Tom Bischof 2023 Kenya Trip Report.

 Tour Summary
Tour Participants: Tom and Irmak Bischof
Tour leader: Joseph Aengwo.
Photo acknowledgements: Tom and Irmak Bischof
Number of Bird Species seen:  310

Birds of the Trip: Jackson’s Widowbird,Banded Snake-Eagle,Mosque Swallow,Schalow’s Turaco,Caspian Plover,African Skimmer,Greater Painted-snipe, Shinning Sunbird,Narina Trogon,Magpie Starling just to mention a few!
Trip Report Compiled By: Joseph Aengwo.

I was privileged to have guided Tom and Irmek for a seven days birding trip in March 2023.Being their first trip to Kenya,there so much to look forward to for them. We enjoyed seven days travelling  through to three different areas with very distinct habitat in Kenya:Masai Mara national reserve,Lake Nakuru national park and Lake Baringo in the dry northern region of the Kenya’s Rift Valley.Our meeting point for the trip was the bustling town of Migori located close to Kenya-Tanzania border .

Narina Trogon. Photo by Tom Bischof

We had planned our stay in such a way it will afford us the opportunity to explore both the Mara Triangle and the Southern and Central part of the remaining section of the reserve.We stayed for three nights altogether,two nights in Mara Serena lodge and One night in Mara Maisha Camp,just outside Talek gate.

11th March,2023: At Migori Country Lodge,the compound was full of activity;we managed to record species like African Yellow White-eye,African Thrush,African Paradise Flycatcher and a breeding colony of Village Weaver.A lone Hammerkop flew overhead as we cruise through the  busy town and off course Marabou Stork were dominating  the skies there.

Caspian Plover.Photo by Tom Bischof.

We drove in C13 which took us through Kehancha,Lolgorian and finally  to the scenic  Siria escarpment;  below it is the expansive Masai Mara national reserve.Just as we were exiting Migori town,we picked-up Long-crested Eagle ,Bronze Mannikin,Black Kite,Rattling Cisticola  and Speckled Mousebird.

We made a brief stop at season a seasonal river a 15 kilometers before Lolgorian town,the birding was great here!we pocketed Double-toothed  Barbet,Lesser-striped Swallow,Red-fronted Tinkerbird,Spot-flanked Barbet,Grey-capped Warbler,Scarlet-chested Sunbird and Ruppell’s Starling.  

Flappet Lark.Photo by Tom Bischof.

As we approached Olololo gate,we recorded species like Hilderbrandt’s Starling,Klaas’s Cuckoo,Greater Blue-eared Starling,Lesser-striped Swallow,Little Swift,Yellow Bishop and Yellow-billed Oxpecker.After clearing with the park authorities, we entered the park as few minutes past four and we documented species like Rufous-naped Lark,Yellow-throated Longclaw,Ringed-necked Dove,Red-coloured,Fan-tailed,Yellow-mantled and Jackson’s Widowbird,Mottled and Common Swift,Mosque Swallow,Croaking and Stout Cisticola,Black Coucal,European Bee-eater and Tawny Eagle among other species.

African Wattled Lapwing.Photo by Joe Aengwo

Although this was not the season for huge migrating herds, we did see many large mammals throughout the Mara: African Elephant, Plains Zebra, Impala, Hartebeest, Common Wildebeest, Topi, Thompson’s Gazelle, Waterbuck, Bohor Reedbuck, African Buffalo, Common Eland and Masai Giraffe, with Hippopotamus in nearly every river and pond. We had stunning views of one big Leopard who was enjoying his dinner on a balanite tree. Before our day ended,we had a close encounter with two female lions who were venturing out of their day resting site into their night active life.Below is the ebird list of species seen.

