After all the setbacks, we were keen to get on the road as soon as I got back to Kenya on December 30th. We set off for Nakuru, a small National Park on a brackish soda lake full of flamingos and pelicans. We had received a tip that it had lots of migrant Steppe Eagles and Steppe Buzzards as well as the rarer Spotted Eagles. Simon had been working on the car over the Christmas break, and we packed it up and hit the road.
It was my first time in Nakuru and I was immediately impressed with the beauty of the area and the amount of wildlife. We got into the park in the early evening and had to rush to our campsite but saw a Spotted Hyena, the much rarer Striped Hyena and rhinos as well as thousands of buffalos on the way.
The three days we spent in Nakuru were very productive. We saw lots of Steppe Eagles, Steppe Buzzards and Montagu’s Harriers as well as a few Lesser Kestrels. We found the most productive area for raptors to be on the outskirts of the park on the sewage treatment plant. There resided cormorants in large numbers alongside Marabou Storks and here we saw the largest numbers of Eurasian Marsh Harriers, Fish Eagles and European Black Kites. We didn’t turn our heads away from the lions we saw walking along the lake shore, or the two leopards we saw sitting in trees.
We dropped off to see Sarah Higgins and Rosy and Girl in Naivasha on the way back. Rosy is back in the big shed with Girl. He can see a little out of his right eye but nothing out of his left eye. His immune system seems to be rejecting the lenses and building up fibrin. But he still seems as tough as ever and calls out territorially.
We spent a night in Hell’s gate and sat atop a cliff in the morning waiting for the cliff-nesting Ruppell’s Vutlures to start flying below us. We spent three hours photographing and watching the vultures as they set off for the day. We were giving a presentation that afternoon so we sat alone at a designated picnic spot, working on the computer. Simon suddenly shouted, and I turned to see a huge male baboon sitting on the wall behind me. Simon ran at it with his arms waving and shouting. This baboon was not one bit intimidated and jumped straight into the car, turning the place upside down before Simon managed to scare him off. He didn’t go far though, just a few feet away where he drank from a tap that required him to press a button and dip his head under the tap to drink at the same time. Impressed, we decided to move on before his buddies joined him.
Simon gave his presentation that afternoon and we returned to Nairobi where we are now, sorting a couple of things, before setting off again tomorrow. It’s good to be on the road and busy. The birds of prey have not let us down. In fact, we have been luckier than expected with a second sighting of the Greater Spotted Eagle in Nakuru. Our piece of good news is that we have heard from Ole Donyo Laro who are almost ready to take the Bearded Vulture which will completely free us to start moving through the continent on this expedition.
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