NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.

Report 1. Saturday, October 19, 2013. Flight to Coastal Malindi Airport. Our Turtle Bay Beach Hotel Accommodations


We meet our tripmates, Lee and Lynda McNeely, and Steven takes us out to the garden for some practice birding. Afterwards, we have lunch, starting off with a round of cokes. {Lee and Lynda are from Kentucky. He works for a bank and she performs dressage in competition. He has birded all over the Americas but this is his first trip toAftrica. Lynda says she is not a birder but is looking forward to seeing the animals on this trip.}


Our driver gets all our luggage, backpacks and carryons into the van, as we all take our seats. At left, is our view of the front. Steven is on the left and our driver on the right, with today's lunches cooling off in that red and white thing. At right are Lee and myself. I like the hats that Steven presented to us on behalf of Liberty Africa Safaris, who put the trip together for Kenya's part of it -- and you know, that's the main part.


Sharon is across the aisle from me and Lynda is behind Sharon and across the aisle from Lee. I step out of line to capture our travelers as Sharon captures me doing that. AirKenya is one of the main airlines in the country, as you might guess. {Here's the story behind the story. Lee and Lynda's luggage didn't make it to the Nairobi Airport on their flight from Qatar so we try to go to the airport where we have been told that the bags are finally there. On the way there, Steven finds out that the main Nairobi Airport is NOT the one we will be flying from today. This suddenly cuts our time considerably as we will have to go to the Nairobi airport, get the bags and then drive to Wilson Airport, our actual departure place. Our driver is also named Peter, but not OUR Peter from the rest of the trip. That Peter has already taken off in the van to the coast. WE get to the Nairobi Airport and Lee and Steven jump out to get the bags. After a few minutes during which we see them running to another building, they come back WITHOUT the bags! They say the guard wouldn't let them into the baggage security area without special passes that they have to go to the next building to get. Hence the running we saw. Turns out they couldn't get the passes so "no go" for getting the bags. Steven turns the job over to someone in Nairobi who assures us they will get the bags and send them on to Lee and Lynda who are by now more and more anxious abaout having anything to wear other than what they are currently wearing. Like us they have smartly packed the essential "stuff" i.e., binoculars, bird books, medicines, shoes, etc in their carry ons. Now we take off for Wilson Airport at a furious pace. Our plane leaves there at 2PM and we have maybe 20 minutes to get there. Our driver, Peter, takes us on a shortcut on a construction road which is the bumpiest road I have ever been on. Thank goodness I have already passed that kidney stone or it would have been shaken off during this ride. We make it to the airport and it turns out the tour company has called ahead and they have held the airplane for us. Such nice people! And so we are finally off!}{Another pieceof interest, as we were travlling through downtown Nairobi, we pass some huge trees just covered with nests of Maribou storks, a strange looking stork with a large sack that hangs down (maybe Bob will insert a picture).

(Bob inserts a picture of a lovely Marabou Stork)

It is so strange to see these birds circling in the air over rush hour traffic, honking horns, people walking around, et.c, just ignoring all of that to nest here.}

Sharon and Lynda are feeling good. At right, I click a pic of everybody in line. As Sharon does the same of me.


Steven proves that he has a ticket to ride. At right, you can see highrises of Nairobi as we work our way out of that airspace.


As you can see, we are four across seating, with an aisle up the middle. After a half-hour or so, we make an intermediate stop at Manda Airport, on the coast but north of Malindi, our destination. At right, notice two things. First, good news, as I don't see any of our luggage on the luggage carrier. Second, they have an interesting cable connecting a fixed point on the airplane to the tip of one of the four propellers, to keep somebody from accidentally bumping into the propeller and kicking it off.


Here is the view out my window when we're on the ground. At right, people reshuffle in the seats before the Manda Airport passengers load up. I move over to the window to get some pictures during the rest of our trip. That's Steven in the back, asking Lynda if her eyes are hazel.


"A thumb and a blankie, please," is all she needs. At right, there is an interesting series of islands below, but I can't make out any detail. Fun to speculate what it might be.


We're now on our way to Malindi Airport, and it's a gorgeous day, with small puffy clouds over the water. I think the little village in the right photo is Shela, which we encounter soon after takeoff.


