Red-billed oxpecker eating ticks from giraffe’s mouth

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Bird eating ticks from Masai giraffe’s mouth in Ngorongoro District, Tanzania. Square format.

The Masai giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi), also spelled Maasai giraffe, also called Kilimanjaro giraffe, is the largest species of giraffe native to East Africa, also the tallest land mammal. The Masai giraffe can be found in central and southern Kenya and in Tanzania. It has distinctive, irregular, jagged, star-like blotches which extend to the hooves. A median lump is usually present in males. It is the largest-bodied giraffe species.

The oxpeckers are two species of bird which make up the family Buphagidae. Some ornithologists regard them as a subfamily Buphaginae within the starling family, Sturnidae, but they appear to be quite distinct. Oxpeckers are endemic to the savanna of Sub-Saharan Africa. Both the English and scientific names arise from their habit of perching on large mammals

Ngorongoro District is one of the five districts of the Arusha Region of Tanzania. It is bordered to the north by Kenya, to the east by Monduli District, to the south by the Karatu District and to the west by the Mara Region.

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Golden Eagle

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

The golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is one of the best-known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the most widely distributed species of eagle. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. These birds are dark brown, with lighter golden-brown plumage on their napes. Immature eagles of this species typically have white on the tail and often have white markings on the wings. Golden eagles use their agility and speed combined with powerful feet and massive, sharp talons to snatch up a variety of prey (mainly hares, rabbits, marmots and other ground squirrels).

Golden eagles are fairly adaptable in habitat but often reside in areas with a few shared ecological characteristics. They are best suited to hunting in open or semi-open areas and search them out year-around. Native vegetation seems to be attractive to them and they typically avoid developed areas of any type from urban to agricultural as well as heavily forested regions. In desolate areas (i.e. the southern Yukon), they can occur regularly at roadkills and garbage dumps. The largest numbers of golden eagles are found in mountainous regions today, with many eagles doing a majority of their hunting and nesting on rock formations. However, they are not solely tied to high elevations and can breed in lowlands if the local habitats are suitable.

The golden eagle is one of the most powerful predators in the avian world. At least seven main hunting techniques are known to be utilized by the species, with many individual variations and the ability in most mature eagles to quickly (and sometimes cleverly) vary back and forth between methods depending on the circumstance. The first described is “high soar with glide attack”, where the golden eagle soars at least 50 m (160 ft) above the earth. Once it spies a prey item, the eagle partially closes its wings and enters a long, low-angled glide which can carry it over distances of 1 km (0.62 mi) with the speed increasing as the wings close more. Just prior to impact, the wings are opened, the tail fanned and feet thrust forward to grab the prey, creating a booming sound, causing by the wings whipping against the wind, in the instant before the strike that sounds like a clap of thunder. (Wikipedia)

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Alcatraz Island Lighthouse

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Alcatraz Island Lighthouse. San Francisco, California. 1909.

Alcatraz Island proved to be a huge obstacle in the busy shipping channel of San Francisco Bay. So much so, that the U.S. Government allocated money to construct a lighthouse on the island. The first tower was constructed in 1852, but the third-order Fresnel lens wouldn’t arrive until 1854. This made it the first lighthouse to be built on the West Coast. This tower would serve until 1906 when it was damaged beyond repair in the 1906 earthquake.

A new tower design was put forth after the earthquake. The new tower would be made out of reinforced concrete and would stand 84′ tall. This would be tall enough to tower above the military prison that was built on the island. In 1934, the military prison was upgraded to a maximum security federal penitentiary. Even though the lighthouse keeper was on the outside of the prison walls, they weren’t entirely safe. A riot broke out in 1946 in which many guards and inmates were killed, however, the lighthouse keepers were fine. The station was automated in 1963 right around the same time as the prison closed.

The tower is still an active aid to navigation and can be spotted from almost any point around San Francisco, Oakland, and the Marin Headlands. The tower is all that remains of the old station. The lighthouse keeper’s dwelling was destroyed by fire in 1969 by Native American protesters.

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