LAPC: Keep Walking

Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge #163 invites us to share photos of our walking trails and discoveries!

We used to hike much more than we do now. Even so, when we are traveling and there is an opportunity to take a walking tour, we take advantage of it! Also, we go on day trips in the Chicago area, to a variety of places to find something artistic or unusual.

On our first day in Tanzania, we spent the morning on a genuine hike! This ficus tree captured my interest.

On that same hike, our guide stopped to pick up something off the ground – a giraffe turd! Holding it in his open palm, he told us it was the turd of a male giraffe, because of its somewhat football shape. Female giraffe turds are flat on each end! Several of our group of hikers crowded around to get a close-up of this unusual find! The guide patiently waited, while with his other hand he looked at something on his cellphone!

Where there is giraffe poop, you can be sure there are giraffes nearby! This one walked nonchalantly away from us – since it was also a male giraffe, I wonder if his was the deposit we had been examining!

Later during that trip, on the day we arrived at Serengeti National Park, another hike had been arranged! I love to walk because that is when I see the small things that would be missed on a bike or traveling in a vehicle! I took photos of these three small things on that hike.

giraffe footprint
Scorpion flower
Dung beetles roll dung into balls, then dig a depression in the earth and push the dung ball into it. The dung beetles lay their eggs in it.

Most of my walks are short treks either around campus or somewhere else in town. On campus one day, which happened to be my birthday, Dale and I were taking our usual walk around campus, when we came upon two other residents who were walking their dogs and had stopped to chat (while social distancing!). It’s common for residents to greet each other or chat on these walks, but before long, someone says, “Well, I need to keep walking” and they go their separate ways.

During the pandemic, we’ve taken day trips to far-flung suburbs and nature reserves.

Dale stops on a wooden bridge over a marsh at Cuba Marsh Forest Preserve.
Reflections in a lagoon – Cuba Marsh

Some of my favorite walks are in sculpture parks! Our walk at Morton Arboretum, which happened to be on my birthday this year, was in search of a new installation of sculptures by a South African artist.

Dale approaches the first sculpture, called “Hallow,” at Morton Arboretum
We did not stop to rest on this bench, although the scene was inviting.
The last sculpture, “Basilica,” of the installation that we visited. The artist of these beautiful sculptures is behind the left hand. It was cool to be able to meet and chat with him a little! I don’t know who the little girl was – she just happened to get in my picture!

CB&WPC: Long

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is things that are long.

Long necks
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Long stem (bell stand) and long trunk (palm tree)
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Man-made long-ness:
The Sphinx’s long front legs
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Long stairway
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Tall minarets
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Long (and tall) bridge
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Tall obelisks (they were long before they were hoisted into position 😉 )
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Long-necked tower
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Very long building! (and this is only a partial view!)
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Question Fun: Time

Rory at A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip has a twice weekly series of questions, called “Question Fun.”

Today’s topic is ………….. A Question of Time 

How often do you actually deep think of time as a concept?
Not often, unless my attention is drawn to it – I have read two books recently that dealt, partially or totally, with the concept of time: When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink and Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking. Both were thought-provoking books.

When was the last time that you sat down and tried to visualise the future of the planet by 50 years? [Where are we going to be in the year 2069? Explain your thoughts]
I am often prompted to visualize the future of our planet. According to Stephen Hawking, we will either destroy Earth through nuclear war or environmental catastrophe caused by human avarice. Climate change is a global problem requiring urgent action to prevent our planet from becoming uninhabitable. By 2069, I have confidence that we will have gone a long way to tackle this problem. We simply cannot go on polluting and using up our finite natural resources as we have been. By 2069, I visualize electric cars as the norm – perhaps there will no longer be gas-powered cars by then – and artificial intelligence doing many of the jobs currently done by humans. The problems of the future may include sustainability and the scarcity of employment.

What time is it right now as in the time you are answering this question and where abouts are you in the world?
It is 9:46 p.m. and I am sitting in front of my computer in my home in Midwestern USA – specifically, Des Plaines, Illinois, a suburb northwest of Chicago.

Tell me about a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone?
When I decided to change careers and become an elementary school bilingual teacher. Teaching was the hardest thing I have ever done, and I often struggled with the myriad of tasks it required.

Last time you had a really good time was … ?
Two days ago, when I went with a friend to the Chicago Botanic Gardens. It was a beautiful day – pleasantly warm and sunny and the flowers of all kinds were abundant and beautiful. It is the time of year when we were able to see the field of red, orange, yellow and white poppies, and also a display of various colors of foxglove. Afterward, we had a really nice lunch. It was magnificent!

