My Israeli friend Ohad, had just been to South Africa. He was supposed to fly back to Israel on October 19. With the war going on, I suggested he stopped over here since he was supposed to come back to Tanzania on October 30. That flight was cancelled so after a few rounds with Ethiopian, he finally managed to fly from Joburg via Addis and land here at Kilianjaro airport. We wasted no time and drove straight to the Kenyan border and managed to rech Taita Hills just at dusk.

Day 1, October 20, Taita Hills to Tausa Eco Lodge just north of Voi, Kenya

We started birding early in the morning and recorded species in camp like Taita White-eye, Stripe-faced Greenbul and Spot-flanked Barbet. Then we went for a walk with out guide Nataniel. Here are some of the birds we recorded before breakfast: Red-chested Cuckoo, Cape Robin-Chat, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Evergreen Forest Warbler and  Silvery-cheeked Hornbill. We entered the forest and found amongst others, Lemon Dove, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Moustached Tinkerbird, Hartlaub´s Turaco, White-starred Robin, Crowned Eagle, African Emerald Cuckoo, a brief glimse of Taita Apalis. We turned back and finally got good views of one of our targets; Taita Thrush. After exiting the forest, we picked up Tawny-flanked Prina, African Stonechat, Pin-tailed Whydah, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu and Northern Fiscal. We went back to camp and had breakfast. After breakfast, we took the car to look for some other specials. We found Bearded Scrub Robin and finally fantastic views of Taita Apalis. We returned to the car and picked up Striped Pipit on the way. We returned to camp, had lunch and were soon on our way to Voi. We had heard about a Red-naped Bushshrike near Tausa Eco Lodge and went there. On the way we picked up Reichenow´s Seed-eater, House Crow and at the lodge Northern Wheatear, Von der Decken´s Hornbill, Long-tailed Paradise Whydah, Pink-breasted Lark, Sombre Greenbul, Spotted palm Thrush, Bare-eyed Thrush, D´Arnaud´s Barbet, Hunter´s and Tsavo Sunbird, Slate-coloured Boubou, White-browed Sparrow-Weaver, Yellow-spotted Bush Sparrow, Northern White-crowned Shrike and Golden-breasted Starling. No sign of the Bushshrike. We returned to the hotel in Voi and met up with Willy our guide for the next few days.

Some pictures from Day 1:

Stripe-faced Greenbul, Arizelochla striifacies, Endemic to S Kenya and Tanzania

Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Bycanistes brevis

Taita Thrush, Turdus helleri, Endemic to Taiya Hills, Kenya

Bearded Scrub Robin, Cercotrichas quaddrivirgata

Taita Apalis, Apalis, fuscigularis, Endemic to Taita Hills, Kenya

Grey Wren-Warbler, Calamonastes simplex, Endemic toNE Africa

Northern White-crowned Shrike, Eurocephalus ruppeli

Day 2, October 21 – Tsavo East to Midas creek

We entered the gate of Tsavo East. We had some problems with payment due to the ecitizen system, but finally managed to enter. The park was quite dry. We still managed to pick up a few birds along the way: Orange-breasted Bushshrike, Northern Red-billed Hornbill, Martial Eagle, Crested Francolin, Superb Starling, White-bellied Go-away-bird, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Black-faced Sandgrouse, Brubru, Parrot-billed Sparrow, Bateleur, Blue-naped Mousebird, Taita Fiscal, Rosy-patched Bushshrike, Fischer´s Starling, Buff-crested Bustard, White-headed Buffalo Weaver, Taita Fiscal, Kori Bustard, Red-billed Buffalo Weaver, Fork-tailed Drongo, Egyptian Goose, Knob-billed Duck, White-faced Whistling Duck, Blacksmith and Spur-winged Lapwing, Common Ringed Plover, Caspian Plover, Isabelline Wheatear, Red-winged Lark, Wattled Starling, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Somali Bee-eater, White-throated Bee-eater, African Palm Swift, African Grey Hornbill, Eastern Chanting Goshawk and just after the exit of the park, Golden Pipit. We drove straight to Midas Eco Lodge and walked down to Midas Creek. We found plenty of birds there including: Green-backed Camaroptera, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Yellow-billed Kite and plenty of shore birds there including Eurasian Whimbrell, Greater and Lesser Sand Plover, Crab-plover (huge numbers), Grey Plover, Gull-billed Tern, Terek Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Three-banded Plover, Little Stint, African Scred Ibis, Eurasian Curlew, Palm-nut Vulture and  Saunder´s Tern, 

