March 2013

Monthly Archive

East Africa Trip Day 15

Posted by on 29 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

day15_maasai_women_30Today we were on the road at 7:05 AM.  Six and a quarter hours later we were 140 miles away at the edge of the Maasai Mara National Park.  We made the first 100 miles on good pavement in three hours, in spite of two stops for bank and shopping but the next 29 miles took five minutes short of two hours.  We are all a little saddle sore.  We forded half a dozen nearly dry rivers and I couldn’t help but worry what will happen if it rains hard while we are here.  Also much of the area is “Black Cotton” soil, dirt a degree worse than our gumbo.  It is hard as granite when dry and has no bottom when wet.  I had many experiences, all negative, with Black Cotton on the occasions I worked in East Africa and don’t want to have more.

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East Africa Trip Day 14

Posted by on 28 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

Day14Beth decided to go with us today, mainly because the day started with a one hour boat ride in the lake.  The follow-up was to be a 4.7 mile walk along a narrow road across a dry pasture and down a long valley leading to Hell’s Gate Gorge.

The boat ride was a treat.  We saw 18 species before we started away from the dock area.  We went on to see cormorants feeding their young and egrets nesting in shrubs offshore.  We visited two schools of hippopotamus, saw several kingfishers and water birds and again watched a sea eagle pick a fish out of the water.  The first two pairs we found were apparently not hungry and showed no interest in our fish.  Third try was a single male and he finally decided to entertain us, left his perch and swooped down to pick up the fish our boatman had thrown out.  Good show. Continue Reading »

East Africa Trip Day 13

Posted by on 28 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

Day13First a correction to yesterday.  The estate I mentioned is the Delamere Estate and the descendants of Lord Delamere still operate the property.

Today was hard work.  Beth had the good sense to stay home.  She read, birded under a roof over the lake and watched Al-Jazeera, which with a 24/7 soccer channel are the only English language TV we have.  In general she had a restful, peaceful day.  Tad and I however stuck with the program.  Dumb!  We drove about 15 miles, the last 3 or 4 on very dusty sand road, walked a mile across very dusty pasture to the edge of an old crater, descended 100 steps and considerable down sloping cement into the crater and walked another mile around the lake on very rough bush track.  We then did it all in reverse, stopping to eat near the restaurant at the bottom of the stairs.  All in all, we were away from the car for almost 5 hours and it was hot!  When we got back to the Country Club we took refuge at Beth’s gazebo and I added two species of terns.   Continue Reading »

East Africa Trip Day 12

Posted by on 28 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

day12Today was another travel day.  We traversed just over 150 miles, all but the first 50 on the main highway but it took more than 5 ½ hours.  We are back in the Rift Valley, about 35 miles south of the Sunbird Lodge on Lake Elementaita, at the Lake Naivasha Country Club.  The grounds here are spacious and, in spite of it still being very dry, beautifully maintained.  The very large Acacia trees are magnificent and shade much of the grounds.  Elevation is 6300 feet so outside temperature is pleasant but there are no screens on our windows so the rooms remain warm. We still have not had air conditioning anywhere in Kenya.  Not at all.  Not anywhere.

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East Africa Trip Day 11

Posted by on 28 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

Day11Last evening, when I went to send out the day’s record, I discovered the router was in a birdhouse type structure on a post in the middle of the parking lot.  It is only 3G, so will not open my Roadrunner account.  Fortunately my Canadian service has a function which will adapt to 3G. Effective radius varies with time of day but is never more than 20 feet and sometimes only 5 or 6.  It took 25 minutes to send the photograph for Day 10 but tonight, I gave up after 50 minutes of standing in the parking lot holding my laptop trying to send my Day 11 photo.  Maybe tomorrow’s lodge will be better equipped.

Today wasn’t a very successful day count wise.  We walked for three and a half hours this morning, no small feat at 5000 feet, and only added 16 species.  The walk itself was interesting though.  We passed beside a large field of tea, saw several species of beautiful flowers and watched as people travelled to church on motorbikes, tractors, bicycles and buses.  Dress code was from suit and white shirt to coveralls and much in between.   Continue Reading »

East Africa Trip Day 10

Posted by on 23 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

Day10Today was a hard day.  There had been heavy wind overnight and the lake was full of driftwood blown out from the flooded wetlands.  We nevertheless arrived ashore safely and on time and were soon off.   We didn’t travel all that far but much of the road was terrible.  Potholes on some sections were unbelievable and at times we drove in the unimproved ditch.   Total distance was about 150 miles but it felt like a thousand.  Five hours after leaving the launch at Baringo, we arrived at Rondo Retreat in the Kakamega Forest.  It is beautiful and well worth the trip.  Also the temperature is about 70° and there is a gentle breeze. Continue Reading »

East Africa Trip Day 9

Posted by on 23 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: birding

day9_hotspring_at_lakebogoria_webRain is a great thing.  We only had a few drops but Beth and I both pulled blankets up overnight.  It felt wonderful.

Also, I was interviewed by two national television networks today.   Fyock was only interviewed once.

Beth elected to stay home today.  Mungai and Michael arrived about 7:30 and Tad and I were away with them in a few minutes.  They had arranged to use a closer dock so we were spared the tortuous track to the lodge dock.  We drove to Lake Bogoria and the associated conservation area, a distance of about 50 miles. Continue Reading »

East Africa Trip Day 8

Posted by on 21 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

Day8Careful what you wish for!  I had just finished typing “..praying for at least a breeze,” when a gale hit.  Beth had zipped up the front of the tent but the wind, which lasted about 15 minutes, shook the bejeebers out of our thatched roof.  The rain that looked like it was coming too, slipped to the west and within a quarter hour, we were again calm and hot.  The guides onshore had mud.

I should mention that most African tent camps are some variation of cement floor, a wooden sided bathroom with running water both hot and cold, sink, shower and toilet, canvas or rough wood sides and front and a thatched roof.  One sleeps inside a spacious mosquito net to keep bugs at bay. Continue Reading »

East Africa Trip Day 7

Posted by on 20 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

Day7Today was a travel day and two unusual things happened.  First, we got away at 7:50, ten minutes early and two, we arrived more-or-less on schedule, in spite of a couple of serious setbacks.  We drove north from Lake Elementaita to Lake Boringo, a distance of about 100 miles.  We made a few birding stops, but generally chugged along pretty steadily.  I finally convinced Mungai to drive 75 kph instead of 79.9 and we had a steady, instead of a jerky, ride.  We headed out on the Great Northern Way but soon branched off onto a secondary highway.  The last fifty miles was extremely holey, plus each little town had built well disguised speed bumps, so the drive was not completely restful.  We also went through about a ten mile stretch of countryside favored by the Spur-thighed Tortoise.  They apparently had all spent the night on the east side of the road and wished to spend the day on the west side.  We stopped for six of them, two only six inches across, and each time Michael got out, picked up the tortoise and carried it across the road.  I hope they appreciate that he probably lengthened their lives by at least half a day. Continue Reading »

East Africa Trip Day 6

Posted by on 20 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

Day6Beth’s diligence in shopping for fast drying clothes certainly paid off.  We did laundry yesterday afternoon, since we will be at Sunbird another night, and by this morning almost all is dry.  We are clean again!

When I opened the door and stepped onto the patio, I was greeted with a tremendous cackling from the flamingos.  I called Beth but by the time she came out it was quiet.  We later determined the flamingos were being harassed by an African Fish Eagle and there were several such flare ups of excitement. Continue Reading »

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