Quote Time!!! Display two excellent quotes on the subject of horology!
Horology is the study of prostitutes.
Watching gory movies made me an expert in horology.

Let the good times roll … please provide me with three song titles that are about the topic of time in your eyes?
Time Has Come Today by the Chambers Brothers
Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper
Time by Pink Floyd

Having a really good time means what in your world?
Traveling to an interesting place with a person I enjoy being with.

Time to ….. what?
Finish answering these questions!

Which term do you prefer more ?

Lost Time
Wasted Time
Time Spent
Time flies
Time flies because it reminds me that time is precious and I should make the most of it.

What do the following mean? [However DO NOT ANSWER the correct way but answer the incorrect way!]

Ahead of one’s time? Getting somewhere early
Behind the times? A person reading the New York Times by holding it up in front of his/her face so that the person is behind the newspaper.
In the nick of time? Adopting the timetable of a guy named Nick.
A Race against time! Visiting another part of the universe by going through a wormhole.
Having the time of your life? The lifespan of a person; all the time of one’s life.
Bide your time? Description of buying a clock by someone who doesn’t speak English fluently and thinks the past tense of “buy” is “buyed.”
Bad time for you? When time is bad, not good.
Having time on your hands? Description of a German clock maker.
All in good time? When all time is good, never bad.
A Matter of time? A conversation about the usefulness of wrist watches.

Can you write a small story on the subject of Time and the Giraffe?
The giraffe’s sense of time was guided by his instincts and the natural world. He knew when it was time to sleep, because it was night and he was safe, so he folded his long legs and lay down in the tall grass. It was always time to eat – he spent much of his day picking the tender leaves off the tips of acacia tree branches as well as munching baobob leaves and those in the canopy of the forest. He knew when it was preferable to hide, and he was able to camouflage himself perfectly in the foliage, where predators and pesky humans riding around in noisy vehicles couldn’t see him.

He knew when it was time to run because he would see a herd of zebras stampeding by. A predator – a lion or leopard – would be looking for an animal that lagged behind. He and his fellow giraffes would lope alongside the zebras, kicking up the dust of the Serengeti.

Thus his days and nights would pass, most of the time spent foraging at the tops of trees.
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He knew when he was mature, at the age of seven or eight, because he would suddenly feel an urge to find a mate.

He knew when it was time for mating when he would smell the urine of a female in heat. He would have to take time to woo and pursue her (and hopefully not have to fight with another male for her), letting her know his intentions by putting his head on her back and pushing his front legs into her rear legs. When she was willing, she would stand still and he would be able to mount her – a rather tricky and awkward process, but the giraffe knew how to do the act smoothly and quickly.
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A long time later, his offspring would come into the world, falling several feet from its mother’s body to the ground. Then it was time to guard his mate and calf until instinct would tell him it was time to leave. Once again his days and nights would pass – mostly peacefully – chewing tender acacia leaves until the urine of a female would tell him it was time to mate again.

Serengeti NP: Topis, Kopjes and Hippos, Oh My!

Feb. 12, 2018

Our last day at Serengeti National Park, and our last safari day, was spent looking for kopjes and spotting some new animals. We also spend some time observing hippos.

Once again, we were up at dawn.
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Our first animal of the day joined us during our breakfast – a praying mantis!
2-12 praying mantis-Ang'ata Camp in SerengetiThe tall grass in this area of the Serengeti at times made it difficult at times to spot animals or observe their behavior on our first game drive. We came upon a troop of baboons, and saw this male possibly mating with the baboon underneath him, but she was barely visible so we couldn’t be sure.  He could just be grooming his companion, male or female.
1141We also saw mongoose roaming through the grass. I was lucky to get this shot before they were completely hidden in the grass.SONY DSC
We spotted several species of birds that we had not seen before, including the martial eagle,SONY DSC
a barn swallow,
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and a grey-breasted spurfowl.
SONY DSCIn this area of tall grass, we saw many herbivores, including elephants, DSC04670.JPGbuffalo, DSC04553.JPGostriches, DSC04694.JPG
impalas and species of antelope we hadn’t seen before, including the topi. Topis have a very distinctive coloring, with large gray areas on their thighs and black faces.

Their calves are hard to distinguish from the calves of other species, because they are light brown at birth and when they are very young.1202.JPG
Both males and females have ribbed, gently curved horns.
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Another antelope we saw for the first time was the hartebeest.
SONY DSCDavid (our guide) had told us we were going to find kopjes today – a Dutch word referring to outcrops of rocks scattered over a section of the Serengeti. DSC04695.JPGThese rocky piles constitute a different ecosystem and one can spot different species there, as well as leopards and lizards, that bask on the rocks. Most prevalent is the hyrax, a small mammal that looks something like a guinea pig, but with a more pointed face and that is in fact related to the elephant!  They can be hard to see at first, because they hide between the rock layers and their fur camouflages against the rocks.

