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A Return to Kenya: September 2019


TonyQ

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Return to Kenya: September 2019

 

Our first visit to Kenya was in January 2016, and we loved it. We wanted to try a different time of year, and to visit some different Conservancies

 

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Our Itinerary:

 

Nairobi 

2 Nights at The Boma Hotel

1 day in Nairobi National Park

Fly to

Selenkay/Amboseli

3 Nights at Porini Amboseli

Fly (via Nairobi) tp

Mara North

4 Nights at Kicheche Mara

Drive to

Mara Naboisho

4 Nights at Kicheche Valley

Fly back to Nairobi

 

We booked the international flights (BA London to Nairobi),The Boma Hotel and our guide in Nairobi National Park ourselves. The rest of the arrangements were made by Expert Africa – we had used these for previous trips and have always been very happy with them.

 

We saw a lot of birds - I have posted all of my birds in The Big Year Thread, so will only put a few in this report so that I do not overwhelm non-birders!

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I have saved this sighting for last, although it happened in the middle of the day. It was one of the most thrilling of the trip! A Serval It walked on the road   We

Selenkay Consevancy/Amboseli National Park   A quick car journey to Wilson Airport (The Boma Hotel is handily placed) for a 07.30 flight to Selenkay Airstrip. The plane left a bit early for

Bohor Reedbuck baby feeding Hartebeest Bushbuck - a really beautiful antelope - but I suppose they all are! Long-tailed Fiscal Vervet Monkey

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Nairobi National Park

We booked Benson (Ben) Mugambi from Ben’s Ecological Safaris and were very happy with him.

http://www.bensecologicalsafaris.com/

 

( @offshorebirder    had used him, so we knew he was a real person!)

 

Our main focus for the day was on birding, but Nairobi National Park was a surprise. It was bigger than we had expected, much less busy (on the day we were there), it had a surprising variety of habitats and a good selection of mammals.

 

We were picked up at 6.30am by Ben, and it was a fairly short drive to the National Park, carefully avoiding the main flow of traffic in Nairobi.

 

In this section I will just give a flavour of what we saw

 

Our first sighting was delightful - a Suni

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This one was only a few minutes past the entrance gate, hanging out near the fence

 

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This one was a few minutes later, deep in shade

Suni are around 30–45 cm high at the shoulder and weigh 4.5–5.4 kg, so they really are tiny

 

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There was a good selection of herbivores in the park – far more than we expected to see

 

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Buffalo

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Giraffe

 

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Malachite Kingfisher – just at the side of the track - certainly the closest we have ever been to one

Edited by TonyQ
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1745842835_KenyaTRNairobiNP-8.jpg.073e368d4aaaecac9547977ecd22067b.jpg

Bohor Reedbuck

96493009_KenyaTRNairobiNP-7.jpg.26de02388cc1ba48b70fe0db47de44c6.jpg

baby feeding

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Hartebeest

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Bushbuck - a really beautiful antelope - but I suppose they all are!

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Long-tailed Fiscal

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Vervet Monkey

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Wildebeest

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Eland

 

There are areas of grassland, sections of woods, and many bushy areas, providing a variety of environments of herbivores

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166476018_KenyaTRNairobiNP-24.jpg.3b3ec5e7ed92fa81ce878e6f67db4d22.jpg

African White-Backed Vulture

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Portrait

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White Rhino

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Nairobi National Park is a good place to see White Rhino. It is also possible to see Black Rhino, but they are harder to find, and we didn’t see any.

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Ever present but still beautiful Impala

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Zebra and baby

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Little Bee-eater

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I have saved this sighting for last, although it happened in the middle of the day. It was one of the most thrilling of the trip!

701958148_KenyaTRNairobiNP-11.jpg.df3787a6512f342aa1d806f71cfb0652.jpg

A Serval

1127949040_KenyaTRNairobiNP-12.jpg.67a1252878c52531121acd6e3f23a586.jpg

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It walked on the road

 

We had seen a Serval on our previous trip to Kenya, but it was dark and in long grass for the whole sighting. Here it was a much clearer and more prolonged view. It really is a beautiful cat. I had thought of it as a spotted cat, but it also has a few stripes. It has really long legs.

1055507706_KenyaTRNairobiNP-15.jpg.73ada5753419860632a4385b16beb774.jpg

It went hunting in the long grass – it would shuffle around and then leap in the air and land on the front paws, and presumably some unfortunate small rodent. I couldn’t get a picture of the leap – it was too fast and unpredictable (to me!)

 

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It came back to the road, had a spray, walked along a bit and then disappeared into the long grass.

177726041_KenyaTRNairobiNP-19.jpg.93490ec850233ad52e83ceab151ff58f.jpg

 

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So not bad for Day 1!

Our intention was a Birding Day, but Nairobi National Park was much more varies and productive than we expected.

We still managed to photograph 65 species of birds during the day.

 

 

Edited by TonyQ
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Amazing! I am more excited about the suni as a spot but the serval sighting was very special. 

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Alexander33

Gorgeous serval!  Eagerly awaiting more of what is promising already to be a great report. 

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mapumbo

Glad you are making a return safari to Kenya where we met you and @Thursday's Child in Meru.

We saw the Suni in Nairobi National Park, as well, near the entrance.

What a great serval sighting.

We are making a return to Kenya also next year.

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AfricIan

Great start @TonyQ.  That  White-Backed Vulture portrait makes it look almost photogenic and I'm pleased to read that it's not just my photographic skills that are lacking when it comes to capturing a leaping Serval!

