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WESTERN KENYA & THE MASAI MARA

Sunday 20th October - Saturday 2nd November 2013

Nik Borrow

This gorgeous Northern White-faced Owl was one of many stunners seen on the tour (Nik Borrow)

This gorgeous Northern White-faced Owl was one of many stunners seen on the tour (Nik Borrow)

It is mind-boggling to sit down after a tour that has recorded hundreds of species of birds and numerous 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! Once again, Kenya has more than lived up to its reputation for not only producing an enormous bird list but also providing a marvellous mammal-watching experience. There were numerous avian highlights during our grand tour of the westernmost part of the country that took in landscapes of 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. We targeted some elusive specialties and for rarity value none came any more threatened than the endangered Sharpe’s Longclaw and our views were close up and personal. We also found some ‘pure’ Grey-crested Helmet-shrikes amongst the hybrids at Nakuru, spotted Jackson’s Hornbills easily at Baringo, watched the diminutive Turner’s Eremomela in the treetops of Kakamega and got to grips with the robust Rufous-tailed Weaver on the Mara, a species that was previously only known from Tanzania. We ended the tour with the endangered endemic Aberdare Cisticola and the near-endemic Jackson’s Francolin in the beautiful Aberdare Mountains. For sheer spectacle we marveled at top-knotted Great Blue Turacos, bizarrely quilled Secretary Birds and the enormous Kori Bustard. For beauty we admired the colours of glittering Golden-winged and Eastern Double-collared Sunbirds and an assortment of kingfishers, bee-eaters and rollers. We also enjoyed the displays of tail wiggling Usambiro Barbets and the flapping antics of Long-tailed Widowbirds whilst the sight of a family of White-spotted Flufftails wandering around in the open totally amazed us all. Amongst the other highlights and species rarely recorded on BirdQuest tours we managed to record the following: Mountain Buzzard, Red-winged Francolin, Heuglin’s Courser, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Northern White-faced Owl, Red-chested Owlet, Blue-headed Bee-eater, Hemprich’s Hornbill (heard only), Red-and-yellow and D’Arnaud’s Barbets, Wahlberg’s Honeybird, Eastern Grey (African Grey-headed) Woodpecker, Pink-breasted, Foxy, Athi Short-toed and Short-tailed Larks, Fischer’s Sparrow Lark, Kakamega, Olive-breasted, Toro Olive, Placid and Joyful Greenbuls, Grey-chested (heard only), Mountain and Scaly-breasted Illadopsises, Equatorial Akalat, Grey-winged Robin, Blue-shouldered Robin Chat, Schalow’s Wheatear, Brown-tailed Rock Chat, Moorland (Alpine) Chat, Gambaga Flycatcher, Silverbird, Uganda and Brown Woodland Warblers, Papyrus Yellow Warbler (heard only), Hunter’s, Chubb’s, Carruthers’s, Lynes’s and Boran Cisticolas, Pale and Black-faced (split from Banded) Prinias, Brown-tailed (split from Yellow-breasted), Chestnut-throated and Black-collared Apalises, White-browed Crombec, Banded Parisoma, Kikuyu (split from Montane) White-eye, Red-throated Tit, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Taita Fiscal, Three-streaked Tchagra (heard only), Black-fronted Bush-shrike, Papyrus Gonolek, Montane Oriole (heard only), Stuhlmann’s, Slender-billed, Bristle-crowned and Hildebrandt’s Starlings, Hunter’s, Northern Double-collared, Orange-tufted, Tacazze, Scarlet-tufted Malachite 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, Blue-capped Cordon-bleu, Black-cheeked Waxbill, Grey-headed Silverbill, Reichenow’s Seed-eater, African and Southern Citrils and White-bellied and Southern Grosbeak Canaries.

Some great Lion sightings this year too... (Nik Borrow)

Some great Lion sightings this year too... (Nik Borrow)