Welcome to Birdquest
Saturday 29th October - Friday 11th November 2011
It is mind-boggling to sit down after a tour that has recorded 543 species of birds and 45 species of mammals in 13 action-packed days (no wonder we were tired), take it all in and then sum it up in just a few words! Again, Kenya had more than lived up to its reputation for not only producing an enormous bird list but for also providing a marvellous mammal-watching experience. Although we were aiming for a big list, our greater priority was to target the countries endemics and its most special and localised birds and by the end of the trip, our successes were definitely greater than our losses.
There were of course numerous avian highlights during our grand tour of the westernmost part of the country that took in landscapes that included verdant forests, the marvellous spectacle that is Lake Nakuru with its throngs of waterbirds, dry thorn-bush around the rocky cliffs of Lake Baringo, the remnant papyrus swamps around the shores of Lake Victoria and of course the absolutely amazing Masai Mara. This tour was definitely about enjoying all the birds that we saw no matter whether they were rare or common and our favourite bird sightings reflected the amazing diversity that the country has to offer. For rarity value none came any more threatened than the endangered Sharpe’s Longclaw and our views were close up and personal and really could not have been bettered. For sheer spectacle we marvelled at top-knotted Great Blue Turacos, bizarrely quilled Secretary Birds and the enormous Kori Bustard. For beauty we admired the colours of tiny Malachite Kingfishers, glittering Golden-winged and Eastern Double-collared Sunbirds and a displaying Yellow-crowned Bishop puffed up like a giant bumblebee. We also enjoyed the display flight of the Flappet Lark whirring above our heads and the flapping, tail waving antics of Long-tailed Widowbirds.
During this tour we encountered numerous specialties such as the endemic Aberdare Cisticola, the near-endemic Jackson’s Francolin, Jackson’s Hornbill, Usambiro Barbet and Turner’s Eremomela and tracked down rarities such as Grey-crested Helmet-shrike and Papyrus Canary and of the other species rarely recorded on Birdquest tours we managed to record the following: Mountain Buzzard, Black-billed (heard only) and Hartlaub’s Turacos, Montane and Dusky Nightjars, Blue-headed Bee-eater, Hemprich’s Hornbill (heard only), Red-and-yellow and D’Arnaud’s Barbets, Speckle-breasted and African Grey-headed Woodpeckers, White-tailed and Foxy Larks, Fischer’s Sparrow Lark, Kakamega, Olive-breasted Mountain, Placid (heard only) and Joyful Greenbuls, Mountain and Scaly-breasted Illadopsises, Equatorial Akalat, Blue-shouldered Robin Chat, Schalow’s Wheatear, Brown-tailed Rock Chat, Alpine Chat, Little Rock Thrush, Gambaga Flycatcher, Silverbird, Uganda Woodland Warbler, White-winged Warbler, Hunter’s, Chubb’s, Carruthers’s and Lynes’s Cisticolas, Black-faced (split from Banded) Prinia, Brown-tailed (split from Yellow-breasted) Apalis, Chestnut-throated Apalis, Banded Parisoma, Montane White-eye, Red-throated Tit, Jameson’s Wattle-eye (heard only), Three-streaked Tchagra (heard only), Papyrus Gonolek, Montane Oriole, Stuhlmann’s, Slender-billed, Bristle-crowned, Hildebrandt’s and Sharpe’s Starlings, Hunter’s, Shining, Northern Double-collared, Eastern Double-collared and Red-chested Sunbirds, Parrot-billed, Swahili and Kenya Rufous Sparrows, Northern Brown-throated, Jackson’s Golden-backed and Northern Masked Weavers, Red-headed Bluebill, Grey-headed Silverbill, Reichenow’s Seed-eater, African and Southern Citrils and White-bellied and Southern Grosbeak Canaries.