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There are two hyraxes in this picture. Can you spot them?

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Even if you don’t spot them right away, you can tell the presence of hyraxes by long white streaks on some of the rocks. Their urine is very acidic and causes these white streaks to form on the rock!SONY DSC
We saw no leopards at the kopjes, but did spot interesting birds hidden among the acacia branches.

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Usambiro barbets

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Long-crested eagle

 

Nearby, a giraffe family was grazing.DSC04682.JPGIn addition, there are some adaptable plant species found growing in the kopjes.

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Candelabra cactus

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Fig tree

We then spent quite a long time observing hippos at a pond where they gather. There must have been 40 or more of them submerged in the water there!

 

A sign informs us about the pool and its inhabitants.
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A nearby crocodile co-exists with the hippos – they present no danger to each other.
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Hippos spend as much of their time as possible submerged in water. However, they must go ashore to forage. Notice their feet which seem a little webbed.
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On land, they seem unwieldy and clumsy, but they can be formidable opponents.1169
One hippo was hesitant to go back into the pool, because another hippo was giving him the evil eye.
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When he finally ventured in, the aggressor lunged at him.
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Soon things settled down.
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A baby swam contentedly alongside its mother.
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Meanwhile, a black-headed heron stood vigilant at the water’s edge.
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A family of geese played in the water.
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SONY DSCThroughout this safari, I’ve noticed this is a good time to see animals with their young. On our way back to Ang’ata Camp, we spotted a mother baboon with a baby on her back.SONY DSC
Another baboon came up behind and looked as though it was going to grab the baby off her back! I don’t know why, and our baboon expert was in the other vehicle! The consensus in our vehicle was that it was a playful gesture.SONY DSCThat evening, being our last night in Tanzania, we had a little celebration and the staff surprised us with a special cake, which they brought out – including the chef! – singing! We also played charades (strict rule: NO PHOTOS!) and recited haiku poetry about the animals of Tanzania.

Asante sana, Ang’ata Camp staff!

 

2-12 sunset behind our lodgings at Ang'ata Camp Serengeti
Sunset at Ang’ata Serengeti Safari Camp

 

This is what a hippopotamus sounds like!

 

 

 

 

Tanzania: Twiga* Time!

Feb. 8, 2018

We left Ngorongoro Crater, driving around the south and west of its rim, on our way to Ndutu Lake and the southern Serengeti, passing several Maasai villages along the way.

On our way to Olduvai Gorge (see my post dated April 3), we came across some giraffes and zebras on an embankment.2-8 giraffe
This female bends her long neck to reach the tender leaves of a small tree.
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She splays her legs a bit to reach down to the grass.
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She gets a good mouthful and chews!
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Meanwhile, a male giraffe grazes nearby.SONY DSC
Another female doesn’t appear to notice the male coming toward her, but looks up at us.dsc04083.jpgOf course she knows he’s behind her.  Perhaps she’s being coy.SONY DSCIt’s clear he has something other than grazing in mind.SONY DSCHe gives her a little nuzzle.SONY DSC
He decides to try his luck – now is his moment!
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Alas, he was unable to finish – the female moved away!

A little later, we saw a group of females with one calf (walking behind its mother).
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I hope you have enjoyed this little story of the giraffes!

I’d never heard the sound a giraffe makes, have you? Click here to watch a short video.

https://youtu.be/YwoWpjIOD6k

*Twiga – Swahili word meaning “giraffe.”

 

 

 

 

WPC: Hit the Road!

Feb. 5, 2018 Tarangire National Park, Day 2:

WP Weekly Photo Challenge this week is “I’d Rather Be…” Back in the winter (although admittedly mild) weather in Chicago, I look back on our sojourn to Tanzania with longing, as I do with any trip we take, so I’d Rather Be Traveling.

I’d rather be riding in a bumpy, dusty Land Cruiser…

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Me and Dale in a safari vehicle

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Dale and my cousin Susan (at the door) with one of the vehicles.

and watching creatures great…SONY DSCand small…

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Turtle
and in between.

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I’d rather watch egrets congregating on the banks of a lake…

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and male impalas grazing.2-5 male impalas
I’d rather be photographing birds, such as this ground hornbill with a snake in its mouth…SONY DSCor this crowned plover looking for bugs next to our vehicle.SONY DSC

I’d rather be spotting animals in the distance, such as a group of oryxes (the only oryxes we saw during our safari)…SONY DSCor a male ostrich….SONY DSC
and a female ostrich.SONY DSCI’d rather be at Tarangire Safari Lodge, watching the sunrise…
20180205_064801or sleeping in our tent cabin.
2-5 Tarangire Safari LodgeSo how soon ’til we hit the road again??!

