Birds of the Maasai Mara

When we started this trip we weren’t wildlife photographers and certainly not bird photographers. Of course, if a particularly large bird or colorful bird came across our path, we’d just have to shoot it.

If you think about it, this makes sense. With our equipment (maximum length lens of 400mm), if we shoot a small bird, it show up as a small, barely discernible, fluff of feathers in our photo. Even if we zoom in at 400mm, a small brown or a faint blue blur amidst the leaves is not very interesting. Each time we showed one of these bird photos to Moose**, he would only say, “it looks like there is a longer lens in your future.”

However, if you have a longer lens, let’s say an 800mm where you can zoom in twice as far as our 400mm, suddenly that little blurry bird has character. Maybe it walks on tiptoe or has cute knobby knees. Maybe you can see the bug he is eating or the color of his eyes. All of a sudden bird shooting becomes a bit more interesting. Unfortunately, the 800mm lens is $17,000 – maybe a Christmas present – Mom?

In the meantime, as we save our pennies, here’s a few of our shots that we were able to take with the help of our vehicle zoom – that is, asking Dominic to take the safari vehicle a little closer to the subject (and hoping it didn’t fly away).


Little Bee Eater – eating a bee, of course!


Lilac Breasted Roller, our new favorite bird


A Lilac Breasted Roller tossing a small frog before swallowing.


Saddle-billed Stork eating a small catfish in the rain.


Rare Southern Ground Hornbill eating a large beetle bug.

2015-08-02 Safari AM-76

Egyptian Goose giving us the eye

The USA has two eagles, the Bald Eagle and the Golden Eagle. The Maasai Mara has 12 different eagles and we saw many of them. Too bad I couldn’t get close enough to show you more (a longer lens would have helped).


Martial Eagle in flight, similar to the US bald eagle – a longer lens would allow you to see his eyes..


Black Chested Snake Eagle


Backlit Cranes in the morning light


Grey Crowned Crane

So many shapes and colors and funny features, that one could do a safari just focusing on the birds.

And remember, it’s all about the light.

**Moose Peterson, a world renown wildlife photographer and one of the instructors on our trip.