Ngorongoro Crater - 2016
   
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Lake Magadi was nearly empty. And with very few Lesser Flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor)

 

 

After having spent the night at the Rhino Lodge on the crater rim, we descended into the crater arriving around 7 o'clock in the morning. Making it the first day of the safari to reach main game area relatively early in the morning. In other words, a good day to look for active cats. And sure enough, soon we found the trip's first major lion kill. Next to the Lerai Forest, a pride of lions was feeding on a buffalo carcass. The adults had finished eating, while some of the youngsters were still having their share. Waiting next by were four Black-Backed Jackals and two Golden Jackals. No vultures were around this early in the morning. Later that days we saw many lions, including two lionesses sitting next to the road waiting for a car. As soon as we stopped, they walked over and laid down in the shaddow of the vehicle. It absolutely looked deliberate, and I think they were used to actively approach safari cars for shaddow. To be honest, when I leaned out of the car and looked down on them, it felt way too close for comfort. These are massive creatures.

Actively eating hyenas and jackals were also seen during the day, making it an excellent day for predator photography. Birding is also good in the crater, especially around the hippo pool and at the picnic area. The picnic area, where tourists are allowed to leave their vehicles, is situated next the Ngoitokitok Spring, one of the major water sources near the eastern crater wall. Here I did a mistake. I knew about the aggressive Yellow-Billed Kites in the area from my last visit. They are used to steal food from tourists. When we arrived, I saw some kites dive-bombing trying to snatch a snack from some tourists having lunch under the tree. My mistake was having my lunch a bit away from the tree. I was holding a roll in my fingers just 25 cm from my mouth, when a kite dive-bombed and snatched it from my hand in full speed. I imagine the damage it would have done to my hand or face had it miscalculated only slightly. Overcoming the shock, I went on to eating a small banana. Only to experience the kite to steal also this treat. The rest of the lunch I had in the car ... Kind of strange, really. To experience raptors like kites eating bread and banana. Well, I saw them finishing off the bread, but they did not come back for the banana.

Lake Magadi was almost empty, with no water this time of year. And with less than 100 flamingos. Even if it was raining heavily just north-west of the crater when we arrived from Serengeti the day before, the crater floor, except for the north-eastern corner, was yellow with no signs of green grass. So the dry season was still ongoing. But since there is a lot of animals in the crater, Ngorongoro is probably one of the best places for wildlife photography in Northern Tanzania. In Serengeti there is also a lot of animals, but the area is vast, and it takes a lot of time driving around to find them.

 

Lionesses walking across the crater floor

 

Male lions in the crater have relatively light-colored manes

Enjoying half-rotten buffalo

 

Black-Backed Jackal (Canis mesomelas)

Is it my turn soon? The jackals were waiting patiently for their share

 

What's the fuss? In-fighting amongst the jackals

Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta)

 

Bone-crushing jaws

Spotted Hyena

 

Lerai Forest. One corner of the crater is forested. This is where the 20 or so Black Rhinos often hide during the day

Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)

 

White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)

A hippo spreading dung in the face of a neighbor. It looks only modestly impressed ..

 

Black-Crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

 

Black Crake (Amaurornis flavirostra)

Hottentot Teal (Anas hottentota)

 

Red-Billed Teal (Anas erythrorhyncha)

Little Bee-Eater (Merops pusillus)

 

Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)

 

Wildlife in the crater. Here with Cooke's Hartebeest and Worthog

Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer caffer)

 

Cape Buffalo

Grant's Zebra (Equus quagga boehmi)

 

Western White-Bearded Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus mearnsi)

Thompson Gazelle (Eudorcas thomsonii)

 

Grant's Gazelle (Nanger granti)

Elephants in the Crater

 

Zebras

Crater wildlife can be rich. One section of the area had apparently recently received rain

 

Not exactly the Great Migration, but still ...

Golden Jackal (Canis anthus). Now considered a wolf by some, and called African Golden Wolf

 

Golden Jackal

Masai Bushbuck female (Tragelaphus scriptus massaicus). There is 10 recognized subspecies of Bushbuck in Africa, according to Willem Frost, 2014, The antelope of Africa. The Masai Bushbuck is found in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and southern Somalia

 

Bushbuck. This is actually the first time I have seen this antelope. Strangely, given this was my 6th safari in Africa, and the Bushbuck is quite common

Ngorongoro Crater - Early morning entry

 

Into the Crater

Slope vegetation

 

Lions in the shaddow of the safari Landcruiser. Looking down on them felt too close ...

Ngorongoro Crater picnic area. Look out for the kites!

 

One of the better strech of road in the crater

A dung beetle doing it's business

 

Dusty crater

Kori Bustard (Ardeotis kori)

 

A predator

Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum)

 

Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)

Fan-Tailed Widowbird (Euplectes axillaris), Ngorongoro Crater picnic area

 

Yellow-Billed Kite (Milvus aegyptius), Ngorongoro Crater picnic area

Rufous-Tailed Weaver (Histurgops ruficaudus), Ngorongoro Crater picnic area

 

Speke's Weaver (Ploceus spekei), Ngorongoro Crater picnic area

African Jacana (Actophilornis africanus), with two Blacksmith Lapwings (Vanellus armatus), Ngorongoro Crater picnic area

 

Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus), Ngorongoro Crater picnic area

A juvenile Yellow-Billed Stork (Mycteria ibis)

 

African Pipit (Anthus cinnamomeus)

Augur Buzzard (Buteo augur)

 

Black-Chested Snake-Eagle (Circaetus pectoralis)

Lioness

 

Finally got the "big five", but only from far far away. East African Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli)