Little Yellow Flycatcher - Endemic to coastal East Africa

Black-headed Apalis - Endemic to SE Africa

Malindi Pipit - Endemic to Coastal Kenya and Somalia

Coastal Cisticola - Endemic to Coastal E Africa

Sokoke Scops-Owl - Endemic East Africa

Long-tailed Fiscal - Endemic to NE Africa

Day 2, January 2, 2013 - Malindi to Tsavo East.

Willy again picked me up early and we were in for a long day in the car.  We were using a Nissan minivan where the entire roof could be lifted. This turned out to be an excellent vehicle for taking pictures. The crew consisted of a driver, Willy the guide, my friend and me, so I was more or less in total control of what to stop for and what not. We set out on a very bad gravel road from Malindi to Tsavo Easts Sala Gate. We were supposed to be birding enroute. The first nicely perched bird was a White-browed Coucal. Then close to Malindi I caught a sight of a Fischer´s Turaco. It was sitting partly hidden in the foliage and I did only get bad pictures. Next was what I tought was a new species; Ring-necked Dove, this turned out to be a regular Cape Turtle Dove :-) : Then we had the Tsavo Sunbird, and first sighting of White-bellied Go-away-bird and Eastern Chanting Goshawk. We stopped by a small lake and spotted quite a few Gull-billed Terns in the distance. Next bird was the Vulturine Guineafowl, quite a few White-throated Bee-eaters and a Yellow-spotted Petronia. We stopped briefly at the gate of Tsavo East and I saw this beautiful Starling on the ground. This turned out to be a Superb Starling. Once inside the park we were starting to run out of time with still 70km´s to go to our lodge. Willy had not calculated in the extra time it takes to have a bird photographer in the car :-). The trip to the lodge became more or less a rally, but we still managed to stop for a few birds. First one was a Golden Pipit, then Singing Bush-Lark, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, the beautiful Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Buff-crested Bustard, Taita Fiscal, Northern White-crowned Shrike, Tawny Eagle and Northern Red-billed Hornbill. We finally arrived at the Voi Wildlife Lodge just outside the Voi gate in time for a late lunch.

Pictures of some of the birds we saw from Malindi to Voi Wildlife Lodge.

White-browed Coucal

Me and the car we used on the Safari

White-bellied Go-away-bird - Endemic to NE Africa

Eastern Chanting Goshawk - Endemic to NE Africa

Vulturine Guineafowl - Endemic to NE Africa

Yellow-spotted Petronia

Superb Starling - Endemic to NE Africa

Golden Pipit - Endemic to NE Africa

Singing Bush Lark

Chestnut Bellied Sandgrouse

Northern Carmine Bee-eater

Yellow-necked Spurfowl - Endemic to NE Africa

Buff-crested Bustard - Endemic to NE Africa

Day 2, January 2, 2013 - Tsavo East afternoon.

After a nice lunch we were supposed to do an afternoon drive. There was a waterhole outside the lunch area and as I was eating lunch, I had nice views of Yellow-billed Stork, Marabou Stork + Spurwinged Lapwing. Once inside the park we saw our first Golden-breasted Starling. Other birds we quickly added to our list were European Roller (very common), Capped Wheatear, Taita Fiscal, Northern Grey-headed Sparrow, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Pink-breasted Lark, Isabeline Wheatear (very common), Red-winged Lark, Cutthroat Finch, Diederick Cuckoo, Black-faced Sandgrouse, a displaying Kori Bustard, Somali Ostrich and Northern Red-billed Hornbill.

Pictures of some of the birds we saw in the afternoon of the first day on Safari.

Golden-breasted Starling - Endemic to NE Africa

Spur-winged Lapwing

European Roller

Taita Fiscal - Endemic to NE Africa

Capped Wheatear

Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush

Pink-breasted Lark - Endemic to NE Africa

Isabeline Wheatear

Black-faced Sandgrouse - Endemic to NE Africa

Kori Bustard

Somali Ostrich - Endemic to NE Africa

Northern Red-billed Hornbill

Day 3, January 3, 2013 - Tsavo East, morning trip.

