LUTMAN'S 2013 KENYA BIRDING SAFARI TRIP

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

Report 4. Tuesday, October 22, 2013. Sokoke Forest, Mida Creek, Through Mombassa to Shimba Hills Lodge and Reserve.

 

This morning we've packed our bags, but left them in our rooms, had breakfast and will spend a little more time in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. We stop and pick up Wellington one more time, and Steven greets an old friend he hasn't seen for a while. That's Peter with the cap forward and Steven with the cap backward. Sort of like their personalities. We love this double elephant sign that is the logo of the Kenya Wildlife Service.

 

You may recognize the building, from a different angle, that featured the lady with the AK-47 yesterday or day before. At right is a MANGROVE KINGFISHER (I indicate that is a life bird by using all caps), and Steven took this photo with Sharon's camera.

 

Right after we got this kingfisher, Steven spied a golden-rumped elephant-shrew and chased it all over the place taking about 50 photos. Can't wait to see them.

 

I like the way Wellington is on his cell phone, arranging for his buddies to place the special birds on their perches before we get there. Below is the scene as we are finishing up one segment of the road.

 

I tried to find the name of the beautiful turquoise butterfly below on the Google, as Sharon says, but could only find that it is present in the forest that we found it in. Nobody's supplying the name as of yet. I am not feeling well, very upset stomach. We leave the dirt track and walk through the deeper forest, with lots of branches and stickers to dodge. I wind up at the back, but Steven is behind me. In my stupor, I don't feel a thing as Steven breaks off branches and sticks them in my fanny pack and belt. As we both exit, everybody else is already in the dirt road and they bust out with big laughs as they see me. I can't figure out what they're laughing at, so they take a photo, and thanks to the "new" digital cameras, they let me see what you are seeing, instantly. So I praise them with my question of endearment, "Why donchu all go to h---?" Lovingly. I say it lovingly. To which they reach a new decibel level in the laugh department. But inside, I'm giggling. Shhh keep that on the downlow.

 

We go back to the Turtle Bay Beach Hotel one last time, have lunch, and take this photo of hand and footprints of people who have stayed here, apparently. I don't know what kind of a medium they're using to imprint, but if you study the photo carefully, you'll have a question for Ann and Pete. We pack up everything (That means Peter packs us up using his super packing skills), and we take off. We're going to make a stop at the outlet of Mida Creek, then it'll be on through Mombassa, southward in the Tanzania direction, but turning inland, up into the Shimba Hills before reaching Tanzania. I like the Mida Creek turnoff sign, with its cartooning of the featured bird here.

 

We arrive at the little settlement - several buildings, and maybe a hotel, I can't recall for sure. We see this outer-space-ish character rising out of the sand. There are several similar but different characters also. I don't ask what's up with them. At right, we begin a long walk over clay-like sand that has been uncovered by low tide. This is when our target birds will show up eating what they eat.

 

The CRAB PLOVERS are a long, long way off. I took the photo below at maximum zoon, then blew it up so you could see a couple of these elegant birds. They make their living -- well, I'll let you guess what they make their living doing. At right are snail tracks all over the recently uncovered shore. It looks a little like a play designed for Kaepernick of the 49ers.

 

I brought my Neos -- expensive overshoes to wear over my regular shoes in case we encountered conditions where their need would be obvious. I asked about the tide, and whether Steven thought I'd need them. He figures I can get by without them, and he's mostly right.

Below left, we have taken the highway to Mombassa, and I realize that it must be on a large island as there are lots of waterways on the approach. Below right, Mombassa traffic. I must say that of all the Kenya cities and towns I've been through Mombassa is at the bottom of the list.

 

Sharon shoots through the window. I like how my camera doesn't distort features at the outer edge of photographs at all. Yes, Sharon has developed a chin jut of the first magnitude. Heh heh. At right, we arrive at the cheery Kenya Ferry sign. This sign reminds me of clowns in the movies. They appear to be all smiling and carefree, but in the movies, they always seem to have a murderous bent. After the ferry welcome sign, we see other signs, "No Queue Jumping", "No photographs of the ferry, or from the ferry." That's because it looks like they double load the capacity of the ferry. And this is why, when we read in America of ferries that sink and a thousand people drown, is one of the reasons. So they don't want photos to get out to the world of what they're doing. But those signs are countered oddly by the Coke "Africa, Let's Go Crazy" sign. {There is a long, long line of cars, trucks, and vans waiting to go onto the ferry ramp. Our driver goes around a round-about 360 degrees and comes out where a friend of his is in line. This friend lets him in and about 3 car leangths later, we are approached by a very angry policeman who chides Peter for "Queue Jumping". Of course, we can't tell what they are saying but Peter holds his own in the face of loud voices and gesturing. He finally convinces (or wears down) the policeman and we proceed down to the ferry. Oh, boy, sure am glad we don't have to drive or argue with policemen.}Steven tells us that the policeman wanted us to go to the back of the long line. Way to go, Peter!

