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Hot Sun, Cool Breeze

I originally intended to do one of these every few days, keeping everyone up to date with a pseudo-realistic walk-through of our safari, but days turned into weeks, and I sit here desperately trying not to let weeks slip into months. We all know how it can get, life that is. Truth is, it’s not that I haven’t been getting the time to write, but I’ve been using that time to pore over fresh images, each time I’m finished with a batch I simply import another, and I must admit that I’ve been reliving our adventure privately over the past few weeks, sometimes sitting open-mouthed, staring at the computer screen in disbelief – I actually saw that?

Here I’m sharing some images from our first (of two) boating trips, after the warm golden tones that accompanied everything from the previous day in Nairobi National Park, the cool blues were most welcome.

Before we even got our life jackets on, some members of the group drifted off in pursuit of a Black Crake that was showing well. Now I know the secretive habits of crakes all too well, but in my pre-trip research I found out that the Black Crake is found in the open with a fair degree of regularity, so I wasn’t in a hurry to chase it.

Sliding out into open water, a couple species of ducks excited us. This Yellow-billed Duck was seen briefly as it paddled behind a bed of reeds. One of four ducks we saw that morning.

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Expected, but we all were super thrilled to finally lay our eyes upon some truly iconic African waterfowl – Yellow-billed Storks and African Spoonbills!

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A tiny, feathery blob on the surface of the lake turned out to be a Little Grebe – they very much reminded me of our Least Grebes.

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Dwarfed by a foraging Yellow-billed Stork in the background, a Squacco Heron hunted on the pads of floating vegetation. These small herons are quite intriguing, they look like a mix between a pure white egret and a bittern. In flight, their bright white wings stand out, but from the moment those wings close, the bird effectively disappears.

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Our attention was briefly taken away from surface level by the appearance of a Hybrid Lovebird – the product of a Fischer’s and Yellow-collared Lovebird. I’m accustomed to seeing sad lovebirds in cages, so it was refreshing to see this one wild and free, as it should be. I didn’t mind being far away from the bird itself, in fact I prefer this type of image with exponentially more room than any cage.

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Both of Kenya’s cormorants were on show – these White-breasted Cormorants are the larger of the two.

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Eventually, we got to a point on the lake where we were hearing a familiar sound – one that I had heard in documentaries and safari videos (yes I looked at a lot of safari videos before our actual experience) so I knew exactly what we were about to experience. The majestic African Fish Eagle called loudly, and we drifted closer. Almost as if on cue, a second bird answered the call and flew in. Just can’t make this stuff up.

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Even though 98% of the birds we saw were new to us, there were a couple familiar faces here and there. Black-crowned Night Herons are found throughout much of the world’s tropical and sub-tropical regions, and claimed an entire leafy tree as their rookery within Lake Naivasha.

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As the morning wore on, the sun climbed higher and higher and the clouds all scattered. But somehow, we weren’t completely baked. Lake Naivasha sits at a staggering six thousand feet above sea level, and no matter how much the sun tried to fry our very being, a constant wind always carried a mild chill.

When we finally found some Great White Pelicans, their utter size was mind blowing. With a wingspan that can touch (and sometimes pass) eleven feet, it’s one of the largest flying birds in the world and legitimately can pass for a light aircraft at a glance, from a distance. Standing motionless, they were no less imposing, towering over other medium-large birds such as Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Caspian Terns.

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One of the most rewarding experiences from this first foray into a watery habitat was – you guessed it – shorebirds! We got to scope out many new species that would be mega-rarities on our side of the world, from greenshanks to redshanks and this Black-tailed Godwit. This is me making a mental note to do a post on shorebirds eventually.

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Ultimately, we yielded to the power of the sun, and sought shade and food. Popping into Elsamere Lodge for a scrumptious lunch, we were humbled by the fact that it was the former home of the Adamsons, birthplace of the Born Free Foundation and yet still a home to countless species of animals. We enjoyed superb food, Superb Starlings and superb views of Black-and-white Colobus monkeys.

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