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Introduction

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Species list

Text only

 List of species seen

Ostrich 

I had seen captive Ostriches on farms previously, but this didn’t detract from the size of the bird when seen in the backdrop of the African plains. They are quite simply huge and imposing. The first 3 seen were together at Samburu on our arrival game drive, and were apparently of the Somalian race. While they seemed to have light coloured irises, all 3 were juvenile, so were presumed of this type by geography. Further adult birds of the nominate race were seen on the Masai Mara, with 3 separate males on one days game drive, and a pair seen one exit from the reserve travelling to Nairobi

Great White Pelican 

These were only seen on Lake Naivasha (present both days), and were the most common of the 2 pelican species seen. Flying birds were quite easy to identify by primary feather tones, and numbers on the lake shore seemed to be from 12 on the first day to 30+ on the second

Pink-backed Pelican

First birds seen were 3 flying over Samburu Lodge, perhaps following the line of the river. About 7 were then seen on Lake Naivasha on the morning visit to the lake shore

Great Cormorant

Only seen on Lake Naivasha, and the birds in this region are the rather smart “White-breasted Cormorant” form. They were in good numbers, with at least 100 present, most being perched along the  banks of one of the offshore islands

Long-tailed Cormorant

2 birds were amongst the much more numerous Great Cormorants at Lake Naivasha, with one being perched quite close to the jetty

Grey Heron

Single birds were seen quite regularly in many areas: Nairobi to Samburu (2); Samburu (1); Treetops (1); Lake Naivasha (2); Keekorok Lodge (1); Masai Mara (1); Mombassa Beach (1)

Black-headed Heron

Less commonly seen than Grey Heron, and they tended to be very easily put to flight. 1 was seen from the minibus on the journey from Samburu to Treetops, 2 on the journey from Lake Naivasha to Masai Mara, and 1 on the scrub behind the beach at Mombassa

Goliath Heron

The only bird was seen was on the shores of Lake Naivasha

Great Egret

As with Goliath Heron, only one seen during the trip, on the shores of Lake Naivasha on the final morning

Little Egret

2 birds, which may have been the same on individual on subsequent days, were seen on the shore of Lake Naivasha, quite near to the jetty. The birds(s) were checked for light morph of the Dimorphic Egret subspecies, but this was ruled out. Another bird was seen on the journey from the Masai Mara to Nairobi

Cattle Egret

Despite being seen in small flocks, the numbers and frequency were much less than I had expected: Nairobi to Samburu (flock of ~30); Samburu (6); Nakuru to Naivasha (10); Naivasha to Masai Mara (10)

Striated Heron

2 separate birds were on the river bank opposite the Samburu Lodge

Hammerkop

One seen at the River Talek crossing on the border of the Masai Mara reserve

Yellow-billed Stork

Small numbers were seen occasionally during the first 4 days of the safari: Samburu (1 on arrival, 4 on game drives); 3 over the Outspan Hotel; Lake Naivasha (2)

Woolly-necked Stork

A group of 3 were together on the hippo pool at Keekorok Lodge

Marabou Stork

Small numbers were seen infrequently: probably the same bird was at the rubbish tip next to the checkpoint on both journeys to and from Samburu; 2 were at Lake Naivasha; 1 was seen on one of the game drives within the Masai Mara, with ~10 perched together on the return just outside Keekorok Lodge; 1 was on the journey from the Masai Mara to Nairobi

Sacred Ibis

Only seen at Lake Naivasha, where there were 6 on the afternoon, and 10 on the following morning

Hadada Ibis

More often seen than heard, but numbers spotted were nevertheless reasonable for this common bird of the region: ~25 on the journey from Nairobi to Samburu; Samburu (1); 1 on the journey from Samburu to Treetops; Lake Naivasha (10;5); Keekorok Lodge (2); and 7 in and around the grounds of the Holiday Inn, Nairobi

Lesser Flamingo

Predictably huge numbers along the shores of Lake Nakuru. They were checked for the presence of Greater Flamingo, but all seemed to be of the former species

Egyptian Goose

A pair on the river bank at Samburu and 2 pairs at Treetops all had a collection of juvenile birds with them. 4 further birds were at Lake Naivasha

Yellow-billed Duck

Treetops (4); Lake Naivasha (4,2)

Red-billed Duck

Treetops (2)

Hottentot Teal

Lake Naivasha (a group of 4 seen next to the jetty on both the afternoon and the following morning)

Southern Pochard

Lake Naivasha (1)

Osprey

1 over Lake Naivasha

Black-shouldered Kite

All 3 birds seen were from the minibus, with 1 from Lake Naivasha to the Masai Mara, and 2 on the return from the Masai Mara to Nairobi

Black Kite

Apart from 2 seen in the Lake Naivasha area, the only place these were seen was around Nairobi, where they were one of the most common species encountered

African Fish-Eagle

A pair of birds obligingly perched for some time on the top of a bare tree next to the jetty at Lake Naivasha on the morning visit, with a third flying over the lake. While walking on the grazing area adjacent to the hotel grounds, a juvenile bird flew into a perched on a nearby tree

White-backed Vulture

Regular vultures at Samburu, most of which were at the Samburu Lodge area, seemed to be of this species, based on the odd adult amongst the more numerous juveniles which could be identified positively. All other birds were in the Masai Mara, usually associating with Rüppell’s Griffon Vultures. On the first day’s game drive, up to 10 were seen. On the second day and during the full day game drive, ~50 were seen, with small groups collecting at carcasses throughout the park

