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Costal Kenya On A Package Holiday (1 Viewer)

Steve G

RAINBIRDER
Whilst undoubtedly this is yet another report written by a Dude about his summer holiday I implore all birders –serious and casual alike to read on as the place of which I write has some real hidden gems and might just offer the answer to that perennial problem of where can one go on holiday for good birds yet keep the spouse/family/girlfriend/boyfriend happy. ;)

PART 1
I was planning to write a trip report based upon our recent (July 2010) family holiday to Kenya. However this was not our first visit to that country as in 2007 we spent a two-week summer vacation in Kenya which was enjoyable and, from a birding perspective very successful. It therefore seems sensible to write first of our experience in 2007 as it may be of some interest to others contemplating a package holiday deal to coastal Kenya or for those more serious birders in pursuit of some of the Kenyan coastal specialties.
We travelled to Kenya in late July/early-August 2007 by a package holiday deal, initially choosing this venue as it was something different from the typical Mediterranean family holidays that we had been on previously. I had read on the internet that birding was good around the Watamu area and discovered that one of the hotels at Watamu made mention of local bird-watching trips on their website. That same hotel also had an excellent kids club as well as an on-site dive centre (my son is into diving) so we decided to take the plunge and booked a two-week all-inclusive package deal at the Turtle Bay Beach Club through First Choice holidays. The package included two double rooms, return flights from Gatwick to Mombasa, transfers and all food and drink. Unfortunately I have no record of exact costs but the whole package was surprisingly inexpensive (there were four of us: my wife, myself, my 10 year-old daughter and 14 year-old son)!
Having made the booking we were repeatedly asked by friends & relatives why we weren’t going on safari. To be honest we had never given any serious thought to a safari having assumed that it would be too expensive; but as a result of having to field the same query again and again I looked into the possibility of spending some time in one of the Game Parks. Unfortunately our package deal with First Choice could not be changed and our only option was a limited road safari booked directly through our hotel, or to arrange a short safari through a third party. Having finally decided we would like to do a short safari I came across a company called Mombasa Air Safari ( http://www.mombasaairsafari.com/ ) and following some feverish Email activity they came up with a very tempting package comprising of 4 days/3 nights in the Masai-Mara. It wasn’t however a cheap package as July/August is peak season in the Mara due to the Wildebeest migration.
After great deliberation (and spurred on by a welcome but unexpected tax rebate) we decided to book the safari package which included road transfer from our hotel to Malindi airport, return flights to the Mara from Malindi, full board for three nights in two luxury tents in the Mara Intrepids camp and three game drives per day. This cost us around $4,500 ( =£2,200; in 2007 the pound: dollar exchange rate was very favourable) and in addition I was able to negotiate sole use of a safari vehicle/driver for our stay. We were in fact very fortunate as normally the Mara Intrepids camp is fully booked many months in advance of the Wildebeeste migration but as the camp’s airstrip was being re-surfaced they had taken fewer advanced bookings and a few tents were still available. This proved a godsend as we had to fly into & out of Musiara airstrip (-where the Marsh pride hang out for those that follow Big Cat Diaries), then drive to the Intrepids camp through part of the Mara so that our safari package effectively included an extra safari trip at the start and end of our stay (we saw lions and cheetah even before we checked-in to the lodge!).

