East Africa – Day 39

Kenya 26 August 2015

I have not been able to upload photographs to my blog because there has not been any wifi or decent band width but will add my photographs to my blog post as soon as I can.

Today is the eighth day of our birding trip to Kenya which we have organised through a local ground agent and bird guide Moses Kandie of Birdwatching Express Tours. He provided lots of references, who all said that Moses was a brilliant guide and well organised having now birded with him, he is a great birder, very focussed on what we want, which is seeing our target birds, and a great guy too. Our driver Max was also very knowledgeable and had good fun.

Last night we stayed at Castle Forest Lodge, which is a forest raised at 2,300 metres. It is on the south side of Mount Kenya. We were staying there again tonight, which was a change from moving on daily.

This was our eighth day of birding in Kenya.

We were up at 6.00 am this morning, a late start for us. We spent the first part of the morning looking in the forest around the compound for Green Ibis. We heard two in flight but despite running through the forest, we had no luck seeing them. We walked down some steep steps to a waterfall but didn’t see them here. Green Ibis are forest birds and are localised to here, which was why we were targeting them. The lodge had quite a few dogs, presumably to warn them about animals or attackers. They were very friendly, following us around all morning, particularly following Moses, which somehow amused me.

We then headed out in the Toyota Land Cruiser, birding along the forest edge from the track, for the morning. We went back to the lodge for lunch and then afterwards, we went back down to the paddy field site, Mwea Irrigation Scheme where we had stopped yesterday to look for African Painted Snipe, a family I had looked for in four continents but never seen before. We drove around looking in the paddy fields, whilst Moses checked out another area. After about 45 minutes, Dad spotted two African Painted in a muddy field. There was no way they were visible when they flew into a paddy field with tall rice or even just into the grass at the edge. Max radioed Moses, who turned up on the back of a motorbike / minutes later. We got amazing views but whilst Dad and I were trying to get closer photographs, Mum suddenly had a massive nose bleed, maybe from the scorching sun.

We could see Max and Moses were helping her and so knew it was fine to carry on birding. When we came back, her nose was still bleeding heavily, but eventually, she was fine and we could get back to the lodge, to look for Green Ibis though without any luck.

Back at the lodge, it was lovely to have fires in the dining room and our room. After dinner, we had to be escorted by a guard to our rooms, as they regularly get elephants into the compound at night and spooked can attack. Moses said that he once had clients who walked to their room alone but halfway across found themselves surrounded by elephants. They had to go back and get the guard to chase the elephants away.

We also talked about how dangerous these places can be and he told us about a guard who after a few drinks had left to walk home in a local village one evening but never reached there. They looked everywhere for him but never had a trace. There was a photograph of him in the bar area.

Trip List – We also had an amazing Trip list – 585 birds for Uganda, 183 birds for Rwanda, a total trip list of 612 for Uganda and Rwanda, 345 trip list for Kenya, 716 total trip list and 365 lifers for me.

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