Rüppell's Griffon

None were seen at Samburu along with the White-backed Vultures, but they were equally as frequent in the Masai Mara, with perhaps more birds being seen than the latter species. Most were seen in groups, either at carcasses, or in the odd “vulture tree” containing both species

Lappet-faced Vulture

This was the least common of the 3 vultures seen in the Masai Mara. They were usually in singles or in pairs, with the most being 3 on the periphery of a hippo carcass just over the River Talek crossing. In total, probably just less than 10 were seen during the game drives in the Masia Mara

Bateleur

Strangely, only one was seen, overflying Keekorok Lodge

Pallid Harrier 

After 2 brief views of what were likely to have been a couple of harriers earlier in the week, a superb and ghostly male Pallid Harrier was passed within metres early on during the full days game drive at the Masai Mara. A subsequent male was seen within spitting distance of the Masai Mara during the journey from Masai Mara to Nairobi

Eastern Chanting-Goshawk

A pair of birds were very close to the safari bus in an acacia bus in Samburu Reserve

Augur Buzzard

A single adult was seen from the bus during the journey from the Masai Mara to Nairobi

Tawny Eagle

Apart from the vultures, this was probably the most commonly seen raptor. Choice sighting was a young bird trying to tackle a fairly large Monitor Lizard on the ground in Samburu. It tried to sneak and pinch its tail before gaining sense and giving up the folly of a hunt. In addition, another bird was seen at Samburu, with subsequent sightings at Lake Nakuru (2 pairs), Lake Naivasha (1), and the Masai Mara (2)

Martial Eagle

This huge eagle is extremely impressive, both when seen perched, and also in the air overhead. Only one was seen in the latter pose, circling over the reception area of Samburu Lodge. 3 birds were seen perched at close quarters, with 2 separate birds on Samburu, and a single bird in the Masai Mara

Long-crested Eagle

The 2 birds seen were only brief sightings. The first was from the bus just outside Nairobi, on the initial part of the journey to Samburu. The second bird was passed briefly in the grounds of Lake Naivasha Country Club

Secretary-bird

This was a long awaited bird, and seen a few times on safari, slowly striding through the bush patiently searching for reptilian prey. One of the birds seen even tried its stamping action on the ground, but didn’t appear to catch a longed for meal. The first bird was not too far from us in Samburu. We had to wait until the long and bumpy drive from Lake Naivasha to the Masai Mara for the second and third birds, seen from the speeding safari bus. The fourth and last passed over the bush track behind us on the full days game drive in the Masai Mara

Pygmy Falcon

3 birds were seen at Samburu, with 2 of the trio being on the first drive through the reserve on the afternoon when we arrived. The third was on the morning game drive the morning after, and was the best of the tree, mainly because it was perched in a tree directly over us

Peregrine Falcon

A single bird was trying its luck with the Little Swifts around the entrance to Samburu

Crested Francolin

While watching our first pair of Lions at Samburu on the arrival game drive, 2 birds tried to sneak past behind them without success

Scaly Francolin

5 birds were passed on the tracks of the Masai Mara, 2 on the first day, and 3 on the second

Yellow-necked Spurfowl

This species was very common around Samburu, and was quite often seen next to the tracks and so in close proximity to the safari bus. ~20 birds were seen on the first 2 days, and another 2 as we left Samburu on the last morning

Harlequin Quail

A single bird was flushed from the track as we passed in the minibus on return from one of the evening game drives at the Masai Mara

Helmeted Guineafowl

This species was regularly encountered in the Samburu and Masai Mara reserves in small numbers. It was seen on all 3 days at Samburu, with 2 on the initial arrival game drive, 4 on the full day at the reserve, and 2 on the exit from the reserve on the last morning. 10 were seen on the initial entry game drive to the Masai Mara, with 4 on the full days game drive, and 8 as we left the reserve for Nairobi

Vulturine Guineafowl

This species has a much more northerly distribution than Helmeted Guineafowl, hence it was only seen at Samburu. However, it was far more common here than Helmeted, with ~50 seen on the evening game drive on entry to the reserve, with only 4 seen the following day

Grey Crowned-Crane

A group of 3 birds appeared through the night at Treetops, and were picked up in the rain the following morning, feeding on the island in the saline water hole

Black Crake

Only seen at Treetops, where they put in quite regular appearance, usually emerging from the reed beds on the saline water hole. There were possibly 2 adults, and a juvenile seen accompanying one of them on one occasion

Red-knobbed Coot

2 were on the freshwater water hole at Treetops

Kori Bustard

4 separate hugely impressive individuals were seen during the safari. The first was seen on the first day at Samburu, during the initial entry game drive. A second was seen on the evening drive through the Buffalo Springs reserve, on the South side of the river from Samburu. The third and fourth birds were both seen when journeying, the former from Lake Naivasha to Masai Mara, and the latter from Masai Mara to Nairobi

White-bellied Bustard

A pair were seen briefly on the evening game drive on the first full day at the Masai Mara