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Treepol

@TonyQ how lucky to have such a great suni sighting, this species continues to elude me but I suppose if I go back to Africa often enough I might one day catch a glimpse of this critter. Great serval shots too.

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Serval!!!! 

 

What a great start to the trip.  Looking forward to more.

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@TonyQ Beautiful photographs of some of my favourite animals especially the serval. Looking forward to your Selenkay leg as I stayed there in 2005. 

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shouldbewriting

Great photos. I now see the correct spelling of the cat called serval we saw in Botswana. It was beautiful in the dark while seated, but how much more so in daylight and in full view. So elegant and graceful. What a treat!

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offshorebirder

Thanks for sharing the excellent photos and write up @TonyQ.

 

I am very glad Ben showed you and @Thursday's Child a good time in Nairobi NP

 

Looking forward to following along with this TR - perhaps after I return from Zambia (I depart day after tomorrow).

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The serval is awesome, but is it my imagination (maybe my glasses need cleaned), or are its eyes somewhat blue?

 

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Kitsafari

wow a suni! i don't think i've seen one yet. 

 

and a serval in daylight hours - stunning photos Tony and very very jealous. all the servals I've seen are in dark nights and in some grasses. 

 

 

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mtanenbaum

I literally gasped out loud at your serval photo! Such a fantastic sighiting. I am very jealous...haven't seen one yet in the wild....

 

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BRACQUENE

Those serval photo’s are out of this world ; I saw one very shortly this year on a night drive in Kafue and an other one  in South Luangwa in 2014 but I would love to see one in daylight 

 

Peter Bracquene

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michael-ibk

Very happy to see you are doing a report Tony, looking forward to it a lot! Awesome Serval indeed.

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@Abhi @pault @Alexander33 @mapumbo @Atdahl @AfricIan @Treepol @JohnR @Kitsafari @mtanenbaum @BRACQUENE @michael-ibk

@shouldbewriting @offshorebirder @xnegvx

thank you very much for your encouragement. We were delighted to see the Suni as well as the Serval, and indeed enjoyed being out in the National Park

@MMMim thank you. The serval does have blue eyes - I am not sure how rare that is. I know most have yellow/tawny coloured eyes. Some leopards have blue eyes I have heard. (I did a search for Seval with blue-eyes and was horrified to find that they are kept as pets by some people in the US!.) Wikipedia talks about brownish or greenish eyes, but they look blue on this individual!

 

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Selenkay Consevancy/Amboseli National Park

 

A quick car journey to Wilson Airport (The Boma Hotel is handily placed) for a 07.30 flight to Selenkay Airstrip. The plane left a bit early for the 30 minute flight as all the passengers were present!

 

We were met at the airstrip by Wilson (our guide) and Melita our driver. We had asked Expert Africa to request Wilson as our guide as he leads a number of birding trips for Porini, and is indeed very good at identifying birds.  The morning was spent as a game drive before returning to camp for check in/lunch.

 

We spent 3 nights at Porini Amboseli (which is in Selenkay Conservancy). The first day and the third day were spent in the conservancy and the second day was spent on a full day trip into Amboseli National Park.

 

During this section of the report I will combine the two Selenkay days rather going through a day by day account.

 

There were two Antelopes found in Selenkay that we were particularly keen to see – the Lesser Kudu and (one of our favourites) the Gerenuk. Neither are found in the Mara area.

 

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Gerenuk male

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Showing tha advantage of the long neck and being able to stand on back legs - you can see that the lower leaves have already gone

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And the female - much more slender

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We saw Gerenuk on a number of occasions in Selenkay, and were delighted each time - on of our favourite antelope!

 

Edited by TonyQ
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Soon after we were picked up from the airstrip we were taken to see a couple of young lions resting in some bushes. This one kindly raised his head to have a look at us

5812597_KenyaTRSelenkayD1-2.jpg.fae931c9225b2ab5a21c24316b0a2dc1.jpg

 

Amboseli is known for elephants, and there are also a number of them in Selenkay

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A big tusker coming towards us

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Having a rest against a tree - those tusks must be heavy!

I mentioned that we wanted to see birds while we were in Selenkay as it is a very different environment to the Mara Area. The Porini camp iteself was a good birding spot, and we saw lots on our trips in the consevancy. I will put a few in, but all are in the Big Year thread.

956633906_KenyaTRSelenkayD1-1.jpg.188ac95b03af5703443bc655abd74ea4.jpg

Tawny Eagle

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Sulphur-Breasted Bush-Shrike

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Green-Winged Pytilia

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Little Sparrowhawk

Ground Squirrels were also common around the camp

1652467338_KenyaTRSelenkayD1-5.jpg.8d7ef0a424ff89374a76d9896122e34a.jpg

 

 

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The other antelope we were particularly keen to see was the Lesser Kudu

1312991953_KenyaTRSelenkayLKudu-1.jpg.4c37f1b80b37d49d040b5d64d4d86d16.jpg

A very handsome male

1542356990_KenyaTRSelenkayLKudu-2.jpg.c6c04d980af4ff0008ff8cefa7a966de.jpg

 

885385812_KenyaTRSelenkayLKudu-4.jpg.58238933282d0547e5daaf941616835b.jpg

Female with just visible baby. You can see how dry much of the bush is - we were told there was virtually no rain in the recent period where it was expected

568437403_KenyaTRSelenkayLKudu-3.jpg.317f04696cf362b848fef5c43850b2ce.jpg

A better view of the baby

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A young male

I think we had about 4 sightings of the Lesser Kudu -and they didn't instantly run away which they do in some areas. We were delighted to see these beautiful animals

 

 

Edited by TonyQ
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