East Africa – Day 43

Kenya 30 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 thirteenth 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, I can honestly say that he is a great birder, very focused on what we want, which I seeing our target birds, and a great guy. He knows the calls and can whistle most things in and has recordings for the most birds.

Today was our last day in Kenya, with a night flight home tonight. It seemed apt that our Kenya section started and ended in the same Nairobi hotel.

This morning we were up at 4.30 am, for a 5.00 am breakfast and then a long drive south to Magadi. Here it was arid and barren and we were in Southern Kenya, only 30 km from the Tanzania border, or twenty minutes drive. Moses said the habitat was pretty similar to the Masai Mara except there are a lot more water pools there.

There were also traditionally dressed men herding their cows, especially ones in a pool drinking. One got stuck in the mud and had to be rescued by a herder. Moses said that the border was porous here, as the tribes have relatives on both sides.

Our reason for driving two hours was our main target, Chestnut-banded Plover, which we saw pretty quickly at the edge of the water. Its range is really restricted to an area crossing the border with Tanzania. Soon afterwards, we saw some Sandgrouse in flight, at first thinking they were the same as the ones we have seen. Then Moses said that they were Chestnut-breasted Sandgrouse which was new for us. We walked to a pool, to get good views and then birded in the heat along the roadside. From here we carried on back towards Nairobi, stopping for roadside birding all the way. It was really hot by now, especially in the midday heat.

Once in Nairobi, we visited the new Galleria shopping centre on the Southern side of the city. It was in an upmarket part of the city with lots of ex-pats. We went into KFC for chips, ice cream and fast wifi. It was a Sunday and the last day of the school holidays and so lots of families out enjoying the last gasp of summer. It felt really good to mingle with normal people in Nairobi, as staying in lodges doesn’t give you a feel for life here.

We then needed to go inside the centre to use the bathroom. We had some backpacks with us, as Max had told us to take anything valuable with us as they weren’t safe left in the vehicle, as because of the huge length of the vehicle, he thought he might have to park outside the centre. I’m the end, he stayed with the vehicle to keep everything safe. To go into the shopping centre we were scanned and our bags opened, checked and scanned. It seemed pretty high security, even compared to two armed Rangers in Uganda. Then I remembered about the Westgate Shopping Centre killing in the centre of Nairobi two years ago. Moses said that the shopping centre had only just reopened in July 2015 because of the damage. I’m sure people here prefer to live with high security then be at risk to terrorists.

We then went the short distance to Nairobi National Park, which is probably the only game reserve in a city anywhere in the world. It’s about 300 square kilometres and is the smallest of Kenya’s reserves. There were lots of people just out for a drive and a few with loud music playing. There are three big cats here, which we didn’t see one of but we did see Giraffe, Zebra, Buffalo, Wildebeest, antelope, Jackal with a baby sitting in its hole and a snake on the road.

We saw a few new bird species here, which was great to sneak it.

Moses and Max dropped us at the airport, which was really close to one of the park gates. We said our goodbyes and were sent to the airport at 6.30 pm, with plenty of time for checking in, having dinner and catching our night flight.

At the gate, Mum and I noticed 2 Kenyan women with four young girls about 10 years old. There were no husbands or other children and we speculated whether the girls had been brought here over the summer for FGM. If we’d seen them on the way out, Mum might have reported them, just to be on the safe side but there was nothing we could do now.

We have had really great trips with some brilliant birds and animals. There are so many questions that I have about conservation projects out there. Poaching and big game hunting are obvious issues but the positive is that there are still huge areas of National Park here.

List – 585 birds for Uganda, 183 birds for Rwanda, a total trip list of 612 for Uganda and Rwanda, 753 total trip list and 399 lifers for me.

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