Buff-crested Bustard

A single female was seen briefly on the morning game drive at Samburu

Black-bellied Bustard

This was the most common bustard seen, all sightings being in the Masai Mara. Most were seen on the first full day in the reserve, with 2 on the morning game drive, and 6 on the evening drive. A final pair were passed alongside the road on the exit journey from the reserve

Crab Plover 

A long awaited species, having been missed when there was potential for sightings on previous trips to both Africa and Asia. A pair of what appeared to be juvenile birds were found amongst the tidal rocks on the beach at Mombassa. They were amongst the most confiding of the waders present, and eventually were very approachable. They didn’t seem to be present the following morning

Black-winged Stilt

2 on the shoreline of Lake Naivasha

Avocet

5-6 present on the shoreline of Lake Naivasha

Water Thick-knee

A pair were found with Egyptian Geese on the banks of the river at Samburu while watching a pair of amorous Lions

Blacksmith Plover 

Treetops (2); Lake Naivasha (~30 on the grazing land with other lapwings)

Spur-winged Plover

~15 on the grazing land at Lake Naivasha with other lapwings

Crowned Lapwing

An initial pair of birds were on the grazing land at Lake Naivasha, with many more being seen in the Masai Mara, with a peak of ~14 on any one day. All birds were usually seen as pairs

Pacific Golden-Plover 

Mombassa beach (~30)

Grey Plover 

Mombassa beach (2)

Common Ringed Plover

Lake Naivasha (2); Mombassa beach (~20)

Three-banded Plover

Lake Naivasha (2); Hippo pool at Keekorok Lodge (5)

Whimbrel

2 on the beach at Mombassa

Eurasian Curlew 

1 on the beach at Mombassa

Marsh Sandpiper

2 on the shoreline at Lake Naivasha

Common Greenshank 

1 on the beach at Mombassa

Green Sandpiper 

Hippo pool at Keekorok Lodge (2)

Wood Sandpiper

Lake Naivasha (2);  Hippo pool at Keekorok Lodge (3)

Common Sandpiper 

Samburu (1); Treetops (1); Mobassa (~10 on the beach, 1 within the grounds of the Mombassa Beach Hotel)

Ruddy Turnstone

Mobassa beach (~40)

Sanderling

Mombassa beach (~15)

Little Stint

4 on the shoreline of Lake Naivasha

Ruff 

1 on the shoreline of Lake Naivasha

Sooty Gull

This was the only gull seen on the coast, and was common on Mombassa beach, with ~40 being seen each day

Grey-headed Gull

This was the only gull seen inland, with 4 on Lake Naivasha

Gull-billed Tern

~20 were in the company of the Sooty Gulls on the beach at Mombassa

Great Crested Tern

2 with the Sooty Gulls and Gull-billed Terns on the beach at Mombassa on 2 subsequent days

Whiskered Tern

Lake Naivasha (3)

Speckled Pigeon

After a initial single bird on the exit game drive from Samburu, the best location for this species was at Treetops, where at least 6 were regular visitors to the balcony of the hotel. A further 2 were seen on the journey from the Masai Mara to Nairobi

African Mourning Dove

1 definitely identified at Samburu Lodge

Red-eyed Dove

2 definitely identified at Treetops, with 6 in the Holiday Inn grounds at Nairobi, and then small numbers at Mombassa beach, where they seemed to be the only Streptoplia dove present

Ring-necked Dove

Not all doves were identified specifically, but it was obvious that this species was easily the most commonly seen and heard, with its call quite a characteristic sound of the African bush. It was quite common throughout Samburu, with ~6 being seen at Keekorok Lodge

Laughing Dove

Samburu (3); Lake Naivasha (4)

Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove

4 were seen during the first morning walk along the beach at Mombassa, with 2 very much closer birds on the walk the following morning

Tambourine Dove

A single male was picked out of the bushes surrounding the lawns at the Outspan Hotel before leaving for Treetops

African Green-Pigeon

A lone individual landed on the salt lick beside the water hole at Treetops

Fischer's Lovebird

The first and quite surprising find was a roosting colony in the fronds of two palm trees directly over our room at the Lake Naivasha Country Club. The only other birds seen were on the scrub area behind the beach at Mombassa, with 1 on the first morning and 2 on the second

Bare-faced Go-away-bird

Up to 4 birds were seen in the uppermost branches of lone trees of Keekorok Lodge

White-bellied Go-away-bird

6 birds were in the grounds of Samburu Lodge on the full day there, and a further bird was seen while leaving the reserve the following day

White-browed Coucal

The constant calling of these birds was a characteristic sound of the area. They were more often heard than seen, but singles were at Samburu and the Masai Mara, with 2 on the first morning walk along the beach at Mombassa, the first perched in the open for a short time, and the second briefly diving for cover into a bush

African Palm-Swift 

These were very common over Samburu, and also amongst other swift species at the Mombassa Beach Hotel, where they seemed to be roosting in palm trees behind our room

Little Swift

Many birds seemed to be nesting in the roof spaces of the entrance gate at Samburu; a colony was nesting around Treetops; 4 were on the journey from Masai Mara to Nairobi; 2 were overhead on the walk along the beach at Mombassa

White-rumped Swift

~50 birds were buzzing around a small pride of lions snacking over a kill next to a stream on the first morning game drive at the Masai Mara