Taita Fiscal, Lanius dorsalis, Endemic to NE Africa

Pink-breasted Lark, Calendulauda poeciliosterna, Endemic to NE Africa

Red-winged Lark, Mirafra hypermetra, Endemic to NE Africa

Caspian Plover, Charadrius asiaticus

Female Chestnut-headed Sparrow-Lark, Eromopterix signatus, Endemic to NE Africa

Wattled Starling, Creatophora cinerea

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Pterocles exustus

Golden Pipit, Tmetothylacus tenellus, Endemic to East Africa

Crab-Plover, Dromas ardeola

Gull-billed Tern, Gelochelidon nilotica

Terek Sandpiper, Xenus cinereus

Grey Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

Greater Sandplover, Charadrius leschenaultii

Palm-nut Vulture, Gypohierax angolensis

Saunder´s Tern, Sternula saundersi

Eurasian Curlew, Numenius arquata

Day 3, October 22 – Arabuko Sokoke Forest and Sabaki river Mouth

We were early at the gate of Arabuko Sokoke Forest. Here are some of the birds we found: Black-headed Oriole, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Green Barbet, Eastern Nicator, Forest Batis, African Golden Oriole, Village Weaver, Pallid Honeyguide, Little Swift, Black-bellied Starling, Chestnut-fronted Helmetshrike, Green Malkoha, Black-headed Heron, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Black-backed Puffback, Little Yellow Flycatcher, Common Scimitarbill, Sokoke Scops Owl, East Coast Akalat, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Scaly babbler, Mombasa Woodpecker, Yellow-fronted Canary, Malindi Pipit, Yellow-throated Longclaw and East Coast Boubou. We then drove out of the park and took the lower gate in search of Sokoke Pipit. We also registered Green Tinkerbirdand Amani Sunbird there. We then went back to the lodge and had lunch. After lunch we headed for the Sabaki River mouth. Here are some of the birds we registered there: Coastal Cisticola, Sooty Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, African Spoonbill, Grey Heron, Common Tern, Namaqua Dove, Speckled Mousebird, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Black-winged Kite and Golden Palm Weaver. We then headed towards Dakatcha Forest and picked up a Tawny Eagle on the way.

Some Pictures from Day 3:

Pallid Honeyguide, Indicator meliphilus

Black-bellied Starling, Notopholia corusca

Sokoke Scops Owl, Otus ireneae, Endemic to East Africa

Mombasa Woodpecker, Campethera mombassica, Endemic to Coastal East Africa

Malindi Pipit, Anthus melindae, Endemic to Coastal Kenay and Somalia

Amani Sunbird, Hedydipna pallidigaster, Localised endemic to East Africa

Lesser Black-backed Gull, Larus fuscus

Sooty Gull, Ichthyaetus hemprrichii

Common Greenshank, Tringa nebularia

Common Ringed Plover, Charadrius hiaticula

African Spoonbill, Platalea alba

Curlew Sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea

Marsh Sandpiper, Tringa stagnatilis

Golden Palm Weaver, Ploceus bojari, Endemic to S Somalia and Kenya

Tawny Eagle, Aquila rapax

Day 4, October 23, Dakatcha Forest to Watamu

We went to the forest and found amongst these birds: Long-tailed Paradise Whydah, East Coast Boubou, African Pied Wagtail, Brad-billed Roller, Retz´s Helmetshrike, Greater Blue-eared Starling, Lizard Buzzard, Black-crowned Tchagra, Amethyst Synbird, Scaly Chatterer, Northern Brownbul, Lilac-breasted Roller, Martial Eagle, Eastern Nicator, Green Wood Hoopoe, Black Cuckooshrike, Chestnut-fronted Helmetshrike, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Black Cuckoo, Coqui Francolin, Violet-backed Starling, Clarke´s Weaver, Mangrove Kingfisher, Eastern Crested Guineafowl, Pale Batis, Eastern Black-headed Batis, Jacobin Cuckoo, Lesser Honeyguide, Green Barbet, Mottled Spinetail, Amani Sunbird, African Goshawk, Georgeous Bushshrike and Olive Sunbird. We returned to our lodge in Watamu.

