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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Costal Kenya On A Package Holiday (1 Viewer)

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.

You're not wrong there, fabulous little animals.

I'm really enjoying your trip report Steve, well most of it! There're no flies on your photos unless you look closely at that Spotted Hyena of course, top quality as always. Keep it coming.
Ah you tear my heartstrings, many a happy month spent in Kenya, reading and seeing the pics I yearn to return. Never got to see the Sokoke Owl, chappies with machete got me a few days before I got there :-O

This is a very good reminder of my trip a few weeks ago. You will have noticed from my report that the coastal birds remain similar to those seen in 2007 - other than Clarke's Weaver, which we neither saw nor heard. Jonathan says that they are even more difficult than they were a few years ago so look after that photograph - there won't be many as good as that from the Forest!

Thanks very much guys!

Coastal Kenya has a great deal to offer visiting birders and visiting birders have a great deal to offer the people and wildlife of Coastal Kenya.

This unique area is under severe threat from short-term ill-conceived developments and from damage created by an increasing population trapped by poverty (poor folk simply trying to scrape a living from whatever resources they can freely harvest). Developing a thriving eco-tourism industry here is probably the best way of safeguarding the special wildlife of this fantastic place.

I'll get off the soap-box now! Thanks again guys!
Thanks for sharing more incredible photos and the exciting account of birding in those special forests! It sounds like you had one of the best guides in Africa.
Thanks for sharing more incredible photos and the exciting account of birding in those special forests! It sounds like you had one of the best guides in Africa.

Thanks Patrick.

David is a great guy -one of the quietest and most unassuming men I have ever met. He is a very competent birder and an excellent guide. He has received a Birdlife Conservation award & is actively involved in protecting the A-S forest & in grass-roots work to support local communities & promote their support of local conservation.
See: http://davidngala.wildlifedirect.org/

The following day David picked me up at 0700 am and we headed north past the town of Malindi to the Sabaki river estuary. I was told to expect some waders and waterbirds there before we moved on up to a place called Gongoni where the highly range-restricted Malindi Pipit can be found.
Beyond Malindi the road crosses a bridge over the Sabaki river following which we turned right off the main road and drove along a track besides some shambas and vegetable gardens. Here I saw White-browed Coucal, Ethiopian Swallow, Rufous Chatterers, Northern White-crowned Shrike, Long-tailed Fiscal, Purple-banded Sunbird, Zanzibar Red Bishop, breeding male Pin-tailed Wydah, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Lizard Buzzard and the bizarre reptilian-looking Scaly Babbler. We drove towards some low sand dunes which marked the start of the wetland area around the north bank of the Sabaki river mouth. The area comprised of small and large shallow pools of mainly fresh water –some with waterweeds or fringing vegetation and some which were muddy or sandy.
By a heavily vegetated pool a small “heron” flew up into a tamarisk showing itself to be a Dwarf Bittern. There were some Squacco Herons around the same pool with one particularly dark bird that was possibly a Malagasy Pond Heron. Other birds seen included Great White, a few Little and an Intermediate Egret as well as Black-headed, Grey and Purple Herons. Both adult and juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons were roosting deep in the cover of partially flooded tall shrubs whilst a Striated Heron then two Water Thick-knees were flushed from more poolside vegetation before we came across a Mangrove Kingfisher.
Moving on we walked out onto an open marshy well-vegetated area which held a few feeding African Openbill Storks as well as Sacred Ibis and African Spoonbill. A large shallow sand-fringed pool held loafing Yellow-billed Storks, Pink-backed Pelicans and a single Great White Pelican as well as a few waders. Beyond this further muddy/sandy pools held Curlew Sandpiper, Greater and Lesser Sandplover, Kittlitz’s Plover and White-fronted Plover as well as single Terek and Wood Sandpipers. This area apparently also holds good numbers of Broad-billed Sandpipers over the Northern Winter but unfortunately I could find none in early August.
Eventually we reached the river estuary itself where I was surprised to find a small flock of 34 Lesser and two Greater flamingos, this is apparently one of the few sites away from the Rift Valley where these birds can be seen. Other good finds here were White-fronted Plover, Sooty Gulls and a rather distant Caspian Tern. We turned and walked back parallel to our original route but closer to the tide-line where we came across groups of waders mainly comprising of Curlew Sandpipers and Lesser Sand-plover but also including the occasional Greater Sand-Plover and Terek Sandpiper.
After clambering over a small sand dune we came across an extensive rather flat area with numerous shallow fresh and brackish pools. There were large numbers of terns bathing, preening and loafing around the edge of many of the pools. We saw Common and White-cheeked Terns as well as smaller numbers of Roseate, some Lesser Crested, a few Great Crested and a couple of Saunders Terns. Closer inspection of a large pool further inland revealed a few roosting Gull-billed Terns, some hawking Whiskered Terns and, best of all five roosting African Skimmers which we later watched feeding.
By now it was early afternoon so we headed back to the vehicle flushing a Woolly-necked Stork en-route. We then headed north towards Gongoni with roadside birds including Tawny Eagle, Crested Eagle, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Lilac-breasted Roller and Northern Carmine Bee-eater. On arriving at Gongoni we walked down towards the gates of the Mombasa Salt Works. To the right was an area of alkaline/saline flats which merged with short grassland –this is the habitat of the rare and highly range-restricted Malindi Pipit (which despite its name is not found at Malindi!). After 30 minutes of frantic searching we found our pipits even managing to get a few images before we headed back to the hotel.