In advance of our trip I purchased Kenyan visas through a company based in London. With hindsight this was a big mistake as it cost us over twice as much as it would had we bought our visas on entry to Kenya. We had assumed that obtaining visas in advance would save us time at the airport but in fact we were part of a group transfer to the hotel and so had to wait for the rest of the group to purchase their visas on arrival!
We arranged our Mara safari to begin on our fourth day in Kenya and spent the first few days chilling out in the Turtle Bay Beach Club (TBBC). The TBBC whilst not of the very highest quality was certainly very comfortable with a nice beach, good food, excellent staff and lots to keep the kids occupied. Over the first few days I birded the beach, the gardens and the land opposite the TBBC (using a small birding map produced by the hotel) seeing Osprey, Black Kite, Roseate Tern, Red-eyed Dove, African Palm Swift, Blue-naped Mousebird, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, African Pied Wagtail, Zanzibar Sombre Greenbul, Common Bulbul, White-browed Robin-chat, Common Drongo, Violet-backed Starling, Collared Sunbird, Grey-headed Sparrow, Golden Palm Weaver, Bronze Mannikin and Yellow-fronted Canary.
On our third day we left the hotel at 07:45 am & drove (45 mins) to Malindi airport where we boarded a small turbo-prop aircraft for the 90 minute flight to the Mara. We flew past the snow-capped peak of Kilimanjaro crossing the Rift valley to reach the grassy plains of the Mara and the Musiara airstrip before being picked up by our safari jeep. Our drive to the Mara Intrepids camp was our first Safari experience and we were not disappointed. By the time we arrived at the camp we had seen lions, cheetah, elephants, giraffe, buffalo, zebras, warthog, Impala, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle, topi and wildebeest.
The Mara Intrepids camp comprises of a reception area, bar, open-plan restaurant and a number of luxury safari tents. The tents are a revelation being set on hardwood floors and containing permanent fixtures and furniture more at home in a quality hotel. All the tents are en-suite with 240volt AC power sockets, modern hot showers/flush toilets and all have verandas with a view. The camp itself sits in extensive wooded grounds bordered by the Talek river and “protected” by a surrounding electrified fence. The complex also has a swimming pool and a shop as well as internet access.
Birding within the camp was very productive with numerous birds frequenting the riverside forest. I saw Schalow’s Turaco, Speckled and Blue-naped Mousebirds, Grey Hornbill, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Spot-flanked Barbet, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Lesser Striped Swallow, White-headed Saw-wing, White-browed Robin-chat, Northern Black Flycatcher, Chin-spot Batis, African Paradise Flycatcher, Arrow-marked Babbler, Marico Sunbird, Common Fiscal, Tropical Boubou, Slate-coloured Boubou, Black-backed Puffback, Grey-headed Bush-Shrike, Fork-tailed Drongo, Black-headed Oriole and various starlings (Violet-backed, Superb, Hildebrandt’s and Ruppell’s Long-tailed). As most of the time we were out on safari I didn’t get a chance to explore the full birding potential of the camp.
On our first full day we did pre-breakfast, post-breakfast and afternoon game drives. The following day we left after breakfast taking a picnic lunch and were out in the Mara for the entire day, whilst on day three we repeated the format of our first full day. On our fourth day we did an early post-breakfast safari before checking out and driving back to the airstrip. Having a vehicle/driver to ourselves meant that we could dictate where we went and at what pace. It also allowed me to stop for any interesting birds without hindrance!
All in all our safari experience was fantastic. We didn’t see leopard or Black Rhino but otherwise we saw the full selection of antelope and supporting cast. We had numerous lion sightings and watched two successful hunts (one from a “ringside seat” –which upset my 10 year old daughter). We saw a number of different cheetahs including two brothers, a lone male and three different family groups. We also witnessed the huge numbers of Wildebeest and Zebra that move in to the Mara after the long rains and whilst we didn’t get the chance to see a Mara river crossing (the Mara Triangle is the best placed area to see such crossings) we did experience the spectacle of the “Superherd”. Though primarily a trip to see large mammals we also saw a great selection of birds. Highlights included Saddle-billed and Marabou Storks, Secretary Bird, Bateleur, Tawny Eagle, Martial Eagle, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Ovambo Sparrowhawk, Hooded, White-headed, Lappet-faced and White-backed Vultures, Ruppell’s Griffon, White-bellied and Black-bellied Bustards, various grassland Lapwings and Spotted Thick-knee, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Black Coucal, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl (in the rain!), Southern Ground Hornbill and numerous small passerines.
All too soon our Mara Safari was over. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and we left with the resolve to return in the future!
 

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Steve G

RAINBIRDER
Some of the Mara wildlife:
 

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Steve G

RAINBIRDER
Some of the Mara birds:
 

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Steve G

RAINBIRDER
Some more of the wildlife:
 

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Steve G

RAINBIRDER
More of the birds:
 

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Steve G

RAINBIRDER
and again:
 

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Marmot

Well-known member
Stunning photos.

Great read. One of my work colleagues has just gone to Kenya to get married next weekend. They went 2 years ago and fell in love with the country they started planning the wedding details whilst they were there.
 

Vipers

Brunswick Birder
A nice read and superb photos Steve!! The Ovambo Sparrowhawk is a seriously good bird!!
 

delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
Scotland
A great start to your report Steve and some super pictures too.