Photo by Irmak Bischof

12th February,2023: We stated off after breakfast and we birded our way out of the lodge to the Main crossing point.We heard Tropical Boubou  and Grey-headed Bush-shrike calling but didn’t show up,we However picked-up Tawny-flanked Prinia,Yellow-fronted Canary,Plain-backed Pipit,Rufous-naped Lark,White-headed Saw-wing,Wire-tailed Swallow,African Palm Swift,Montagu’s Harrier,Ovambo Sparrowhawk,Whalberg’s Eagle,Zitting and Rock-loving  Cisticola,Crowned,African Wattled and Senegal  Lapwing, African Fish Eagle,Black Coucal,African Jacana,Red-throated Longclaw,Stout Cisticola,Sooty Chat,Martial Eagle and African Quail-finch.

In the afternoon, we concentrated on the open grassland bird and we saw Red-necked Spurfowl,Coqui Francolin,Flappet Lark,African Grey Hornbill,Black-bellied Bustard,African and Long-billed Pipit,Temminck’s Courser,Banded and Plain Martin,Lappet-faced Vulture,Black-chested Snake Eagle,Little Bee-eater,Bateleur,Peregrine Falcon, Common and Grey Kestrel.

Senegal Lapwing.Photo by Tom Bischof

13th Febraury,2023: We birded our way out of Mara Triangle venturing in the southern part of the reserve.As we exited our lodge,just 150 away from the lodge we encountered a pair of mating Leopard  which we observed for like an one hour or so! We got stunning images of this beautiful  cat.And the rest of the day we enjoyed spectacular views of a big pride of lions just by the Mara bridge and a coalition of three male cheetahs.We also encountered a Serval Cat roaming the grassland by the Roan Hill. We were both satisfied with the views of Bare-faced Go-Away-Bird,Crowned Hornbill,Grey-capped Social Weaver,Secretary Bird,White-bellied Bustard,Common Buzzard,Tabora Cisticola,Black-lored Babbler,Pin-tailed and Straw-tailed Whydah,Magpie Shrike,Cinnamon Rock Bunting,Northern Ant-eater Chat,White-fronted Bee-eater,Over 200 Caspian Plovers,Speckle-fronted Weaver,Red-capped Lark,Three-banded Plover,Green Sandpiper and White-bellied Canary and African Mustached Warbler.We checked on our lodge to a well deserving sundowner drink !.

Grey Kestrel.Photo by Joe Aengwo.

14th June,2023:After breakfast we checked out of our lodge birding en route to Sekenani gate where officially exit Masai Mara national reserve and head to Lake Nakuru national park.The birding in the morning was excellent,we enjoyed great views of Purple Grenadie,Speke’s Weavers,Speckled-fronted Weaver,Usambiro Barbet,Slate-coloured Boubou,Yellow-throated Bush-sparrow,Red-rumped Swallow,Grey-headed Silverbill,Capped Wheatear,Bare-faced Go-Away-Bird,Speckled Pegion,Little Weaver,White-fronted Bee-eater,Black-winged Lapwing,Somali Short-toed Lark,Wattled Starling,Temminck’s Courser,Black-bellied Bustard,Pectrol-patch and Croaking Cisticola,Magpie Shrike and Black.

It was time move on to our next destination, we made a brief stop at Narok town for rest room and fuelling and proceed toward Nakuru stopping mid-way for a lunch break,while having our lunch we had exceptional views of Golden-winged Sunbird and Augur Buzzard.We arrived at our lodge at Lake national park at around 3pm.

Magpie Shrike.Photo by Joe Aengwo

Our afternoon game drive yielded Common Scimitarbill,Green Woodhoopoe,African Hoopoe,White-bellied Tit, Abyssinian Thrush ,Buff-bellied Warbler,Red-faced Crombec,Rattling Cisticola,African Fish Eagle were everywhere,Common and Crimson-rumped Waxbill,Red-cheeked Cordon-blue,African Firefinch,Yellow-breasted Apalis,Scarlet-chested Sunbird,Common Buzzard,Hildebrandt’s Francolin,Northern Ant-eater Chat,White Crested Helmetshrike and Red-fronted Barbet.Before our  day ended, we were lucky with a close encounter with a lone male Black Rhino who was busy marking his territory .

