Hadada and Sacred Ibis

Partly because I was with two avid birders, and partly because that is just how it worked out, I took a lot of photos of birds and not as many as of big game on my trip to Uganda this year. I will be doubling up on my bird posts for next few days to keep my posts mostly in order as the encounters happened. 🙂 Two more birds from the Hippo Pools area of Murchison Falls National Park…where the Albert and the Victoria Niles join. This was our first good view of a Sacred Ibis, which happened to be feeding with a Hadada Ibis at the time. The black head and neck on the Sacred Ibis is actually bare skin…not black plumage, and evidently there is a bare patch of red skin under the wings that can be seen in flight. Of course, I had to google the bird to see why it is called the Sacred Ibis, and found that it is one of those birds with a still active controversy over its species status…one, four, or more? Some suspect that it is actually the same species as the Asian Sacred Ibis and the Australian White Ibis. The Sacred part though comes from the ritual of offering a mummified Ibis to the god Thoth…the Egyptian god of knowledge and truth. Historians estimate that up to 8 million Sacred Ibis were mummified and entombed over the course of the worship of Thoth, and, ironically, there are today no Sacred Ibis left in Egypt. Sony Rx10iv at 573mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 100 @ 4 @ 1/800th.

African Open-bill Stork

African Open-bill Stork: (or just African Open-bill) Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda, August 2022 — Another bird from our visit to the Hippo Pools area of Murchison Falls National Park. in Uganda. The African Open-billed Stork is unmistakable in any view close enough to see the bill. Otherwise it is just a dark stork. In the right light, there is apparently a green screen to the uniquely structured display feathers on the chest, but I have yet to see that in the wild. According to the latest theories, the gap in the bill allows the Open-bill to extract snails and small mollusk from their shells…very like the bill on the unrelated Limpkin, which has a similar specialized diet. They work like a tweezer. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 100 @ f4.5 @ 1/1000th.

African Wildlife edition: Hippos again…

We might as well catch another Hippopotamus mood while we are here on the Nile River in Murchison Falls National Park (or at least while I am going through photos from our visit). Hippos are indeed among the oddest looking mammals, with that huge sardonic smile, stuck-up nose, eyes that do not fit in their skulls…and with their ears tucked back in sockets. Odd indeed…but then we probably look just as funny to them. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 595mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 160 @ f4 @ 1/500th.

Saddle-billed Stork

Saddle-billed Stork: Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda, August 2022 — Near the Hippo Pools on the banks of the Nile in Murchison Falls National Park we came up on a pair of Saddle-billed Storks. It was only this morning, when doing a bit of research for this post, that I realized that I had a photo of both the male and the female. The differences are subtle. The yellow iris of the female stands out boldly against the black face…while the brown iris of the male trends to blend in with the black. The female is also slightly smaller, but both are big birds (with their necks stretched out, the tallest of the storks of Africa) and the size difference is really hard to see. Sony Rx10iv at 573mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 100 @ f4 @ 1/640th.

Wildlife edition: The placid side of Hippos

This is a more typical “action” shot of Hippocampus. The youngster here is yawning. A frequent behavior and often photographed as it is about as much action as you are likely to see in a bloat of hippos at mid-day. When an adult does it, with the full grown tusks, it is, of course, much more impressive. 🙂 Again, these hippos will send the daylight hours hiding from the sun in the shallows, kneeling on the bottom to keep as much of their skin underwater as possible, and taking frequent dips to completely submerge. This bloat (or school, or pod) was along the shores of the Victoria Nile between its junction with the Albert and Murchison Falls in Murchison Falls National Park…taken from the tour boat to the base of the falls. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 160 @ f4 @ 1/500th.