 

 

Tanzania Safari Journal: Arusha to Tarangire

We had about a 3-hour drive to our next destination, Tarangire National Park.
I took a few shots of the noisy colobus monkey that resides at Rivertrees Country Inn, but there were other monkeys too – blue monkeys and grey vervet monkeys.  I was sad to leave – it seemed our stay here was so short. In my Mindful Travel Journal, I wrote about or drew each place we stayed. My observations about Rivertrees:
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At 8:00 a.m., we were on our way. We drove through the city of Arusha, which has a population of about 1,000,000, stretched out along miles of road so that it looks more like a series of small towns, which perhaps it is – this population figure includes the metropolitan area.

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Waiting for a bus

This drive was a good chance for taking  quick shots of people along the road. As it was Sunday, there were a lot of people dressed up in their best clothes for church. The women wore colorful wraps and the men wore Western style suits and ties. I also saw Muslim women, some covered head to toe, others wearing simple hijabs. About 40% of Tanzanians are Muslims; an equal percentage are Christians.SONY DSC

 

There were also a lot of markets being held, causing crowds and commotions in that section of the town.
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Most of the dwellings we saw were quite poor – simple structures or shacks. There were also Maasai-type dwellings, which are round with thatched roofs. SONY DSC
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I took a picture of a group of boys all dressed in black with white designs painted on their faces, who were standing along the side of the road. Before long, I saw more of these groups of boys.
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David, our guide, said this is something very unusual to see. These boys are undergoing the Maasai coming-of-age ritual which includes isolation from the rest of the village and circumcision. They paint their faces so that they will not be recognized (supposedly) by others in the village and they live for about three months in huts isolated from the rest of the community. This ritual only takes place once every three years, so these boys range in age from 12 to 15.

Girls apparently do not undergo a similar ritual, and female circumcision is now officially illegal, although some traditional people still practice it.

We stopped at a modern shopping mall, most of which was closed because it was Sunday. Some people wanted to exchange money, so the rest of us either headed for the bathroom, or the supermarket (the only store open), or both. The only people we saw outside the supermarket were workers cleaning the hallways – mopping the floors of the corridors and in the bathrooms.
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This is where only 15% of Tanzanians can afford to shop, I thought. Dale and I went into the supermarket and I casually perused the aisles full of neatly stacked merchandise. One aisle had school supplies and I decided to buy colored pencils to draw in my Mindful Travel Journal.

On our way again, we passed more villages, more colorfully dressed Maasai women fetching water, more groups of boys dressed in black, before finally reaching the national park. I thought I would spend at least part of this ride sleeping, but instead was wide awake conversing with the others in the group.SONY DSC

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When we got to Tarangire Safari Lodge, we were given our tent assignments. Yes, literally tents! They are thatched structures with canvas walls and zipped screens at the front and back of the tent. There is a vertical zipper and two horizontal zippers.

Travel Journal p46-Tarangire Safari LodgeThere are no keys to lock the tent, just a “monkey lock” to keep the monkeys from coming in while guests are out! The monkeys have figured out how to use the zippers, but the lock is slightly too complicated for them: The lock consists of a small block of wood with three drilled holes, two of them connected, with a thick wire attached. The wire has a plug on the end. To lock it, first you loop the wire through the horizontal and vertical zipper tabs; then you insert the wire end into the big hole in the middle and slide it into the smaller hole so it doesn’t come out. Behind the tent itself is an add-on structure containing a bathroom and shower area. Electricity is only on in the morning from 6-10 am and in the evening from 6-11 pm. We have to charge our electronics during those hours in the main building by the bar.

 

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Camels near the road! They must be part of somebody’s herd, although I didn’t see any people around. However, this was the only time we ever saw camels on this safari trip.

We had only a short time before a drive through the park, after which we had dinner (about 8:45 pm!). We first stopped at the entrance to Tarangire National Park, where there were restroom facilities, a gift shop, artwork, informational signs, a large baobob tree, and a bold hornbill bird!
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In Tarangire National Park, there were fewer giraffes, but lots of elephants and impalas. Here are several of the different animals we saw.

 

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This giraffe has to splay its legs to eat grass from the ground!

 

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Giraffe butts – tails swinging in tandem!

 

 

 

 

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Hornbill

 

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Hyraxes

 

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A monitor lizard lies in the sun on a rocky bank of a river.