At left, below, are the sandy beaches of Lamu Island. My seatmate in the first part of the trip works in the eco segment of a tour company in Nairobi. Her family has a second home on Lamu, and that's where she disembarked, leaving her seat free for me to switch to. At right is the waterway between Lamu on the left, and mainland coastal Kenya, on the right.


I am pretty sure that's the town of Malindi, in the left photo. The landing gear is down, and as you can tell, we are very near touching down.


Our faithful air steed takes a break. Lee and Lynda's checked luggage didn't make it to Nairobi with them early this morning (like 3 am), and they have learned that it has arrived in Nairobi and either has been or will be shipped to Malindi Airport. We check but it's not here yet. They get a promise of "tomorrow". That's our local van with the open door, which will take us to Turtle Bay Beach Hotel.


We are reminded where we are as we exit the airport road. At right is my photo in strong background light, our best bird of the day, and a Lifer -- a Lizard Buzzard. A key feature is the vertical black streak down his throat and neck, inside a white patch. Kind of a clumsy look, in this photo, but looks are deceiving.



All the local school children are dressed in uniforms, each school's being different from the others. {During this trip we see children walking to school as early as 6AM. I think that is to miss the heat of the afternoon as they go home at noon.} At right is a small roadside stand selling fruits and vegetables. {With a pile of coconuts in the back at the left. I think they process the husks for the fiber. Is that called Copra? I think so}


We make it to registration, and it feels good to get here. At right is a captivating design of a lowered ceiling, perhaps doubling as a gecko catcher. The mailing address of the Turtle Bay Beach Hotel is a town called Watamu. You can look it up (google maps ).


We give our luggage to a porter, who leads us to our room, opens the door with the key, shows us how almost everything is operated, and is gone, with a small tip from us. At left, we have a single and a king bed in our room at the Turtle Bay Beach Club Hotel. The white material hanging and tied is the mosquito netting, which when untied, wraps both beds completely in one net. At right is the view out the sliding glass door. Well, not the view exactly, but you see the door, don't you?


At left, a beautiful Golden Palm Weaver greeted us as we walked to our room. {There is an area outside the main lobby on the way to our rooms with a small stream and pools with foliage. In the foliage are the nests of these weavers and another weaver, the African Golden Weaver. Weavers are by their nature communal nesters and we see several nests in the palms and other trees by the water. What a sight for us.} At right is the pool area, which we pass on the way to either the beach (to the left) or the restaurant (to the right). {This seems to be quite a family resort and there are many activities for kids, including movies and games as well as this beautiful pool and the beach. Now you can ask yourself, did we have the time OR energy to go into this beautiful pool at the end of our days of birding? I'll give you a clue, my suit stayed packed the whole trip.}


That's me rallying around the flag, er, near it. At right, Sharon gets the mosquito netting in place, and shoots me through it as I set up the Mac. {This is the high malaria danger site for which we started the malaria pills before we left Turkey. They tell us the mosquito that transmits the malaria is very tiny and doesn't "whine" around your ears like most mosquitos so we need to be extra careful. That's why I brought plenty of DEET and we will use the netting carefully.}



Below is what we see as we have dinner in the restaurant. If I were having a cheeseburger, we could all sing "Cheeseburgers in Paradise," along with Jimmy Buffet.


Life Birds of the Day: LIZARD BUZZARD (photo above), HOUSE CROW (a huge pest in Kenya towns).

Life Birds Today: 2
Life Birds, Total: 2

Trip Birds of the Day that are Not Life Birds: grey heron, marabou stork, hadada ibis, yellow-billed kite, african harrier-hawk, peregrine falcon, rock pigeon, red-eyed dove, african palm-swift, little swift, speckled mousebird, african pied wagtail, common bulbul, olive thrush, tawny-flanked prinia, bronze sunbird, eastern olive sunbird, amethyst sunbird, green-headed sunbird, variable sunbird, black-backed puffback, common (fork-tailed) drongo, pied crow, superb starling, house sparrow, rufous sparrow, baglafecht weaver, african golden-weaver, holub's golden-weaver, golden palm weaver, village weaver, speke's weaver, red-billed firefinch.

Trip Birds Today: 33
Trip Birds, Total: 33

Mammal of the day: blue syke's monkey

Well, we're settling in. Tomorrow we will be traipsing through the local forests, looking for specialty birds, including some pretty cool owls.


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