October 24, 2014 (2 lions + 1 lion + 4 lions = 7 lions + 1 leopard) Tarangire National Park
We awoke to the sounds of the birds of Tarangire. We had slept with the door flaps open and just the screen to keep the bugs out. What a good sleep we had, not too cold, not too warm. We had omelets and pancakes and then moved out to the terrace to enjoy coffee while enjoying the valley. I see a bearded woodpecker, red-billed hornbill, and a northern white crowned shrike. The morning is so pretty. I took a photo of the valley and an unstriped ground squirrel with the metal bird herons on the terrace. We head out with Michael at 8 AM. It doesn’t take long to pop the top up and start taking in all of the sights. We see blacksmith plovers and impalas; one with a couple of yellow-billed oxpeckers sitting on its back. We see a herd of Burchell’s Zebra and discover that they bray like donkeys. I had no idea that they sounded like that. One zebra had a red-billed oxpecker on him. We also saw a small herd of wildebeest and some common sandpipers and pectoral sandpipers, three-banded plovers, and a juvenile martial eagle. Michael spots a colony of cape rock hyrax and tells us that their closest living relatives are elephants – how strange. They look similar to guinea pigs and have burrows like our prairie dogs. Then we saw a lion and lioness. Wow. This is the first male with a mane we have seen. They were lounging on a hill. It was truly wonderful. We took photos from different angles. Then, about a quarter mile down the road, we saw another lion sleeping under a tree, snapped a couple photos and moved on. We saw red necked spurfowl and yellow necked spurfowl, Maasai ostriches, warthogs, a tawny eagle, and some blacksmith plover lapwings with a few common sandpipers. They were standing in the river and there was a beautiful reflection. A few waterbucks posed for us. There were also hamerkop, great white egret, yellow billed storks, and giraffes. We also saw a troop of black faced vervet monkeys, impalas, elephants, Burchell’s Zebra, lilac-breasted rollers, a sounder of warthogs, and a congress of baboons. Then we saw four juvenile lion cubs. We were the only ones there. Michael thought they were 9 months to a year. They were lying together in the shade of a tree. One rolled on her back and it made for some cute photos. A work truck pulled up and one of the men leaned out of the window to take a photo. Michael yelled at the men in Swahili. We don’t know if he was afraid the lions would see that as a sign of aggression that could have been dangerous, or if he was just angry that they had stopped and interrupted our photo shoot, as the lions ran away. We could tell he was mad about it. But, we had taken a lot of photos, and it was probably time to move on, anyway. It had been fun while it lasted. We had a box lunch at a picnic ground. Then we saw a tawny eagle and a fish eagle, yellow-billed egret, impalas, and then we saw the most wonderful thing. Some vehicles were stopped up the road. Michael said that there was a leopard. We watched it cross a water filled drainage ditch, walk over to a tree, and climb it. It was incredibly beautiful. We saw more cape buffalo, elephants, wildebeest, a lilac-breasted roller, and an elephant nursing a baby. When we got back to Tarangire Safari Lodge, I took a photo of black faced vervet and baby clinging to her. Back at our tent, I notice a black-backed jackal pup outside our tent and took the photo posted here. Then, looking down the valley at the river, I notice a pair of jackals and a few giraffes, and a beautiful sunset. It was kind of dark, but I took a couple of photos. We headed down to the main lodge, and had a glass of wine while watching over the valley. After dinner, we were being escorted back to our tent, and we saw a genet cat and a couple of dik-diks in the dark. We’ll have another night of sweet dreams. Okay, while getting ready for bed, I got startled by a spider in the bathroom that was fast and about 4” long. I screamed and Mark found a can of spray, and sprayed under the sink area where it had run. I hope he got it. Now, to find a way to think happy thoughts so that I don’t dream about that! I have since discovered that it was a common, harmless, brown spider. Their only claim to fame is being large, fast, and scaring me.) ~ Mary & Mark
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