There are 24 species of hornbills found throughout Africa. They are characterized by a long, down-curved bill which is often found to be brightly colored. Hornbills are omnivorous and use their beaks to pluck fruit and forage for seeds, small insects and spiders on the ground. Most all species of hornbills are monogamous. A pair will bond for a single season. Upon bonding, the male will courtship feed the female with either solid items or regurgitation. (Yucky, but true.)
They nest in natural cavities in trees and sometimes in cliffs.
* Why feature Hornbills?
Zazu, the prim and proper bird in The Lion King, was a red-billed hornbill. His character, who acted as advisor to the king, had a great sense of self-importance. Hornbills can’t be overlooked after one of their species has found Hollywood stardom.
The Red and Yellow Barbet is a smallish bird with black, red and yellow plumage. It lives in low woodlands, scrubby savannas and rugged, semi-arid terrain. It’s omnivorous, feeding on seeds, fruit, and invertebrates.
Red and Yellow Barbets are very tame wherever humans feed them.
* Why feature the Red and Yellow Barbet?
It has polka dot wings for heaven’s sake! Hard to beat that.
HOW: Denise and I are Machatunin. That is Yiddish for two mothers-in-law. So far, it happens to be the only known name for such a relationship among the languages we have looked up. It started with a wedding (her son to my daughter).
We’ve shared some get-togethers, a few holiday celebrations, a small trip to San Francisco and a bigger two week trip on the Viking River Cruise to Portugal with excursions into Spain. We both have celebrated BIG DECADE BIRTHDAYS recently (eg. important decade life landmarks) carrying us along into “senior land”.
WHO: I (Linda) am a retired choral director, piano teacher and still keep a church job as Organist and Choir Director. As I started babysitting when I was 12, I have been working ever since, just shy of 60 years. I have held my teacher’s certificate for 50 years. I lived in Spain and appreciate how close people are when they can communicate together. My daughter once told me I have the “largest box” to hold all the people I admire and call my friends of anyone she knows. That box has almost limitless boundaries for diversity. I love people, therefore I love the travel.
WHERE and WHEN: It was a mix-up—probably the only time we started on two different pages. Over three years ago we planned a big adventure trip together. Denise has connections to Portugal and as I lived in Spain.
My big birthday was a little over a year later, but Denise was already booked on another trip with a close friend. I have a friend, a Retired Marine Lt. Col who is a marathon runner and all around never-sit-still kind of a guy. He did a tour of England and walked Hadrian’s Wall. Hey! I could do something similar. Surfing the Net brought me to a site for ACTIVE ENGLAND – a small group company for bikers and hikers around southern England. I booked two two-week tours of Devon/Cornwall and Windsor, Blenheim, Stratford-Upon-Avon, the Cotswolds and Bath with layovers in London and Oxford . . all by myself and going to travel!!! In just over two weeks I hiked over 100 miles. (**This is where I tell you that I was just diagnosed with sufficient damage to be eligible for knee replacements in both knees. More about that in the chapter on senior issues and health care.
Well, Denise still wanted to plan another trip. I thought of the customary destinations: France, Germany, Scandinavia et al. — even Canada But, we weren’t on the same page. “Guess where I really REALLY want to go” and before I could guess she blurts out “ AFRICA!” Not in a million years of dreaming would I have seen the possibility of going to Africa. And, Africa is a continent, NOT A COUNTRY!
But, I am a good sport and I have a fabulous travel agent, CAROL FLAX OF MCCABE TRAVEL IN McClean, Virginia (see chapter on WAYS TO PLAN). One can never say no to one of Carol’s adventures And before you knew it, we’d paid the deposit and were getting into more trouble by adding on exciting things to explore. So, as first time travelers on an African safari we chose Kenya with an add-on to Uganda to go gorilla trekking. I’ll let Denise tell you about how we arranged to see the Gorillas. Suffice it to say it will be the trip of a lifetime, which is why we want to share a blog about it.
