Thursday, September 20, 2012

Day 19--Samburu

We were up at first light to see what birds and wild animals might be around the lodge.  We found a new trip bird--white-headed mousebird, perched in a group in a bush where they had spent the night.

At breakfast we had an intermediate heron fly over the small waterhole.  For the second day in a row we had a very tasty morning meal--fresh squeezed oj and passion fruit juice, bacon, fried potatoes, pancakes and eggs.  We headed out soon after 8 AM to make the short drive over to the Samburu reserve part of the park which has slightly different habitat than Buffalo Springs.  We found several dik-dik as we slowly drove the dirt roads.  We stopped at one spot to listen for birds, and Stu noticed 4 bush babies in a small, leafless tree.  Brian said in all his years in E. Africa he had only seem them at night.  While looking at the bush babies we heard a stone partridge calling on the rocky hillside above us.

A little further along our route Bob got a photo of cut-throat finches and African silverbills.

We stopped at Sopa Lodge, and found several small birds getting a drink--purple grenadier, black-capped social-weaver, and blue-capped cordonbleu--click on any photo to enlarge.  We sat for a short time in the lounge to drink coffee and tea while watching a small waterhole where a desert warthog came in for a long drink.  As we were leaving we saw fan-tailed ravens (photo taken by Bob).

After wandering around on the roads for another hour or so, we stopped in at Samburu Lodge and found a few more new trip birds including northern puffback, violet woodhoopoe, shining sunbird (photo taken by Bob) and eastern yellow-billed hornbill.

Down by the river we got our first good look at a hooded vulture.  We also were told that 3 Verreaux's eagle-owls had been sitting in one of the very large trees the day before.  We searched that tree, and those nearby, but only found a pearl-spotted owlet.

We saw a couple of black-backed jackals which were not particularly cooperative about our taking a photo.

A pair of spotted thick-knees, which are hard to see in the field and in the photo (just left of small shrub in right-center of photo), were another new trip bird.

We found 4 gray-headed kingfishers during our meandering thru the savannah, hills and riverine habitats.   We added ashy cisticola to our growing list of "coca-cola" birds (photo taken by Bob).

 Pale prinia, Somali crombec, and Somali tit were also added to the trip list. Red-billed hornbills seemed to be everywhere.

Mid afternoon we headed back to Buffalo Springs to look again for kori and black-bellied bustards, and Lichtenstein grouse.   We found none of them, but did see a Tawny eagle (photo taken by Bob). And we did just miss seeing a cheetah that disappeared into the tall grasses.  Down by the river there were several small groups of elephants with a few crossing over to our side.

John, our driver, was carefully looking in all the large trees for panthers.  While it would have been very nice to see one, we were thrilled to find a Verreaux's eagle-owl as a consolation prize.

The daylight began to fade thus ending one of the very best days of the trip.  Back at the lodge a troop of yellow baboons ambled by the waterhole.

The buffet dinner was one of our better meals--lemon fish, baby lamb chops, curried white beans, roasted potatoes, Kenya (green) beans and salad.  Dessert was a chocolate layer cake with whipped cream.  We did our nightly bird list update before heading off to sleep.  After the superlative day we had just completed, we were looking forward to spending the morning at the Shaba reserve, the 3rd part of Samburu NP.  Stay tuned!

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