D

PS think you may have had your mind on work though when you titled it;);):-O
 

Steve G

RAINBIRDER
PART 2

About six months prior to our holiday I decided I would try to hire a local guide to do some birding in the Watamu area. I had read about the local birding sites (http://www.arocha.org/ke-en/417-DSY...ttachmentData/data/birding-watamu-malindi.pdf )which included Mida Creek -famed for its Crab Plovers, the Sabaki river mouth (which potentially held a good selection of water-birds) and the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest known for its range-restricted and endemic/near-endemic rarities. Some of the local guides have formed a small company which specialises in guiding visiting birders around the Watamu area ( http://www.assets-kenya.org/spinetailsafaris.htm ) and so I tried to contact them. I sent a number of Emails but got no reply so I decided to send a text message to one of the guides whose mobile phone number was listed on the site. A few days later (at 4 am in the morning!) I received a phone call from David Ngala; unfortunately David struggled to understand my heavy Scots accent and I struggled to understand him (I’m not at my best at that time of the morning!). We finally managed to agree a meeting at our hotel on the afternoon of the Monday of our second week.

I met with David in the hotel foyer and we arranged two half-day trips and one full-day trip (my wife and kids would only allow me the equivalent of two full days of birding!). David’s prices were very cheap with the majority of the cost being for the hire of a vehicle and driver. I opted for an afternoon trip to Mida creek followed by a short evening visit to the Arabuko-Sokoke forest for the Scops Owls, an early morning trip to the A-S forest for the local specialities and a day trip to the Sabaki river mouth and the area north of Malindi. There were a number of other options available including Lake Chem Chem and Jilore as well as birding the back road to Tsavo East but unfortunately my family had me under a tight-rein!

Our first outing (to Mida Creek) began badly when we took a “back road” from our hotel to the main Mombasa-Malindi road along a dirt track (I think this was to avoid the Mombasa-Malindi Police road block because the vehicle was barely road-worthy and so would attract an unofficial Police levy!). Just before joining the main highway to the south of the Police road block we drove through a large puddle which drowned the engine bringing the vehicle to an abrupt stop! Despite some frantic activity under the bonnet the car would not restart. This trip had been timed to maximise on the tide at Mida Creek and as we wasted precious time trying to resuscitate our old banger my birding opportunities were slipping away! To salvage the situation David suggested that we walk to the main road and flag down a local Matatu mini-bus, this sounded a good idea to me (not knowing what I was letting myself in for) and so off we went (complete with bins, tripod, scope and a large camera bag). Within a few minutes we had flagged down a packed Matatu and I was encouraged to clamber in. Now these minibuses are not very big, have extra rows of seats crammed inside and this one was almost full; not the ideal situation for a 6ft 3 in 18 stone Scotsman with a pile of gear. Half the passengers got out and I was “shoe-horned” into a far-side window seat before everyone got back in and we began our journey. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tightly confined in my life –it almost felt an effort to breath! I was clearly the “in-flight entertainment” for my fellow passengers who wanted to know where I was from and what I was up to; whilst the kids in the mini-bus seemed fascinated by the sun-bleached ginger hairs on my forearms – I was being clapped like the family pet! After an eternity (okay, 15 minutes) it was time to get out. I handed over a banknote to pay for my fare and was wished a very good day by my fellow passengers (whose own fares I had apparently covered with my 500 Kenyan Shilling note). We walked along a track to a small hut where I paid a small entry fee before we walked down onto Mida creek –a large almost-enclosed mudflat surrounded by mangrove. Given that it was only very early August, this was not the best time of the year to experience all that Mida Creek has to offer as most Palearctic waders are still well to the north! Nevertheless a quick scan revealed Scared Ibis, Great White and Dimorphic Egrets, an African Fish Eagle and an assortment of