The last few days of our holiday were spent chilling out on the beach with no new birds added to the trip-list. However the birding around Watamu, Mida Creek, the A-S forest and the Sabaki river mouth had proved to be highly productive and exceedingly enjoyable. In only a few days birding I managed a considerable number of lifers, saw some very rare birds and took a large number of bird images. In fact as a result of this trip I have had images appear in a number of publications (which covered the cost of our safari extension with enough for a large late bonus for David and a large donation to A-S forest conservation) –simply because few camera-wielding birders have visited this area previously!
This area of coastal Kenya has much to recommend it for the casual birder with a family who is looking for somewhere different to spend the family vacation. The cost is not prohibitive and with some careful planning it should be possible to add in a short safari without breaking the bank.
For the more serious birder the Watamu/Malindi area gives the opportunity to see a range of interesting range-restricted species difficult or impossible to see elsewhere. A one week package deal based at the Turtle Bay Beach Club at Watamu should allow a clean-up of all the local specialities yet still give plenty of time to spend with the non-birding spouse/girlfriend!
The truth is that this area needs visiting birders now more than ever. Though the A-S Forest is a protected “National Park” it is under considerable pressure from “tree-poachers” who target the mature forest trees for their high-quality carving wood whilst snares abound as a consequence of increased demand for bush-meat. In fact the very same Crowned Eagle nest-tree I visited was recently targeted:- (http://davidngala.wildlifedirect.or...eagle-nest-site-in-the-arabuko-sokoke-forest/). The Sabaki river-mouth is also under threat due to illegal land-grabbing:- (http://arochakenya.wildlifedirect.o...lobally-important-wetland-sabaki-river-mouth/). Birders visiting these areas in number will benefit the local economy and their presence will ensure more effective protection for these unique sites. The A-S forest holds a number of highly ranged restricted near-endemics (and the endemic Clarke’s Weaver) whilst the Sabaki estuary holds internationally important numbers of roosting terns and wintering Broad-billed Sandpipers –come and see them while you still can and perhaps in doing so your visit will help protect them for that wee bit longer!


  • African Open-billed Stork.jpg
    African Open-billed Stork.jpg
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  • African Skimmer subadult.jpg
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  • African Spoonbills.jpg
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  • Curlew Sandpipers with Greater and Lesser Sandplovers.jpg
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  • Dwarf Bittern.jpg
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Some more from the Sabaki rivermouth:


  • Kittlitzs Plover.jpg
    Kittlitzs Plover.jpg
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  • Lesser Flamingo at Sabaki rivermouth.jpg
    Lesser Flamingo at Sabaki rivermouth.jpg
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  • Mixed Tern roost.jpg
    Mixed Tern roost.jpg
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  • Pink-backed Pelicans.jpg
    Pink-backed Pelicans.jpg
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  • White-cheeked, Common, Lesser Crested and Greater Crested Terns with African Skimmers.jpg
    White-cheeked, Common, Lesser Crested and Greater Crested Terns with African Skimmers.jpg
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......and a few more:


  • White-fronted Plover.jpg
    White-fronted Plover.jpg
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  • Woolly-necked Stork.jpg
    Woolly-necked Stork.jpg
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  • Yellow-billed Stork.jpg
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Reports like this aren't easy to compile and it brings back many happy memories for me. Well done, Steve :t:

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