Monday, September 3, 2012

Day 14--Nairobi NP

We were out again by 6:30 AM looking for birds around the Masai Lodge.  We had heard lions growling during the night. As it got lighter we began to find more new trip birds like chin-spot batis, and olive thrush.  We ate breakfast pretty quickly so that we could start our morning of exploring Nairobi National Park which was created in 1946 as Kenya's first national park.  It is right on the edge of the city, and covers almost 29,000 acres.  It felt quite strange traveling thru the park because you regularly had views of buildings that are along the edge of the park, plus Nairobi's secondary airport abuts the park so there are planes flying quite low over it.  One of our first birds in the park was a purple grenadier (photo taken by Bob--click on any photo to enlarge).

We spent until mid afternoon winding our way thru the forest and savannah on dirt roads.  We did see some other tourists, but Brian said the park is not that heavily visited even though it is so close to Nairobi.  We found a nice martial eagle, and a lovely variable sunbird (photos by Bob).

We came across a giraffe eating its way thru the trees, and a hartebeast juxtaposed with one of Nairobi's large buildings.

It seemed like we were constantly stopping to study either new birds or animals.  At one point we found 4 white rhinos feeding, but they were too far away to get good photos.  Lots of long tailed fiscals were spread throughout the park.

We had seen very few lions during the trip, so it was nice to find a mother and her offspring.

We had seen distant views of 2 secretary birds at Tarangire NP, so we were thrilled to have one walk across the road right in front of us.  Bob also got a nice photo of a Klaas' cuckoo.

The bird family of the day was the cisticolas which we jokingly called the coca colas.  There are over 30 different cisticola species, and by the end of our time in the park we had seen and/or heard 9 of them of which 4 were new trip birds including the stout cisticola just above.  We also found an African water rail just below (both photos taken by Bob).

While there were not huge numbers of animals in the park, we often found small groups like impalas.  Brian said that the numbers of animals fluctuates with the rainy and dry season migrations. At one small wetland we found black crakes, grosbeak weavers, and zebra waxbills--all new trip birds--plus 2 sacred ibis and an egyptian goose.

Bob also got photos of a malachite kingfisher and 3 cardinal quelea.

Even though cape buffalo are widespread, we finally saw our first of the trip at Nairobi NP.

The lodge did not make us a box lunch, but since we were on the edge of the city, we met one of the ground agents for our trip at the main entrance gate who had brought us lunches from a place call Dorman's.  It proved to be the best lunch of the trip--a chicken tikka or club sandwich with a nice green salad.

We then worked our way back thru the park to be able to make the drive to a place called Magadi Rd. which had some good habitat for finding  Lynne's and tiny cisticolas--both new trip birds. One of the more dramatic bird families are the whydahs because the males when breeding have very long tails (pintail whydah photo by Bob).  We also saw another new trip bird--red and yellow barbet-- along the road.

As the light began to fade, we headed back to the Masai Lodge for one more night.  Dinner was pretty much a repeat of the night before, ordering off the menu.  We did the bird list update, and found we were getting closer and closer to 500 different species seen.  We went to bed looking forward to flying to the Masai Mara the next day.  Stay tuned!

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