Monday, 24 October 2011


Next stop and our final destination was the Mara.The Mara game reserve as it was originally known
is an area of 700 square miles was established in 1961, its southern border is contiguous with
Tanzania's Serengeti.The mara country is world famous for it's vast assemblages of plains game.
We stayed at Keekorok Lodge,I set up my tent and once again baboons were a nuisance,a few well
placed rocks sent them on their way.When all the tents were up we went on a late afternoon game
drive. Once in the grassland we saw Topi , Wildebeeste  and Thomson's gazelle.Then we found
some Lion cubs.The following day after breakfast I photographed a Purple Grenadier outside the
Our early morning game run produced a Serval loping across the plain,other cats to mention
were a pair of Cheetahs they had not long fed,their bellys full and blood on their jowels they
sprawled in front of us.A cheeky a bat eared fox put its head above ground while skulking hyaenas
watched us from their communal den.
Saturday the 7th of January was our final day in the Mara after breakfast I photographed Ruppell's
Long tailed Starling.We left the camp site for our last game run,a male Lion was in the grass and
just across the river a pride of Lions sat on lava strewn rocks,the female of the pride approached
a dead hyaena but turned her nose up and walked away.
The vultures soon gathered mostly White backed,but a large Lappet faced was top of the pecking order
and soon was pulling entrails across the plain.
We left Africa today, a gruesome reminder to how life in the Mara with nature's dustmen disposing
of another corpse.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Maple Lodge 3rd visit in a week

Around 05.30 hrs  I heard screaming in Denham Way it turned out to be two Foxes fighting on the grass in front of my house.Hence I was a little late making the reserve today.
Made my way to the Teal hide where Geoff Laptop was feeling cold he pointed out a Green Sandpiper
at close quarters.It was bright and sunny and cold and the high pitched call of the Kingfisher brought me to it's notice on some sticks in the water.Making it a first photogenic kingfisher for some time.
Only disturbed by a Grey Heron I had unsurpassed views for 10 minutes.Unusual
was 2 Egyptian Geese on the reserve and 2 more on Lynsters farm there usual port of call.
Time was ticking away but on leaving  I noticed a Fox  on the boundary of the  reserve,
possibly oneof this mornings noisy neighbours.
Back to the Sluice where close views of Little Grebe was nice,
Back at the Club house I met the bee keeper she said it was her last inspection of the year.
Finally Great Spotted woodpecker obliged as did Sparrowhawk.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Another Autumn Morning

There was a keen edge to the NW wind as I walked through the reserve in bright sunshine
passing through the Alders I noticed a mixed flock of passerines containing a number of Siskins.
They were avidly feeding and would not keep still,from the Teal hide a single Snipe obliged.
So I walked to Long Hedge where higher numbers of Redwings fed with Blackbirds in the scrub
near or on the ground.
From the hide I viewed 6 Common Snipe and 2 Green Sandpiper,Black headed gulls and Jays in
flight.Finally a male Great Spotted Woodpecker on a dead tree against an azure sky.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Autumn at Maple Lodge

Walked to the Lodge on an autumnal morning a yellow enhanced  light shone through
the Poplars.Just prior to this I had seen a single snipe at the Teal hide,but the reported  Brambling had
eluded me at the Club house.Walking up Long Hedge the oaks were magnificent,
From the hide up to 5 Common snipe and 2 Green Sandpiper obliged,Redwings were calling in flight
on the wing ,Jeff (Rambo) was grilling teal until I pointed out a close snipe.
Geoff Lapworth entered the hide where we enjoyed an autumn influx of teals before I had to leave.

Monday, 17 October 2011

East African Safari 1985 Lake Nakuru

On the move again we crossed the equator at Ham and arrived at Lake Nakuru on the 4th of January.
We made our way to Baboon rocks to look down over Lake Nakuru,the pink wash along it's shores
held thousands of Flamingos.
It was totally incredible,my only distraction was a Verraux's eagle as it flapped and glided below
us showing its white wing pattern.Passerines hopped around the rocks notably Cliffchat and Schalow's
Wheatear.Moving down to the shoreline and the wooded area we saw Bohor Reedbuck and Rothschild's Giraffe before setting up camp.Once  the tents were pitched again I scanned the
trees for Grey and Nubian woodpecker. A dark phased Augur Buzzard showed and  Long crested eagle near the camp  ended an unforgetttable day.
I must admit it was hard work to identify  all the species,J.G.Williams Birds of East Africa and the
Mammal plates in National Parks of East Africa were indispensable but I still made mistakes and
missed many species.T he morning of the 5th was one never to forget I awoke  before dawn,it was cold
and I shivered pulling a log across the fire, I gradually warmed  up. The sound of what I new to be Verraux's
Eagle Owl boomed across the camp site,but I could not locate it,I decided to risk a walk to the lake side,I
had my camera with me the orange dawn spread out before me with fire birds like bent sticks reaching
out for the sky.I used almost a whole film on this spectacle hoping for something that would
remind me of a dawn never to be forgotten.
After dawn I concentrated on photographing the less attractive Marabou stork which
stood like ghostly sentinels in the early morning mist.Pelicans,Stilts and European waders
were in abundance while cormorants nested in the tall trees.
We finally  took our leave of Nakuru it was such a wrench for me  as I was truly smitten by
this ornithologists paradise.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

