Following on from my Birds of the Kruger Park trip that I did recently, here is a photo of one of my favourite vultures, the Lappet-faced Vulture. Currently listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, it is always a pleasure to see them in the wild. This individual was one of a pair that I encountered as I drove around on a particularly grey day.
I used my usual sedan field craft technique of stopping further away from them and taking a few banker shots first. I noticed that they were facing into the wind and that should they take off, they could fly straight towards me, so I inched the car closer and got it into position. To give myself space to swing the Canon 500mm, I parked with the vultures on the passenger side door and jumped across to the passenger seat. I say jumped, it was more of a flop over the gear stick and handbrake.
The first vulture took off and banked away from me in the opposite direction (so much for outguessing them). So now I just had to wait for the second bird. 20 minutes later and it was still sitting looking at is mate who had landed in a tree behind me. Suddenly it gave that tell tale sign of an imminent take-off in larger birds, by evacuating its bowls. The vulture simply launched up and the wind picked carried it away to my right. I chimped down at the bright LCD on the back of the 1Dx and saw this. Job done.
Species: Torgos tracheliotos