15th February, 2023: Wre had a full day to explore Lake Nakuru national park,we started off with a 30 minutes bird walk in our lodge compound which was really productive. We pocketed African Green Pegion,White-headed Barbet (race Albicauda ),Willow Warbler,Eurasian Hoopoe,Scarlet Chested Sunbird,Arrow-marked Babbler,Abyssinian Thrush,White-browed Robin-Chat and Common Scimitarbill.

Our morning game drive in the park produced among other;Golden-breasted Bunting,White-bellied Tit,Variable Sunbird,Spot-Flanked Barbet,Nubian,Bearded and Eastern Grey Woodpecker,Red-faced Crombec,Buff-bellied Warbler,Augur and Common Buzzard,African Fish Eagle,White-fronted and Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater,Schalow’s Wheatear,Red-bakced and Isabelline Shrike,Grey-backed Fiscal,Red-fronted Barbet,Black-cuckoo Shrike,Greater Honeyguide and Osprey.

Golden-breasted Bunting.Photo by Joe Aengwo

The shores of the lake produced incredible number of waders including;Little and Temminck’s Stint,Ruff,Gull-billed and Whiskered Tern,African Skimmer,Lesser and Greater Flamingos,Pink-backed and Great White Pelican,Kittlitz’s,Common Ringed and Three-banded Plover,Common Greenshank,Wood and Common Sandpiper,Grey-headed Gull,Long-tailed and Great Cormmorant.

We had to interrupt our birding to rescue a colleague and his clients whose vehicle has stuck by the shores of  the lake.How he ignored a warning signed erected by Kenya Wildlife Services( KWS) not to make an adventures venture into the shore is a story for another day!. To cut the long story shot,after some concerted effort between us, KWS rangers and other travelers,we managed pull the car out.

Hildebrandt’s Francolin.Photo by Joe Aengwo

We were happy to see both Black and White rhinoceros, which sadly have been hunted out of other reserves by poachers. Other mammals added to our list included Rothchild’s Giraffe.We enjoyed close encounters with Black-backed Jackals, as well as two lions resting on top a yellow-fever acacia tree on the northern part of the park.

We were happy to see both Black and White rhinoceros, which sadly have been hunted out of other reserves by poachers. Other mammals added to our list included Rothchild’s Giraffe.We enjoyed close encounters with Black-backed Jackals, as well as two lions resting on top a yellow-fever acacia tree on the northern part of the park.

Spot-flanked Barbet.Photo by Joe Aengwo

In the late afternoon,Irmek decided to enjoy the swimming pool at the lodge while Tom and I ventured into the nearby cliff and we were rewarded with great views of Black-throated Barbet,Mocking Cliff Chat,Bristle-crowned and Red-winged Starling,Somali Tit,Blue-naped Mousebird,Lanner Falcon,Shikra,White-crested Helmetshirke,Red-and-Yellow Barbet,Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit,White morph of African Paradise Flycatcher,Magpie Starling,White-headed Buffalo Weaver and Purple Roller.

Beautiful Sunbird.Photo by Juhani Vilpo

17th February, 2023: On this morning we ventured into the lake for three hours which was really great for water birds,kingfishers and Weavers.We picked up;Long-tailed Cormorant, African Darter,Greater Painted-snipe,Common Snipe,Blue-cheeked Bee-eater,Northern-masked,Lesser-masked,Village and Golden-backed Weaver,Woodland,Malachite,Pied and Giant Kingfisher,African Jacana,Hammerkop,Little Bittern,Goliath,Purple,Squacco and Grey Heron,Gull-billed and Whiskered Tern.

Little Bittern.Photo by Bruce Szczechowski

We had an early lunch and started our trip back to Nairobi where our clients will catch their flight back home.I