waders in reasonable numbers. Closer inspection revealed Common Sandpipers, Curlew Sandpipers, Little Stint, both Greater and Lesser Sandplovers, Terek Sandpipers, Greenshank, Grey Plover, Whimbrel and of course the fabulous Crab Plover (about 50 in total, though numbers can rise to over 1,000 in December/January). There were some reasonable photo-opportunities though we had arrived a little late to see the area at its best. We spent an enjoyable couple of hours watching the antics of the various waders and other birds as the sun began to dip low in the sky. I feared that we would need to return to the hotel by Matatu thus forgoing our evening trip for the Sokoke Scops Owls but at that point our old beat-up hire-car chugged into sight saving the day (well the evening!).
We made off back towards Gede where we entered the Sokoke Forest stopping briefly to pay our entry fee before driving some distance into the forest. Our destination was a part of the forest well inland which is comprised mainly of Cynometra trees and larger Brachylaena which grow on red sand soils –this is the habitat of Africa’s smallest and rarest owl –the Sokoke Scops Owl. Eventually we parked up bumping into a birding group from Tropical Birding. We walked to the owl roost-site where a pair of these charming wee birds were roosting in a low dense thicket. Unfortunately the light was now poor and I had only brought my 500mm lens with me (I hadn’t for a minute imagined that we would be getting up close to any of the birds). The owls’ roost was enclosed by dense scrub and I was unable to step far enough back to get the birds into focus without a partially occluded view. One member of the birding group kindly offered me the use of his Canon-fit lens allowing me to take a few record shots but I was a bit disappointed with the results. By this point it was now dark and the birding group members were leaving. We hung around a little longer before getting back into our vehicle to head back to the hotel. After only 10 minutes of driving we were stopped by a small tree which had apparently fallen across the road (or so I thought!). David advised that the tree had been uprooted by an elephant and that it could have only happened in the preceding 5-10 minutes (as the birding group had passed this same way only a short time before). We got out of the vehicle and with great effort managed to push the tree aside when suddenly only about 75 metres away within the forest there was a loud crashing noise as an elephant moved off quickly in the opposite direction! We resumed our journey but David was clearly unhappy that I hadn’t got the images I had wanted. He told the driver to stop the vehicle and he went out onto the track and listened for a moment before returning to the car to ask the driver to follow him slowly. After a few minutes he beckoned me out of the vehicle and bid me listen to the noises in the forest. I could just about make out a repeated high-pitched hooh –hooh noise which he advised was the call of a Sokoke Scops Owl. He set off into the forest in the pitch dark and I tentatively followed. We walked for about 8 minutes losing sight of the vehicle (I had by this time completely lost all sense of direction and was more than a little worried) when suddenly David whispered that the owl was just ahead of us. I was sceptical to say the least as it was pitch-black and the owl sounded no closer to me than it had at the start. Nevertheless he moved me forward slightly then pulled out a small torch and shone it ahead of us. Directly in front was a very small clearing with an almost leafless small stunted tree in the centre and there at eye level was this fantastic wee owl which was doing its best to ignore us. I quickly mounted the camera & lens to the tripod and attached a flash but then had to step back a few paces to get the bird into focus (I only had an f4 500mm lens with me). David purposefully shone his torch onto the bird’s head slightly constricting its pupils so that the flash wouldn’t dazzle it and I managed to get a number of fairly decent images without upsetting the bird. A smaller, closer focussing lens would have been useful as I struggled to fit the bird into the frame however I couldn’t ask for better views. After a few minutes we left the bird sitting on its perch and returned to the vehicle. How David found this small bird in complete darkness still amazes me but as he explained he has been walking in this forest both day and night for years and knows it like the back of his hand!
 