 

Here we see the clever "Toll Booth A Head" sign, followed by my surreptitious (is that a word. is that how you spell it?) long distance photo of the ferry. Shhhhh.

 

There is an infinity of roadside stands usually selling fruits and vegetables. Buses and big vans are painted up big and loud, as we see by the "Lovin' U" bus below. {Each bus seems to have a "theme" to attract riders and are usually brightly painted to go with their theme.}

 

We notice continued school uniforms, but more and more also show the girls wearing head coverings, indicating muslim schools. At right, we arrive at the entrance to Shimba Hills Reserve. We stop as Peter has to go pay the entrance fees.

 

It is getting dark as we arrive at the Shimba Hills Lodge, and as we've been told, the lodge is built on trees. As you can see, some of these trees are one with the walls. Below right, Sharon stands with her back to a door exiting onto a viewing balcony, shooting towards the entry to the tiny room. I am setting her big suitcase on a small stand. You can see that there are twin beds, each with its own mosquito net. The area lighting controls are in the bed at the right, and we make that Sharon's bed because she likes to read, then turn her lights off to drop off to sleep. Beyond me, and unseen to the camera, is a small counter top, and I set my laptop and charging stations up on it. {Our room has a balcony and overlooks a large pond. We will be able to see any animals that come to the pond to eat or drink.}

 

We go down to the bar before going to the dining room, and What Ho? Cried Daniel, what have we here? It's a bush baby, or Lesser Galago. The first time I heard "bush baby" was in "2001. A Space Odyssey." A man was on a space station heading for a distant planet and was talking on the phone with his little daughter. He asks what she would like him to bring her from the planet, and her answer was a bush baby. I had no idea what that was at the time. That's Sharon's hand with the thumb ring, feeding the nervy BB.

 

Below is the bar. I ask for a mixed drink, and they fix the fu-fu drink I ask for, but without any ice. It's room temperature and what's up with that? I guess I should have expected it.

 

Finally dinner is served, and we move to the dining room, with open windows right above the lake, and with a food station on the ground one floor (or is it two?) below. There is a pole, with a small platform on it, and they put food - raw meat, chicken, and other delicacies, I presume, on the platform. During the next hour or a little less, a Civet Cat and a Genet come to eat. Before any came, I ask no one in particular, if they throw the food onto the platform, or just to the ground. The answer, at least partly, was on the platform. Somebody else says, occasionally they get turtles that come to check out the offering also.

I go spinning one of my in-the-moment scenarios: "Does the turtle climb up on the platform?" Others: "Come on Bob, how's a turtle going to get up there." And I demonstrate how the turtle could leap up, grap the edge of the platform with his two front feet, utilizing those sharp claws, and hang. Then he could start swinging side to side, in ever bigger arcs till he gets one rear foot to catch, then he just scrabbles on up. For some reason, maybe the beer, this cracks everybody up, including me, and two or three of us go off on those tear-producing, can't talk, laugh till you can't stand it, try to talk, can't get a word out -- for ten minutes or so. I love when that happens.

Now for the rest of the trip, when somebody says something goofy (like mah-self, for example), we'll vote on which is funnier, the image of the turtle swinging his foot up onto the platform, or the new thing. Anyway, the laughter is doing my upset stomach some good. Well, that and the cipro Sharon made me start taking this morning. Come on, CIPRO!

There are cool rugs hung on the hall walls, like the one shown below. At right is the brightly-lit lake outside out window and balcony. Later, they turn off all but the weakest lights.

 

Life Birds Today: CRAB PLOVER (my photo above), SOUTHERN BANDED SNAKE-EAGLE, MANGROVE KINGFISHER, PALLID HONEYGUIDE, MOMBASA WOODPECKER, EAST COAST AKALAT, FOREST BATIS, AFRICAN BLUE-MANTLED CRESTED FLYCATCHER

Life Birds Today: 8
Life Birds, Trip: 40

Trip birds today: great egret, african goshawk, bar-tailed godwit, terek sandpiper, pied kingfisher, silvery-cheeked hornbill, eastern bearded scrub-robin

Trip Birds Today: 7
Trip Birds, Total: 127

Bird of the Day: Oh let's go with CRAB PLOVER (See photo above).

 

Mammals of the day: Golden-rumped Elephant-Shrew (during the day. See directly below, photo from the internet), Lesser Galago (aka Bush Baby), Common Genet, African Civet Cat -- the last three mammals seen at night near or inside our lodge. These last two animals are strange to me for some reason. I guess it's that I don't have the urge to call, "Here, kitty, kitty," to either, though the Genet is not a cat.

Golden-rumped Elephant-shrew

 

This photo of a Common Genet is from the internet, as you might have guessed. And this drawing, from the internet, is of a Civet Cat

Arrivederci Baby. Sleep Tight,
Bob


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