WHY BLOG? • To let friends and family take a virtual trip along with us • To share thoughts on who, how, why, where and when to plan travel adventures • To showcase our exploration of the new, ancient, unusual and rare • To inspire our BLOG BUDDIES to share their travel dreams
The Pied Kingfisher, with its black and white plumage, hovers over clear lakes and rivers before diving down sharply to spear a fish with its beak. The video below shows this amazing skill in slow motion. Males have a double band across the breast while females have a single patch of color on the throat that is often broken in the middle. They’re usually found in pairs or small family parties. When perched, Pied Kingfishers often bob their heads and flick up their tails.
The Pied Kingfisher is the largest bird in the world that can hover in still air.
* Why feature the Pied Kingfisher?
This bird is one smart athlete. The whole hovering/split-second timing/vertical diving thing is incredible. He’s shaped a little like a blue jay which might help me to recognize him in a perched position.
The following three images are representative of what I’ve been doing to prepare for our 2020 trip to Africa. If you’re not already aware of my great passion for photography, it will be apparent with the reading of this post.
This is an image of all my gear – everything I own except for the Nikon 500mm f/5.6 lens which is wait-listed. Supposedly it will come in June. It will be worth the wait, as it will allow me to get up-close-and-personal with the wildlife. It was my big lens purchase for my new mirrorless full frame Nikon Z6 camera. I took the Nikon with me to England last year where I got incredible shots. I added a Tamron 100-400 mm lens to bridge the gap with my older Nikon 5200. Yes, I am taking 2 camera bodies. The green Mindshift bag is a dedicated camera bag with all kinds of organizational nooks and crannies. That, along with my orange REI duffle, should hold all of my cameras, photographic equipment and clothing.
These are just a few of the photography and travel books in my self-imposed curriculum. They include a catalogue from the Shangri-La of Photography: B and H Photo in NYC. For me, B and H is every bit as much of a temptation as a fine ladies boutique. Their tech assistants can answer any question and give really great recommends. My slogan? Never travel without B and H!
This final picture, taken with my Nikon Z6, is probably over Newfoundland. I was on a flight to England that left Dulles around 6:30 PM. It was August and the sun was above the cloud cover so I had amazing views as the sun dipped below the horizon. One of my photography books actually has a chapter on taking photographs out of airplane windows! Carol, our Tour Agent Extraordinaire,* arranged a window seat for me, so my camera will be ready!
*Carol Flax Luxury Travel Advisor An independent affiliate of McCabe World Travel Virtuoso Member firstname.lastname@example.org
The Lappet-Faced Vulture is Africa’s largest bird of prey. It has a pink head, blue and ivory beak, and heavy wings. The feathers on the upper part of its legs make it look as though it’s wearing a pair of white trousers. Like many vultures, it has a bald head, which is advantageous, because a feathered head would become spattered with blood and other fluids, and thus be difficult to keep clean. The Lappet-Faced Vulture is a scavenging bird, feeding mostly on animal carcasses, which it finds by sight or by watching other vultures. Its vision is practically unmatched in the animal kingdom. Ranking among the world’s most powerful flyers, the Lappet-Faced Vulture is capable of soaring on upward air currents for hours.
The Lappet-Faced Vulture is the most aggressive of all the African vultures, and other vultures usually cede a carcass to the Lappet-Faced if it decides to assert itself. The first few seconds of this video remind me of Hitchcock’s The Birds.
Lappet-Faced Vultures are considered endangered, mostly due to habitat loss. In some cases, dozens at a time are poisoned by poachers who fear the presence of vultures will alert authorities to their illegal killing of protected species.
* Why feature the Lappet-Faced Vulture?
These guys are the stars of every safari movie’s After-the-Kill Clean-up Scene that has ever been produced. Their ill-gotten fame shoots them to the top of the Friday Flyer List.
Ndiyo is Swahili for ‘yes’. Hapana is Swahili for ‘no’.
In hopes of arriving in Africa with a number of useful Swahili words and phrases at my fingertips, I’m attempting to learn one new word or phrase per week. I’m using the YouTube video “Easy Swahili – Basic Phrases for Greetings” as a pronunciation guide.