Speckled Mousebird

These were regularly seen and in good numbers, always active when seen. Samburu (~40); Treetops (~8); Keekorok Lodge (~25); Masai Mara (~10); journey from Masai Mara to Nairobi (6); Holiday Inn, Nairobi (8); Mombassa Beach Hotel (up to around 25 in any one day)

White-headed Mousebird

~15 were busily feeding around the spot where a pair of Lions had made camp during the first morning game drive at Samburu

Blue-naped Mousebird

Samburu (~25); Keekorok Lodge (1)

African Pygmy-Kingfisher

After watching a Grey-headed Kingfisher for some time during a walk around Samburu Lodge, one of these buzzed in behind the peripheral hotel block and landed on some bare branches for a short time. A second bird was seen for some time perched over an almost dry stream just outside of Keekorok Lodge while watching a mongoose

Grey-headed Kingfisher

The first bird seen was a flypast – over the river at Samburu while watching a pair of Lions. The second was much more obliging, being found perched above me in the grounds of Samburu Lodge, and subsequently coming down much closer to the ground. A third was also in the grounds later in the day. The fourth and last was seen during the all day game drive in the Masai Mara

Pied Kingfisher

~6 birds were perched and hovering around the jetty at Lake Naivasha, some allowing very close approach. A pair of birds were in the same place on the rocky beach at Mombassa on both morning walks

White-fronted Bee-eater

A pair of birds were feeding next to a suckling Rothschild’s Giraffe at Lake Nakuru; ~12 were constantly flying around, feeding and perching over the grazing area next to Lake Naivasha Country Club

Little Bee-eater

Only odd birds seen sporadically: Samburu, just outside of the gates of Samburu Lodge (1); Masai Mara (1); Keekorok Lodge (1,3)

White-throated Bee-eater 

A group of 3 passed through Keekorok Lodge, landing briefly before moving on

European Bee-eater

~4 flying around the river in Samburu while watching a pair of Lions

Lilac-breasted Roller

Small numbers seen regularly: Journey from Nairobi to Samburu (1); Samburu (1); Lake Nakuru Lodge (1); Masai Mara (1,1,4); Mombassa beach (single bird seen at the same place perched in the scrub area on both morning walks

Rufous-crowned Roller

Single bird seen in Samburu on game drive during the full day there

Eurasian Hoopoe

A bird seen on the morning game drive at Samburu seemed to be of the European migratory race. The second bird seen feeding on the lawns of Keekorok Lodge was of the African race, showing blacked primary wing pattern clearly

Red-billed Hornbill

These were only seen at Samburu, where they were very common, with up to ~30 birds seen on the full day there. Very approachable birds were even in the grounds of Samburu Lodge, and these included a male feeding a female entombed in a nesting chamber in a tree

Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill

A single bird was on one of the game drives within Samburu

Von der Decken's Hornbill

Despite being seemingly similar to Red-billed Hornbill, the blackened wings of this species render them instantly recognisable. A male was on the afternoon game drive in Samburu, and a female was seen on exit from the reserve on the following day

African Grey Hornbill

4 were seen from the bus on the journey from Nairobi to Samburu on the first day, and 2 were in a tree next to the toilet block of the gate to Lake Nakuru

Silvery-cheeked Hornbill

A single bird was in the distance at Treetops, landing for a short time at the top of a bare tree

Southern Ground-Hornbill

2 birds were slowly prospecting for food next to the track at the Masai Mara on the morning of the full day game drive, not too far from the reserve entrance

D'Arnaud's Barbet

Following brief views of a bird as we quickly passed its perch in a bush at Samburu, another was much more obliging at a curio shop rest stop on the journey from Lake Naivasha to Masai Mara. It was grubbing around amongst the numerous rats on the ground in exactly the same place on the return journey

Nubian Woodpecker

There were 2 sightings of females within the grounds of Samburu Lodge

Cardinal Woodpecker

2 birds were in the grounds of Keekorok Lodge, with a single bird on the following day

Fischer's Sparrow-Lark

This species is a ground hugger, quietly feeding amongst the low vegetation and hence being very difficult to pick up. I was lucky to find a group of 2 males and 2 females when the convoy stopped for a view (on foot) of the Buffalo Springs reserve, and I followed up some calling birds in the scrub away from the throng

Plain Martin

Good numbers flying around the jetty at Lake Naivasha, with some landing for short periods on the rope barrier

Banded Martin

A single bird passed through with Barn Swallows at the picnic spot in the Masai Mara, within view of the Serengeti of Tanzania

Rock Martin

3 were picked out encircling Treetops

Barn Swallow

Quite good numbers seen on most days throughout the trip

Wire-tailed Swallow

~10 at Keekorok Lodge

Lesser Striped-Swallow

4 were flying just behind the beach at Mombassa

Mosque Swallow

A pair of these characteristically large hirundines were perched on wires on the morning of the full days game drive at Masai Mara. 2 separate birds were seen overhead during one of the morning walks along Mombassa beach

White-headed Sawwing

~4 birds were flying to and fro with the more numerous Black Sawwings at Keekorok Lodge

Black Sawwing

~20 birds were flying around Keekorok Lodge, most being in the vicinity of the Hippo pool. 4 were over Mombassa beach

African Pied Wagtail

Regularly seen throughout: journey from Nairobi to Samburu (2); Treetops (2); Lake Nakuru (1); Lake Naivasha (1); Keekorok Lodge (1); Masai Mara (2); Mombassa beach (usually 1-2, but a flock of ~15 flew out to one of the boats from the beach on one occasion

