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’re back in Serengeti with Albatrossity today, and then we head back to Italy with Elma! On Wednesday, we are actually on the ground with BillinGlendaleCA, rather than in the sky. On Thursday, Dagaetch takes us on another adventure as part of the world tour, and we finish up the week in Argentina with way2blue!
After lunch on our third day in Serengeti, we moseyed on to the next camp at Semetu, where we would spend two nights. We were keenly aware that our time in Tanzania was growing short, but there was still lots to see!
Last week featured the tree-climbing lions, which were notable because most lions don’t hang out in the trees. Here is a creature who is very much at home in the trees, doing what comes naturally to all felines, napping. We watched this Leopard (Panthera pardus) for quite some time, and while it did occasionally move or stretch, this was basically its posture for the time we were there. But I definitely would not want to be in that area after the sun went down. Click here for larger image.
Another mammal that probably would not want to be near that leopard was this Topi (Damaliscus lunatus). Previous installments of this series have also featured this antelope, but since I think that they are frankly gorgeous, you get another look! Click here for larger image.
One more mammal, but also some birds! We stopped near a very muddy and fetid pool which was teeming with hippos. We tried our best to stay upwind of this olfactory insult, but occasionally some of the stench would waft our way, and I have to say that a hog farm sewage lagoon actually smells more pleasant than this place. But in front of the miasma were some life birds, a pair of Black Crakes (Zapornia flavirostra), mucking about and, like us, keeping a safe distance from the septic tank o’hippos. Unlike most members of the rail family, these guys forage in the daytime and in the open. And this was the only sighting of this species that I had on the trip. Click here for larger image.
Another sighting that day that was a life bird and also a one-off was this African Grey Flycatcher (Bradornis microrhynchus). Like lots of flycatchers, it hunted from this exposed perch, regularly sallying out to catch some insect or other. Click here for larger image.
Just down the “road” from that flycatcher was this Grey-backed Fiscal (Lanius excubitoroides), another shrike that has been blessed with the moniker “Fiscal”. This is an East African species, and is apparently quite sedentary, so if you want to see one, you will have to visit East Africa. Which I would highly recommend! Click here for larger image.
Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris), on the other hand, can be seen in farmyards across much of North America. But Africa is their native land, and we saw plenty of them there as well. These young chicks were hanging out by the side of the road with some parental supervisors, who are off-camera and trying to get the chicks away from the road. Click here for larger image.
There are quite a few species of swallows in the Serengeti, and this is one of the common ones. Unfortunately all the individuals we encountered seems to be camera-shy, so this is the best picture I got during that trip. It is a Lesser Striped Swallow (Cecropis abyssinica), gathering mud to use in building its nest. Here’s a video (not mine) of one of these guys, hard at work at the same task. Click here for larger image.
Another bird that you have seen here before, the White-headed Buffalo-Weaver (Dinemellia dinemelli), is a striking bird, especially when you can see the red epaulets and red undertail coverts. Besides being noteworthy for having two hyphens in its name, the genus and species names are almost identical. When I tried to find out where those names came from, I found that it was named by Ruppell in honor of “… Dinemelli, a collector in Ethiopia about whom nothing is known.” Sic transit gloria mundi. Click here for larger image.
We saw lots of Lilac-breasted Rollers (Coracias caudatus), but I never tired of seeing them. I did want to get a shot of one of these in flight, since they sport some astoundingly flashy electric-blue wing patches ,formed by the primary coverts and the bases of the primaries and secondaries. This is the best shot I got; I’ll have to go back sometime and try again to see if I can get one like this! Click here for larger image.
One of the very last birds we saw as we neared the Semetu tent camp was a pair of Usambiro Barbets (Trachyphonus usambiro), formerly considered to be a subspecies of D’Arnaud’s Barbet (Trachyphonus darnaudii). In fact, some taxonomic schemes still have them lumped, with this one tagged as Trachyphonus darnaudii usambiro. Regardless of its name, it has a very limited range in Kenya and Tanzania. And it is a very handsome barbet, for sure. Click here for larger image.