Article on Swarovski Optik Blog

Article on Swarovski Optik Blog

As many of you will know from reading my blog, I have a pair of Swarovski Optik CL Companion 10 x 32 binoculars. They are perfect for me because they are so light, but still, give me the performance I need especially for world birding.

This summer, I used a harness strap whilst in East Africa, which worked really well distributing the weight and stopping me from getting binocular neck.

This is an article that was published on the Swarovski Optik blog, about my birding trip to East Africa and seeing my 4000th bird in the world.

http://aa.swarovskioptik.com/nature/blog/The_4000th_bird_of_Birdgirl_Mya_Rose Please can you post a comment if you like the article.

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, with binocular harness, Mabamba Wetlands, Uganda
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, with Swarovski Optik binoculars, Uganda
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

East Africa – The postscript

East Africa – The postscript

Homeward bound

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 was our travel day home. We caught an overnight flight from Nairobi to Brussels and then a connecting flight from Brussels to Bristol. We live really close to the airport and it was a short taxi ride home.

It was good at least to the afternoon in Bristol, getting a few things for school tomorrow. I start year 9, so will need to step up the work I do for school.

I just wanted to reflect on my summer. It was interesting to visit each of the three countries, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. They were all different, in how people looked, behaved and thought. Kenya had the most developed tourism industry and services. Things like wifi were widely available, whilst rarely available in Uganda and Rwanda.

The tour companies we used were Avian Watch Uganda (speak to Alfred) and Moses Kandie of Birdwatching Express Tours. The guides were excellent, with good vehicles (with seat belts), good accommodation and everything organised well and went smoothly. We made some lifelong friends who I know I will keep in touch with.

The big difference between conservation in South America and Africa and Asia is that there are a lot of privately owned reserves in South America whilst most are government owned in Africa and Asia. This means that there is scope for corruption or at least revenue not reaching the local people. With revenue from Eco tourism, local people have no stake in the habitat or its animals or birds.

This meant habitat gets chopped down, like the wetland swamp that we visited which was almost gone in the two years since Robert had last been.

It also means that hunting can have a big impact. Uganda has only one endemic bird, Foxes Weaver. We didn’t see them and it was unclear when they were last seen. What was clear was that weavers and their nests were being collected for food. Nature Uganda was doing some work there, but there was no one based there and it was unclear what had been achieved. This is something that I will be trying to find out about and highlight. I will also get involved with African Bird Club, as I’d like to work with them.

It turned out, when I got home, that tomorrow is actually a training day at school, so that’s good news. The other bit of good news is that my friends are having a picnic party
In the afternoon, so I can catch up with my friends before school. I doubt any of them will be too interested in my trip though 😉

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

East Africa – Day 43

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.

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

East Africa – Week 6

East Africa – Week 6

Uganda 23 August 2015 to 29 August 2015

I have not been able to upload photographs to my blog without wifi or decent band width but will add my photographs to my blog post as soon as I can.

Today is the eleventh 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 focused on what we want, which is seeing our target birds, and a great guy too.

The highlight of our sixth week, which was in Kenya was visiting Samburu National Park and getting close up views of all the animals, including unbeatable views of Leopard, Lion, Elephant and different species of Giraffe and Zebra. It was also fantastic to see some Somali specialist birds like Somali Bunting, Bee-eater, Ostrich and Crombec.

Day 36 – Lake Baringo, Lake Bogoria and Thomsons Falls

Day 37 – Nyahururu Lake and Mukuruweini

Day 38 – Aberdares National Park

Day 39 – Castle Forest and Mwea irrigation Scheme

Day 40 – Samburu National Park

Day 41 – Samburu National Park

Day 42 – Samburu National Park

Trip List – 585 birds for Uganda, 183 birds for Rwanda, total trip list of 612 for Uganda and Rwanda, 391 trips for Kenya, 753 total trip list and 399 lifers for me, taking me over 4,100.

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

East Africa – Day 42

East Africa – Day 42

Kenya 29 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 eleventh 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 focused on what we want, which is seeing our target birds, and a great guy too. I would highly recommend him. Our driver Max was also great and we had loads of space in our extended Toyota Land Cruiser. He drove quite fast, but that speeded up our journey time and I didn’t mind the ‘African massage’ as it didn’t stop me from sleeping or reading, though blogging was challenging!

