The Wildlife Capital of the World: Sunset on the Savannah (Part III)

Have you rested enough?  The sun is getting lower now, and we have so much more to see before night fall. So let’s climb back onboard our sturdy safari van.

acacia trees on the svannah 2 ud48On the savannah between the many small hills, we encounter more giraffes. They are further from our trail now, enjoying a variety of afternoon snacks. Did you know that no two giraffes have the same pattern? It’s just like our finger print, or a snow flake. The pattern is unique to each individual.

giraffe on savannah 2 ud48

giraffe 4 ud48Holding on to the bar while we bob and hop forward, we look at every tree and every bush. And suddenly something really big flies over our van! A surprisingly nice looking Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture settles on a tree a bit away from the trail.

Rüppell's Griffon Vulture ud47This is a remarkable bird. It holds the record as the highest flying bird, spotted at an altitude of over 37, 000 feet/11 kilometers. Like watching it fly alongside a jumbo jet. It also has lots of throttle. It can fly over three miles in six minutes from a standing start- a Ferrari of the skies – and can venture about 90 miles from its nest in search of food. That is quite amazing.

Not far from the vulture, but miles away on the beauty scale, we find a family with kids.  Beautiful Grey Crowned Cranes. The chicks travel safely between mom who leads the way, and dad who checks the surroundings for any dangers.

a family of Grey Crowned Cranes ud47This tall, colorful bird’s French name is Grue Royale, and they certainly look royal to me, with a golden crown and everything.Grey Crowned Crane ud47Our journey continues up and down the hills. And soon we spot some familiar looking birds. Actually they are the cousins of two salt marsh birds. The tall Black-faced Heron would get along great with our GBH, the Mayor, and the small Striated Heron could easily be mixed up with our Green Heron.

black-faced heron ud47

Striated heron ud47 also green backed heronNice to see some faces that look a bit familiar, isn’t it?

After a while we arrive into a grassland (phew, it’s flat and the ride gets a bit easier) where several different antelopes enjoy their afternoon. The first one we spot is the graceful Thomson Gazelle. He’s close to the trail and gets scared by our “zebra-van”. But he doesn’t show us how fast he can run…up to 40 miles/64 kilometers an hour. I guess that speed is reserved for real dangers, like lions and cheetahs.

Thomsons Gazelle ud48Then we notice a little head reaching up from the tall grass. A baby Bushbuck is observing us. She’s well camouflaged to stay safe. The Bushbuck calves don’t follow their mom until they are about four months old, so this little one must be younger than that. Stay safe baby, you mom will come back before nightfall.

a young bushbuck ud48The next sightings throw us directly into the “large department”. It’s aptly represented by the Eland, one of the largest antelopes. And the Cape Buffalo.

Eland ud48

African buffalo ud48These buffalos are quite surprising animals. They have an extraordinary memory – and they never forget. They’ve been known to approach people they like with great affection even after a long time. Similarly, they are known to ambush and kill hunters who wounded or hurt them many years earlier. And they are the strongmen of the bush, with four times the strength of an ox. We better be friendly.

We drive down a hill towards a small lake. We spot herds of antelopes and buffaloes on the other side. Down by the water, we find a couple of Egyptian Geese, and two other beautiful smaller birds: the Black-smith Plover and the colorful Crowned Lapwing.

egyptian geese couple ud47

Black-smith Plover ud47

crowned lapwing or crowned plover ud47This Lapwing has a black crown intersected by an annular white halo, and is really easy to spot in this short grass because of it’s bright red legs.

Much of this rough ride we’ve been standing up and looking out through the raised roof. I was hoping to spot a lion or a cheetah. You too? But in this vast park they could be anywhere.  My hope to find any of these cats is fading with the setting sun.

savannah sunset ud48But what is that? Looks like a bird running for her life. It’s a Yellow-necked Spur Fowl scooting across the trail from the tall grass to open land. She is obviously in a hurry.

yellow-necker spur fowl ud47Now look where she came from! Our fantastic driver/guide points to the other side of the trail. There’s a cat. Not one of the big ones, but a serval looking for dinner. No wonder the fowl was scurrying away, it has about 50/50 chance to escape.

