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

Report 3. Monday, October 21, 2013. Arabuko-Sokoke Forest


We're again first at breakfast, of everybody at Turtle Bay Beach Hotel, and by 7 am, we are in Arabuko Sokoke Forest, again with our local guide Wellington. We're jaunting down a one-lane dirt road, top up (equivalent to top-down, in a convertible), as you see at left. At right, we come upon a troop of Yellow Baboons. It's a Kenyan standoff. They sit and watch, so we sit and watch. Monkey see...


That's Peter, Steven, Lynda, Wellington and Sharon, from left to right, with our open-top van vacing us. Steven is calling birds. At right, as we are back in the van, driving along, Peter suddenly stops, and we get a look at the scene at right. Hard to see anything, right? Well, there is a flock of Crested Guineafowl (LIFER!), just exiting the greenery from the left, moving into the road, in the next two photos.


There are exotic birds in the forest, and Wellington spots us a nesting Chestnut-fronted Helmet-shrike. Visible in the nest, cobwebs are holding the nest together, and is the final attachment to the sturdy limb below. You can also see her tail sticking out straight left. Can you notice the "false eyelashes" around her eye? I hope this is clear because it's outrageously delicious. At right is a very alive string of Safari Ants. You don't want this kind of safari.


Gasoline, or petrol, is at 109.5 Kenyan shillings per liter, which at 2 shillings/dollar and 3.78 liters/gallon, works out to be $4.57 a gallon. Not terrible, in world gas price terms, and about a dollar a gallon more than in the U.S. -- California recipe.


Three pm finds us back at the hotel for quick late lunch and a rest. At left is the rather nondescript view from our balcony. The beach is past what you are looking at by 1/16th of a mile or so. Lynda and Lee pose in front of a flowered arch, no doubt setting the scene for a wedding later (not theirs).


Then it's back out on the road till dusk. Wellington really earns his keep with the Sokoke Scops-Owl, below. I love the stern look in the photo at left, like Mrs. Bonnelle White when she caught me looking at my baseball cards in the seventh grade. "Bob-beeeeeeee! You can have these back after school." "Yes, Mrs. White." It also reminds me of granddaughter Clare, who when asked to "give me a Clare Stare", leans her head forward and down, and looks at you through the top of her eyebrows, looking slightly angry, no, I'd say stern. It's hilarious.


And then Welly tops THAT off with a spectacular Pearl-spotted Owlet, below. We are very quiet in the Sokoke Forest.{The call of the pearl-spotted owlet is one that Steven uses a lot to call in birds. He sometimes uses a recording and sometimes just uses his mouth. All sorts of birds come to see where this "bird chasing" owl might be. They like to keep the danger in sight. We get many Life birds by Steven using this technique.}


I get a photo of Sharon taking a photo of somebody (Lee or Lynda - Lynda I think) taking a photo of the little owlet. I think somebody also got a shot from behind me. At right is a wide riverway, but I don't currently recall the name of the river. But it is definitely not the Mara River.


The view if I rein in my 20X telephoto. Red dirt abounds. At right after we are out of the maze of forest roads, we find a sign pointing to something called the Arabuko Tree House (don't know what that is), and a Sokoke Scops Owl site, only 2 km away, and I don't know if that's our owl or not. Don't care. We got the bird!


At the end of the day, Steven has Peter drive us to this intersection in the forest, and we all get out. I'm about to burst, so I take a separation (story later, if I remember) to "draw water," as Dad used to say. I'm just out of view but in easy earshot. "Bob, Bob, come quick!" they yelled. I made it back in time to see this unbelievable flurry of feathers in the night, a Fiery-necked Nightjar), with Steven's brilliant flashlight, lighting him up. Like a high-speed butterfly bird (see below). Awesome. Makes me glad to be alive.

So Peter drives us back, in the dark. We have dinner, then it's back to the room to transcribe my audio recordings of the day, and to upload all our pictures to my Mac laptop. Ahhhhh. I always feel a big helping of RELAX when I get those two jobs tucked in.



Life Birds Today: 14
Life Birds, Trip: 32

Trip birds: osprey, brown snake-eagle, booted eagle, tambourine dove, thick-billed cuckoo, yellowbill (aka green coucal), eastern green tinkerbird, scaly-throated honeyguide, black cuckoo-shrike, yellow-billed greenbul (heard only), tiny greenbul (heard only), red-tailed ant-thrush (heard only), black-headed apalis, green-backed cameroptera (we pronounce it 'camera operator'), red-capped robin-chat, african paradise-flycatcher, collared sunbird, african black-headed oriole, black-bellied glossy-starling, dark-backed (aka forest) weaver.

Trip Birds Today: 20
Trip Birds, Total: 120

Bird of the Day: 6-way Tie: SOKOKE SCOPS-OWL (my photo above), AFRICAN BARRED OWLET my (photo above), FIERY-NECKED NIGHTJAR, FOUR-COLORED BUSH-SHRIKE (see below), CHESTNUT-FRONTED HELMET-SHRIKE on the nest my (photo above), PETER'S TWINSPOT (see below). {We all in the van see the Peter's Twinspot except for Lee, who, of course, wanted most of all to see it. Linda, who is not a birder - at least when we started the trip - teases Lee the rest of the trip that she has seen the bird and he hasn't. See why Bob and I have a combined life list? It would drive me crazy to be in Lee's situation.}


Four-coloured Bush-shrike (internet).


Peter's Twinspot (internet)

Mammal of the day: Suni

Good night All and Good birding. Cheers,

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