They are among the biggest creatures to roam Africa’s plains. But even these elephants were scared by a jumbo-sized cloud of birds who are the same size as the common starling.
The red-billed queleas swarmed around this pair of pachyderms as they tried to drink at the Satao Camp water hole in East Tsavo, Kenya.
In seconds, the peace was shattered by a storm of wings, frightening the elephants away.
The tiny birds, which weigh just 10 grammes each, even broke a branch on a nearby tree with the combined weight of so many bodies.
In fact it was the combined weight of so many bodies of the birds on a branch that made one break with an almighty crack.
Photographer Antero Topp, 60, was at the Satao Camp water hole when the mayhem broke out.
He said: ‘The birds spent most of the time feeding somewhere close to the waterhole but every morning and evening they gathered in huge flocks close to the water waiting for their time to sip a few drops.
‘There are big trees close to waterhole where the birds landed and at that time we suddenly heard a strong crack.
‘A huge branch had been broken by the weight of these tiny birds despite them only weighing about 10 grammes each.
‘All the birds took off and you could hear an unbelievable whoosh and after that birds’ ear breaking calls.
‘Despite their size faced with the huge flocks of birds I was surprised to see the elephants actually back away maybe 50 metres, and some even ran.
‘I think the elephants were afraid of the size and shape of the flocks and the almost supernatural whoosh noise made as they all took to the air.’
Red-billed queleas are the world’s most abundant wild bird species, with an estimated breeding population of 1.5 billion pairs.
For the original article, visit Flocks Awe Elephants.