Lake Ndutu can be a mesmerizing place during the great migration. Rains compel Wildebeest and Zebra toward a darkened horizon and eventually to the fields where they will give birth to the next generation. Above, a small portion of the throng circumnavigates the lake.
This is the superb Augur Buzzard. Tanzania’s Red-tailed Hawk if you will. It was even used in a hollywood movie in place of a Redtail presumably because it could be called a “red tailed hawk” without it being a lie. At any rate, it is a fairly common bird although close encounters like this one in the Serengeti are less common.
This one is for my friend Siobhan who is a molt connoisseur. This bird was in the middle of its transition to adulthood and the retained juvenal plumage stands in lovely contrast to the new adult feathers with heavy black sub-terminal bands.
This male Montagu’s Harrier flew by so quickly and so close to the car that I barely managed to get it in the frame. It was in the middle of its molt cycle, as were many birds in December. For some birds, their disheveled appearance and strange color combinations made guessing age and ID a bit trickier than normal.
Yellow-billed Oxpeckers are beautiful and gross. They live on the ticks and other insects roaming around on their free rides. They also have a habit of keeping small wounds open to they can drink the blood of their hosts… but they make up for it by performing another valuable service… eating earwax. See what I mean?
Warthogs on the other hand, like this one fresh from a mud bath, are all sweetness and light. Cuter than they seem once you watch them foraging for food and sprinting from danger with their tails held straight up. Some say you can use their tails as a speedometer with vertical indicating top speed.
An Augur Buzzard takes flight from a low perch. Much of the crater is treeless and any little gain in elevation means a much better vantage point. Like the Harrier above, this bird is molting too. Check out the dark fresh feathers visible on the wings. The older juvenal flight feathers are brownish and the new tail feathers (mid-tail) are red with no barring. It means this bird was just over a year old and was going through its first molt. This is Tanzania’s version of a Red-tailed Hawk.