The story of everyone we met in East Africa was the same. Tourism had been devastated everywhere for the last eightieth months, with almost no one coming. This was since the Nairobi Westgate shopping centre massacre at the beginning of last year and Ebola, even though this was 1000 miles away. When I told people at school that I was coming to East Africa, virtually everyone said ‘don’t get ebola’. I couldn’t be bothered to give them a geography lesson. When you are sitting at home, it’s easy to not appreciate your decision not to travel with people abroad. East Africa is safe to travel to, so long as you avoid the border with Somalia. I hope some people reading my blog decide to go there for birding or wildlife.

This morning we were up at 5.30 am, for a 6.00 am breakfast and then out into Samburu National Park birding on our way out of the park. Here we are in North Central Kenya, but also getting a little close to the border with Somalia than is comfortable. Certainly, we wouldn’t want to get any closer.

There were a couple of Genet cats that came in close to the dining area, which came in for food. They were like a long-necked Civet and were stunning. It must have been up all night and was still there at our early breakfast time.
We were north of Mount Kenya, where you get specialist birds, many with Somali in the name.

In terms of a game reserve, although Samburu NP is relatively small, it was fantastic for animals and to see them close up. I would highly recommend it. Also, I liked the lodge, especially as our room was next door to the dining room and reception, so easy to get in and out. With the river being bone dry, there was a high risk that animals such as Elephants and Lions would try and cross the river bed during the night and maybe get into the compound. It definitely felt safer to not have to walk far.

We saw lots of elephants right next to the track, including quite a few cute babies with the herd. We also saw some Mongoose, antelope and Monkeys.

We didn’t see any new birds during the morning but got some good views of Somali Bee-eater, White-headed Mousebird, Red-neck Falcon, Taita Fiscal and Black-faced Sandgrouse. Samburu was an excellent birding destination and one of my favourite places for birding in Kenya. We also got much closer to the animals than anywhere else we’d been.

We then drove the long journey to Nairobi, where we were staying the night. We didn’t stop en route because the journey was so long and Nairobi traffic can be really heavy.

It can be frustrating having pretty much a whole travel day, but there’s no point in having that kind of attitude. You have to take the travel time into account when going somewhere as good for birds as Samburu. It was about 6 pm by the time we got to our hotel, so time so Mum and Dad could re-arrange stuff in the bags before we had dinner in the hotel.

It’s strange when you get to the end of a long trip. I always want the trip to carry on but at the same time I look forward to getting home, to my room and my own bed even if it’s just for a couple of weeks like in 2012, when we went to South America,

Trip List – 585 birds for Uganda, 183 birds for Rwanda, total trip list of 612 for Uganda and Rwanda, 391 trips for Kenya, 753 total trip list and 399 lifers for me.

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

East Africa – Day 41

East Africa – Day 41

Kenya 28 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 tenth 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 focused on what we want, which is seeing our target birds, and a great guy too. I would highly recommend him. Our driver Max was also great and we had loads of space in our extended Toyota Land Cruiser. He drove quite fast, but that speeded up our journey time and I didn’t mind the ‘African massage’ as it didn’t stop me from sleeping or reading, though blogging was challenging!

This morning we were up at 5.30 am this morning, for breakfast at 6.00 am and then out into Samburu National Park.

We were on the north of Mount Kenya, where you get specialist birds many with Somali in the name.

As soon as we came out of Samburu Game Lodge, there was a large Bull Elephant by the road and I was able to get some photos. During our morning safari drive, we had stunning views of a young leopard, close up views of an adult male lion, a lioness and three young males and quite a few elephants. There were animals everywhere here. We also saw more water, so felt better for the animals that have to survive here.

We had some brilliant and special birds during the morning game drive the best of which were Vulturine Guinea-fowl (we saw loads but this was the only time were saw them), Golden-breasted Starling, Somali Bunting, Yellow-vented Eremomola, Blue-naped Cordon-bleu, African Silverbill, Black-bellied Sunbird, White-headed Mousebird, Donaldson’s Bulbul and Fischer’s Starling.

We came back to the lodge for lunch followed by a 3.30 pm safari drive going until 6.30 pm when we had to be back for the curfew. We saw Red and Yellow Barbet, Ashy Cisticola, Somali Long-billed Crombec, Mouse-coloured Penduline-tit and Taita Fiscal. We also saw the same lions walking in the dry riverbed, which was brilliant as all the lions we had seen so far were lying down.

It was an amazing day’s birding with lots of animals thrown in.

Trip List – 585 birds for Uganda, 183 birds for Rwanda, total trip list of 612 for Uganda and Rwanda, 391 trips for Kenya, 753 total trip list and 399 lifers for me, taking me over 4,100.