Serval ud48While bigger cats on the savannah catch a prey in one of five to six tries, the serval only needs two chances. It’s sometimes referred to as small cheetah – because they look alike, but also because the serval is the next fastest runner of the cats on the savannah.

Just as we approach the east gate of the park at the end of our drive, we get company on the trail. A gorgeous young man comes to say hello and goodbye. A heart-warming send-off. A perfect expression of the savannah’s state of mind.

young giraffe 2 ud48I hope you enjoyed our afternoon in the wild. Nature is amazing. Let us take better care of it.

77 thoughts on “The Wildlife Capital of the World: Sunset on the Savannah (Part III)”

  1. What a delightful fact that the patterns on the giraffe are like snowflakes! Each one uniquely made. Loving your safari series Tiny! Makes me long for adventures and far away places 🙂 Sharon x

    1. Thank you for coming along on the safari, dear Sharon. I was grateful to be able to travel just one afternoon among all these uniquely made creatures 🙂 So much beauty to enjoy in nature. XX

  2. Oh, Tiny, thanks so much for taking us along on this safari. Your photos are delightful. Nice to see green grass here at this time of year, to know they have some water. Great to see the ruppell’s vulture and the grey-crowned crane chicks, the eland is very special too — and I never tire of giraffe….

    1. Thank you Jet. It was wonderful to see they got rains in the middle of the hot and dry season. Everything was green and blooming, lots of food and all water holes were full of water. We watched the chicks for quite a while when they first walked ahead of us on the trail, too cute.
      And I also never get tired of giraffes…saw at least 25 of them, sometimes in family groups of 8, but too well hidden by trees to get a photo.

  3. What a beautifully written journey with amazing photos to accompany it – thanks for my happy morning read, Helen as I enjoy my coffee and sit back in a comfy chair. 😊

  4. Fantastic sightings and photos, Helen. Those cranes are really gorgeous, and I didn’t know that interesting fact about giraffes. The vulture is so amazing to fly so fast and at such altitude. I wonder if it’s an aviation hazard. 😕 Mr. Red Legs is really cute and I’m so glad the scurrying Spur Fowl lived to fight another day. 🙂

    1. I think that these vultures might be a bit of an aviation hazard. Particularly smaller planes over the savannah will need to be prepared to take swift evasive action when these guys are in the skies. That fowl’s desperate run for cover made me discover the serval…and then we distracted the cat for a while to help the bird’s odds 🙂 Happy you enjoyed our colorful friends, Sylvia.

        1. I’m afraid I have exhausted the pics from Kenya now, so salt marsh pics will need to do for now 🙂 My next trip is coming up next week, but unfortunately no wildlife where I’m going…just lots and lots of “busy biz”.

    1. Thank you so much for riding along, Skip. That young giraffe was truly gorgeous. He walked along the trail towards us for a while and then stayed on the side when we passed by.

    1. Happy you enjoyed the ride, Eric! That vulture was big, but not too scary looking to me. I would be more careful of not getting on the wrong side of the Cape Buffalo 🙂

  5. Thanks again Tiny for another very beautiful and very informative treck through the savanna with you. It is wonderful the way you share your adventure, you actually feel your there, thanks again dear friend:-)

    1. Thank you for your kindness my dear friend. I was hoping it would feel a little bit like being there in person. It was quite an adventure, and a rare treat, in the middle of my work trip 🙂

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Karen. I learned so many new things about these animals and birds and it was a pleasure to share some of it 🙂

  6. Amazing images, Helen. All creatures great and small, indeed. I love the little red legged Lapwing, and the Grey Crowned Cranes and chicks. Delightful.. Memories to keep forever.. 🙂

    1. There were so many colors and patterns to admire on this trip. Many birds I had not seen before. I am so grateful I got this opportunity to visit them and share some of it with my friends here. Memories indeed. Thank you Carol for riding along 🙂

  7. How amazing to be able to see so many different kinds of animals and birds on the same day and in one place! The Lapwing is dazzling, especially its legs. 🙂 The statistics on the vulture are most impressive. Thank you so much for sharing these delightful pictures.

