Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Three Months In

African Paradise-flycatcher

We spend a lot of time outside. Pretty much from when we start morning obs at 5:30 AM and return to camp after evening obs around 8:00 PM. Being outside this much lets you really get to know the Mara and camp regulars. 

This snag almost always has a grey kestrel perched on it.

Schalow's Turaco
Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see or hear African black-headed orioles, Schalow’s turacos, or African paradise flycatchers around camp. Schalow's turacos are gorgeous but stay high up in the canopy where they have proven challenging to photograph. Others are far more unpredictable. A week ago violet-backed starlings suddenly flooded into camp, and three days later they were gone. Twice I have seen a grey-headed bush-shrike skulking through camp, once in early December and again a few days ago. It stealthily crept through the branches of the trees in camp until the flycatchers discovered it and harassed it out of camp. 

African Black-headed Oriole

We also have a warthog sow and piglet who visit camp everyday. She used two have two other piglets (but we think they may have been taken by a leopard) and two warthog boars. There is a third granddaddy of all warthog boars with massive tusks who I usually see on the edge of camp but rarely comes in when the other two boars do. Four or five dik dik also run around camp with their tiny noses wiggling at full speed. 

Momma warthog with her last remaining piglet

A leopard we've seen frequently not too far from camp.

A pair of cranes that nested in our Happy Zebra territory raised a chick from a tiny ball of fluff to a funky teenager. They consistently hang out at a particular pond and so we’ve gotten to watch the chick grow up. 

Our favorite crane family

Two palearctic migrants, black storks and white storks (super creative names, right) have also showed up in the past two weeks. Large flocks of white storks have been using the marshy grassland in North territory. Rains in late January filled up a creek that runs into the Mara allowing fish to move in. The creek bends and forms a pool where fish get trapped as it dries. The black storks were fishing there alongside the regular Mara inhabitants like African spoonbills, woolly-necked storks, and yellow-billed storks.

Now that pool dried up the black storks are using the marshy grassland in North territory with the white storks. There are also tons of shorebirds using the mudflats and marshes. I’m really hoping to see more migrants moving back north at the end of this month and into April.

Solitary white stork who was hanging out with some marabous

Black stork with a fish

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