On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

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Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!


Today, pictures from valued commenter Albatrossity.

I’ve decided to devote one batch of pics entirely to the birds of Tanzania, even though the charismatic mammalian megafauna would probably get more clicks. The birds are under-appreciated IMHO, so here are a few of the over 140 species that I saw in 10 days there/

Little Bee-eaters(Merops pusillus)

Taken on 2018-05-20

Naabi Hill in the Serengeti

These guys were actively hunting flying insects outside the tent where two of our group were staying. We saw lots of them, but this pair was most approachable.

Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudata)

Taken on 2018-05-14

Tarangire National Park

Caught in a sudden downpour and looking grumpy

Lappet-faced Vulture, aka Nubian Vulture (Torgos tracheliotis)

Taken on 2018-05-19

Gol Kopjes in the Serengeti

A massive vulture, and usually one of the first in line when a lion or cheetah kill needed to be cleaned up

Grey-breasted Spurfowl (Francolinus rufopictus)

Taken on 2018-05-19

Gol Kopjes in the Serengeti

There are a bunch of spurfowl and francolins in this part of Africa, but this particular species is endemic to Tanzania.

Two-banded Courser (Rhinoptilus africanus)

Taken on 2018-05-20

Near Semetu, in the Serengeti

A very common species in the short-grass regions of the Serengeti. It reminded me of a ballerina standing on her toes.

Spotted Eagle-owls (Bubo africanus)

Taken on 2018-05-22

Gol Kopjes in the Serengeti

We were very lucky to see these guys. The species is widespread but uncommon throughout the range. They were perched in a tree in a kopje that we pulled up beside so that we could watch a watering hole to see if we could photograph zebras and their reflections. We forgot about the zebras pretty quickly when one of our group spied these guys about 30-40 ft away.


Thank you so much Albatrossity, do send us more when you can.


Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.


One again, to submit pictures: Use the Form or Send an Email

39 replies
  1. 1
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Those photos are amazing! What a terrific variety of birds. I really love the grumpy Lilac-breasted Roller. Beautiful plumage, innit, and his expression is hilarious. Thank you.

  2. 2
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    I’ve decided to devote one batch of pics entirely to the birds of Tanzania, even though the charismatic mammalian megafauna would probably get more clicks.

    Not from me. I’ve seen a million and one lion pictures, but this is the first time I’ve seen a Lilac-breasted Roller, or a Grey-breasted Spurfowl, or a Two-banded Courser, or Spotted Eagle-owls. So, I thank you for that.

  3. 3
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: He’s pining for the fjords.

  4. 4
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    The only reason he’s sitting upright on that branch is that he was nailed to it.

  5. 5
    Schlemazel says:

    MORE BIRDS! Thanks, these re wonderful,

  6. 6
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Well, I haven’t slept a wink, but it’s almost sunrise — and the solstice! — and now I’m finally getting yawny. (This was fine when I was 20. At 75, not so much.)

  7. 7
    rikyrah says:

    Those pictures are absolutely awesome😄

  8. 8
    Lapassionara says:

    Birds! Yes! These are great. Thanks

  9. 9
    Just one more canuck says:

    Great pictures – the owls look like they’re bored with everything and want the butler to bring some martinis

  10. 10
    satby says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: first glimpses of these birds for me too. Albatrossity, you really do wonderful photos of birds and I love them! Thank you!

  11. 11
    arrieve says:

    More birds! What a wonderful way to start the day. May I ask what lens you use? I use a 500 mm when I look for birds in Central Park, but that’s much too heavy to take on safari.

  12. 12
    p.a. says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: If I were shooting a stuffed bird I wouldn’t be able to do as good a job as A does with live ones.

  13. 13
    JPL says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: That’s my grumpy face. The pictures are amazing, and the colors just beautiful.

  14. 14
    debbie says:

    Beautiful photos!

  15. 15
    JPL says:

    Where’s Anne? I hope she’s okay.

  16. 16
    Quinerly says:


  17. 17
    satby says:

    @JPL: that was my first thought, hope AL (or her spousal unit) is ok.

  18. 18
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @satby: But not both?

  19. 19
    Patricia Kayden says:

    All the photos are great but I really love the flying vulture. It looks majestic. We have vultures where I live but I’ve never seen one in flight.

  20. 20
    Immanentize says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:. For that comment, I think you should go hang out with the Carlisle school decendants

  21. 21
    Immanentize says:

    The pair at the top, the little bee eaters — I love them. And I agree the owls want martinis.

  22. 22
    Another Scott says:

    @arrieve: Albatrossity is a real master.

    In the past s/he said s/he used a Canon Canon EOS5D body attached to a Sigma 150-600mm zoom lens, but hearing more about the settings would be great.

