A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Wild Kenya: A Tented Camp Safari (Hankewich Private) 2022

July 8-23, 2022 with Terry Stevenson guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
Our time in the Masai Mara was wonderful, full of fabulous views of the great plains and their thousands of Blue Wildebeests and other grazing animals. Here is a shot of our group having a picnic in the midst of this marvelous place. Photo by guide Terry Stevenson.

Our July 2022 Wild Kenya; A Tented Camp Safari was specially arranged for Jill Hankewich, her husband Tim, and other family and friends. It wasn't exactly a normal Field Guides tour, as only Jill was seriously into birding, but what a great tour it was, with over 280 species of birds, great looks at all the major mammals including Lion, Leopard and Cheetah, but most of all this was the laugh a minute trip! We all had such a fabulous time, enjoying the birds and mammals yes, but this group of friends were into meeting Kenyans, seeing the countryside, and most of all having a really, really good time!

So how did it go? (and I'll be keeping to the birds and mammal stuff). As usual, we began in Nairobi National Park where just a few of the first day highlights were Common Ostrich (it is the world's largest bird!), Gray-crowned Crane, Helmeted Guineafowl and Secretarybird (both in African families). Moving on we had a Klaas's Cuckoo, Gray Crowned-Crane, and a variety of lapwings, African Jacana, storks, herons, ibis, egrets, and kingfishers at a waterhole. Our first Little Bee-eater and Lilac-breasted Roller were enjoyed by all, as was an African Paradise-flycatcher, duetting Gray-capped Warblers, and two East African endemics, Northern Pied-Babbler and Hildebrandt's Starling. Mammals of the day included Burchell's Zebra, White Rhino, and Common Giraffe.

The following day found us heading north through the central highlands, where many Kikuyu farmers grow fields of coffee, maize, bananas, avocados, mangos and pineapples. But this was not our destination, as we where heading for a one night stay in the Aberdare Mountains at The Ark. African Bush Elephants were waiting for us on arrival, and we later enjoyed up to 20 (not so common) Giant Forest Hogs. Birding highlights included Scaly Francolin, Augur Buzzard playing on the wind, an absolute mass of Speckled Mousebirds, Tropical Boubou (everyone loved the calls), and the gorgeous Eastern Double-collared Sunbird.

We then continued further north and dropped to the arid country at Samburu. Staying at the very comfortable Ashnil Camp, we had three nights with time to photograph and enjoy our first Lion (4), Cheetah (a mother and three large young), more elephants, Grevy's Zebra (less than 3000 remain on earth), Reticulated Giraffe (now considered vulnerable), Beisa Oryx, Gerenuk, and delightful tiny Dikdiks. Birds included Somali Ostrich, Vulturine Guineafowl, Chestnut-bellied and Black-faced sandgrouse, Buff-crested Bustard, White-bellied Go-away-bird, Somali Courser, four species of vulture, the spectacular Bateleur, Verreaux's Eagle-Owl, White-headed Mousebird, Violet Woodhoopoe, Northern Red-billed Hornbill, Red-and-yellow Barbet, Pygmy Falcon, Red-bellied Parrot, Rosy-patched Bushshrike, Northern Crombec, Yellow-vented Eremomela, Bristle-crowned Starling, Hunter's Sunbird, White-headed Buffalo-Weaver, and Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver.

Back-tracking, we then headed to the Mt. Kenya area and a night at Naro Moru River Lodge. Highlights here were Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Red-fronted Parrot, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, Tacazze Sunbird, and Red-headed Weaver. And then, thanks to our local guide Paul, we had great scope views of a Cape Eagle-Owl.

This was followed by two nights at our camp on the shores of Lake Elementaita. Providing a mix of an alkaline lake, Yellow-barked Acacia forest, open grassland, and as it's a private concession, even a night drive. We all enjoyed the following; thousands of both Greater and Lesser flamingos, Red-chested Cuckoo, Pied Avocet, Kittlitz's Plover, Great White Pelican, Hamerkop, Martial Eagle, Green Woodhoopoe, White-fronted Bee-eater, Cardinal Woodpecker, Gray-backed Fiscal, Lesser- striped Swallow, Black-lored Babbler, and Golden-breasted Bunting. Our best mammals here were Rothschild's Giraffe, and the nocturnal Bat-eared Fox, and Spring Hare.

