Saturday, September 29, 2012

Day 21--Naro Moru to Nakuru

We awoke to bright sunshine, so we did some birding around the lodge before heading in to eat breakfast.  As we wandered around we discovered the entrance to the squash court.  Brian had forgotten to tell us to bring racquets, so we had to pass on playing some squash. 

Not far from the court we did find a brown parisoma--a very boring little brown bird.  There were lots of other birds around, including a green pigeon (photo taken by Bob), but the parisoma was the only new species for the trip, so we went in for our morning meal which once again was nothing to write home about.

After eating we spent a bit more time walking the grounds.  With the sun higher in the sky, the sunbirds began to feed on the flowering trees.  We picked up green-headed sunbird for the trip (photo just above taken by Bob), and saw a few lovely scarlet-chested sunbirds (click on any photo to enlarge).

At one point a tree hyrax appeared on the ground and seemed unconcerned with our presence.

Like our early morning at Village Shasha Camp, there were birds everywhere.  We made the walk along the river one more time looking for the African finfoot, but to no avail.

Just before leaving at 8:30 AM we saw a couple of tacazze sunbirds, and Brian said we had seen already 59 species for the day. We spent the next couple of hours slowly driving along a dirt road that ran for 19 kilometers through a very open grasslands.  Brian told us that one February he had found as many as 9 different raptor species hunting the area.  Many of them were palearctic species, so we had no chance at that high number.  We did see a new trip bird--a greater kestrel (photo taken by Bob).  We also were looking for black-bellied bustard.  Instead we found a total of 7 white-bellied bustards. 

Our next stop for the day was to look for a cape eagle-owl.  We met Paul, a local birder, who lives near the nest site of this large owl.  As we arrived it began to rain.  Paul could not find the owl in his scope, so we spent about 10 minutes walking down the hill, thru some cultivated fields to a swollen stream.  Paul took about 10 minutes to somehow cross the stream, and climb the hillside to get above the owl roost.  His efforts caused the owl to flush.  He then relocated it on our side of the stream.  As we approached the tree it was hiding in, it flushed again.  Neither brief sighting gave us a chance to get a photo.

The rain let up as we walked back up the hill.  As we came near to another large tree back up towards the road, the owl flushed one more time, giving us a view of its back for the first time, but again not a photo.  We did see a flock of crimson-rumped (new trip bird) and common waxbills.  Just up the road we looked for red-throated wryneck (a type of woodpecker), and rock buntings.  Instead we found a pair of Hartlaub's turacos, a giant kingfisher, and a yellow bishop in breeding plumage.

Next stop on our way to Nakuru was a forest area that produced several slender-billed starlings and a cuckoo hawk both of which were new trip birds.  We also found another tacazze sunbird. We stopped briefly at a small lake at 9,000 ft. elevation which has the highest known population of hippos.  We picked up hottentot teals there.

Our lodging for the night was high on a hill giving us fine views of Lake Nakuru as the sun set.  That was all the place had to recommend it.  Our meal was so bad that I got up and walked out.  I went to bed looking forward to visiting Nakuru NP.  I also knew that we had only 10 more days of birding plus 1 day of gorilla trekking left in this most amazing trip.  Stay tuned!

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