As I said in my previous story (Cats, not the Musical), the felines of Kenya were plentiful, and I enjoyed photographing them playing, eating, and, yes, mating. But of course, there were not only cats, so here are a few more of the beautiful Masai Mara inhabitants.
Let’s begin with a few birds, starting with the impressive ostriches. Ostriches tend to hang out with their partners, though I mostly saw them one at a time. First, a colorful male photographed at (barely) dawn, as evidenced by the heavy grain of the image, and then a more muted female, luckily colored by the sun setting. (I‘ll never get used to the fact that the male is the colorful one of the pair for so many species, surely it should be the other way around). Yellow-billed storks (I love it when the name is purely descriptive, it helps with my failing memory), a prominent African wading stork, were seen in many water pounds around. And finally, a lilac-breasted roller, Kenya’s national bird with its vast array of colors on its feather coat which I rudely photographed in the middle of his meal.
Then the elegant gazelles and other antelopes are always ready to decamp when you pay attention to them. Unless one is lucky enough to find them in a group, one likely will photograph their (nicely) marked behinds.
The imposing hippos we mostly see in the water staying cool during the day are only dwarfed in size by the magnificent African elephants. The elephants would be my husband’s favorite, particularly if they lined up as he likes to think of them as nudging.
The Masai giraffes won the prize for the most surprising behavior (to me). As we approached two of them, I could see that they were interacting and naively thought they were showing affection. However, it became clear that they were in the midst of a vicious fight using their long necks as weapons. It went on for a fairly long time, and hits were quite forceful until one of them quit. Naturally, all of this was done to win a lady’s attention.
And what to say about the zebras other than they feel like a canvas with their unique zigzag patterns. And at this time of the year, they are quite plentiful as they join the wildebeests migrating from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya.
Finally, the bearded wildebeests (also called gnu) were in large numbers. It is estimated that 2 million animals travel in the Masai during the Great Migration. We often found ourselves surrounded by them, and seeing so many was rather mind-numbing, though it is hard to convey the sheer size of these herds through photographs.
Unfortunately, none of them attempted to cross the Mara river while we were there; that is the scene typically photographed to depict the Great Migration. Managed fires in Tanzania had them take a slightly slower route, and they arrived at the river the day I returned home. This is not to say that one more day would have been enough, as they often stay on the cliff weighing their chance of a successful crossing for quite a long time. I guess I’ll have to go back for the crossing and hope for better timing or be happy with my memories of them on the way!
Thank you, Masai Mara!