Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Kenya - Maasai Mara

Sunset on the Mara
Continuing south we moved on to Maasai Mara National Reserve. This famous reserve is the northern most extension of the vast Serengeti Plain as it extends into Kenya from Tanzania. It is named for the Maasai people indigenous to the area. One of the world's greatest spectacles is the vast migration of wildebeast, zebra, gazelle, and other large antelope that move up and down the plain seasonally. We were at the wrong time to see any migration but there were still plenty of animals. And the birds were amazing as well, especially the grassland species. We spent parts of three days here driving the vast primitive road system through the park. As usual, it was a good time for all. 

eBird list 1
eBird list 2
eBird list 3

African Elephants in the grassland

The Mara 

Black-bellied Bustard

Black-winged Lapwing

African Buffalo



Common Zebra

Spotted Hyaena

Spotted Hyaena and Maasai Giraffe

African Lion

African Lion sex!

The happy couple

Maasai Giraffe

Maasai Giraffe

Many animals on the plain

Common Ostrich

Common Ostrich



Spotted Hyaena

Temminck's Courser




Yellow-throated Sandgrouse

Yellow-throated Sandgrouse
And flowers too!

This entry gets us almost caught up to real time. Next up is Mt Kilimanjaro country.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Kenya - The Rain Forest

Birding the rain forest
We drove west from Lake Baringo out of the Rift Valley and into the Tugen Hills. Along the way a stop for the locally restricted White-crested Turaco yielded positive results.

White-crested Turaco
We had lunch in the small town of Iten along the Elgeyo Escarpment. This area is the high altitude training grounds of many runners including the recent sub-2 hour marathoner Eliud Kipchoge.

We continued on to the Kakamega National Forest Reserve. This small ancient remnant of old growth rain forest is all that is left of a forest that once dominated the equatorial belt through Kenya and the continent. There are many near endemic and range restricted bird species here that exist nowhere else in Kenya. We did really well in our 2 days of birding picking up a large percentage of these species.

eBird list day 1
eBird list day 2

Rain forest photography is difficult, especially when you are focused on seeing all the birds. But I did manage a few images.

Black-faced Rufous Warbler

Black and White Hornbill

Grey-headed Nigrita

Grey-throated Barbet

Mackinnon's Fiscal

Red-tailed Bristlebird

Red-tailed Monkey

Snowy-headed Robin-Chat

White-headed Saw-wing

Yellow-billed Barbet
Our rain forest visit was over much too quickly but we had to continue on. We descended from the mountains to the shores of Lake Victoria for a couple quick outings for papyrus swamp specialties. Here too we did really well seeing nearly all of the target species.

eBird list 1
eBird list 2

Our swamp buggy

Papyrus swamp along the shore of Lake Victoria
Black-headed Gonolek

Papyrus Gonolek

Red-chested Sunbird

Slender-billed Weaver
As I type this entry of our travels, we've just completed two days and the incomparable Maaisi Mara National Reserve. That's next!