The first creatures I saw after arriving in Botswana were two birds native to southern Africa.
The first was the Burchell’s glossy starling, which gets its iridescence from a special structure in its feathers that acts as a prism and refracts light.
This exotic beauty, an Egyptian goose, with Hollywood-worthy eye makeup appears to be performing a repertoire on a balance beam.
The elephants in Namibia’s Damaraland are smaller than the typical African elephant. They survive on a more limited diet and have to migrate for miles to drink at desert waterholes. However, they have adapted to this harsher way of life and can live up to three days without water.
They are herbivores – browsing animals that survive on desert brush and trees.
Although not a separate species, they have evolved to have larger feet which help them travel miles across the desert to find water.
Sometimes food is sparse….
…and the terrain is always rugged.
But these elephants are hardy and determined.
A herd gathers together in the afternoon.
Two elephants descend over a hillside to join the herd as the sun sets.
What a welcoming committee! We met up with these guys, free to roam wherever they choose, not long after we landed.
They might be thinking who the heck are you and why are you here?
We spent at least a half-hour with a group of giraffes, including these two lounging beside an acacia tree.
We say goodbye to central Namibia’s vast desert with dunes that extend all the way to the very edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Here are a few last glimpses before heading off to a new and radically different landscape.
On our last evening, we see the sun setting in a very fast descent, glowing orange in a cloudless sky.
Early the next morning, the moon, barely visible through the clouds, sets over a long straight road through the desert.
The desert stretches out to distant mountains, with only a solitary tree to dot the landscape.
The animals we saw in Namibia were totally wild, not confined to game parks. The ubiquitous oryx is known as the national animal of Namibia.
And wild ostriches strut around proudly in their native habitat.
If I hadn’t accidentally locked the keys in the trunk of our rental car, we would have stayed in a resort down this beautiful country road in New South Wales. (Instead, we stayed in a small place across from a mechanic’s garage, where some nice people worked a day and a half to retrieve the key. There were complications with the way the car was built!) Experiencing the wide-open spaces where kangaroos are free to hop is something I greatly miss about being in Australia.
Here the beaver seems to be nonchalantly munching on a twig. But wait! Is a beaver, symbol of industriousness, ever nonchalant?
This is a custom home the beaver built or helped to build for the family. It’s located in a fine (for beavers, at least) southeastern Virginia neighborhood: The Great Dismal Swamp.
The stories about huge crocodiles in northern Australia are not myths! I was glad to be safe inside a boat when this giant reptile swished by so effortlessly. He seemed to be unconcerned about us, possibly even unaware of us. But was he?
Oh, and also a glacier! This inlet on the Antarctic peninsula has a variety of inviting features, despite the cold. Named Neko Harbor after a Scottish whaling vessel, it is now part of a whaling sanctuary which extends for millions of square miles around the continent.
I could call this shot “up a creek without a motor or a paddle” because that is really what happened! The Western Australian tour leader and captain of our tiny craft could not restart the engine after many, many tries over at least forty minutes. He begged some passers-by to lend us one of their oars (“just one, please”), but they declined. Meanwhile, I took this shot and the one below and eventually the motor started.
The agile rock wallaby, which lives in small colonies on rocky cliffs and ledges, is in a different genus from other wallabies more closely related to the kangaroos. There are many types of rock wallabies, and while technically not endangered, many populations have declined and are the subject of scientific study. Rock wallabies are nocturnal so it was a treat to see this one peeking out in broad daylight.
This entertaining bird, native to eastern Australia, is named for its unique call that ends with the sound of a cracking whip. Its cry stands out among all the other sounds in the forest.