No, no, no! Not that “it.” This is not going to be a post about the mating habits of our feathered friends, thank you very much. The “it” I’m referring to is decorate, although I do know that birds perform much more important roles in the greater scheme of things.
I suspect that when most people think about going on safari in Africa, big mammals come to mind: Elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, you know, your standard big city zoo only a whole lot less zooish. I know that’s what initially springs to my mind. With the exception of Alfred Hitchcock, you just don’t see people making movies of any sort, let alone those set in Africa, that feature birds as major players. Can you imagine John Wayne in “Hatari” commenting on the antics of a bird: “Whoa, hold up there pilgrim. Before we lasso that rhino, let’s take a moment to enjoy the amusing juxtaposition of those little oxpeckers sitting on the back of that behemoth.”* No, nor can I.
Well, the birds are a big part of the landscape. Excluding all of the LBJ’s (not our late, former president but, rather, “little brown jobs”), birds decorate the place. Whether it is some robinchat splashing in a birdbath at a lodge, the virtually omnipresent Superb Starlings looking superb no matter what they’re doing, the dinosaur-like Helmeted Guinea Fowl pecking hopefully around your feet at a lunch stop, the dazzlingly white cattle egrets looking like so many exclamation points scattered through a herd of buffalo or any of dozens of other species, birds flit and hop about like oversized butterflies. They are so numerous, so close, and so brilliant, that even with my feeble eyes I could see and enjoy them.
Others like some of the eagles, herons, owls or any of dozens of other species, perhaps less obvious in their plumage, are equally beautiful in their form and flight. Even the much maligned Marabou Stork, aka “the funeral director”, which according to our guide book has a “rather grotesque appearance,” has its own dour dignity.
*I use “behemoth” not in the Biblical sense but in the sense of something monstrously large and powerful. Thought I should clear that up. Didn’t want you to think I didn’t know the difference between a hippo and a rhino. If I didn’t before this trip, I certainly do now.
I know this gallery contains a lot of images; so, feel free to fly through them. Some of these are small birds, if you remember to click on the first image, the photos get bigger, you can scroll through them, and you have some hope of seeing something.