I came to Africa with one bird, and one bird in mind only: the Lilac-breasted Roller.
Not for I were the innumerable Kenyan endemics, nor the plethora of endangered species in the area. Experience of birding failures had taught me to aim low and land high. I would be best, I decided, with an achievable goal that would make me happy, rather than a too-ambitious one that would leave me disappointed and unable to appreciate the rest. (I modified this strategy for my Kullu trip with three birds I ranked from achievable, definitely not achievable, and never in my wildest dreams. Needless to say, only the former got fulfilled.)
So the fact I’d seen this bird three times before we even stepped foot on the Mara went a long way towards my general enjoyment of our trip. This sighting in particular was of a juvenile, who surprised us by landing right next to our jeep. This prompted, of course, a storm of photographs of the fluffed-up thing from yours truly. But I still wasn’t satisfied. The colors of the juvenile – while spectacular by most birds’ standards – are only lackluster for this variegated avian. Without the long tail feathers of their older counterparts, they aren’t as appealing as the multi-hued sight we saw just disappearing from telephone wires and the tops of trees countless times.
Did I photograph the adult? Did I almost photograph it? Was it another disappointment? Find out in ‘The Lilac Saga, Part 2’, coming soon to a blog near you.
(Hey, that rhymes!)
Whether or not you’re interested in hearing about the adult roller, have you got a caption for the above photograph? What do you think it’d say if it could speak? Comment and tell me!