East Africa , Jan 2005 - Part 1

Subject: East Africa , Jan 2005 - Part 1
From: chris lester <>
Date: Fri, 20 May 2005 18:30:59 +1000


*January / February 2005*


After a brief 10-day detour to Boston to pick up Jan Smith, who lives
there (and who said it was a short-cut to Africa), Jan, Rosemary and I
joined Ross and Jann Mulholland in Nairobi on 8 January to start a
34-day adventure, birding in East Africa. I had high expectations for
this trip as I had wanted to go there for a long time. It promised lots
of birds and some great mammals as well as a chance to see a part of
“deepest, darkest Africa”. And, on every front, Africa didn’t let me
down – it was much better than I had expected or hoped.

We spent about 20 days in Kenya, 4 days in Uganda and 10 days in
Tanzania. Our itinerary was worked out by Nigel Moorhouse of Sarus Bird
Tours in England. Our birding guide for the trip was Brian Finch, who is
now based in Kenya but will be known to many of you from when he lived
here in the 1980’s. Nigel organised different ground agents in each
country and we were very impressed with each of them, particularly the
quality and friendliness of each of the drivers we were provided with.
Given the general standard of the roads we encountered, having good
drivers was essential.



We visited many of the best bird sites in Kenya, including:

Lake Naivasha NP Lake Nakuru NP Kisumu on Lake Victoria

Kakamega Forest Lake Baringo Solio Ranch & Naro Moru

Buffalo Springs NP Shaba NP Mount Kenya NP

Thika Ngangao Forest & Taita Hills Lake Jipe & Tsavo West NP

Tsavo East NP Malindi & Sabaki River Arabuko – Sokoke Forest & Mida Creek

Nairobi NP Magadi Road, south-west of Nairobi

We only made a brief visit to Uganda, primarily to try and see Shoebill.
While we were there, we visited:

Lake Bisina Jinja – the self-proclaimed “Source of the Nile”

Mabira Forest Mabamba Wetlands on Lake Victoria

We birded across northern Tanzania, visiting:

Pemba Island East Usambaras at Amani West Usambaras at Lushoto

Tarangire NP Ngorongoro NP Serengeti NP


The birds were unbelievable. No-one had prepared me for the birds, both
numbers of birds and number of species in most of East Africa,
particularly the grasslands. On our safaris, there were birds everywhere
– flying close and distantly, in the trees and bushes, on the ground in
the grass and on the track. After dawn and before sunset, there were
extraordinary numbers. We recorded more than 200 species a day on four
occasions on safari in Kenya and Tanzania.

So, for me, the bird highlights were:

Shoebill Southern Ground-Hornbill Secretarybird

Turacos x 7 Vulturine Guineafowl Greater and Lesser Flamingoes

Gambaga Flycatcher Usambara Weaver Bataleur

Long-tailed Widowbird African Skimmer Saddle-billed Stork

Pemba & Sokoke Scops-Owls Four-coloured Bush-Shrike Crab Plover

Eagle-Owls x 3 Coursers x 3 Sand-Grouse x 4

Hornbills x 13 Bat Hawk Pygmy Falcon

Fox’s Weaver Hinde’s Babbler Nairobi Pipit

Honeyguides x 6 Giant Kingfisher White-bellied & Bare-faced Go-away-bird

Weavers x 41 Verreaux’s & Martial Eagles Vultures x 6

Papyrus Gonolek Bar-tailed & Narina Trogons Bee-eaters x 11 & Rollers x 6

This list is shorter than I would like, but I was forced to leave out so
many other good species.

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