behind her. But no one backs down a bull elephant in these parts. It
ended with rhino mom and calf galloping away in full retreat.
favorite animal here is, oddly enough, the warthog. She delights in
watching them race away as the vehicle approaches, their ropy little tails held erect.
Today we find a nice male, clean for once, posing in the green grass. Will
this yield a pleasing photo? No, he's still an ugly spud.