Sunday, September 23, 2012

Day 20--Shaba to Naro Moru

We awoke to another beautiful morning, and headed down to breakfast at the main lodge, checking out the water hole as we went.  There were no new birds or animals to add to the story, but it was still nice to watch the hole from our breakfast table.  A speckled pigeon did perch for a time on the roof of the dining area (click on any photo to enlarge).  We packed up and very reluctantly left Simba Lodge uncertain as to whether we would stay anywhere else on our trip that would be as nice.

Our main focus for the day was to visit Shaba Reserve--the 3rd part of Samburu NP.  The drive was not all that far from the lodge.  Shaba proved to have different habitat from either Buffalo Springs or Samburu Reserve.

We picked up an "askari" with a rifle to be ready to scare off any potential lions whenever we got out of the landcruiser to search for birds.  Right after entering the reserve we found a new trip bird--brown-tailed chat feeding in a volcanic section of rocks. 

Our number one target bird was the endemic William's lark which meant we did not daudle in order to get out quickly to the grassy area where the bird breeds.  Our only stop was when we found a Heuglin's bustard much to Brian's surprise since they normally are not found so far south in Kenya.  When we said that was nice, but we still really wanted to see a Kori bustard, he laughed and said "that would be like saying you would rather see a Virginia rail instead of a yellow rail".  As soon as we got to the large grassy habitat we found the William's lark (photo taken by Bob), and successfully chased it around the savannah, flushing several.

With the William's now on our checklist, and no lions to distract us, we much more slowly drove back towards the entrance.  Our eyes were peeled for a Kori when Bob excitedly said stop the truck.  Sure enough after so many days of looking for it we had crossed paths with one.  Like the secretary bird, it slowly walked thru the grass looking for food seemingly unperturbed by our gawking (photo taken by Bob).

In so many parts of our trip we would see large termite mounds which often would be built around a living tree.  Near this mound we also found another new trip bird--the magpie starling (photo just above).  And a bit further along we picked up bristle-crowned starlings as well golden-breasted starling (photo just below taken by Bob).

 We stopped at one point to wander thru the bush with our askari following close by.  We saw several small birds like gray and green-tailed apalis.  We found another Somali crombec which Brian had not seen at Shaba before.  Bob got a nice photo of 3 black-faced sandgrouse. Down by the river we spied at some distance a goliath heron (photo taken by Bob) not far from a tribesman with some of his animals.

By mid day it was time to begin our trek to Naro Moru where we would be spending the night.  On the way we stopped at a forest area to see what might be around.  It proved very productive as we turned up brown-backed woodpecker, slender-billed greenbul, and thick-billed seedeater--all new for the trip.  We also had good looks at gray-headed negrofinch, eastern bronze-naped pigeon, yellow-rumped tinkerbird, yellow-whiskered and yellow-bellied greenbul, red-faced cisticola, and a male purple-throated cuckoo-shrike.

We arrived at Naro Moru just before dark.  As we walked along the river to reach our rooms 2 black ducks swam into view.  We dropped our gear, and walked slowly along the river looking for African finfoots that skulk along the edge of streams.  This was Stu's number one target bird by this point in our trip.  As the dark closed in around us, and rain began to fall, we gave up looking and hurried back to our rooms.

After 20 minute of fairly hard rain, it let up before we walked up to the lodge for dinner.  We once again had not much to write home about other than there was a pasta station that was new and not bad.  After doing the bird checklist update we discovered that after just 20 days we had seen and/or heard just over 600 bird species!  We went to bed amazed that we were averaging 30 new birds seen per day.  One note for my readers, because I do not want to slow down the pace of presenting this trip too much, it might be worth checking back 2 or even 3 posts to see if I have added more photos that Bob was able to get to me.  For example, I added 5 new pictures today to Day 18.  Stay tuned!

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