Returning to Nairobi we had a couple of hours at Lake Naivasha with a boat trip providing Giant Kingfishers, and a Goliath Heron trying to eat a truly giant fish! We then spent a night at The Tamarind Tree Hotel before flying to Masai Mara and a three night stay at the lovely Little Governor's Camp. What a great stay it was – with elephants making daily walks right through the camp and drives across the plains adding hundreds of thousands of Blue Wildebeest to our list. We also saw no less than 16 Lions (including two huge males right against our vehicle), two Leopards, at least 30 Spotted Hyaena, and had numerous close encounters with elephants, hippos, and of course a wide variety of antelopes and gazelles on the plains.

A private air charter then took us back to Nairobi in just 45 minutes, before Jill and friends headed off for a week in the Indian Ocean at Reunion Island............... with all that French food, five endemic birds and two almost endemic seabirds! We wish them well, and perhaps any of you reading this might also like to plan a private Field Guides East African tour!!

Happy travels,


One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Struthionidae (Ostriches)

COMMON OSTRICH (Struthio camelus)

About 40 at Nairobi National Park, and 10 at Masai Mara - these are the species with a pink neck and legs.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Our stay at the Little Governor's Camp in the Masai Mara was punctuated by African Bush Elephants strolling through. Photo by guide Terry Stevenson.

SOMALI OSTRICH (Struthio molybdophanes)

Twenty-five, including some magnificent blue- necked males at Samburu.

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

WHITE-FACED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna viduata)

One hundred and twenty at Sagana Fish Ponds, and 30 at Masai Mara.

KNOB-BILLED DUCK (Sarkidiornis melanotos)

Two (including a good looking male) at Sagana Fish Ponds.

EGYPTIAN GOOSE (Alopochen aegyptiaca)

Common and widespread throughout the tour.

SPUR-WINGED GOOSE (Plectropterus gambensis)

Six at Sagana, and 20+ at Masai Mara.

YELLOW-BILLED DUCK (Anas undulata)

Eight at The Ark, and 2 at Lake Naivasha.

CAPE TEAL (Anas capensis)

Two at Lake Elementaita.

RED-BILLED DUCK (Anas erythrorhyncha)

Six at Nairobi National Park.

Numididae (Guineafowl)

HELMETED GUINEAFOWL (Numida meleagris)

Most common at Samburu (50+), but we also saw small numbers at Nairobi, Elementaita, and Masai Mara.

VULTURINE GUINEAFOWL (Acryllium vulturinum)

Great looks at several large flocks at Samburu; in all we saw about 230.

Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)

CRESTED FRANCOLIN (Ortygornis sephaena)

Two at Nairobi NP.

COQUI FRANCOLIN (Campocolinus coqui)

Good looks at a female right next to our vehicle at Masai Mara.

SCALY FRANCOLIN (Pternistis squamatus)

Often shy and difficult to see well, but we were amazingly lucky and saw about 20 in The Ark area.

YELLOW-NECKED FRANCOLIN (Pternistis leucoscepus)

About 40 at Samburu, and 1 at Solio.

RED-NECKED FRANCOLIN (Pternistis afer)

About 10 in the Oloololo Gate area, Masai Mara.

Phoenicopteridae (Flamingos)

GREATER FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus roseus)

At least 1200 were at Lake Elementaita.

LESSER FLAMINGO (Phoeniconaias minor)

Fabulous looks at about 10,000 along the shores of Lake Elementaita.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

LITTLE GREBE (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

Two at a flooded quarry at Kiawara, 2 at Lake Elementaita, and 7 at Lake Naivasha.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia)

About 10 in the Nairobi area.

SPECKLED PIGEON (Columba guinea)

Small numbers at Samburu, Elementaita, and at Masai Mara; in all we saw about 120.

RAMERON PIGEON (Columba arquatrix)

About 20 at The Ark.

DUSKY TURTLE-DOVE (Streptopelia lugens)

One at Kisima.

MOURNING COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decipiens)

About 20 at Samburu.

RED-EYED DOVE (Streptopelia semitorquata)

We saw a total of about 80 between Elementaita and Masai Mara.

RING-NECKED DOVE (Streptopelia capicola)

Common and widespread.

LAUGHING DOVE (Streptopelia senegalensis)

Small numbers at Nairobi NP, and at Samburu.