We were going to spend the entire day in Tsavo East this day. Unfortunately the sky was clouded over in the morning, giving very poor light for photography. The first bird of the morning was Fire-fronted Bishop quickly followed by Parrot-billed Sparrow. Wherever we went it was this chirping sound and i soon discovered that this was Harlequin Quails calling. They were calling from everywhere and I had more than 30 photo opportunities on this normally very elusive bird. Other birds on the morning round included: Pangani Longclaw, Fischer´s Starling, Chestnut Weaver, Rufous Chatterer, Von der Decken´s Hornbill, White-headed Buffalo-Weaver, White-winged Widowbird, Zanzibar Red Bishop, Rosy-patched Bush-Shrike and Northern White-bellied Bustard. We then headed back to the lodge for breakfast.

Pictures of some of the birds we saw in the morning on the second day on safari:

Fire-fronted Bishop - Endemic to NE Africa

Parrot-billed Sparrow - Endemic to NE Africa

Harlequin Quail

Pangani Longclaw - Endemic to NE Africa

Fischer´s Starling - Endemic to NE Africa

Chestnut Weaver

Rufous Chatterer - Endemic to NE Africa

Von der Decken´s Hornbill - Endemic to NE Africa

White-headed Buffalo-Weaver - Endemic to NE Africa

White-winged Widowbird

Zanzibar Red Bishop - Endemic to NE Africa

Rosy-patched Bush-Shrike - Endemic to NE Africa

Northern White-bellied Bustard

Day 3, January 3, 2013 - Tsavo East, midday trip.

After a big breakfast I headed back to my room to pick up my gear. I was suddenly aware of a bird in the tree in front of me. It turned out to be a Red-chested Cuckoo. I went back to my room for the camera, but of course it was gone before I made it back. However in the next tree, I found a Black Cuckoo! We were soon on our way and we actually saw quite a few birds even though it was getting quite hot.  Just before we entered the park, I spotted another Red-chested Cuckoo. We found a flock of Cut-throat Finch, I finally managed to get a picture of a Common Quail (not good). The next new birds were Red-tailed Shrike, Black-capped Social Weaver, and Grey Wren-Warbler. We also had fantastic views of 3 Secretarybirds before we returned to the lodge for lunch.

Pictures of some of the birds we saw in the midday on the second day on safari:

Black Cuckoo

Red-chested Cuckoo

Cut-throat Finch

Common Quail

Red-tailed Shrike

Black-capped Social Weaver - Endemic to NE Africa

Grey Wren-Warbler - Endemic to NE Africa

Secretary Bird

Day 3, January 3, 2013 - Tsavo East, Afternoon trip trip.

After lunch we again set out to explore Tsavo East around the Voi Gate. It took some time before we found new birds to add to our list. The first new bird was a Black-bellied Bustard. On a savanna loop, we saw no less than 5 Steppe Eagles at different perches, we flushed a Lanner Falcon sitting in the middle of the road and found some Chestnut-backed Sparrowlarks. The last new bird was a beautiful Red-and-Yellow Barbet.

Pictures of some of the birds we saw in the afternoon on the second day on safari:

Black-bellied Bustard

Northern White-crowned Shrike - Endemic to NE Africa

Steppe Eagle

Chestnut-backed Sparrowlark

Red-and-yellow Barbet - Endemic to NE Africa

Day 4, January 4, 2013 - Tsavo East to Tsavo West

Willy had organized packed breakfast for us today and we were at the gate on opening. This was also going to be a marathon day. The first new bird was a pair of African Hawk-Eagles, then a Red-winged Lark. We stopped for a Tawny Eagle and then flushed a Pallid Harrier (First time I got a picture of this species). The next new bird was an African Orange-bellied Parrot and then some Blue-naped Mousebirds followed by a Martial Eagle. The last new bird in Tsavo East was a Straw-tailed Whydah. We excited Tsavo East at the Manyani Gate and drove to the little town of Tsavo to have lunch.

