Sunday 23 February 2020

Kenya 3-15 November 2019. Part 2 - Amboseli

Other parts are here:   Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4 

We are still in Amboseli National Park. We ventured to different parts of of the park each day. One of the most productive days was the trip to the lake and the swamp.  On the way we saw many mammals and large game.  As these are all wild animals, naturally we had to stay in the safari van.  Here are some of the animals:

Baboon. Doesn't immediately look aggressive, but I wouldn't like to upset this male.

Black-faced Vervet monkeys. They're cute. They keep their distance.

Here is Pumba. Not very approachable. Kept quite a long way away from us. Basically vegetarian, but it still has big tusks!
Then there are the grazing animals, who roam the plains in search of new grass. The gazelles are graceful and fast. The Gnu (Wildebeest) is iconic and so is the zebra.

Grant's Gazelle. Also named after a bloke. Much paler than the other gazelles.

Impala. Recognisable from their corkscrew antlers on the male. The female has none.

Gnu or Wildebeest. The dewlap beard makes them all look like old men. 

The zebra is almost unique. There are however three species. This is Burchell's or plains zebra.

Water Buffalo. This is a large male and it's quite dangerous. Note the cattle egrets nearby, waiting for the insects thrown up as this large animal moves through the grass.

Hippos are actually herbivorous. If you annoy him, he will kill you, but, don't worry, he won't eat you! Notice the large wound on his shoulder!

Black-backed Jackal. A slim wild dog. Note the very large ears, to listen out for danger.

Spotted Hyena. Quite small ears. I imagine he has few natural predators to worry about.
Bat-eared Foxes. Rare, but Joseph spotted them on our way back to the lodge at the end of the day. After photographing them, we really had to move to exit the park on time. 

We also saw other birds on the road to the swamp. Here are some of them:

Yellow-fronted Canary. Hard to think of this as a wild bird.
Little Bee-eater. It has caught something, but I don't think it's a bee. They do eat them though.
Grey-crowned Crane. Such a handsome bird.

Coursers are, as their name suggests, runners. They rarely fly. They are very hard to see as they are well camouflaged. I was pleased that I spotted the following bird on the side of the road as we sped back to the lodge for lunch. Joseph, our driver stopped and backed up without flushing it so we could take photos.

Two-banded Courser.

Two-banded Courser.

The swamp itself was home to very many water birds. Many of them are familiar, but we were able to see them very close. The safari van is a wonderful hide.  Animals and birds hardly notice it at all.  One or two of the birds I had not seen before.
Black-bellied Bustard. One of several species of bustard found in the park.

African Fish Eagle. Quite a large eagle.

Greater Flamingo. I like the reflection in this shot.

Kittlitz's Plover. This was a bird I had not seen before. A handsome small wader and a 'lifer'.
Kittlitz's  Plover.

When you look at fish in a river in strong sunlight, it's often hard to see them in the water. The reflection of the sunlight is too strong. There is a clever bird that has learned how to create some shade with its wings in order to see its prey in the water. I give you: the Black Heron.

Black Heron. The only bird I know that uses its wings to create shade.
Black Heron. It spreads its wings to create an umbrella, shading its eyes so it can see its prey.
Pied Kingfisher. It's very common, but attractive. This is a male, having a second thin black chest band below the thick black band. The female has only the thick chest band.
Three-banded Plover ('plover' rhymes with 'lover', by the way). Another attractive small wader.
African Spoonbill. An iconic bird with a huge spatula bill, which it uses to filter its food out of the water.

Our driver, Joseph, was very patient and experienced. He would stop the van when we wanted and reverse if we had gone past a bird or animal that we wanted to see. It was very nice to have our own vehicle so we could spend as long as we wanted in any place and stop whenever we wanted to.

*   *   *   *   *

Soon, it was time to move on to the next park, Tsavo West.

The drive took us through terrain containing a large lava tube from Kilimanjaro. This is a huge streak of lava several kilometres long. Some of it is buried, but sometimes it is starkly exposed.

Lynne on the lava 'tube'

Tsavo West is an open camp. There are no fences and we stayed in glorified tents. These are large tents with some walls for the bathroom, electricity sockets, etc.  Animals roam freely through the camp, usually at night or early morning. After dark, we had to call for a guard to escort us to and from the restaurant / lounge areas.

Did we get eaten by a hyena?  Find out in the next episode!!

Other parts are here:   Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4 


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