Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 24--Kakamega

We were out birding again by 6 AM and very glad to see that the rain had stopped.  On the way to breakfast a bat hawk flew over much to our surprise.  Against a gray sky we found a pair of black and white casqued hornbills.  We could also see the great blue turacos high up in a tree, but the light was terrible for photos.  Our breakfast was one of the better ones--scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon and finger bananas--Bob's favorite.

We found an African blue flycatcher on the lodge grounds after eating (photo taken by Bob--click on any photo to enlarge) before getting into the landcruiser to go back down the road a bit to get into some really serious birding.

We stopped near a small stream and were immediately surrounded by all kinds of new trip birds plus an African giant squirrel made an appearance.

One of the many skulkers we turned up to begin the day was the banded prinia.  We also found several sunbird species including green, collared, green-headed, western olive, bronze, northern double-collared, and copper (photo just below; both taken by Bob).

After about an hour of working just the one spot, we had seen 20+ new trip birds including Luehder's bushshrike; thick-billed honeyguide; Petit's cuckoo-shrike; olive-green camaroptera; buff-throated apalis; and Turner's eremomela (just below, photo taken by Bob).

There was a side road that we then decided to walk, and immediately flushed a red-headed bluebill (photo taken by Bob).  As we worked our way up the road we found some pools of water that had mating frogs.  The color difference only occurs as an indicator to the male that the female is ready for mating.

A new fiscal for the trip was the Mackinnon's (photo taken by Bob).

We continued to see and/or hear new trip birds like the white-chinned prinia (photo taken by Bob); Chubb's cisticola; African shrike-flycatcher; brown-throated and chestnut wattle-eyes; green hylia; western black-headed oriole; pink-footed puffback; gray-green bushshrike; Sharpe's square-tailed drongo; Uganda wood warbler; yellow-billed, yellow-spotted and hairy-breasted barbets; buff-spotted and brown-eared woodpeckers; and Kakamega, gray, Ansorge's, plain, joyful, Cabanis, and toro olive greenbuls.

We then began to walk back up the main road towards the lodge.  The forest vegetation was quite thick, but the rich colors of a blue-headed bee-eater caught Stu's eye as it sat perched deep into the foliage (photo taken by Bob).  This was one of the rarest birds for us to find on our trip, and it made for high fives all around.

By the time we stopped to eat our box lunch about 1 PM we had added more than 50 new trip birds.  We drove back up to the lodge to walk a forest trail that we knew would have another very difficult to see bird--the white-spotted flufftail which is a member of the yellow rail family of north America.  We began to play a recording of the flufftail calling near a small wooden bridge.  We could hear it responding and expected it to walk out onto the bridge, but instead it darted under the bridge.  After another 10 minutes we located it in the vegetation (photo taken by Bob).

To celebrate finding the flufftail, we went back up to the lodge and had afternoon tea.  Brian could hear an emerald cuckoo calling while we had tea, and soon after we located it in a very tall tree (photo taken by Bob).  We also saw green and green-throated sunbirds.

There was still some daylight left, so we walked back down the forest trail again.  We flushed an equatorial akalat that Bob managed to get a photo of before it disappeared.  We only heard scaly-breasted, pale-breasted, brown and mountain illadopsis, and red-tailed bristlebill. We saw gray-winged and white-browed robin-chats, dusky crested flycatcher, and a fully plumaged male African flycatcher (photo just below taken by Bob).

As we were walking back and forth for probably 20 minutes trying to call in a Jameson's wattle-eye without success, a crowned hawk-eagle flew into a tree having just caught a monkey in its talons.

As the dusk began to make viewing birds pretty impossible, we made our way back to the lodge.  After taking showers, we went to dinner which was once again quite respectable with a local fish as the main course.  We also chatted with a young man and his aunt that were doing our intinerary in Kenya and Tanzania in reverse.  He was a professional bird guide based in S. Africa who was going to be leading trips for Rockjumper.  I don't think Brian was too thrilled knowing he was going to have more competition for birding clients.

We went to bed absolutely amazed that we had seen 64 new trip birds for the day, which pushed our total bird species seen past 710.  During my big year in 2010 I spent 260 days birding, and saw 704 species.  Incredibly, in just 24 days of birding I had passed that total.  Stay tuned!

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