Monday, December 07, 2009

Kenya - Saturday, Lake Naivasha, last day in Kenya

Rain stopped play. We were both disappointed and delighted it was raining. Disappointed as it was our last morning birding opportunity for this holiday, delighted as this country badly needs all the rain it can get. So having got up early, we gave up on a walk and after breakfast spent more time catching up on Bird ID’s, packing, etc. It did stop raining mid-morning, which gave us a chance to slide around:

A common bird in some locales, the White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher was the first we spotted:

We might have to re-name this the 'early bird'. Followed by the Grey-backed Fiscal Shrike:

A Brimstone Canary looking resplendent in the sunlight:

An African Citril:

A Blacksmith Lapwing:

We were over-flown by a heavier and all orange bodied swallow a Mosque Swallow. Alas as usual with Hirundines, no picture to accompany the sighting. As always the most numerous bird was the aptly named Superb Starling:

Down on Lake Naivasha a pair of Egyptian Geese were raising a brood of goslings:

We were joined on our walk by Geoffrey the bird guide and hotel boatman who wanted to show us the woods by the yacht club. On the walk there we spotted another bird of prey cruising over-head. We think this raptor is an immature Eurasian Marsh Harrier:

Over in the woods, and before we were shooed away by the yacht club security guards for ‘trespassing’, we spotted our second new species of the day, an Isabelline Shrike:

As you can tell by the light, it had started raining again. Next a Crowned Plover:

A rather thin looking Wildebeest:

In this area there are no predators, just a shortage of land and therefore food. The rain was getting heavier so we scampered back to the hotel, planning on a mid-morning tea break. We did stop to snap another new species, Dusky Turtle Doves:

After the rain had abated, we headed out again, keen to improve on our species list thus far, adding White-headed Barbet:

In the grounds of the Country Club, we bumped into a birder from South Africa in the company of two local guides. We got their business card ( on the basis someone who really does know their birds will help us plan both a better itinerary when we head back to this part of the world (we will) and help us to both see and identify more birds than we alone managed. Benson pointed out this Sulfur-breasted Bush-Shrike, while we were chatting:

These Green Wood-Hoopoes were allo-preening:

We headed off back towards the lake shore. This Black-lored Babbler was keeping lookout for a group foraging on the ground below:

Next a very close Streaky Seedeater:

An Amethyst Sunbird:

A male Blackcap, a long way from where we normally spot them, was mostly obscured in the undergrowth. A blurry picture of a Crimson-rumped Waxbill (it had just started raining again, this time with accompanying booms of thunder!):


The grand total then, drum roll, is 222 species identified of which 179 were the first time we had seen them. Our life list now stands at 840. Awesome.

Kenya is a wonderful country, offering a unique birding experience. I know a lot of people are wary of visiting Kenya because of the drought and the security situation. The drought is bad, but the way things are structured humans will be the last to notice. In respect of security, the only time we felt in any way vulnerable was when I asked security to leave us alone on the shoreline of Lake Naivasha, at which point we were then vulnerable and (we believe) lined-up for a mugging, but were smart enough to notice and move back to safe territory. We have on occasions felt equally at risk in some of Britain’s larger cities.

The bigger picture stuff was never going to affect us and wouldn’t affect any other tourist. So the risks in Kenya are the same as anywhere else and the safe practices the same too. In my opinion there’s no reason not to travel to Kenya and a lot of positive reasons to travel there. Final comment, if you’re going to a developing country and have an old pair of binoculars or bird guide take them with you and give them to the local guides, they will really appreciate the gesture and it’ll only help them to help you…

We used this trip to find out as much as we could about birding in Kenya. For our next trip, assuming we get an opportunity, we would probably schedule something along the lines of Mombasa and the coastal area, the Masai Mara, then to Nairobi and Sweetwater, Samburu, Lake Baringo, Turkana Forest and back via a different National Park, so a fortnight in all. Maybe that’s two trips?!

Of course Uganda and Tanzania both deserve fortnights of their own too…so many places, so little time!

And finally, a note on the blogging software, it's much improved, thank you Google. Much less painful than last time...

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Anonymous Paul said...

That Sunbird is a Variable Sunbird not an Amethyst..

7:56 am  
Blogger Michael said...

Paul, thanks for spotting that.


9:06 pm  

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