It is easy to get hung up on the ‘big five’ when on safari and on a first/only trip that actually makes sense as it can take a long time to find them! I’m lucky because I have been several times so have had sightings of most things before. Much of my enjoyment now comes from taking my time and watching. Zebra and gazelles feeding, giraffes browsing, wildebeest running are all fascinating if you watch long enough. One of my favourite animals (just one!) is the Eland. Big solid animals, as you can see from the photo, they have delicate faces, soft even colouring and superb shaped and twisted horns. Seen in the landscape they are impressive even from a distance. So I was excited when we came across a herd.
African birds are also very rewarding to watch. Tiny birds like the Little bee-eater have such vibrant colours and when you see them perched they have bright eyes and a lovely beak shape.
I am not very experienced at photographing birds especially in flight so I was thrilled to get this picture of the little bee-eater as it took off. Just shows its always worth a try. The blur of the wings reminds me powerfully of the energy and speed.
Then of course there are bigger ‘ground’ birds like the grouse. Often they are obscured by grass stems but occasionally you get a brief clear view. This yellow-throated sandgrouse is a lovely combination of muted colours. The markings on the back feathers are very attractive and there is just a hint of bronze along the underside.
At the other end of the spectrum there are the vultures. On this day they were coming in on a carcass in the grass. There were so many it wasn’t possible to identify what it was. I believe they are all white-backed vultures. They have a huge wing span and when they come in it is at great speed. Sometimes you could feel the air move. Landing is quite spectacular. They reach forward with their feet and somehow backwards with their wings.
I have put a series of photos here as a gallery so that you can see them in large form and just click through them. (Just click on the first to start).
But that is not all we saw on the rest of the morning drive! Our first sighting of elephants in the Mara. The thing that strikes you is that they are a different colour to those in Samburu. Part of that is the red colour of the sand in Samburu but I think the skin colour is also subtly different. They are also a little smaller. They came straight towards the vehicle. The baby faced up to us and flapped its ears but did a hasty side step as mum continued past us!
Then we came across resting lions. There are only so many photos you can look at of sleeping lions but this lot had chosen a rocky spot in the middle of the plain. I think maybe the stones were warm and they were making the most of that. One of them looked at us as we turned off the engine but then settled back to sleep using a stone as a pillow. Another engaged in some personal hygiene.
All in all another amazing morning!