East African Safari 1985 Mount Kenya Naro Moru to Tree Tops

We drove southwards to Mount Kenya and made our way to Naro Moru Lodge on the lower slopes
of Mount Kenya.
Arriving in the afternoon I met a young Swede, Mikael Hake who was doing a survey on Widow
birds for Gothenberg University.In the grasslands of Naro Moru these birds perform their rituals
jumping up and down in circles around the female.Wintering European Marsh Harriers hunted above
them no doubt preying on them.That evening a large Swallow roost at the camp site and a Hadada
ibis was heard in flight.
Mount Kenya's snow capped peak was still visible at dusk as frogs called and fire flies danced and
glowed in the dark.
Got up early and found African Black Duck along the river,Taccazze sun bird flitted  amongst the bushes with attendant Long tailed Fiscal Shrikes.
Leaving for Outspan Lodge gave everybody a chance to have some laundry done,also birding in the
hotel grounds produced some memorable birds for eg, Black and White Casqued Hornbill,Hartlaub's
Turaco and down by the river a Augur Buzzard crossed a perfect sky.
That afternoon we made or way to Tree Tops on arrival we were met by Ron Prickett,he was armed
as we were escorted to Tree Tops lodge.
 We were allocated our room and once inside this Bamboo Lodge we could only marvel at it's colonial
splendour.I threw my gear in the room and made my way on to the roof,it overlooked a water hole
with Mount Kenya visible in the background.
Early visitors  to the waterhole were Defassa Water buck and Buffalo,however my mind was on
some baboons making a nuisance of themselves trying to steal my camera bag, a long stick deterred
them from taking it away.Birds came very close and I had some marvellous views of Speke's weaver
and Blue eared Glossy Starling.
That evening  most people never used their rooms to sleep  they were all waiting for nocturnal
visitors.The sounds of splashing water and  bone crunching jaws could be heard as Hyaenas made
short work of a rotting carcasse. More gentle was the Genet who came out of his hole in a tree to feed
on our evening meal left overs on the veranda.Finally  the Giant Forest Hog came to food below the lodge.

Friday, 14 October 2011

East African Safari 1985 Amboseli to Tsavo West

On Boxing morning we again woke to pouring rain and made our way from Amboseli to Tsavo
which is Kenya's largest wildlife strong hold,new species of mammal seen were Burchell's Zebra,
Grant's Gazelle and around Kilaguni Lodge,Rock Hyrax whose closest relative is the Elephant.
We found a number of Elephant pelvic bones indicating poaching activity.
After the morning game run we visited Mzimi Springs,which is located in the volcanic region of
Shitani where some 50 million gallons of water gush out daily from a lava ridge.

It was here we saw  Hippopotamus mating  amongst vast shoals of Barbel and their piscine
Our last day in Tsavo West was overcast,making our way through the lava beds a Klipspringer
showed well on a rocky outcrop.
However what lingers in the memory is the herd of ochre dusted Elephants that came so close
you could count the hairs on their eyebrows.
On approaching the Galana river it was in full flood,this brown raging torrent was bursting it's
banks,while Crocodiles lazed in the shallows.
The following day we had made our way to Mombasa,we pitched our tents a 100 yards from
Whispering Palms, I added the ubiqutous House Crow to my list along with a number of Palearctic
waders on the beach.
In the morning the ethnic lined streets of Mombasa and Fort Jesus held unusual views,
of Arabic Dhows on the Indian Ocean,a trip to Gedi a ruined Islamic city dating back to the 13th
century still shows portions of the Great Mosque. Disused wells held the uncommon Mottle throated
Spinetail nests,Sykes monkeys and a Palm nut Vulture were a surprise.
Our final night in Mombasa was hot and humid as we turned in early under the stars.
On the road again to Samburu ,on route we saw the Somali race of Ostrich and three species of
Stork  including the rare Eurpean Black Stork in it's wintering grounds along with Golden breasted Starling.Near the Galana river we recorded Nyanza swift and further onnear Ikuthe an Abyssinian
On the 30th we slept in the bush that evening on a goat trail in an Acacia copse.This was not a proper
camp site and we were all a little apprehensive.
The following morning a tribesman came through  the camp site with his goats and before breakfast I
had found a Bare faced Go Away bird in the bush by it's familiar call.
On the road again and finally we arrived at Samburu at 19.00 hrs,we camped near the Uaso Nuyiro
not far from the game lodge.We had a few drinks and a meal at the lodge and then retired for the
evening.We were tired from travelling but wanted to be ready for an early morning game drive.
It was New Years Day January 1984 we woke up early,after a quick breakfast we se off, a Goliath
Heron stood in the river holding  its place with ease while Crowned Cranes gracefully fed on grassy banks.A troop of Baboons clung to the trees near the river bank.
This Northern Frontier Province with it's splendid rugged landscape was very dry and hot but still
managed to show of it's special mammals,Reticulated Giraffes necks entwined in courtship ritual
for the camera.
grey dusty Beisa Oryx  meandered across the dry plains looking like latter day unicorns,
while the blue necked Somali Ostrich was the largest bird in view.Other birds of note were
Vulturine Guinea fowls,also the superb Grevy's Zebra  showed well.
Meanwhile back at the lodge the Samburu bird table held a host of birds including Red
billed Hornbill,Speckled Pigeon, and Superb Starlings.

After lunch we were treated to local dancing by the Samburu tribe,these tall elegant warriors
an  offshoot of the Masai performed well for the camera.
That evening we were disco dancing with the Samburu girls to Lionel Ritchie and
Michael Jackson it rather took the ethnic edge off the tribe.But we thoroughly enjoyed
these wonderful days and nights in Samburu,last thing Bat Hawks were hunting along the river
for nocturnal prey.
On the morning of the 2nd of January it was hot dry and sunny as we left Samburu for Buffalo
Springs,here some people had a swim, on the dry sandy soil I found a Cream coloured Courser.