On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
We are world travelers this week. We are in Tanzania with Albatrossity today, and then we will be in Kenya with way2blue for the rest of the week. We will have the final 4 days of the Kenya trip with way2blue the week of 1/23.
The rainstorm that was looming over us on the first day in Tarangire National Park moved in about mid-afternoon. Thus we got to see how the critters responded to a thunderstorm, and we also got to sit that storm out in a grove of trees along a small stream. So here are some before, during, and after the storm images.
This Pin-tailed Whydah (Vidua macroura) is common in sub-Saharan Africa, but since it is also a common cage bird, it has also been accidentally introduced and established in various other locations, including Southern California and Puerto Rico. It is one of only about 100 species of birds that are brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of another species. Whydahs usually choose finches as the host parents, including the firefinches seen in an earlier post in this series. For that reason, any introduction of this species is a cause for concern, since it could really harm native finch populations wherever it becomes established. Click here for larger image.
Another bird with unusual nesting habits is the Tanzanian Red-billed Hornbill (Tockus ruahae). Like other hornbills, this species nests in cavities in trees that are nearly sealed up by the female, using mud, feces, and food scraps. She remains inside the cavity to incubate the eggs. The male brings food and passes it through a slit to the female and (after they hatch) the young birds. This species is one of four “new” species of hornbill that were split, on the basis of plumage differences and DNA differences, from T. erythrorhynchus in the time between today and when I photographed it in 2018. Click here for larger image.
The ponds and marshes in Tarangire often hosted numbers of Hadada Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash), This small but elegant ibis is found in wild places as well as on irrigated fields and even golf courses in sub-Saharan Africa. This one is casting an eye toward the sky, just in case a predator might be approaching from above. If you watch birds much at all, you have seen that most species will give a quick glance skyward every once in a while. Click here for larger image.
Another unmistakable and iconic sight on the plains of Africa, the Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus) is the largest bird and wholly terrestrial (look at that meaty drumstick!). The darker-plumaged males (foreground) and the duller-plumaged females (rear left) were sighted in groups or as singles on most days of our time in Tanzania. Click here for larger image.
Vultures like this White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) were formerly common sights, but just as is the case in south Asia, some species are declining rapidly. This is one of those. Once the most common vulture in Africa, they are now critically endangered in much of its range due to habitat loss and poisoning via cattle carcasses laden with the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac. Populations in Tanzania are not declining as fast as those in west Africa, especially Ghana and Nigeria. But as civilization, roads and towns encroach on wild places like Tarangire, their future does not look bright. Click here for larger image.
As the rain rolled in, we were watching these cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) in the tall grass near the “road”, and we had to think about when to start back because the driver was worried (justifiably) about some tricky mudholes that might appear if the rain continued. The cheetahs stayed put for a minute or two, but as the rain intensified, they high-tailed it into a nearby grove of trees. That was our cue to head to shelter as well. Click here for larger image.
After navigating the growing mudhole obstacles, we moved on and parked in a grove of trees alongside a small stream. Luckily this Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudatus) also had the same idea, and he grumpily sat still in an acacia tree, shedding raindrops and posing for his adoring fans in the vehicle. Click here for larger image.
And as the rain shower moved on, this acacia tree posed with a lovely rainbow. Click here for larger image.
The other characteristic tree species in Tarangire are the Baobabs (Adansonia digitata). These massive trees also live to be several thousand years old, and have seen many thunderstorms come and go. If you are sharp-eyed, you already spotted the baboon in the grass in the foreground. Click here for larger image.
As we headed to our lodging for the night, we came across a large herd of Olive Baboons (Papio anubis) who had also been caught out in the storm. Many of the mothers were carrying wet and bedraggled babies on their backs. We watched them for quite a while, and a couple even jumped up on the hood of the vehicle for some extra drying sunshine and breezes. We would see many many more baboons in the coming days, and I, for one, got a little tired of their ability to take away valuable camera time that could have been used for birds! Click here for larger image.