Cape Wagtail

1 at Treetops

Yellow Wagtail

6 at Lake Naivasha on the grazing area

Yellow-throated Longclaw

Quite often heard singing from prominent perches before they were seen, 3 separate birds were seen in the Masai Mara on the first full day

Rosy-throated Longclaw

1 singing bird seen at Samburu

Plain-backed Pipit

Single bird on the open ground at the picnic site in Masai Mara

African Pipit

2 birds on the open ground at the picnic site in the Masai Mara

Common Bulbul

Seen on almost every day, with better numbers being at Mombassa, where they were both noisy and visible (numbers up to ~40 on any one day here, with up to ~15 on any one day during the safari

Sombre Greenbul

2 singing birds at the scrubby area behind Mombassa beach

Olive Thrush

These were particularly common within the grounds of the Holiday inn at Nairobi (~10). 4 were seen on the first day, during the journey from Nairobi to Samburu, with a single bird in the grounds of the Outspan Hotel

Singing Cisticola

3 birds were seen in amongst a small patch of reeds at our lunch stop on the first day of the trip

Rattling Cisticola

The scrub area behind the beach at Mombassa was a good spot for seeing this species, where they would often climb to the top of grass stems and bushes to scold openly

Winding Cisticola

This was another cisticola which put on a good show, with 3 at Keekorok Lodge. However, unlike the Rattling cousin, it preferred to feed along the ground, usually on the open lawns of the hotel

Green-backed Camaroptera 

3 were at the bridge on the way to the picnic site of the Masai Mara

Buff-bellied Warbler

At least 4 of these tiny, nondescript individuals were busily passing through the trees at the front of the Keekorok Lodge reception

Red-faced Crombec

A single bird was seen at the Talek River while approaching for views of the Hippos

Pale Flycatcher

A single bird was in the car park next to reception as we were about to leave Samburu Lodge

African Grey Flycatcher

The 8 or so birds at Keekorok Lodge provided no problems in finding them, since they were often happy to perch and feed at close quarters. The characteristic streaked crown wasn’t always easy to see, but clinched identification when it was present

White-eyed Slaty-Flycatcher

5 of these dapper birds were in a loose group at the lunch site on the journey from Nairobi to Samburu on the first day

Southern Black-Flycatcher

Samburu (4); Outspan Hotel (2); Lake Naivasha (2,2); Keekorok Lodge (2); Masai Mara (4); Mombassa Beach Hotel (2)

Spotted Flycatcher

A total of 5 were seen on the morning birding walks at Mombassa beach

African Dusky Flycatcher

1 was on the journey from Nairobi to Samburu at a roadside curio rest stop

White-browed Robin-Chat

A single bird was seen on 2 successive days at Keekorok Lodge. A little time was taken on the first viewing to ensure that the central tail feathers were the correct olive colour for this species

Northern Wheatear

4 females in total: 2 at Lake Nakuru, 1 on the Masai Mara, and 1 on the journey from Masai Mara to Nairobi

Northern Anteater-Chat 

These were very common at the southern end of Lake Nakuru, with ~20 being seen between the end of the lake and Lake Nakuru Lodge. 2 were subsequently also seen on the Masai Mara

Sooty Chat

These were quite a regular sighting on the Masai Mara, and were seen in small numbers on all 4 days that we were there, with a peak of 4 birds on the two full days with game drives

Chinspot Batis

Single sightings of males were made on 3 successive days at Keekorok Lodge. All may or may not have been the same bird. A fourth sighting of another male was in the grounds of the Holiday Inn, Nairobi, during the Masai Mara to Mombassa transfer

African Paradise-Flycatcher

4 short tailed birds were seen in the wood near to the jetty at Lake Naivasha, with 1 on the first evening, and 3 the following morning. A full tailed male was in the grounds of Keekorok Lodge

Scarlet-chested Sunbird

All those seen had to be checked to eliminate (or to discover) Hunter’s Sunbird. A single bird was amongst the much more numerous Variable Sunbirds at the Outspan Hotel. Best numbers were ~8 at Keekorok Lodge, with a single bird on one of the morning walks along Mombassa beach

Mariqua Sunbird

Separating this species from Purple-banded Sunbird was initially a nightmare, but the range of the 2, and subsequent difference in sizes helped the state of affairs immensely. 3 were seen at the lunch stop on the way to Samburu on the first day, and were obviously too big for the latter species. ~20 at Keekorok at first presented problems, since they seemed smaller than the 3 earlier birds

Purple-banded Sunbird

After checking the Mariqua Sunbirds for Purple-banded, the latter was finally pinned down during the stay at the Mombassa Beach Hotel. One or two likely birds were seen on the walks along the beach, but good views were had in the hotel grounds

Variable Sunbird

~10 were at the Outspan Hotel, and ~6 at Keekorok Lodge. The problem with the birds in this part of the country is that they are the yellow bellied race, and so look very similar to Collared Sunbird. The throat on and breast on each could be seen well in most instances, ruling out Collared

