We spent the day driving in the Massai Mara starting and ending at Fig Tree Camp. The Mara is enormous so only a small area can be covered in any one day. The roads though not terrible had to be maneuvered slowly and carefully. Of course we made numerous stops depending on what we found. The park is 1,510 km or 580 square miles.
We were up and out early in the morning. This shot was taken at 6.30 AM.
A Waterbuck in nice morning light. The white target ring on the animal's rump help the herd keep together as it flees through dense bush. These African animals lack both speed and endurance so they depend a lot on cover as a refuge from predators.
The warthog is a wild member of the pig family found in grassland, savanna and woodlands in sub-Saharan Africa. Although capable of fighting, the warthog's primary defense is to flee by sprinting very quickly.
A male impala. Only the male referred to as the ram has lyre-shaped horns which can reach up to 45-92 cm (18-36 in) in length. The female, referred to as the ewe lacks horns.
A Wire-tailed Swallow gets its name from the very long filamentous outermost tail feathers which trail behind like two wires.
A group of giraffes we passed. Giraffes spend most of their lives standing up; they even sleep and give birth standing up.
The African Hawk-Eagle is a large bird of prey. This eagle is a small to medium-sized eagle at about 55-65 cm in length. This eagle hunts small mammals, reptiles and birds.
A Ruppell's Griffon Vulture is a large vulture named in honour of Edward Ruppell, a 19th century German explorer, collector and zoologist. This bird is considered to be the highest-flying bird with confirmed evidence of a flight at an altitude of 11,000 metres (36,100 ft) above sea level.
These vultures are highly social and gather to feed in large flocks. They can travel fast when required, cruising at up to 35 kilometres per hour (22 MPH) and will fly as far as 150 kilometres (93 mi) from a nest site to find food.
The Bateleur eagle is a medium-sized eagle and is endemic to Africa and small parts of Arabia. This colourful species has a very short tail.
The Bateleur hunts over a territory of approximately 650 square km (250 square miles) a day. These birds are hunters and scavengers.
In 2009, the Bateleur was placed in the Near-Threatened IUCN Red Lit Category due to loss of habitat, pesticides, capture for international trade and nest disturbance.
A Long-tailed Starling.
Trouble on the road. Of course there are no service stations close by so when something happens to a truck you had better know how to fix it. Fortunately there were no dangerous animals around at the time.
A Grey Heron.
We stopped for a while to photograph some zebras.
Zebras have excellent eyesight and hearing. Just like the giraffes, they stand up while sleeping.
Apparently zebras run side to side when being chased by predators. I never actually saw this.
Hyenas kill as much as 95% of the food they eat and have been known to drive off leopards or lionesses from their kills. They are primarily nocturnal animals but may venture from their lairs in the early-morning hours. This shot was taken at 10.45 AM.
In one feeding frenzy, a spotted hyena can eat up to one third of its body weight.
Vultures waiting for any remains.
Not much left of this zebra.
The hyenas wandered away after finishing eating. Hyenas are not related to dogs, although they do have some similar greeting ceremonies.
One more stop to take a couple of pictures of the ostrich before heading back to the lodge for lunch. Ostriches are so powerful that a single kick at a predator such as a lion could be fatal. When fully grown an ostrich has one of the most advanced immune systems known to man.
Ostriches stretch out their neck and lay their head on the ground to keep from being seen hence the myth that ostriches hide in the sand. However, ostriches do not bury their head in the sand.
We headed out again around 3.30 and came across lions mating. As I mentioned before you never knew what you might see on the safari. This was the first full grown male lion I saw. The mane of the adult lion, unique among cats is one of the most distinctive characteristics of the species. It makes the lion appear larger providing an excellent intimidation display. This aids the lion during confrontations with other lions and the with the species' chief competitor in Africa, the spotted hyena.
The lions started to wander away but we still had a good view. At one point they walked right in front of our van totally oblivious to the vans and the people.
Males with darker manes are more likely to attract females.
Fortunately they stopped where we could still see them.
The roar of a lion can be heard from 8 kilometres (5 miles) away.
Wildebeest are also called Gnu and are part of the antelope family. Wildebeest is Dutch for "wild beast" or "wild cattle" in Afrikanns. Each year, wildebeest have a long-distance migration timed to coincide with he annual pattern of rainfall and grass growth. We saw thousands of these animals.
We saw more warthogs as we started making our way back to the lodge.
By now it was after six and we were getting some nice lighting.
The last colours of the day as we headed back to Fig Tree Camp.