In our quest for raptors, Laila and I drove first to Sungare Ranch where we stayed in a friend’s house on a small conservancy before taking a drive early this morning through Solio Sanctuary. It is dominated by Yellow Fever Acacia which grows by the banks of a swamp and small stream. White Rhino teamed everywhere. We stopped to see some 125 vultures feeding from a carcass. Comic relief was provided by a lumbering White rhino that decided to mud bathe behind the vultures. Amused and curious many vultures filed over to have a look.
We saw numerous Augur Buzzards, one Martial Eagle, a few Tawny Eagles, one migrant Steppe Eagle, a Bateleur Eagle and a few harriers. The Crowned Eagle which we were so desperate to see evaded us. There were no other or very few migrant raptors despite threatening rain. Solio does have an enormous variety of raptor species in a small area, and because of the road network and see-through forest habitat it is usually a fantastic place to photograph raptors. It is fairly dry now at the end of the dry season. A number of buffalo and zebra had died of drought, or perhaps from a form of colic brought about by eating fresh shoots on an empty stomach.
We were invited for lunch at Annie’s house just outside the sanctuary. She is setting up a Chimpanzee Sanctuary for abandoned chimps. We met a Swedish overlander couple. “Overlander” is a term I am rapidly having to understand. The discussion centered on suspension and engines, then where one was going and where one had come from. Our beat-up ancient Range Rover looks like it has a few trans-African safaris under it belt, but in truth we only arrived from Nairobi, while they had driven all the way from Sweden!
Annie talked of the chimpanzee smuggling and her own plans to expand the sanctuary to include an area set aside for chimps. Her frustrations and passion reflected that of so many conservationists. But never for a moment was there a hint of giving up. She insisted that we return later again on our next visit.
We went back into the sanctuary to meet Benson the warden to discuss the raptor situation. We asked him to keep an eye out for nests and he was shocked to learn that a Crowned Eagle nest can measure about 2.2m across by 2m deep. He told us of a disturbing incident whereby an eagle got poisoned with what he believed to be furadan.
We had a good day watching the rhino but we were a little disappointed at the few raptors we saw. We vowed to return once it rained as the migratory birds pass through in large numbers with the rain.