African Yellow White-eye

~6 were actively feeding around the gardens of the Outspan Hotel

Eurasian Golden Oriole

An elusive juvenile was in the grounds of the Mombassa Beach Hotel

African Black-headed Oriole

A single bird was in the trees near to the jetty at Lake Naivasha Country Club

Red-backed Shrike

1 juvenile seen from the bus on the journey from Nairobi to Samburu

Grey-backed Fiscal

A group of 3 very approachable birds were in trees alongside the grazing area adjacent to Lake Naivasha Country Club, feeding just above a small group of Waterbuck

Common Fiscal

These were particularly common on journeys, almost lining the verges being mainly perched on wires. The only birds seen away from the bus were a pair at Treetops, one of which eventually perched just outside of the viewing area. 2 birds were also seen on the morning game drive at the Masai Mara

White-rumped Shrike

Also known as White-crowned Shrike, which is a more obvious field marker than the white rump, 5 were seen in the Masai Mara while watching a reclining Lion

Black-backed Puffback

A single bird was in the trees at the Samburu Lodge reception

Tropical Boubou

2 of these very dapper, impressive birds were seen, but both only briefly. The first flew into a bush just outside of our room at the Lake Naivasha Country Club, and was on the outside for a short time before seeking the sanctuary of the inside. At the scrub area of Mombassa beach, an interesting melodic call, with much rustling of branches but only glimpses of the odd feather, eventually proved to be the black-winged coastal subspecies, when it alighted on an open lookout post for seconds

Fork-tailed Drongo 

Samburu (6); Mombassa Beach Hotel (1); Mombassa beach (1)

House Crow

These common and noisy imports from Asia were a bit of a nuisance at Mombassa, where they were easily the predominant species

Cape Crow

4 of these narrow-billed crows were seen on journeys, with the first from Lake Naivasha to Masai Mara, and a further 3 on the return journey to Nairobi

Pied Crow

These were very common in patches, quite often from the bus, such as on the journey from Nairobi to Samburu. ~15 were on the journey from Masai Mara to Nairobi, with 5 at Treetops, 6 in the grounds of the Holiday Inn at Nairobi, and a few sightings on the journeys to and from Lake Naivasha

Wattled Starling

All birds seen were in non-breeding plumage, and in the company of Wildebeest, with 3 at Samburu, and ~12 in the Masai Mara

Greater Blue-eared Glossy-Starling

2 on the journey from Nairobi to Samburu; ~10 at Treetops, where they were usually in or around the viewing decks; ~20 on the journey to Lake Naivasha; and 4 on the journey from Masai Mara to Nairobi

Rüppell's Glossy-Starling

This long-tailed Starling was unmistakable when seen well, and was in small numbers. The first was on the journey from Nairobi to Samburu, with all the other birds at Keekorok Lodge, where up to 6 confiding individuals could be seen regularly and close to

Golden-breasted Starling

Only 1 bird was seen, in a bush behind the safari bus at Samburu while watching a Secretary Bird

Superb Starling

This species in very common throughout the interior route that we took on Safari, but wasn’t present at all at Mombassa. It was seen in good and regular numbers both from the safari bus en route, and also at the Lodges. The only day they weren’t seen during the safari was on the full day game drive in the Masai Mara

Hildebrandt's Starling

In many ways similar to Superb Starling, this much less common cousin was easy to identify when seen well with red eyes and lack of white breast band. The first birds seen were a group of 4 at a roadside curio stop on the journey to the Masai Mara. 1-2 were seen on each day at Keekorok Lodge

Violet-backed Starling

A single bird was outside the window of our room at Keekorok Lodge as we were packing to leave!

Red-billed Oxpecker 

Perhaps the more common of the 2 species: Samburu (2, ~10) on Gemsbok; Lake Nakuru (~20 on Plains Zebra)

Yellow-billed Oxpecker

Samburu (2); Keekorok Lodge (~8 on a Warthog); Masai Mara (1)

House Sparrow

~10 on the journey from Nairobi to Samburu; small numbers at Mombassa Beach Hotel

Kenya Rufous Sparrow 

A single female was on the fence of a roadside curio shop rest stop on the journey from Samburu to Treetops; 2 at Lake Naivasha Country Club collecting nesting material; 3 on the journey from Masai Mara to Nairobi

Grey-headed Sparrow

Samburu (2,1); Lake Naivasha (2)

Parrot-billed Sparrow

Very good views of 3-4 birds were had in the scrub behind Mombassa beach on both morning walks

Swahili Sparrow

The distinctive greyish mantles separating from the very similar Grey-headed Sparrows were seen on 2 birds on the dirt directly in front of our room at Keekorok Lodge, with a third bird at a rest stop between Masai Mara and Nairobi

Chestnut Sparrow

A pair of non-breeding birds were at the rest stop used on the journey to and from the Masai Mara on both visits

Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver

2 were at Samburu

White-headed Buffalo-Weaver

These very smart birds were regularly seen on game drives, with ~20 on the first evening, and ~10 on the full day there

White-browed Sparrow-Weaver

These were very common throughout Samburu, and were even found within the grounds of Samburu Lodge, where they were often almost within stepping distance. At least 100 were seen on any one day

Grey-headed Social-Weaver

Very common around the grounds of Keekorok Lodge, where ~50 were seen on one day there, with ~15 the previous day

Baglafecht Weaver

~10 were at the rest stop on the journey from Nairobi to Samburu; 1 was at the feeding table on Treetops balcony; 4 were in the reeds next to the jetty at Lake Naivasha; 2 in the grounds of the Holiday Inn at Nairobi