Pictures of some of the birds we saw in Tsavo East on the third day on safari:

African Hawk-Eagle

Red-winged Lark - Endemic to NE Africa

Tawny Eagle

Pallid Harrier

Straw-tailed Whydah - Endemic to NE Africa

Day 4, January 4, 2013 - Tsavo East to Tsavo West Continued

We entered Tsavo West at the Tsavo Gate. It was exactly noon and my hope for new birds were not very high. How wrong could i have been. The first new bird was a Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill, followed quickly by the following species: Pygmy Batis, Tiny Cisticola, Abyssian Scimitarbill, Hildebrandt´s Starling, Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird, Upchers Warbler and Eastern Black-headed Apalis. 8 lifers in less than 1 km! The next bird to the list was a Bateleur. We stopped at an airstrip and while Willy was attending some business, I quickly added the following species from a still standing vehicle: Dodson´s Bulbul, d`Arnaud´s Barbet, Spotted Palm-Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher and Greater Blue-eared Starling.

We were soon on our way and did not encounter many new species, besides a Leopard :-). We had beautiful ligth and I managed to improve on the picture of many of the species we already had seen. After a long day we finally arrived at the Ngulia Safari Lodge set high up in the Ngulia Hills.

Pictures of some of the birds we saw in Tsavo West on the third day on safari:

Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill - Endemic to NE Africa

Tiny Cisticola - Endemic to NE Africa

Eastern Black-headed Batis - Endemic to NE Africa

Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird - Endemic to NE Africa

Spotted Palm-Thrush - Endemic to NE Africa

d`Arnaud`s Barbet - Endemic to NE Africa


Day 5, January 5, 2013 - Tsavo West

Willy had laid up to another marathon day. We started the day going down the hill from the Lodge towards the Mzima Springs. The first new bird of the day was Hildebrandt´s Spurfowl, Followed by Slate-coloured Boubou, Orange-winged Pytilia and Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin. We had beautiful light going down the hill and managed to snap quite a few pictures of birds we had already seen. We reached the Springs just before 9 in the morning. A quick walk around the path yielded Yellow Weaver and Black-bellied Sunbird. Willy was in a hurry since he wanted to take me to Taita Hills. In order to reach there we needed to do a 100km+ rally through the park. I told Willy, that we should skip Taita Hills for now and rather go slowly and look for birds inside the park. Willy agreed and we started driving slowly through the park. The first new bird was a Purple Roller, followed by  a Great Spotted Cuckoo. Willy found 2 Verraux´s Eagle Owls in a tree.  It was getting hotter and hotter and fewer and fewer birds were to be seen. Eventually, Willy heard a Pringle´s Puffback calling. I managed to see it, but no pictures. The same thing happened several times that day. At 01:30, we came over a nice bird party. The first new bird was a Common Whitethroat followed by a Black-cheeked Waxbill, Acacia Tit, Red-cheeked Cordonbleu and a Black-throated Barbet. We drove towards the gate and just by the gate, we found some Fischer´s Sparrowlarks. as the sun started to drop, we got perfect light. to our trip list we added Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, I finally got pictures of a Nubian Woodpecker, Purple Grenadier, Brown Snake-Eagle and nicely displayed Hildebrandt´s Starling. We finally got back to Voi after a looong day on the road. We checked into our lodge and retired early.

Pictures of some of the birds we saw in Tsavo West on the fourth day on safari:

