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 start with lots of colorful birds from Albatrossity today, and we spend the rest of the week back in Kenya with way2blue, finishing up his series.
Our time at Lake Manyara was winding down, and we needed to get on the way to the crater, but there were a few sights and critters seen as we headed out.
We’d seen the Red-and-yellow Barbet (Trachyphonus erythrocephalus) a few days earlier, but it was great to see them again at our lunch spot. Very colorful, like most of the family, and that erythrocephalus epithet is certainly accurate! Click here for larger image.
The lunch spot also featured this termite mound decorated with Cape Buffalo skulls. I think Georgia O’Keefe would have appreciated the style. Click here for larger image.
Another lapwing! You would have thought that we had exhausted the lapwing list last week, but here was another. The Crowned Lapwing (Vanellus coronatus) is a handsome critter, with a monk-like tonsure and bright red bill. It is apparently much more common in southern Africa, but common enough in parts of Tanzania that we saw them several times. And don’t worry, there are still more lapwings to come in future weeks! Click here for larger image.
Kingfishers are a widespread and diverse group, and come in an astonishing variety of sizes and colors. This Woodland Kingfisher (Halcyon senegalensis) is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, but not particularly common in Tanzania. That soft blue and gray ensemble makes it a particularly lovely kingfisher, in my opinion. Click here for larger image.
A much more common bird, the Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) is found not only in Africa, but all across Eurasia, from Britain to Borneo. It is very similar to our familiar North American Great Blue Heron (A. herodias), but the sharp-eyed among you would have already noticed at least one big difference. The North American bird has chestnut-colored thighs, and this one, true to its name, has grey thighs. Click here for larger image.
A bird that I’d hoped we’d see (and really hoped that it would be closer than this distant shot), this Brown Snake-Eagle (Circaetus cinereus) was perched a fair number of meters from the road. But you can still see that piercing yellow eye, even at that distance. True to their name, they consume mostly snakes, including the venomous ones, so they get a lot of respect, at least from me. Click here for larger image.
Not a bird, but more colorful than a Snake-Eagle, this is the Common Leopard (Phalanta phalantha), also known as the Spotted Rustic. Found in Asia as well as Africa, it is described as “sun-loving”, but we saw this one on a rainy overcast day nonetheless. Click here for larger image.
In our first two days in Tanzania, we did not see lions (Panthera leo). There are apparently lots of lions in Tanagire, and very few cheetah, but when we were there we saw cheetahs and no lions. So this lioness was our first encounter with this iconic African species, on the road along the rim of Ngorongoro Crater. She consented to pose for us, and we went on our way. We would see many more lions in the days ahead. Click here for larger image.
View from the crater rim. The Ngorongoro Crater is a large caldera, formed when a very large volcano erupted and collapsed into itself about 3 million years ago. The crater floor is about 100 square miles in area, and the crater walls rise up steeply for about 2000 ft from the floor, which is already at about 6000 ft above sea level. It contains several small lakes, and a lot of habitat and critters. Click here for larger image.
But before we could see those critters, we hauled up for the evening at a lodge perched on the crater rim. Luxurious, and very welcome. I admit I was actually sore (especially my tailbone) after a day of sitting in a vehicle, bouncing along very rough and muddy roads. After a beer and a good dinner, I was down for the count! Click here for larger image.