 

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Heron

 

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A group of young male impalas

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Sometimes young males will practice sparring with each other.

 

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A colorful bird on thorny acacia branches. Unlike the giraffes, the thorns apparently don’t bother the birds!

Then we saw OUR FIRST LION!! It was a young male lying in tall grass so we could only see the top of his head and his eyes.
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Fowl or quail

 

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Buzzard

 

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A group of female impalas (there’s a warthog passing through on the left!)

 

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Mongooses poke their heads out of a termite mound where they’ve made their home.

 

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Lilac breasted roller

 

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Guinea fowl

 

 

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Turtle

 

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Egyptian geese

 

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Old (abandoned) weavers’ nests

 

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A starling, perhaps

 

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Hornbill

 

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Dik diks are shy, reclusive animals. They are normally seen in pairs, usually in tall grass. I got a good shot of this one after it urinated in the road in front of us!

 

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Vervet monkey

This day was more awesome than yesterday – and each day would increase in awesomeness!!
Next: Elephant stories of Tarangire! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CFFC: Safari Haiku

Note: I wrote most of these haiku myself and took all the photographs. The haiku “Photography” was written by Dale Berman (my husband); “On Safari” (with slight modification) and “Origins” were written by other members of our Tanzanian Safari group.  Posted for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Wildlife.

Wildebeest
Is it possible
that the gnu knew? Or was he just
a bewildered beast?

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Wildebeest is the Afrikaans name for gnu.

Zebra
Zebras’ stripes, black, white
Black and white and black and white
But no two alike.

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Baby zebras have brown stripes which gradually turn black.

 

Migration
Zebras know the route.
Wildebeest can smell water.
They move in tandem.

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Zebras and wildebeest are often seen together. They have a similar goal: to find the best grass for the season.

 

Lions
Are lions lazy?
They’re always lyin’ around.
First: hunt, eat; then rest.

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Female lions live in a pride with their cubs. Both male and female adult lions often hang around with their litter mates of the same gender.

 

Thomson’s Gazelle
Constantly swishing
black tail of Thomson’s gazelle
back and forth and back.

 

Genet
Whiskers and black spots
Curious big eyes, ringed tail
It is not a cat!

2-8 genet at Ndutu Safari Lodge3
This captivating animal is a carnivore which eats small prey, such as mice and lizards. Although cat-like, it is not related to cats. 

 

Impala
Graceful impala
Big ears constantly alert:
Predators nearby.

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Impalas are the most common gazelle seen on the African plains.  They are often seen in all-male and all-female groups. Only the males have horns.

 

Leopard
The elusive leopard
High in the acacia tree
Descends for a meal.

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Leopards can be hard to spot – they usually spend the day high in a tree.

 

Hyena
Ugly hyena
He feasts on young wildebeest
Bloodied and cackling.

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Hyenas are not dogs, but often work together to hunt their prey. They also feed on carrion.

 

 

Hyraxes
Small, furry creatures
Living in rocky kopjes
Elephant cousins?!

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Believe it or not, this guinea pig-sized animal is a distant relative of the elephant!

 

Ostrich
Ostrich on the plain
Long neck craning, pink legs run
Flurry of feathers!

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Male ostriches have black feathers and pink legs. Female ostriches have grey feathers and their legs are slightly lighter in color.

 

Giraffe
High above the ground
Ungainly shape yet graceful
Nibbling tops of trees.

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Giraffes grow to 17-18 feet. Their young at birth are 6 feet tall! 

 

 

Elephants
With mud-caked skin, they
Lumber on African plains
Their youngsters close by.
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Weaver
Pert yellow weaver
Weaving a nest to impress
He hopes she approves.

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Male weavers (see his head sticking down just under the nest?) make nests out of grass, twigs and other things they find. The female weaver will move in with the male that makes the best nest!

A watery life
Just their snouts protrude
out of the water to breathe.
Hippos in a pond.

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Hippos prefer to spend much of their day in the water. However, they can be seen on land looking for grass. 

 

On Safari
Dust swirls ‘round the truck
As more jeeps gather nearby
Big cats wish us away.
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Origins
We all started here
Herds migrate; hunters follow.
The bright continent.

2-8 Oldupai-map of sites where fossils of early man were found
The top two photos show an ancient buffalo skull and that of an ancestor of humans: homo habilis. The dots on the map show archaeological sites where hominin remains have been found.

Photography
Pictures were taken
Memories are kept alive
Trip not forgotten

2-13 group photo at Ang'ata Camp, Serengeti
Group photo taken the morning of our departure, including the staff at Ang’ata Safari Camp at Serengeti National Park.