    Thank you Albatrossity. You should put out a calendar.


  23. 23
    Albatrossity says:

    Thanks, all. I actually do put together a calendar every year, but it goes to family and friends. After this trip I have enough photos to make several years’ worth, for sure.

    Re equipment, yes, a 500mm lens on a big Canon body is a bit much to lug around on safari, or through airports on multiple continents. So I left the big gear at home for this trip and (gulp) tried something new. I’ve been ogling the Olympus Micro 4/3 mirrorless cameras for a while, just because I am tired of lugging a 35-40 lb backpack of camera gear through airports. So these were taken with an Olympus E-M1 (Mark II) body and a Leica 100-400 zoom lens made for the Micro 4/3 cameras. Since this body has only a half-size sensor, that translates to a 200-800 mm zoom lens, plenty long enough for birds and wildlife. And you want a zoom in this place, because you can’t get out of the vehicle to compose your shot; when you get out of the vehicle you might enter the food chain. This entire rig, with 800mm zoom capacity, weighs between 4-5 libs, and is actually hand-holdable (the bee-eater shot above was hand-held; the others were shot when the rig was stabilized on a beanbag on the window or on the roof of the vehicle).

    I admit I had some trepidation leaving the big lens at home when going to a place with lots of photographable critters, and also lots of trepidation about re-learning a camera system (“where’s the button/lever/knob to change the shutter speed?????”), but I am happy with the results, and my back is also happy that I didn’t have to lug a lot of gear through a lot of airports!

    Thanks again, and I’m glad you all enjoy the birds. I do too!

  24. 24
    Leto says:

    From the Guardian picture essay series: From Stonehenge to Iceland’s Arctic Henge, by motorbike – photo essay
    Stonehenge is the springboard for a motorbike and ferry trip to a modern, pagan-inspired monument in Iceland, taking in Germany, Denmark, and the Faroe Islands – and some seriously unkind weather for those on two wheels
    by Gabrielle Motola

  25. 25
    Waratah says:

    @Albatrossity: I love your bird photos but found out I love your megafauna too. I would very much like to see your vision of the birds and wildlife
    In Australia.

  26. 26
    MomSense says:

    Please keep the bird photos coming. They are magnificent. As a fiber artist, I cannot tell you how inspirational the colors are.

  27. 27
    Albatrossity says:

    @MomSense: Thanks. Yeah, I wish I had a shirt or two with the color and texture of that spurfowl!

  28. 28

    Those are great photos. I love birds. Love. Them.

  29. 29
    MomSense says:


    A finely woven coat in a silk alpaca would be amazing. Silk gives strength to alpaca and takes the dye differently which adds a subtle variegation and a just a bit of sheen. I’m thinking an oversized wrap for me. I wasn’t kidding about the fiber inspiration.

  30. 30
    Albatrossity says:

    @MomSense: Hope you can do that, and post a picture of the final product!

  31. 31
    KSinMA says:

    Beautiful photos!

  32. 32
    J R in WV says:

    Awesome, your work is awesome, and not because of the glass, etc. Because you have the eye!

  33. 33
    scav says:

    @Albatrossity: I’m with you on the spurfowl fabric. Might even prefer it in a sweater — certainly of a weight to get the slight fuzz to the fabric.

  34. 34

    @Albatrossity: I’ve seen a good number of professional photographers that are switching to cropped sensors, the cameras(and lens) are less unwieldy and the results are almost as good in most situations. I shoot with a APS-C sensor on my Samsung.

  35. 35
    Mary G says:

    I want to be your friend, Albatrossity, to have your calendar. :) I would ask to buy it did I not know the time and effort it cost our blog host to issue the pet calendar this year. I used to edit newsletters, so I have a big box of unused manilla envelopes and can use mail merge and electronic postage, so I volunteer to do yours for Balloon Juice if you would consider it.

  36. 36
    stinger says:

    mammalian megafauna would probably get more clicks

    Not from me, either. With every successive picture, I’m thinking, that’s my favorite… no, that’s my favorite… no, THAT’s my favorite. (Bee-eaters!) I’d buy a coffee table book of your photos — or a calendar every year!

  37. 37
    Albatrossity says:

    @Mary G: Thanks, Mary. I’ll consider that, and perhaps find a charity to which the proceeds can be donated. Lemme think about it, but if folks are interested, it wouldn’t be too much more effort to get more calendars printed during the holiday season. Of course, you all have already seen most/all of the photos I would include in a 2019 edition!

  38. 38
    CapnMubbers says:

    @Albatrossity: oh please please please, I’m in for a calendar (or two), and I don’t care that I’ve already seen any or all photos. Thanks Mary G for suggesting/volunteering.

  39. 39
    jnfr says:

    Great pictures! Thank you so much.

Comments are closed.