Golden Palm Weaver

The Mombassa Beach Hotel was host to a healthy population of this vocal and tame bird, with some venturing into the restaurant to help themselves to left overs. Some birds were found building their intricate nests, often within touching distance of the paths around the hotel

Village Weaver

A colony of this species was on the opposite bank of the river to the Samburu Lodge Hotel

Speke's Weaver

Colonies of weavers passed in villages looked likely to be of this species, based on good views of the odd bird as the safari bus slowed down for speed humps. At Treetops, they formed a small colony within the reeds on one of the water holes, with birds regularly visiting the feeding station within the hotel balcony

Zanzibar Bishop

A female seen on the first walk along Momnassa beach was suspected as a bishop, but it was the appearance of what appeared to be its singing mate the next day that clinched identification

Grosbeak Weaver

What was probably a single bird was seen on consecutive days feeding in the same place on the lawns of Keekorok Lodge

Red-billed Firefinch

6 were drinking at a tap behind the curio rest stop on the journey from Nairobi to Samburu, and 2 were in the grounds of the Holiday Inn Hotel at Nairobi

Red-cheeked Cordonbleu

Initially, a single pair was seen on the lawns of Keekorok Lodge. Many more were in the grounds of the Mombassa Beach Hotel, often feeding in groups of 10+ on the open lawns

Purple Grenadier

~20 birds were regularly seen around the grounds of Keekorok Lodge

Bronze Mannikin

2 on the journey from Nairobi to Samburu; 1 in the grounds of the Holiday Inn Hotel, Nairobi; ~20 along Mombassa beach

Pin-tailed Whydah

A superb breeding plumaged male, with what looked to be one or two females, was perched on a fence wire on the journey from Samburu to Treetops

African Citril

A pair was on wires within the grounds of a curio shop rest stop on the journey from Samburu to Treetops, and another was on the journey from Lake Naivasha to the Masai Mara

White-bellied Canary

These were very common around the grounds of Keekorok Lodge, with singles to small groups often being seen feeding on the lawns. ~20 birds were probably here

Streaky Seedeater

Outspan Hotel grounds (2); Lake Naivasha Country Club (2), Holiday Inn Hotel, Nairobi (6)

Mammals seen

Blue (Sykes) Monkey

A single individual of the darker Kenyan race was picked out in the trees above the entrance gate as we entered the grounds of Treetops

Vervet Monkey

These are a very common monkey across the whole continent of Africa, and it was the only mammal that we saw in Mobassa as well as on safari. Not only are they common, but they are also very confiding, since they have learned that being around humans can have its material gains, such as when they stole food from the restaurant at the Mombassa Beach Hotel. One individual even staked us out as we sat outside of our room at Samburu Lodge, looking for the opportunity to sneak into the room and steal whatever took its fancy. ~50 were seen on any one day at Samburu, with ~20 in the Masai Mara. A small troop of ~10 was seen walking across a bare crop field on the journey from Samburu to Treetops

Baboon

Once the first troop of ~8 was found outside of the Samburu Lodge following the first morning game drive, these became quite a common sight. ~15 were slowly making their way along the opposite bank of the river to Samburu Lodge on the last morning there; ~30 were almost constant at Treetops; ~60 were spread throughout Lake Nakuru, including in front of the Lake Nakuru Lodge as we ate our lunch; ~10 were on the Masai Mara on one of the game drives

Black-backed Jackal

These were only very occasional. A pair was found almost as we started the first morning game drive at the Masai Mara, but we had to wait until almost setting back for Keekorok Lodge again on the last game drive before chancing on a lone individual

Cheetah

Having not seen Cheetah on our only previous safari, this was top of the list of most wanted animals, and they didn’t disappoint. Shortly after watching the Black-backed Jackals on the first game drive, the driver was alerted to a mother with her 5 very young cubs. They were totally unconcerned by the surrounding cavalcade of safari vehicles. On the full day game drive, we chanced upon a mother with her 2 almost fully grown cubs, which we followed for a short while before being entertained by the mother futilely chasing a Thomson’s Gazelle. Back at the Hippo Pool on the same afternoon, a sentinel Cheetah could be discerned on lookout duty on a small hillock in the distance

Lion

These were a common site, particularly in the Masai Mara, and even put on various shows for us. The first seen was a pair found next to the river as we headed towards Samburu Lodge on our first evening. The same pair were a little more active when tracked down to almost the same spot the following morning. The first trio seen in the Masai Mara were again on route to the lodge, this time a male separated from a pair of females. On the first morning game drive, we watched a pride of 7, 3 tucking into a fresh kill, with 2 active youngsters playing behind us on the track. The following day, another pride of 7 this time contained 2 females with reasonably young and playful cubs, before were found a soporific lone male, and a pair of old males as the day drew to a close. Another lone individual was seen playing with a dead Thomson’s Gazelle, which we presumed it had stolen from another predator

Leopard

Only one of these largely nocturnal cats was seen, slopping out along a branch in a tree adjacent to the river on the Buffalo Springs side of the Samburu reserve

Slender Mongoose

This small mongoose was seen crossing the track in front of us, and was subsequently seen in a fairly dry stream bed just below the safari bus

White-tailed Mongoose

One of these distinctive mongooses was picked up plying between the fresh water hole at Treetops and the underneath of the viewing balcony, where we had hoped it would come out of the other side for better views. No such luck!

