LUTMAN'S KENYA 2006 BIRDING SAFARI TRIP

Report 6

Sharon has made comments and they are in {brackets}.

 

Sunday, November 12, 2006. Birding Day 10 Naro Moru River Lodge, Hajee Nature Park, Mountain Lodge.

Wake up in: Nara Moru River Lodge

The grounds near the dining room at Nara Moru.

A home-made bridge, constructed on part of an existing tree, and using natural materials naturally.

We're birding at 7:20 am, watching a Paradise Flycatcher beat the crap out of a moth, I think to get rid of the wings before swallowing. I know I don't like the feel of those wings going down, do you?

It's raining lightly, and the plan is to bird a little, then the guides will talk to some people on Mt. Kenya by cell phone, about the road conditions. We're told that there are elephants, cape buffalos and rhinos up there that we have to avoid. Should be exciting.

We get Red-faced Crombec, with its no-tail configuration, then a Tacazze Sunbird, just the opposite, with its extra long tail. I bought a Tacazze Sunbird carving, made from a huge old tree that blew down in a storm at the Rondo Retreat Center. So now I get to see the bird.

Steven gets a Yellow Bishop in the scope, and it's a great view.

We've been birding on the property, and at 9:10, we leave the property, heading for our destination with lots of stops to do. We get a beautiful male Red-headed Weaver, then a Montane Oriole. An African Harrier-hawk is a very nice bird. Bronze-naped Pigeon shows nicely in the scope, then we get a Chestnut-throated Apalis - the telephone ringing bird.

We stop at a pond and get Giant Kingfisher, Common Buzzard and Sooty Falcon. One of the prettiest sunbirds is the Amethyst Sunbird, and I can see its shoulder epilauts, if that's spelled right. Chestnut Sparrow and Jackson's Widowbird are next.

THE WIDOWBIRDS

When you study the book "Birds of Kenya", there are several classes of birds that stand out. One is the sunbirds, filling the position of hummingbird. Another are the widowbirds. In breeding plumage, the males are typically black with brilliant red, or orange or white colors somewhere on them. And they develop long, long tails, like kite streamers. Some of the species' tails are unbelievably long. The females are almost all drab brown and black-streaked birds that blend perfectly with the tall grass that is their favorite habitat.

When the males exit from breeding plumage, they come to look like the females, so to the casual observer, it looks like all the males have died or left, and only "widows" are left.

Another long-tailed species are the smaller and daintier Whydahs.

Straw-tailed Whydah.

Seeing any of these males in breeding plumage is everyone's objective and we are lucky to see quite a few. I got video of some flying, and it looks like they are really laboring to do that.

Back to the tour...

Northern Pied Babblers do their constant jabbering, and then we get a stunning Red-collared Widowbird in the scope, near some railroad traicks. Crippling views, as the British say.

We stop and have lunch at a place that has itself set up as a birdwatching destination. They charge a nominal amount, and afterward a local guide, Edward, takes us down to see the birds.

I don't know why I just now remember it, but yesterday when we were driving on the road, we noticed something odd in the ditch next to the road. As we slowed to a stop nearing the object, then we could see it was a man or a body lying in the ditch.

We don't get out, but watch his chest, which we can see is rising and falling. So he's ok -- or as ok as he's gonna get anyway {drunk}. We drive on. That was all yesterday.

Edward takes us down this slippery trail, but leaves similar to Eucalyptus have fallen onto the muddy track, and they almost totally cut out the slick nature of the trail. With Edward, Kevin and Steven working together, they "herd" a few target birds of this stop towards us, and eventually everybody gets on the beautiful Hinde's Babbler. This bird has splotches all over it, in asymmetric fashion. That is, the left half is not mirror image of the right half. {and spookie red eyes, great bird}

Back on the road, we get Scaly Francolin, a couple of Red-fronted Parrots and a singing Hunter's Cisticola. We get photos through the scope of a female cuckoo-shrike on a nest of moss, and several Kenrick's Starlings fly over about 5 pm.

Here is a typical market we see, no matter what the condition of the dirt they set up on.

We get one of the more spectacular hornbills -- the Silvery-cheeked Hornbill. Check out the horn on this guy.

We make it to our destination for tonight, the fascinating Mountain Lodge. You can go up to the rooftop, over which is a cover for protection from rain. You look down on this big piece of mud and water and grass. Animals come to get needed minerals from the mud. The area reminds me of my relatives' farm animal lots after rain. Muck and mud.

We have dinner, do our bird review and turn in. It's cozy in our three-bed room, with lots of room for me to spread out all my gear. I even let Sharon have one of the beds.

DAY 10 TOTALS

Trip Birds Seen Today (First Time on the Trip): 16
Total Trip Birds to Date: 512

Life Birds Seen Today: 16
Total Life Birds to Date: 444

Best Birds: Yellow Bishop, Sooty Falcon, Chestnut Sparrow, Jackson's Widowbird, African Wood Owl, Hinde's Pied Babbler, Scaly Francolin, Red-fronted Parrot, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Purple-throated Cuckoo-shrike, Brown-backed Mannikin.

Best Mammals: Eastern Black-and-white Colobus Monkey, Olive Baboon, Mountain Bush Squirrel, Marsh Mongoose, White-tailed Mongoose, Spotted (Laughing) Hyena, Common Genet, Common (Burchell's) Zebra, Cape Buffalo, Common (Masai race) Bushbuck, Steinbuck, Defassa Waterbuck, Neutria.

Best Reptiles and Amphibians: None to speak of.

Happy Thanksgiving to All,

Bob

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