EMERALD-SPOTTED WOOD-DOVE (Turtur chalcospilos)

Two at Nairobi NP, 1 at Samburu, and 2 at Masai Mara.


One at Masai Mara.

NAMAQUA DOVE (Oena capensis)

Singles at Nairobi NP and Sagana Fish Pods, and then 1 at Masai Mara.


Great looks in the fruiting trees at Little Governor's Camp.

Pteroclidae (Sandgrouse)


Two males and a female right next to our vehicle at Samburu.

BLACK-FACED SANDGROUSE (Pterocles decoratus)

Eight at Samburu.

Otididae (Bustards)

WHITE-BELLIED BUSTARD (Eupodotis senegalensis)

We saw a pair at Samburu.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We saw the gorgeous Gray-crowned Crane at a number of locations, including this one at Nairobi National Park.

BUFF-CRESTED BUSTARD (Eupodotis gindiana)

A single male at Samburu.

Musophagidae (Turacos)

SCHALOW'S TURACO (Tauraco schalowi)

Two or three heard and 1 seen in flight at Little Governor's Camp.

HARTLAUB'S TURACO (Tauraco hartlaubi)

Great looks at The Residences, Nairobi.

ROSS'S TURACO (Musophaga rossae)

Nice scope looks at Masai Mara.

BARE-FACED GO-AWAY-BIRD (Corythaixoides personatus)

Two on the top of the Oloololo Escarpment, Masai Mara.

WHITE-BELLIED GO-AWAY-BIRD (Corythaixoides leucogaster)

About 15 at Samburu.

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

WHITE-BROWED COUCAL (Centropus superciliosus)

One at Samburu, and 2 at Masai Mara.

KLAAS'S CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx klaas)

We saw a single female at Nairobi NP.

RED-CHESTED CUCKOO (Cuculus solitarius)

One at our camp along the shores at Lake Elementaita.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

ABYSSINIAN NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus poliocephalus)

We saw a responsive bird at The Residences, Nairobi.

Apodidae (Swifts)

NYANZA SWIFT (Apus niansae)

About 100 at Lake Elementaita.

LITTLE SWIFT (Apus affinis)

Ten in the central highlands at Kisima, and about 80 at the Oloololo Gate, Masai Mara.

HORUS SWIFT (Apus horus)

One at Masai Mara.

AFRICAN PALM-SWIFT (Cypsiurus parvus)

Four at Nairobi NP, and 6 at Samburu.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus)

Six at Nairobi, 2 at Sagana, and 5 at Masai Mara.

RED-KNOBBED COOT (Fulica cristata)

Three at Sagana Fish Ponds.

BLACK CRAKE (Zapornia flavirostra)

Great looks at Nairobi, Sagana, Naivasha, and Masai Mara; in all we saw about 22.

Gruidae (Cranes)

GRAY CROWNED-CRANE (Balearica regulorum)

We saw these striking birds at Nairobi, Elementaita, Naivasha, and in Masai Mara.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-WINGED STILT (Himantopus himantopus)

Abut 50 at Lake Elementaita.

PIED AVOCET (Recurvirostra avosetta)

Twenty at Lake Elementaita.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

LONG-TOED LAPWING (Vanellus crassirostris)

Singles at Nairobi NP and Masai Mara.

BLACKSMITH LAPWING (Vanellus armatus)

Fairly common in wetland areas at Nairobi, Sagana, Elementaita, and Masai Mara.

SPUR-WINGED LAPWING (Vanellus spinosus)

Six at Nairobi, and about a dozen at Masai Mara.

CROWNED LAPWING (Vanellus coronatus)

Widespread in open grassland areas; in all we saw about 120.

KITTLITZ'S PLOVER (Charadrius pecuarius)

About 20 along the sandy shores at Lake Elementaita.

THREE-BANDED PLOVER (Charadrius tricollaris)

Singles at Nairobi NP and at Elementaita.

Jacanidae (Jacanas)

AFRICAN JACANA (Actophilornis africanus)

Most common at Masai Mara (50), but we also saw them at Nairobi, Sagana, and Naivasha.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

GREEN SANDPIPER (Tringa ochropus)

One at Samburu.

COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia)

One at Lake Elementaita.

Glareolidae (Pratincoles and Coursers)

SOMALI COURSER (Cursorius somalensis)

Great looks at 2 in the Shaba area of Samburu.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

GRAY-HOODED GULL (Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus)

About 75 at Elementaita, and 20 at Naivasha.