Hildebrandt´s Spurfowl - Endemic to NE Africa

Slate-coloured Boubou - Endemic to NE Africa

Orange-winged Pytilia - Endemic to NE Africa

Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin

Black-bellied Sunbird - Endemic to NE Africa

Verraux´s Eagle Owl

Common Whitethroat

Acacia Tit - Endemic to NE Africa

Black-throated Barbet - Endemic to NE Africa

Fischer´s Sparrowlark - Endemic to NE Africa

Cinnamon-breasted Bunting

Nubian Woodpecker - Endemic to NE Africa

Purple Grenadier - Endemic to NE Africa

Brown Snake-Eagle

Hildebrandt´s Starling - Endemic to East Africa

Day 6, January 6, 2013 - Sagola Lodge

On this last day of the Safari, we were to bird around the Sagola Lodge. We arrived there around 06:30 and it was already hot. The birding today turned out to be quite disappointing.  We dipped on a few species and only got the Scaly Chatterer as a lifer that day. Other birds I managed to get pictures off included Dodson´s Bulbul, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Blue-naped Mousebird, African Orange-bellied Parrot, Bearded Woodpecker, Green-winged Pytilia and Tsavo Sunbird.  Already at 09:30, the heat was to intense, so we sat off for Malindi and the long drive back.

Pictures of some of the birds we saw in Sagola Lodge on the last day on safari:

Scaly Chatterer - Endemic to NE Africa

Dodson´s Bulbul - Endemic to NE Africa

Blue-naped Mousebird

Grey-headed Kingfisher

Green-winged Pytilia

Tsavo Sunbird - Endemic to East Africa

African Orange-bellied Parrot - Endemic to NE Africa

Day 7, January 8, 2013 - Sabaki River

After one day of resting after the Safari, I was picked up by Willy and we were heading for the Sabaki River mouth. We parked tha car and birded through some dense bush. We picked up quite a few species here: White-browed Scrub-Robin, Northern Brownbul, Bar-eyed Trush, Scaly Babblers, Golden Palm Weavers, Red-cheeked Cordonbleu, Zanzibar Sombre Greenbul (I thought this was a seperate species, but I have found that this is similar to the Sombre Bulbul in SA), Red-billed Firefinch, Coastal Cisticola and Black-crowned Tchagra. We walked closer to the mouth and found a noicy flock of Scaly Babblers. I tried for more than half an hour to get a picture of these birds, but to no avail. At the flat, we picked up many of the regular Waders, but nothing out of the ordinary. We scanned a Tern roost and picked up Great Crested Tern, again confusion by using different naming. This is more commonly known now as a Swift Tern. After having waded in mud up to my thighs, we managed to clean off and headed for the harbor in Malindi. We picked up Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers here + Sooty Gull and Lesser Crested Tern. We returned back to my lodging at around noon.

Picture of some of the birds we saw on Day 7:

Red-cheeked Cordonbleu

Black-crowned Tchagra

Lesser Crested Tern

Sooty Gull

I had originally booked 2 more birding days with Willy. I wanted to go back to Sokoke Forest and also to Midas Creek, but something came up so I had to cancel. It was a shame because i really wanted to go back in and get some better pictures of the Amani Sunbird and Fischer´s Turaco + search for the Sokoke Pipit and Clarke´s Weaver ++. However; that would be another trip. All in all I saw more than 250 species on the trip. 78 lifers and 74 photographic lifers. Of the 78 lifers, 61 one species were endemic to either East Africa or North East Africa. I feel I could have spent a lot more time inside of Tsavo East and Tsavo West and it is also bad that we had to drop Taita Hills. I would really recommend Spinetails Safari and especially Willy as a guide. Willy is very knowledgeable of the local birds and he knows where to find the Sokoke Scops-Owl. The car was excellent for Photography, I ended up taking more than 3000 pictures in 7 days. The places we stayed was very nice except for the lodge on the last day. I told Willy about this and he said that he would not take any birders there again. If I was to take the Safari trip again, I would have opted for 2 more nights and then have a full day at Taita Hills.

A note about Mammals encountered in Tsavo East and Tsavo West. Elephants were plentiful inside of the park. Other than that, we saw: Impala, Buffalo, Wilderbeast, Grant´s Gazelle, Eland, Hartebeast, Giraffe, Zebra, Warthog, Dik Dik+ a few more. No lions or other predators besides the one Leopard and a few Black-backed Jackals. I am sure we could have seen more mammals if we were looking for them, but the general impression was that they were few and far between.

I will be back.