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

Report 2. Sunday, October 20, 2013. Malindi, Sabaki Estuary, Arabuko-Sokoke Forest


Following our previous evening's instructions, we have breakfast in the restaurant at 6:00. There is a particularly interesting white flower we pass on the way down. And as it begins to lighten up, here's the sun, trying to climb out of the forest. A hot day is predicted.


Sharon catches me looking like a normal person. I hate when that happens. At right is a Grey Heron, perched on the tip of a power pole. I can just hear him thinking, "If I spread these ol' wings in a big yawn, I bet I could touch both of these wire thingies at the same time."


The yellow water barrel is something we're seeing everywhere, used to fill and carry home, always by women, it seems, or on a motorcycle, if by a man. The woman at right keeps perfect head and neck position as she stoops to pick up something she dropped.


Well done, Missy! At right is a gorgeous Carmine Bee-eater -- a Lifer for us.


Steven directs Peter to drive us to several lagoons on private salt-recovery property. There are both Greater and Lesser Flamingos, we can see, with our binoculars. At right is a Tropical Boubou. There are lots of black-and-white birds in Kenya, and this is a gorgeous glossy one.


Steven leads us out onto some flat scrubby land, being grazed by cattle and goats. We get another lifer -- the Malindi Pipit. To Steven, there are easily noticeable differences between all the different kinds of pipits, but to me, they seem to look much alike. If he points out a feature that is different between say, a Grassland Pipit and a Malindi Pipit, I can usually tell, but if you just pop a fresh bird into my binocular view, I might as well try to get a pint of blood out of a turnip. At right is a Long-tailed Fiscal. No, I think it's a Pin-tailed Whydah. Hmm, I wonder why I bothered to include this bird in this report. Just looks like a dark bird with a long, scraggly tail. I guess the point is, this is how it looks to me without binoculars.


After we see the Malindi Pipit, we interweave with a herd of cattle and goats. At right, several boys follow us through the fields. {You can see who is at the tail end of any hike we take. Luckily we are a small group so I don't have to chase down 12 people who have often seen the target bird by the time I get there. Took one small fall trying to go faster to catch up. Only Bob saw it and I just banged one knee, not too bad for me who usually falls down at least once a trip. Maybe that is my "one". }


The Malindi Pipit, circled for your convenience. And mine. At right, all the donkeys in Kenya look like the donkey in the Disney Cartoon movies. Here, they are growing a batch by the road.


I have been to hell and back a number of times in my life, and Sharon and I get another look today. It's an incredibly long, hot walk, culminating in a long hot stretch in the beach sand, to pick up a number of shorebirds. Expert birders love the challenge of differentiating different but similar birds, and both Steven and Lee are in heaven. At left, an example of boys or young men who are net fishing in the shallows of the estuary. At right is a Yellow-billed Stork. As I recall. {Steven had told us that he planned the worst hike of the trip on this first day. I guess that way everything after feels like a "walk in the park" Get it?We will be in the National Parks? Get it? Anyway, he had warned us to bring umbrellas as we would be walking in places where there would be no shade and we are at the equater you know. The walk out to the beach was long and hot but not too bad, I thought. Then we walked across the sand dunes and on the beach which was hard walking but the ocean breeze was welcome. But the walk back, OMG, how can I describe it? Now I'm tired, hot, and TIRED! At one point all I could do was say to myself, "just put one foot in front of another" over and over. The others went on ahead (I felt so bad to hold them up) and Bob, myself, and one young Kenyan man stayed with us. I kept saying "around this next bend we will see the van" but we would go around the bend and see ANOTHER bend! I thought I might have to say "enough, You'll have to send in one of the young men with the motorcycles (that we had heard were actually taxis) to put me on the back of his motorcycle and bike me out". But at last I could see the van ahead and we made it. Thank God that this would be the worst of our walks. If Steven is being even with us.}


After we finally make it back the long, long, long, hot path to the van, we zip over to the Malindi Airport, where guess what, Lee and Lynda's luggage has arrived. As we wait, we admire these two ladies selling homemade baskets full of fruit or vegetables. At right is the Kenya School of Flying, located conveniently and extremely coincidentally, at the airport.


You can see Lee's face through the window, all lit up, as he wheels a piece of long-lost-found-at-last luggage to the van. Woohoo. Clean clothes at last, without having to wash the only ones you have every night. At right are guards to the entrance to the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. We have to pay entrance fee and take a guide with us, who we also have to pay, as I understand it. The good news is our guide is well-known by Steven -- a fellow named Wellington, but known as Welly or more often Willy -- and he says he will get us some excellent hard-to-find birds today. I'm all binoculars. We particularly like the hard-faced lady on the right, with her AK-47 or similar, casually draped across her lap. {She for some reason didn't like or had hard words with our driver, Peter, and we joked about the "lady with the shotgun" the next day.}


I think the building below is like a visitor center. As we're driving and then walking through the forest, we come upon an unusual planting scheme of some tall-growing stick-things. That's their scientific name. I think they are especially grown to be able to harvest long thin, relatively straight poles. But then I like to just guess what things are for when I don't know. {I thought it was bamboo that they use a lot in scaffolding.}


Now we're out of the van, on foot. We're looking for any good birds we can pick up, not specific ones at this point. Driver Peter paints a casual picture, elbow-leaning on a pole, on his cell phone.


As it begins to get dark, the sun slides behind the horizon, just as we're finishing up.


Steven and Peter, with Steven's tripod and scope. Steven's smiling because of the hell he put us through. He claims that this separates the pansies from the herd. Sprinkle some water on me, if you could.



Life Birds Today: 16
Life Birds, Trip: 18

Trip birds (Remember? Birds we are seeing for the first time, on this trip. If we saw a bird yesterday, it will never show up under today's banner for the rest of the trip. Just to clarify. Or mudify - take your pick): pink-backed pelican, black-headed heron, little egret, squacco heron, cattle egret, hamerkop, yellow-billed stork, wooly-necked stork, sacred ibis, african spoonbill, greater flamingo, lesser flamingo, white-faced whistling duck, egyptian goose, black-shouldered kite, african fish-eagle, wahlberg's eagle, african jacana, black-winged stilt, spur-winged plover, grey (black-bellied in America) plover, common ringed plover, little ringed plover, lesser sand-plover, greater sand-plover, whimbrel, eurasian curlew, marsh sandpiper, common greenshank, wood sandpiper, common sandpiper, ruddy turnstone, sanderling, little stint, curlew sandpiper, broad-billed sandpiper, sooty gull, gull-billed tern, caspian tern, lesser crested tern, common tern, ring-necked dove, emerald-spotted wood-dove, namaqua dove, klass's cuckoo, dideric cuckoo, white-browed coucal, white-rumped swift, grey-headed kingfisher, lilac-breasted roller, sand martin (bank swallow in America), barn swallow, yellow wagtail, dodson's bulbul, zanzibar sombre greenbul, african bare-eyed thrush, coastal (winding) cisticola, marsh warbler, willow warbler, red-capped robin-chat, northern wheatear, long-tailed fiscal, black-crowned tchagra, tropical boubou, parrot-billed sparrow, red-billed quelea (sometimes seen in flocks of a million), red-cheeked cordonbleu

Trip Birds Today: 67
Trip Birds, Total: 100

Bird of the Day: Tie: Zanzibar Red Bishop, Pin-tailed Whydah. Both photos from the internet.

Mammal of the day: donkey (haw)


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