Sunday, December 06, 2009

Kenya - Tuesday, Lake Baringo, boat trip

So, time for tea. En route we flushed what I think was a Purple Grenadier, all brilliant dark blue and red, but it was only an impression, so we can’t count it. Fingers crossed we see another.

After tea at four we headed to sit by the boat launch to await our guide, who turned out to be there too, so we started a good twenty-five minutes early. First up and within yards of heading from shore, a Black-crowned Night Heron, followed quickly by a Giant Kingfisher (the first new species of the boat trip), though Mr Slow here was admiring the bird in the bins when it took off, so no photo. Apparently they don’t hang around. A Long-tailed Cormorant, this time with sun on the correct side and closer as we were passing by on the water:

Helen spotted this Malachite Kingfisher:

Next a Senegal Thick-knee, our second new species of the trip, a bird very similar to the scarce Stone Curlew of home:

I took this picture to illustrate the abundance of Pied Kingfishers around the lake shore:

We headed over from the main Island to Gibraltar Rock, where we watched a flock of Little Swifts riding a current of air:

You can tell from this picture the clouds were rolling in and we soon had the strange experience of being rained on in temperatures well over 25 Celsius, which is weird. Round t’other side of the Island a group of Speckled Pigeons:

We spotted another Giant Kingfisher, this time I was good and prompt with the camera, though again it was off long before we got close:

We were over-flown by an African Fish Eagle:

It turns out our guide has been feeding them and uses a certain call to let them know that’s what he intends. I’ll spare you my first attempt, this is the second:

I filmed the third and fourth feedings, this being the fourth:

Another new species for this trip, a Great Cormorant:

Followed by a new species full stop, an African Darter, we’d seen some earlier but not photographed one yet:

A Purple Heron:

A Grey Heron, with supper:

A Cattle Egret, with no sign of livestock anywhere around (which is in itself a first):

These treetops are being occupied by Yellow-crowned Bishops (great name for a species of bird!), which we watched wheel over the marsh then fly up to settle as we approached:

A Great White Egret:

A bird seen yesterday but both too far and too late to photograph, an African Jacana:

A Black-headed Heron:

A Squacco Heron:

Some more African Darters, taken on a boat riding choppy waves, with rain coming in again and fading light (not making excuses, honest!):

The penultimate new species of the boat trip and the last in any kind of light were Spur-winged Lapwings. The pair of these birds had settled on the lushest grass on the Island, which also happens to be a hot spring, right in the middle of Great African Rift Valley! We did see, really quite close, a Goliath Heron, but I won’t use flash photography after sundown out of respect for the wildlife.

The sunset was, as usual spectacular:

We returned exactly as scheduled at 6:30 with time to change for dinner, another veggie feast. Everywhere we have stayed the food has been awesome. Definitely diet time when we get home. Also worthy of note, Helen really did like the homemade custard, which is a compliment. A sharp shower of rain the previous evening appeared to have caused a lot of very large moths to emerge, one of which appreciated Helen’s wine as much as she liked the custard. After falling in whilst drinking it a couple of times, it very clumsily flew away, no doubt to sleep it off, which is exactly what we did next.

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