Don’t Give Up the Nest!

August 30, 2013 Eles caught in migration | Unique Safaris

In late May the migration was heading northward, concentrated on the tall grasslands of the northern Serengeti plains. Hundreds of thousands (perhaps more than a million!) of wildebeest were watering daily in the Seronera River, where it meanders over the open plain.

Right on the riverbank, a pair of blacksmith lapwing- plovers had placed their “nest,” a pair of mottled eggs laid on bare ground. All lapwings are fierce in defense of their nests and have various strategies for dealing with predators: crowned lapwings are the scolds of the plains, noisily and repeatedly diving on intruders until they go elsewhere; many species use the ruse of a broken wing to lure enemies away from eggs or chicks. Blacksmiths must also guard their eggs from the trampling feet of large herbivores, and their method shows unbelievable courage. As big animals approach, blacksmiths make themselves conspicuous by spreading their boldy-marked wings while keeping up a constant loud chatter. In this way, they can turn even elephants from their path. But this pair had a seemingly impossible task: endless waves of thirsty wildebeest were bearing down on their piece of riverbank. The dauntless blacksmiths did not shrink from the task. Though surrounded by milling animals, they firmly held their ground, turning the bewildered gnus aside one by one.

The scene reminded me of the famous battle of Rorke’s Drift, where a handful of British troops held off an army of courageous Zulu warriors. But those Brits had repeating rifles; the blacksmiths had nothing but pluck. If birds got medals for bravery, these two would surely have received Victoria Crosses!  We watched in amazement for a full hour, and as we left there were still many more wildebeest on the way. I have little doubt that the blacksmiths won the day.

Upcoming Trip with Allen
Allen is leading a safari in May 2014. He only allows a limited number of people with him on his trips so if you are interested please contact Meg Katzman at 651-405-6683 or request an itinerary.

About Allen Bechky

Allen is a legendary wildlife guide, with more than 30 years experience leading groups in the Serengeti. Outside Magazine called him “Mr. Migration.” Allen is the author of Sierra Club guidebooks, Adventuring in East Africa and Adventuring in Southern Africa, and he knows the continent end to end. He guides wildlife safaris throughout Africa, as well as India, Borneo, and Brazil. Allen is an expert naturalist with an encyclopedic knowledge of animals large and small. His safaris are ideal for people who crave in-depth interpretation of the natural world. Whether your interest is mammals, birds, reptiles, plants, culture, or history—you won’t miss a thing. Allen is keen observer, a great teacher, and a fun companion.

To give you an even deeper Serengeti experience, Allen brings along his Masai friend Ole Dorop as a special guest. A traditional leader from the Crater Highlands, Ole Dorop provides wonderful perspectives into the Masai way of life and their relationship with the wildlife who share their landscapes.

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