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

East Africa – Day 40

East Africa – Day 40

Kenya 27 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 ninth 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 organized 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.

Today was our ninth birding day in Kenya.

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 up at 6.00 am this morning, a late start for us. We had a brief look in the forest for Green Ibis again with no luck before breakfast.

After another quick look for green Ibis, we headed out of the forest, having to wait for the Forest Guard to get up and dressed before coming and opening the gate to let us out.

We were on our way to the northern side of Mount Kenya, to Samburu National Park, where you get specialist birds many with Somali in the name.

On the way, we stopped at a desert location which was quite high up and very windy. We saw a swirling dust whirlwind here. We were searching for Jackson’s Widowbird which we didn’t see but we did see a Black-winged Plover.

We crossed the Equator today for about the 5th time on this Kenya trip, but this time stopped for photos. I also got to have a scientific fact that I knew in theory, demonstrated to me in practice. Water, when north of the equator, spins clockwise and when south of the equator spins anti-clockwise. On the equator itself, water doesn’t spin at all. This is because of the earth’s magnetic forces and was amazing to see.

We arrived at Samburu Lodge in time for a late lunch, first seeing different species of Giraffe and Zebra, antelope including Giraffe Gazelle and lots of Elephants. We also saw a Somali Ostrich (which was flapping its wings to cool down) and Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill. There was a large river running through the park which had dried up. Moses said that he hadn’t known it to dry up before but this was the second time it had happened this year. As we drove in, there were lots of Elephants, antelope and other animals in the dried up river bed trying to get some moisture out of it. The elephants are able to dig down to get to the water.

I felt really guilty when we arrived at the lodge, firstly there was a large water feature by the entrance. There were no water saving rules in place, eg restricted length showers, no towel changes, and no swimming pool. Apparently, they had their own borehole for water.

After lunch, we went into an open seating area for hot drinks. Dad went off and when I looked up, there was a Vervet Monkey with its nose in someone’s tea dregs. I felt a bit sorry for it, so left it to its drink.

We met up to go birding around the Park and were pleased to see the fountain off. Talking to Moses, he said the Elephants were able to go as far as Mount Kenya for water.

Moses showed us a photograph of 3 Cheetah together on his last visit only two weeks ago, but there was still a little water in the river then, so it might be more difficult now.

We had the pop up top open in the Landcruiser, but because I was in my Tevas (outdoor activity sandals) on for once, I was a bit short to look out. I wasn’t holding on tight enough, so when we went over rocks at speed, my mouth smashed onto the metal side of the vehicle. I thought I’d knocked my front teeth out, but luckily they were fine. I came away with a big cut on my lip, which wasn’t too bad.

We also crossed a small river, so I felt better for the animals and less guilty about their water usage.

We then found a lioness under a tree in the shade, with the carcass of a zebra, with about ten vultures sitting in surrounding trees. Then close by there were three of the cutest cubs. One was tiny and could only be a few months old and the other two may be from last year’s brood. We couldn’t stay long though as we were rushing to get to the site for Somali Courser and back into the lodge by the park enforced curfew of 6.30 pm. That was a bit disappointing as I didn’t get a chance to get a decent photo of the cubs.

As we returned to the lodge, we crossed a bridge over the river bed. In it were three crazy and stupid white girls running along in it. This is where we saw about thirty elephants earlier, as well as lots of animals and not far from the lions. The sun was setting and it would be pitch black in about 15 minutes, as we were so close to the equator. Moses was extremely concerned for their safety and said that he was even more worried that they might be attacked. We almost immediately passed the forest guard’s house, but he had gone leaving the barrier up, even though it was only 6.20 pm and he was meant to be there to check everyone was back before 6.30 pm. We left Moses discussing things with the guards from the lodge. We didn’t hear anything more about them except they were probably from an overland truck. So hopefully they were OK and they were told why they shouldn’t do it again.

The best birds of the afternoon were Donaldson-Smith Sparrow-weaver, Black-capped Social-weaver, Somali Bee-eater, Banded Parasomer, Buff-crested Bustard, Pink-breasted and Foxy Lark, Litchensutein’s and Black-faced Sandgrouse, Rosy-patch Bush-shrike, Orange-bellied Parrot, Somali Courser and Mottled Swift,

Trip List – 585 birds for Uganda, 183 birds for Rwanda, total trip list of 612 for Uganda and Rwanda, 371 trips for Kenya, 733 total trip list and 381 lifers for me.

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.