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Steve G

RAINBIRDER
And some of the Watamu area birds:
 

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Steve G

RAINBIRDER
A few more Watamu birds:
 

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Kev23

Woodlarks DO exist...
I could cry looking at some of these photos... Oh well, on with life in the wilds of South London... Awesome stuff Steve!
 

Steve G

RAINBIRDER
PART 3
My second trip out with David was to be an early morning half-day visit to various birding sites within the Arabuko-Sokoke forest but what eventually unfolded was, without doubt the best day’s birding I have ever spent in my life! David picked me up at the hotel at 06:00 am in an old Datsun Sunny driven by a large jovial man called Felix. This vehicle was clearly a better proposition than the one used the preceding day! We drove off in the dark towards the entry gate to the A-S forest which is near the Gede ruins archaeological site. We didn’t actually have time to visit Gede however the area is apparently good for an assortment of birds including African Wood Owl, Barn Owl, Palm-nut Vulture, African Paradise Flycatcher and even Narina Trogon. The old dry well-shafts support bat colonies as well as breeding Barn Owl and David advised that they often see Bat Hawk in this area around dusk. Previously this site was good for Spotted Ground Thrush –an endangered intra-African migrant, but unfortunately these thrushes are now very scarce at Gede and require to be worked hard for in the A-S forest itself (they are present during the austral winter following which they return to southern Africa).
It was still dark when we arrived in the A-S forest and too early for the ticket office where park entry fees must be paid, so we made our way into an area of the forest holding large mature broad-leaved trees dominated by tall Afzelia. This part of the A-S forest is akin to rich Gallery forest and is almost rainforest-like in its structure; sadly many of the oldest Afzelia trees have been “poached” threatening the biodiversity of this unique place. Our first quarry was Spotted Ground Thrush, a bird that is now very endangered with a world population of probably less than 2,500 individuals! We left the vehicle and walked down a broad forest track arising from which were a number of very small peculiar side-tracks clearly too small to have been made by humans. As light levels started to improve we began to make out the shapes of thrush-sized birds feeding in deep leaf-litter off some of these small side-tracks. Initially it was difficult to make out any detail but eventually as more light percolated through we began to find Red-capped Robin-Chats as well as the occasional Red-tailed Ant Thrush and Eastern Bearded Scrub Robin. We also stumbled upon a rather surprised Suni (a small forest antelope). Eventually, we finally managed to see two separate Spotted Ground Thrushes though the bird proved to be shy and elusive preventing me from getting any useable images (the very low light levels were a nightmare and as I could never get clear views of the complete bird without intervening branches/foliage the flash proved un-useable –the light from the flash was reflected back from the intervening twigs and autofocus couldn’t lock on!). As well as the main target bird and the species mentioned above we also saw Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow-bellied, Fischer’s and Tiny Greenbul (though again trying to photograph these birds was a complete nightmare!). I did however see the owner of the side-tracks described above –the amazing and bizarre-looking Golden-rumped Sengi (see: http://www.pbase.com/rainbirder/the_sengi ). As the light levels continued to improve we saw East Coast Akalat and in the subcanopy Forest (Short-tailed) Batis, Fischer’s Turaco and an Eastern Nicator which, rather out of character, showed itself briefly.
David took me deeper into the forest in the search for one of the Arabuko-Sokoke specials –the Sokoke Pipit. This endangered small heavily streaked forest pipit is confined to a few remnants of coastal forest in Kenya and Tanzania with the largest population being in the A-S forest. Initially located by call, David quickly found two birds that were foraging on the moist forest floor where they were feeding on various invertebrates including spiders and small snails (which they seemed to be able to deftly extract from the shell). We obtained good (for this species!) prolonged views and I even managed to snatch a few images. African Pygmy Kingfisher was also added to our list before we returned to the vehicle for a short drive back to the A-S forest park headquarters to pay our entry fee. On route, near a tree-nursery, we caught a brief glimpse of a perched Southern Banded Snake Eagle which unfortunately flew off when the vehicle stopped. Overhead were a couple of tiny bat-like Bohm’s Spinetails whilst a tall fruiting tree held a small flock of Black-bellied Starlings and from a nearby large patch of scrubby undergrowth a Four-coloured Bush-shrike called repeatedly but only reluctantly showed itself for an all-too-brief moment.
We then moved on to an extensive area of Brachystegia forest growing over white sandy soil. On the way we came across Green Barbet, Trumpeter Hornbill, Crowned Hornbill and (Kenya) Crested Guineafowl. There were few mammals but we did see a large troupe of Yellow Baboons (different species to the Olive Baboons found further west) and recurring but always brief views of Four-toed Sengi (Elephant Shrews). The Brachystegia forest had a totally different character to that of the forest we had been in at first light. It was drier and more open with scrubby undergrowth and better light levels under the canopy. Birds were much more evident and easier to find here and we opened our account with another Crowned Hornbill before coming across a small family party of large braying Silvery-cheeked Hornbills. Leaving the vehicle we moved on along a forest track below some tall trees. The sub-canopy held more birds in the form of a pair of Mombasa Woodpeckers, a Common Scimitarbill and a Scaly-throated Honeyguide. Then David heard some Drongos! Fork-tailed Drongos are common and so I was none too impressed by his find but he quickly explained that Drongos are the “soldiers” who form the nucleus of mixed-species feeding flocks and sure enough birds then came thick and fast. Prominent in the feeding flock were Chestnut-fronted and Retz’s Helmet-Shrikes as well as Black