A lot of time spent in the crater was looking at birds. The most obvious one was the ostrich, which looked stunning against the backdrop of the crater wall.
The black and white males stood out dramatically against the brown and green background. And this particular one seemed to be in heat.
Muba pointed out its swollen pink neck, indicating that it was on the lookout for some amorous activity. Too bad the two dull brown females in his vicinity were too busy picking at grass to notice him. What a letdown.
We stopped for lunch at the only designated picnic area in the Ngorongoro Crater. The place was a letdown compared to the well-run picnic spots in the Serengeti. Here, there weren’t any picnic tables for tourists to sit at. The toilets were horrid and there were just too many people there. We had to stay in our vehicles for fear of kites stealing our food. We witnessed a kite divebombing some tourists and almost getting away with a good meal. It was a pretty awesome sight.
Then there were the peculiar looking guinea fowl pecking around anxiously, quite like primeval chickens. They’re probably my favourite bird of the trip because of the clownish seriousness of the way they go about their business.
When the tourist crowds finally cleared, we made it to the edge of the lake…
… and enjoyed the view of the hippos and pelicans in the distance. The hippos were shy and hardly ever put their heads out of the water, only leaving their domed backs peeking coyly out of the water.
The pelicans, however, were far friendlier and sailed closer by for a nice shot or two.
We then followed another kite out nearer to the soda lake…
… and saw the last of the season’s flamingoes in the lake. Too bad they took off just after this shot, so nothing at close range. We’re surprised that Muba managed to find them in the first place as they were overdue for migration at this time of the year.
Then Muba introduced us to Tanzania’s national bird, the gold-crested crown heron.
They were beautiful in flight, taking off with long beats of their wings.
Up close, they were even prettier, with the blue-grey top feathers contrasting dramatically against the cream underside. The gold crown gave an elegant touch to its slightly finicky walk.
Watching Tanzania’s national bird was a lovely way to round up the last of the safari drives of the trip.