Shorebirds on the Nile

Spur-winged and Black-headed Lapwings, and African Jacana: Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda, August 2022 — There is a rest stop on the game drive trails of Murchison Falls National Park (complete with toilets) on the banks of the Victoria Nile, just above where it joins the Albert Nile at the head of Lake Albert. It is called, variously, the Delta or the Hippo Pools area, and it is a good place for shorebirds (as well as hippos, as the name suggests). Three that posed nicely for us were the Spur-winged Lapwing and the African Jacana (which we had already seen in the marshes at Mabamba, though not on the shore) and the Black-headed Lapwing (which was new at that point for us). Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 100 @ f4 @ 1/640th.

Hippo edition: Fight!

Hippopotamuses live, you might think, fairly placid lives…grazing during the hours of darkness, sometimes wandering miles from water, and spending the days kneeling in the shallows of lakes and larger rivers to protect their somewhat delicate hides from the equatorial sun. Plaid, except when they aren’t! This is mock battle between two (probably young) males at the edge of one of the big bloats of hippos that we saw from the tour boat on the Nile below Murchison Falls, in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda. “Bloat”, “crash”, “school”, or “pod”…all are used to describe a group of hippos. Our guide on the boat called them schools…but bloat is, according to internet sources, the more common and perhaps more correct term. I have heard it said that more people are killed by hippos each year, than by all of the big five taken together. Anywhere between a hippo and the water is a very dangerous place to be. You definitely do not want to be bitten by a hippo, as it only takes one bite. Still, the impression of a placid life is probably correct, 90% of the time. These two quickly settled back into the water once whatever point needed making was made to their satisfaction. Sony Rx10iv at 164mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed (cropped and enlarged) in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 100 @ f4 @ 1/800th.

Northern Carmine Bee-eater

Northern Carmine Bee-eater: Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda, August 2022 — I have mentioned my fascination with Bee-eaters before. They are one of 3 families of birds that I am always on the look-out for in Africa…along with Sunbirds and Kingfishers. Of course, I am happy to see any African bird, but there is something about those three families that captures my imagination…or at least my attention. And this is one of my favorites. The Northern Carmine Bee-eater’s range in Uganda is limited to the area right around Murchison Fall National Park. There has been a suggestion that the range is limited by the availability of secondary loess deposits in which they build their tunnel nests. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 100 @ f4 @ 1/1000th. Plus .3EV. (For those of you who follow my images on my blog, this is my second post on the Northern Carmine Bee-eater…though Facebook was giving me fits posting from Uganda, so this is the bee-eater’s first appearance in my Facebook posts. 🙂

Elephant edition: Our first!

We came across our first elephants along the banks of the Nile where the Albert and Victoria Niles join in Murchison Falls National Park. Elephants are still recovering after the Ugandan herds were decimated under Idi Amin…so you do not see the mass groups common in other East and South African countries. Ugandan elephants are still seen mostly in small groups of 6 to 12, including males, females and young. There seem to be a significant number of old bachelor males who are not attached to family groups…but that could just be my impression. This was a family of three, with one youngster…though there may have been more elephants back further in the brush waiting for us to pass. Sony Rx10iv at 74 and 100mm equivalents (they are big animals and we were quite close). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 100 @ f4 @ 1/500th.

Abyssinian Ground Hornbills

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill: Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda, August 2022 — Ground Hornbills are most often seen in family groups, male, female, and generally a single chick to sub-adult bird. The male and female often walk through the savannah grasses next to each other. These are big birds, the size of a North American turkey. They prefer to walk or “lumber” even when threatened, but you do catch them in flight occasionally, mostly moving up to or down from a roost in the lower branches of well grown trees, and they have striking white patches on the wings. You can just see a bit of white poking out on the male’s wing in this photo. There is a Southern Ground Hornbill, which replaces the Abyssinian (or Northern) in Kenya and the rest of Africa south and east of there. They tend to be very local…but we saw several families on this trip to Murchison. This family happened to be close to our track along the edge of the Nile near where the Albert and Victoria Niles join. Sony Rx10iv at 554mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 100 @ f4 @ 1/500th.