Cuckoo-shrikes, Pale Batis and some Dark-backed Weavers. It was hard going keeping up with the flock whilst carrying a heavy camera rig/tripod but I at least managed to get some images and all was going very well until I stepped into the path of an advance column of Driver Ants! These ants are in many ways similar to the army ants of South America but unlike New World army ants which are largely ineffective against larger animals, the powerful bites and huge numbers of Driver ants (sometimes in excess of 22 million in a colony), as well as their habit of swarming into any opening in the body of their prey (including the mouth and nose), mean they can kill larger prey animals than any other ant species. There have been rare reports of people - usually the young, infirm, or otherwise debilitated who could not escape - being killed and eventually consumed by them, often dying of asphyxiation. Whilst this may sound melodramatic I can assure you that a few of these beasties firmly attached to the scrotum very quickly brings a halt to all birding activities! Following some remarkably agile manoeuvres for a middle-aged fat man and prompt removal of trousers and underwear I was able to rid myself of most of my tormentors (they continue to bite even when the head is separated from the body!).
By this point our mixed species feeding flock had long gone and David had picked up a number of new expletives in a Fife dialect! We headed back to the main track and as luck would have it we came across another mixed feeding flock which included birds in the canopy, sub-canopy and in the understorey shrubs. As well as the previously noted Helmet-shrikes there was a pristine white morph male African Paradise flycatcher, a family party of Blue-mantled Crested Flycatchers, Black-headed Apalis , Little Yellow Flycatcher and Plain-backed Sunbird. Then we hit the jackpot with David announcing that he could hear the star bird of this part of the forest –Clarke’s Weaver.
Clarke’s Weaver is an endangered highly-range restricted Kenyan endemic found only in Arabuko-Sokoke forest and in a few adjacent outlying patches of remnant forest to the west of Malindi. This weaver is found in the A-S forest from July-April (scarce from January-April) following which it disappears. On a few occasions small family parties with dependent young have been seen in the nearby Dakatcha woodlands in June but to date no-one has yet found a Clarke’s Weaver nest. Needless to say very little is known about these very rare birds and so I was thrilled at the prospect of seeing them. Though the conditions were difficult (we had to force our way through stunted bushes on the rather dim forest floor) and the flock was continually on the move we managed to keep up but without being able to get that close. According to the limited data on the Birdlife International factfile this species feeds high in the canopy on caterpillars and beetles. This did not however match our observations. We did see a couple of adult males appearing to glean invertebrates in the canopy but we also watched a group which comprised of adult males (some moulting?), females and what appeared to be immatures feeding in the subcanopy & in low shrubs where they were quite clearly seen to be taking small fruits & berries. Indeed the scene reminded me of that typical of a feeding group of neo-tropical Tanagers. As the flock moved it made quite a din with various chirps and sizzling noises suddenly punctuated with quiet episodes.
By this time it was well into the afternoon and I had lost all track of time. I had seen all of the A-S specialities except one –Amani Sunbird, but David knew of a reliable site nearby (where the Brachystegia trees were taller and sported long beards of dry moss favoured by these birds). We drove to this next site and had barely got out of the car before David was on to two calling and displaying males vying for the attentions of a nearby female. Amani Sunbird is another highly range-restricted endangered A-S speciality which is usually difficult to get good views of. It was clearly my lucky day as the birds moved down into a smaller tree allowing me to take some images (possibly the first ever taken of this bird). We spent about 30 minutes with these birds before getting back into the vehicle. There was one final bird that I had hoped to see –African Crowned Eagle. Unfortunately this bird exists in very low densities throughout its range and the A-S forest holds only 2-3 breeding pairs. David took me to an area where a pair had successfully reared a youngster earlier in the year and though there was some fresh greenery on the nest (as well as a macabre range of duiker bones and monkeys’ tails lying below a nearby “feeding” tree) the birds weren’t at home. I did get a distant view of an adult flapping heavily just above the canopy but it was only brief. Like most giant forest eagles these birds breed only every second year and are easiest to see when calling and displaying at the start of a new breeding cycle.
It was now late afternoon and we were still deep in the A-S forest. By the time I returned to the hotel I was starving, it was dark and the family were none too pleased that I had been out so long (over 12 hours) –but what a day!
 

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Steve G

RAINBIRDER
The Golden-rumped Sengi pictured above is an amazing beast and even if I saw nothing else on my A-S visit the sight of this spectacular beast would have made it all worthwhile.

However with David Ngala leading the way the impossible became possible. On this one trip I obtained images of Clarke's Weavers (of which only a handful of images had ever been obtained previously) and images of Amani Sunbird (-a species which may never have been photographed before). Getting these images was all down to the great birding skills & expertise of David -a truly remarkable man!
 

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Steve G

RAINBIRDER
And some more of the A-S Forest goodies:-
 

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birdboybowley

Well-known member.....apparently so ;)
Supporter
England
Wow - congrats Steve!! How much does David charge for a day's guiding btw? Sounds fantastic!!
 

Steve G

RAINBIRDER
Thanks Ads.
If I remember rightly he wanted about £15 for the A-S forest trip though I also had to cover the costs of a vehicle (another £40). The trip was so good that I felt compelled to give him a fair bit more!
 

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