    1. Thanks Barbara! Yes, the nature really showed me its best face, great weather, green everywhere and so many animals and birds, some completely new to me, like the famous vulture 🙂

  8. What a ride!!! Glorious photos, Tiny! I cannot for the life of me figure out how you took these images in a bumpy swaying vehicle and getting clear shots. You and that camera are a Miracle! I wonder how many others stopped to think and ask, “HOW did Tiny get such clear pictures? What did she use to steady her camera with in order to get such clear shots?” Well I’m asking. You amaze me!!!

    1. I will tell you Amy…Sometimes I asked the driver/guide to stop (I was alone in the van), but of course I couldn’t do it all the time. So when he was driving and I saw something I wanted to “shoot” , I just hung to the side of the raised ceiling or a vertical bar and supported my gear on the leather covered edge of the ceiling and waited for a relatively “shake-free” moment. Then I took many frames/sec and some of them came out good. I took around 400 pics and got about 50-60 fairly good ones. I was completely exhausted after the drive 😀 But it was so worth it! Thank you dear Amy, I am happy you enjoyed. Hugs!

      1. Most people do not stop to think but HOW did the photographer get those images? They don’t understand the lengths we sometimes go to ge beautiful shots and yes I so understand how you would be exhausted pouring so much energy into that ride. Your shots are extraordinary, Tiny, and now that I know what you went through, even more so.
        May you have a great weekend! Today is THE perfect day for me to get out there and shoot more waterfalls. It’s cold, yes, but I will make sure I am dressed warm. I plan on seeing ice formations. 🙂 (((HUGS))) Amy ❤

        1. That is so true, dear Amy! I will be thinking of your much cooler walk today when I go to the salt marsh to say hi to the incubating Osprey couple and others 🙂 I so look forward to your winter pictures. Hugs ❤

  9. So loving this wild safari ride, Helen! Animals most of us will never see in the wild in our lifetime. Your captures are brilliant with great focus. Well done! Do we get to go again, can we, can we???!!!!!! 🙂

    1. Oh, I wish we could get to go again, Donna 🙂 But as things were, very busy with work, I was happy to get this one small break on one afternoon so I could take a game drive. My next trip will come up in less than a week now, but where I’m going this time there’s no wildlife 😦 I’ll see if I can capture something else interesting. Thank you!! 🙂

    1. Happy you came along for the ride, Matti. It was warm there 26-28C. I didn’t know you had snow…my dad didn’t mention. But that makes for great photos too!

    1. Greetings from Germany, Jackie! Sitting here waiting for my next flight and catching up a little bit 🙂 I was so excited for the cat too. The lions must have been close by too because the very next day 3 of them escaped through the electric fence and roamed the city at night. They were caught unharmed before morning and nobody got eaten up.

    1. I am happy you enjoyed, Sheryl! And sorry for the late response as I have been busy to my ears. Sending you greetings from Germany this morning.

  10. I have enjoyed these photos and your story immensely Helen!
    The family of cranes will stay with me for a while … as well as that young male giraffe! Thank you for getting moms great shots from your bumpy ride!

    1. Thank you Val, I am so happy you enjoyed! I did enjoy the safari and that trip very much too. Now on my next trip and today sending you greetings from Germany ,and then off to Jordan. This trip is all business so I didn’t even carry my camera gear, maybe a few iPhone captures…Have a wonderful weekend, my friend. XX

    1. Thanks! Unlike you, I am no longer spoiled with meeting these beautiful animals on my home turf 🙂 so I enjoyed even the one afternoon I could get into the park.

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