Kenya coast, Jan 2009

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8 years 10 months ago #10261 by mossie
mossie created the topic: Kenya coast, Jan 2009
What do you do when you have a business meeting, just north of Mombasa, on the Kenya coast?

You do your best to fit in a few days birding!!!!

With limited time at hand, I took some advice, and contacted local bird guru and expert guide, Ben, owner of Bens Ecological Safari’s. Ben’s confessed passions are birding, and driving, and with the exception of a handful of vagrants, has seen almost every bird possible to see in East Africa. He knows the special spot to find shoebill, and a few others. Don’t ask him about pelagic seabirds…. <!-- s:? --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_confused.gif" alt=":?" title="Confused" /><!-- s:? --> <!-- s:no: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/no.gif" alt=":no:" title="Disagreement" /><!-- s:no: --> not that there are many in Kenya. The problem with Kenya, is getting around, and finding people in the know, as to where to bird. Ben does both, and with a combination of his own extensive knowledge of the country, and some help from local guides, we had a great trip.

It was the dry season, so it explains why all the inter Africa migrants follow the rain and head down south to visit us in South Africa! I guess with the dry season, all the pans were baked, so the chances of seeing the likes of Allens Gallenule, lesser Jacana and lesser moorhen were ruled out. But, on the flip side, the palaearctic migrant waders were in full swing. If you plan to visit the area, the must see places, are Mida creek (crab plovers by the dozen), and the Sebaki river mouth (try spot the broadbilled sanpiper among the curlew sandpipers). But plan your wetland trip carefully. You must be disciplined, and keep an eye on your watch, 1 hour before high tide, is when the birds all get pushed up and concentrated, a spectacle not to be missed. For water birds, I picked up a few lifers: lesser and greater crested tern, little and gull billed tern, sooty gull, lesser black backed gull, and terreck sandpiper. The area north of Malindi, is amazing, as you now suddenly change biomes, from coastal forest to dry savannas, and the bird life becomes quite prolific. Ben called some of them chicken birds, because they are so common, but for me, a red cheeked cordonbleu, Zanzibar red bishop, long tailed fiscal, northern bulbul, scaly babler, Dodsons bulbul, white throated beaeater, spurwinged lapwing, northern wheatear, and black headed lapwing were all lifers, and worth a few minutes of time. Without being too hard on the taxonomists, they were all “variants” of the common species we have in Southern Africa <!-- s:wink: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" /><!-- s:wink: --> . In the area, I also added a few others to my list including golden pipit, yellow wagtail which I have yet to see in South Africa.

Probably the highlight for the “experienced birder” was the Arabuko Sokoki forest. Not an easy (or cheap $20/day entry!) place to bird. A local guide to the area is a must…some are better than others, so if you have a choice, either Willie or David are the best. Willie was incredible, and found us all sorts of things. His specialty is finding the rare Sokoke Scops owl. Only 1000 pairs in existence, and only found in the area. A true endemic. Willie has been working with researchers for over a year, on the owls, and knows all the roosting spots. Without his help, I would have walked around the forest for months without seeing one!!! Other specials “and lifers” seen in the area were Sokoke pipit, Amani sunbird, plain backed sun bird, Mombasa woodpecker, forest batis, silvery cheeked hornbill, pale batis, little yellow flycatcher, black headed apalis, Peter’s twinspot, and chesnut fronted helmet shrike which is abundant in the forest. Willie also managed to track down and “flush” the secretive gorgeous bushshrike, and I enjoyed a good few minutes of observation of this stunner, at close range. We also so saw green barbet, Reits helmet shrike, forest weaver, and a few other coastal forest specials that can be seen in Northern KZN. One rather funny observation, is that the calls of the Kenyan birds that we have locally, are all slower in Kenya…the green barbets call is the same, but the spacing between notes is a lot longer, the same with the gorgeous bush shrike…everything in Kenya is PoloPolo (Swaheli for slowly).

What was interesting, is that in area’s where there is development, between Mombasa and Malindi, the most common bird is the House Crow, masses and masses of them. I predict, that they are soon to expand their range to most African cities. The reasons for this prediction, are that, as their numbers grow, they are more able to generate a lot more genetic ‘variants’, and through natural selection, some individuals will gradually become more adaptable to surviving in more marginal habitats. Watch this space!

Sorry, there are no pictures... no Camera... I'll have to ask Ben for a few of the snap shots he took.

Mossie

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  • JGB
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8 years 10 months ago #10272 by JGB
JGB replied the topic: Re: Kenya coast, Jan 2009
One day when I am big!!!!

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  • Dave Shedman
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8 years 10 months ago #10278 by Dave Shedman
Dave Shedman replied the topic: Re: Kenya coast, Jan 2009
Sounds like a fantastic trip, Mossie, I'm ever so slightly very envious! My question is, did you see any Superb Starlings? The only Kenyan bird on our list is a Superb Starling I photographed during a six hour stopover at Nairobi airport. When I looked up the info about it on the net, one site said the only way you can avoid seeing these in Kenya is to walk around with your eyes closed!

Ô¿Ô

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  • mossie
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8 years 10 months ago #10298 by mossie
mossie replied the topic: Re: Kenya coast, Jan 2009
It's those special bino's I was using!! Specially designed for Kenya conditions. They filter out the superb starlings <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: -->

Didn't see a single one on this trip, but I have on previous visits.

Mossie

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