Spotted Hyaena

4 were menacingly wandering to and fro around Treetops just after dusk, uttering their strange whooping call frequently. A much closer one was in the daylight at the end of the last game drive in the Masai Mara

African Elephant

These seemed to be in equal numbers in Samburu and the Masai Mara, despite the terrain of each being totally different, with perhaps more food in the better vegetated Samburu Reserve. Neither were the numbers anywhere near the herds we had expected, with 23-30 seen on the best days in each reserve. 4 came to drink and collect salt at Treetops as the dark of the night drew in. Perhaps best sighting was a herd in Buffalo Springs Reserve, which also contained a collection of youngsters of various ages, from a very small baby upwards

Burchell's (Plains) Zebra 

Very common along the shores of Lake Nakuru, to the plains of the Masai Mara. 100’s were seen on any one day at the Masai Mara, where a group was also feeding on the lawns of Keekorok Lodge in front of the restaurant after dinner one evening

Grévy's Zebra

This is the more northerly, narrow striped species, and as such was the one found at Samburu. Up to ~20 were seen on the full day there

White Rhinoceros

These were only seen at Lake Nakuru, where the closely cropped grass seemed to suit them. A group of 3 quite close complemented the ~8 which were more distantly spotted in the shade of the trees, with another single near to the waters edge

Black Rhinoceros

The first one seen trundled up to the water hole at Treetops, only to be sent packing by one of the aggressive Buffalo which wouldn’t tolerate its presence. The other Black Rhino was in the open of the plains of the Masai Mara, which would not necessarily suit its shrubby diet, and it could actually be seen using its characteristic pointed upper lip to pick of the saplings as it mooched along

Common Warthog

Surprisingly, none were seen at Samburu, with the first being seen at Treetops. They were very common here, with ~50 in total, and were almost constantly present. 4 were on the shores of Lake Nakuru, and ~10 on any one day in the Masai Mara, with many of these being seen in the vicinity of Keekorok Lodge

Common Hippopotamus 

4 were in the water at Lake Nakuru, where they could be seen from the jetty. Better numbers were seen in the River Talek, on the full days game drive in the Masai Mara. A group ~8 was seen from the bridge, with another ~10 froma viewpoint a little further along the river

Giraffe

Always impressive, 3 different races were seen throughout the safari. ~20 Reticulated were in Samburu, Rothschild’s was in both Lake Nakuru (3, including one very large youngster suckling) and Lake Naivasha (4), with the most common being Kenyan in the Masai Mara (~20 on any one day)

Impala

Large numbers were at Samburu (~100 on any one day); ~60 at Lake Nakuru; and large numbers (~100’s) were throughout the Masai Mara

Hartebeest

This odd shaped antelope was only seen on one occasion, with ~10 animals wandering with Wildebeest near to the entrance gate to the Masai Mara

Blue Wildebeest

None were at Samburu, leaving the first animals to be seen on the grazing area of Lake Naivasha. The Masai Mara held impressive herds, making this the most common mammal species seen on the trip. Numbers were in the thousands, with some very large collections, including straight lines of wanderers moving from one feeding area to the next

Topi

One of the most handsome and colourful of the antelopes, up to ~50 were seen on any one day on the Masai Mara

Grant's Gazelle

~40 & ~30 were in Samburu on consecutive days. They seemed to be even more common at Lake Naivasha, where they were also more easily seen (~100). Numbers in the Masai Mara were in the 100’s

Thomson's Gazelle

First were at Lake Nakuru, with ~50 amongst the more numerous Grant’s Gazelle. 100’s were seen on all days in the Masai Mara, including one lucky individual that we saw successfully escaping a Cheetah chase

Gerenuk

A very slim and slightly odd looking antelope, which is more an inhabitant of the northern part of Kenya. As such, we only saw them in small numbers (~10) at Samburu

Kirk's Dikdik

At least 15 were in during the game drives, with almost all being seen in pairs. 2 singles were seen on the game drives within the Masai Mara

Cape (African) Buffalo

These were very common throughout the safari, despite only 3 being seen at Samburu during the first few days. ~30 regularly visited the waterhole at Treetops, one even being bold enough to see off a Black Rhino which visited during the darkness. The best sites for Buffalo were undoubtedly Lake Nakuru, where numbers were ~200, and the Masai Mara, where quite sizeable herds could be seen. When I visited the Hippo pool while walking the grounds of Keekorok, a large herd had gathered just outside of the hotel boundary

Common Eland

Small numbers were seen at Treetops (6 arrived at dusk), and the Masai Mara (~4 seen on each day during the game drives)

Bushbuck

The only site that these colourful medium sized antelope were seen was at Treetops, with ~6 animals

Beisa Gemsbok

This is the subspecies of Oryx found to the North of Kenya, and as such were only seen at Samburu. Here they were on good numbers with ~30-50 seen on consecutive days

Waterbuck

~6 were at Samburu, with the closest being ~30 at Lake Naivasha, where were walked alongside small herds on the grazing area next to the hotel. ~20 were on the morning game drive at the Masai Mara

Striped Ground Squirrel

3 animals were seen briefly as we drove past them at Samburu

Scrub Hare

One of these amazingly long eared hares passed by the safari bus at Samburu


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Introduction

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