Saturday, December 05, 2009

Kenya - Monday, Island Camp, Lake Baringo

Monday started with an early (05:30) alarm on the basis we needed to be off at 7am for our drive to Lake Baringo, a six hour drive, to get there in time to get the boat across to the Island Camp, for lunch. Apparently the Safari companies think that we tourists will get bored spending too long in any one place, hence moving around so much.

We did have time to add one new species, a White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, though with the persistent rainfall the light was too poor for photography. Still, the long journey gave me time to work through some of the back-catalogue of ‘to figure out later’ pictures :)

So after six hours driving through a variety of farmland, scrub and of course the Great Rift Valley, including a highly confrontational negotiation over a wooden Christmas present at a curio shop on the equator for one of our friends (well, he did try and change me $70 and we settled on $6), we made it to the jetty for the Island Camp on Lake Baringo. It’s fair to say we were a little nervous as we knew we were the only residents for the two nights we were due to stay, they actually were going to close the hotel but then decided to keep it open for us, for which we are grateful.

The Island is literally teeming with birdlife. I didn’t know where to look first as soon as we’d disembarked from the transfer boat.

Pied Kingfishers, as well as being readily distinguishable from their habit of calling in flight, are also numerous around the Island:

Having been shown to our room (a large ‘luxury’ tent with a lovely view over the lake), the first bird I noticed, skulking around in a tree on our balcony was our second Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, followed by a Long-tailed Cormorant:

We needed to get to lunch, having arrived fifteen minutes before they planned to serve it, so headed up into the camp. Immediately outside our room, a Beautiful Sunbird:

Then another Yellow-crowned Canary (I think):

The Island also appears to be a paradise for lizards, here’s a selection from our first afternoon on Lake Baringo Island Camp, which included a large (although still only a baby and not shown here) Monitor Lizard:

More birds, very close to our room, Blue-naped Mousebirds:

At this point we were in danger of being a little late for lunch :) We were further delayed when we spotted this Spotted Morning-Thrush:

Then this female Lesser Masked Weaver:

Followed by the male:

And a Common Bulbul:

We finally made it to lunch where we were joined by some expectant locals, including more Lesser Masked Weavers, and Little Weavers, this a female:

After lunch we decided to have a further mooch around the campsite, spotting this pair of African Mourning Doves:

An African Paradise-Flycatcher, one of many it turns out, on the Island:

Then a group of White-browed Sparrow-Weavers, one here:

A White-bellied Canary:

An Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird:

At first we though this bird was likely to be some kind of warbler, even though it was taking nectar, as the bill didn’t match our expectations of a Sunbird, the guide on our late afternoon walk however was kind enough to correct us. The red markings on the face are actually directly from the flower, rather than a plumage pattern.

On our way back to our room, a member of staff called us over to the bar to point out this White-browed Coucal:

Heading further down (and we’re only talking thirty yards here), we spotted a Red-fronted Barbet:

Very cute and very vocal birds. We stayed in our room for about an hour but it was getting way too hot so we decided to head back out and meander our way to tea at 4pm by the pool. So… a Nubian Woodpecker, I loved the fiery red colour:

The resident Helmeted Guineafowl, climbing the stairs:

Another Beautiful Sunbird, they are, aren’t they?

A Striated or Green-backed Heron:

continued... (spot the 'it's taking ages cause the software can't handle it' theme...)

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