Some pictures from Day 4:

Retz´s Helmetshrike, Prionops retzii

Chestnut-fronted Helmetshrike, Prionops scopifronz

African Golden Oriole, Oriolus auratus

Juvenile Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Chlorocichla flaviventris

Day 5, October 24 –  Watamu to Voi via Tsavo East

It was a very quiet drive. Before the gate we saw a flock of Vulturine Guineafowl, at the gate Magpie Starling, Other than that: Crowned and Black-headed Lapwing, Chestnut-headed Sparrow-Lark, Black-faced Sandgrouse, African Fish Eagle, Pied and Isabelline Wheatear and Somali Courser.

Some pictures from Day 5: 


Somali Courser, Cursorius somalensis, Endemic to NE Africa

Black-headed Lapwing, Vanellus tectus

Chestnut-headed Sparrow-Lark, Eremopterix signatus, Endemic to NE Africa

Black-faced Sandgrouse, Pterocles decoratus, Endemic to NE Africa

Isabelline Wheatear, Oenanthe isabellina

Day 6, October 25 – Tausa Eco Lodge and Tsavo West

We went back to Tausa Eco lodge and this time we were lucky. We got the the Red-naped Bushshrike (a lifer for me). Other good birds: Pringle´s Puffback, Abyssinian Scimitarbill, Somali Bunting, Dodson´s Bulbul, In tsavo West it was quiet: Buff-crested Bustard, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, African Hawk-Eagle, Nubian Woodpecker, Black-capped Social Weaver, Wahlberg´s Eagle, Giant Kingfisher, Orange-breasted Bushsrike, Hildebrandt´s Spurfowl, Eastern Chanting Goshawk, Ashy Flycatcher, Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird, Red-bellied Parrot, Red-headed Weaver and Red-fronted Prinia.

Some pictures from Day 6:

Pringles´s Puffback, Deyoscopus pringlii, Endemic to NE Africa

Red-naped Bushshrike , Laniarius ruficeps, Endemic to NE Africa  – LIFER

Golden-breasted Starling, Lamprotornis regius, Endemic to NE Africa

Somali Bunting, Emberiza poliopleura, Endemic to NE Africa

Buff-crested Bustard, Lophotis gindiana, Endemic to NE Africa

Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Pternistis leucoscepus, Endemic to NE Africa

Augur Buzzard, Buteo augur

Red-bellied Parrot,  Poichepalus rufiventris, Endemic to NE Africa

Day 7, October 26 – Voi via Tsavo West and home to Kiligolf

Tsavo West as East way to dry. Some of the few birds we saw: Eastern Yellow-billed, Northern Red-billed and Van der Decken´s Hornbill, Hildebrandt´s Starling, Long-tailed Fiscal, Mouring Collared Dove, Cut-throat Finch, Yellow-bellied Oxpecker and Grey-headed Silverbill. We were supposed to end up on the Voi – Taveta road, but our guide failed us totally and we ended up on the Nairobi – Mombasa Road instead. We still managed to get back home to Kiligolf, Tanzania before dark.

Some Pictures from Day 7

Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Tockus flavirostris, Endemic to NE Africa

Northern Red-billed Hornbill, Tockus erythrorynchus

Von der Decken´s Hornbill, Tockus deckeni, Endemic to NE Africa

So this little one week trip produced 258 species where Ohad got 84 lifers so more of 32% of Ohad´s birds were lifers. We came back on October 26th. My friend Trygve from SA arrived the day after so on October 28 we started our epic Usambara trip that produced a record 469 species. Stay tuned for that trip report.