South Luangwa (Zambia) - Raptors and Scavengers

The 'African fish eagle' (Haliaeetus vocifer).

An equally imposing as majestic bird.
While on foot, we spotted it at some distance perched on a branch overlooking the Luwi riverbed below. A beautiful sight to enjoy.
Applied the regular 'play-safe' birding photography strategy. Made a full distance shot to start with and then progressed closing-in slow-mo .......keeping a watchful eye on its 'body language'.

It did fly off suddenly! So no more close-up branch shots. It cooperated, however, by landing still at close range in a nearby tree.

On a following day afternoon drive, we encountered this juvenile 'African fish eagle'. It might have been on its maiden flight as it demonstrated poor flying skills. Hopping rather away from us into the shrubs vegetation. Obviously it had very risky days ahead staying out of potewntial predation harms ways. We wished it good luck on its treacherous journey into adulthood.

Juvenile 'African fish eagle'. It's load calls begging for food called our attention. Perched in a solitary big tree, it eyed my cautious slow-mo approach. This shot was just in time as it winged away only seconds later.

The White-crowned Lapwing (Vanellus albiceps)

Playing David against Goliath, this white-crowned lapwing takes on an African Fisheagle, which has only good intentions (just eating his fish). The lapwing kept pestering the eagle for quite a while, making its repeating dives. Finally, the annoyed eagle winged off to a quieter dining place.

The Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus).

A juvenile one. One tends to see this bird much more often on its wings. That typical distant dark silouet soaring in a blue sky.  With its very characteristic steadied wings in a left-right-left ....sinusoid sailing flight, also described as a the "tilting actions of a tightrope walker".

The lappet-Faced Vulture (Torgos Tracheliotus)

By its sheer enormous size and its dominance among vultures on a kill, one could readily call it 'king-of-the-vultures'.
On a late afternoon drive we spotted a congregation of several vultures perched in a tree and some on the ground. Clearing out the last meager leftovers of a prior days impala kill. These two gave me good time for several shots. The deeply grooved dead tree-top branches adding nicely to the muscled 'roughness' of this vultures portrait.

Landed in the top of an acacia tree. Wings halve opened ready to fly off.   One of the most imposing wingspans in the birds world  (2.5-2.9 metres).

White-backed vulture (Gyps africanus) and  Hooded Vulture (Necrocyrtus monachus)

Down the vultures pecking order, these two are the stayers-behind for stripping the last left over morcels of meat and skin from the sun-dried carcas.

With the carcas reduced to dry skin and bones, these white-backed vultures are ready to get on their wings again.

The Marabou Stork (Leptoptilos crumeniferus)

Not a raptor but surely a potent predator/scavanger.

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