Sunday, 8 January 1978

KENYA January 1978: Amboseli, Marsabit & Nakuru


1 January 1978.  Drove to Mzima Springs for mid morning then out of Tsavo West and across to Amboseli looking at the marsh near the Observation Hill before dark.  Camped outside one of the lodges.  Best sightings were 4 Cheetahs, 50 Elephants and a good range of other mammals, Goliath Heron, three species of bustard including displaying Kori, Two-banded Courser, Long-toed Lapwing and our first Kitlitz’s and Blacksmith Plovers.

White-bellied Bustard
the car made a perfect hide
Helmetted Guineafowlo
Ground Hornbill
Amboseli from Observation Hill
lower slopes of Kilimanjaro from Observation Hill
Kilimanjaro summit at sunset
2 January 1978.  We were confronted by one of the wardens in Amboseli as we were packing up the tents  Apparently we should not have camped in the park as it was dangerous even right by a lodge, as we had been.  Most of the day spent in Amboseli and wooded stream just north of Namanga.  Then drove on to Nairobi and after dark on to Nyeri.  Best sightings were Crested Francolin, Temminck’s and Two-banded Coursers, Red-billed Oxpecker and the usual mammals.

African Jacana
Long-toed Lapwing
Blacksmith Plover
common, but a very welcome
Three-banded Plover
Crowned Crane
3 January 1978.  Spent morning outside Nyeri and in grassland between there and Nanyuki.  This delayed us arriving at Mt Kenya where we only had the afternoon, taking the Sirimon track to its end at c11,000 feet.  Birded different habitats at different altitudes. Drove overnight up towards Marsabit stopping N of Archer’s Post with a flat tyre where we decided as we were in the middle of nowhere to camp rather than change it.  We’d earlier driven through what appeared to be a thorn bush across the road.  We later realised it was probably to highlight a serious pot-hole or worse, which we’d also driven over, but at the time we feared it might be an impromptu roadblock set by bandits!  Best sightings were Zorilla, Jackson’s Francolin, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Abyssinian Nightjar, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater and Long-tailed Widowbird.
the lower slopes of Mt Kenya, the only photo I took on our fleeting visit
4 January 1978.  We continued up to Marsabit often stopping in good scrub.  We’d changed the tyre but got another flat within 10 kms and had to drive to the next village on it.  Here we spent several hours repairing punctures.  We climbed up behind town of Marsabit and looked in woods there before driving north into Didi Galgala desert where we camped.  Best birds were Somali Ostrich, Lappet-faced Vulture, Heuglin’s and Kori Bustards, Cream-coloured Courser and White-throated Robin.

degraded image of Gabar Goshawk
Black Kite
Reticulated Giraffe
5 January 1978.  We started at dawn in Didi Galgala desert and continued driving north until we realised we didn’t have a lot of petrol left..  We returned to Marsabit to fill up and continued south, stopping in woodland by the road, before continuing slowly towards Isolio.  The last few hours were spent in very good scrub 60km north of Isolio.  Overnight we continued driving down to Nanyuki where we camped.  Birds seen included Heuglin’s and Cream-coloured Coursers, Chestnut-bellied and Black-faced Sandgrouse, Somali Bee-eater, River and Barred Warblers and Desert Cisticola.

Abdim's Stork
Namaqua Dove
Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse
Black-faced Sandgrouse
a nice representative of a superb family
6 January 1978.  From the outskirts of Nanyuki we drove down to Nyeri, through the Aberdares stopping for some time in bamboo zone on the west side without seeing much.  Then on to Naivasha where the last hour of light was spent on the shore at Lake Hotel in Crescent Island Bay.  Birds seen included Jackson’s Francolin and Black-winged Plover.

Jackson's Francolin
Jackson's Francolin
Rift Valley from the Aberdares, the bamboo in the foreground we found to be fairly birdless 
Rift Valley Lake from Aberdares
7 January 1978.  The whole day was spent at Naivasha where we drove around anti-clockwise looking for access points.  Eventually spent afternoon on Crescent Island.  We left at dusk and drove to Nakuru.  Birds seen included African Fish Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle, Hildebrant’s Francolin and White-browed Robinchat.

African Fish Eagles at Lake Naivasha
Sacred Ibis
Glossy Ibises
Long-tailed Cormorant
noisy Crowned Plover
Spur-winged Plover
Defassa Waterbuck at Lake Naivasha
8 January 1978.  Whole day spent at Nakuru then drove overnight to edge of the Masai Mara.  Best sightings were Hippos, thousands of flamingos, cormorants and pelicans, Secretary Bird, Malachite Kingfisher and Cliff Chat.
Lake Nakuru
flamingos at Lake Nakuru
at places the lake's edge was covered with birds
Grey-headed Gulls

African Spoonbill
Pink-backed Pelican
White Pelicans
White Pelican, perhaps the smartest of Nakuru's big birds
I suppose I should be used to being looked at down one's nose
Marabou
an exception to the rule that birds with white legs are usually brilliant.  Perhaps it depends on how they became white?
Yellow-billed Stork
White-breasted Cormorant

Black-faced Vervet Monkey.  Not the angels they might appear, this one, or a friend, dived into our car the moment our backs were turned and ran off with a plastic bag containing Mark's toothbrush.  They are also quite partial to destroying windscreen wipers ...
Cliff Chat
eagle of sorts, possibly by its (parent's) nest.  A reminder, if one was needed, as to why I generally dislike raptors!

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