Early next Tuesday morning - Halloween, dressed as tourists, we will trick or treat ourselves onto an American Airline flight from San Jose to Chicago - the first of three legs (London, Nairobo) to Kenya, over about a 30-hour period.We'll be pooped, but the adrenaline will keep us going when the birding starts.We arrive back home the evening of Sunday, November 18th.I'll do my annual magic act, this time changing from 62 to 63 - while in Africa.

I've practice packed and Sharon will do the same this weekend. I've astounded my bad self by memorizing 750 pictures of 650 African birds.I seem to have more brain power than I thought. Sharon is only a couple of hundred less than that, not being retired yet, and having that slightly lower IQ, you know.

From the amazing Blue-eared Glossy Starling. . .


to the awesome Grey Crowned Crane. . .


to the mesmerizing African Crowned Eagle,. . .

we are ready for some birds.

Birds with great names, like Hamerkop, Hotentot Teal, White-spotted Flufftail, Black-bellied Bustard, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Bateleur, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Bare-faced Go-Away-Bird, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Speckled Mousebird, Lilac-breasted Roller, Violet Wood-Hoopoe, Abyssinian Scimitarbill, Double-toothed Barbet, Moustached Green Tinkerbird, Nubian Woodpecker, Rosy-breasted Longclaw, White-headed Saw-wing, Cameroon Sombre Greenbul, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, White-naped Raven, Square-tailed Drongo, Brubru, Pink-footed Puffback, Papyrus Gonolek, White-crested Helmet-Shrike, Yellow-bellied Wattle-eye, African Paradise Flycatcher, Snowy-headed Robin-Chat, (Somebody stop me. . . ) Wing-Snapping Cisticola, Yellow White-eye, Somali Long-billed Crombec, Tacazze Sunbird, Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver, Red-billed Quelea (flocks of hundred-thousands), Village Indigobird, Steel-blue Whydah, Long-tailed Widowbird, Red-headed Malimbe, Quail-Finch, Red-billed Firefinch, Red-headed Bluebill - all these birds are well-known to me now, though I've never seen any of them.

I'm hoping for 600 trip birds, including 450 or so life birds to add to our list, which currently stands at 1772, of the world's 10,000 total.

We'll be making a large figure 8 on our tour in the southwest quadrant of Kenya, over a two-week period, beginning and ending in Nairobi. For you old-time Sid Caesar fans, I'll be keeping an eye out for the Nairobi Trio. Tour hot spots will be Nairobi National Park, several Rift Valley lakes - some fresh and some alkaline, Kakamega National Park, the papyrus fringes of a tiny portion of Lake Victoria, Mt.Kenya and Samburu National Park.

Uganda is on Kenya's left, Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the east, the Indian Ocean coast on the southeast, and Tanzania to the south.The equator runs right through Kenya, which is on Africa's east coast, near the middle. Your geography lesson for today.

And for your science lesson: whirlpools (like the water draining out of your sink) in the northern hemisphere rotate one way, in the southern hemisphere the other way. But what about right AT the equator? My theory is that no water ever drains exactly ON the equator, because it's permanently trying to decide which way to spin. I aim to find out and will let you know.

We're staying in some fairly nice quarters sometimes, but I don't know what the level of internet accessibility is going to be. My best guess is dial-up, and if this is true, I won't send any photos. If and when high-speed is available, then I will.


P.S. Oh, being in Africa and according to our itinerary, we are also supposed to see elephants, rhinos, hippos, lions, water buffalo, gnus, gazelles, giraffes, troops of monkeys, baboons (yawn), cheetas, leopards (maybe), hyenas, kudus, waterbuck, zebras, but (I'm telling Sharon) no snakes. OK, so maybe I'll take one or two thousand photos, and a few hours of digital video.

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