Ciconiidae (Storks)

AFRICAN OPENBILL (Anastomus lamelligerus)

Four at Sagana Fish Ponds, and 2 at Masai Mara.

SADDLE-BILLED STORK (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis)

A pair and then a single bird at Masai Mara – great in flight too!

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Burchell's Zebras were the common zebra species that we saw. This group is at a water hole in Nairobi NP.

MARABOU STORK (Leptoptilos crumenifer)

Fairly common and widespread with a total of about 180.


Widespread in wetlands; in total we saw about 220.

Anhingidae (Anhingas)

AFRICAN DARTER (Anhinga rufa)

Two at Nairobi NP.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

LONG-TAILED CORMORANT (Microcarbo africanus)

Singles at Nairobi and Sagana, and 3 at Lake Naivasha.

GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Six at Elementaita, and 10 at Naivasha.

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

GREAT WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus onocrotalus)

About 70 at Elementaita, and 10 at Naivasha.

Scopidae (Hamerkop)

HAMERKOP (Scopus umbretta)

One at Elementaita, 6 at Naivasha, and 12+ at Masai Mara.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GRAY HERON (Ardea cinerea)

Fairly common around wetlands; in all we saw about 40.

BLACK-HEADED HERON (Ardea melanocephala)

Found in both grasslands and marshes, we saw a total of about 135 throughout the tour.

GOLIATH HERON (Ardea goliath)

One at Samburu, and then a second bird with a huge fish at Lake Naivasha.

GREAT EGRET (AFRICAN) (Ardea alba melanorhynchos)

Small numbers were scattered at wetlands throughout the tour.

INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Ardea intermedia)

Two at Nairobi NP, 1 at Naivasha, and 5 at Masai Mara.

LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta)

Six at Lake Naivasha.

CATTLE EGRET (WESTERN) (Bubulcus ibis ibis)

Fairly widespread with cattle and big game; in all we saw about 200.

SQUACCO HERON (Ardeola ralloides)

Nice looks at 1 in breeding plumage from the boat at Lake Naivasha.

RUFOUS-BELLIED HERON (Ardeola rufiventris)

About 10 at Masai Mara.

STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata)

Singles at Samburu, Naivasha, and Masai Mara.

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Eight at the flooded quarry near Kiawara.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)

One at Naivasha.

AFRICAN SACRED IBIS (Threskiornis aethiopicus)

Common and widespread; in all we saw about 550.

HADADA IBIS (Bostrychia hagedash)

Another widespread ibis, in all we saw about 80.


Three at Naivasha, and 2 at Masai Mara.

Sagittariidae (Secretarybird)

SECRETARYBIRD (Sagittarius serpentarius)

Two at Nairobi NP, and 2 at Solio.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

BLACK-WINGED KITE (Elanus caeruleus)

Five at Masai Mara.

AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK (Polyboroides typus)

Nice looks at an adult on the Oloololo Escarpment, Masai Mara.

LAPPET-FACED VULTURE (Torgos tracheliotos)

Singles at Samburu and Masai Mara.

HOODED VULTURE (Necrosyrtes monachus)

Four at Samburu and 1 at Masai Mara.


The most common large vulture with 8 at Nairobi NP, 2 at Samburu, 12 at Elementaita, and 60+ at Masai Mara.

RUEPPELL'S GRIFFON (Gyps rueppelli)

20 at Samburu, and 1 at Masai Mara.

BATELEUR (Terathopius ecaudatus)

We saw these gorgeous eagles at Samburu (6) and Masai Mara (8).

BLACK-CHESTED SNAKE-EAGLE (Circaetus pectoralis)

We saw two single adults at Kisima and Elementaita.

BROWN SNAKE-EAGLE (Circaetus cinereus)

Great looks at a bird eating a bright green snake while the snake was trying to strangle the bird!

MARTIAL EAGLE (Polemaetus bellicosus)

One at Elementaita.

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Guineafowl are endemic to Africa, and we were excited to see many of them, including a large number of Vulturine Guineafowl, an East African specialty, at Samburu.

LONG-CRESTED EAGLE (Lophaetus occipitalis)

A single and then a pair at Masai Mara.

WAHLBERG'S EAGLE (Hieraaetus wahlbergi)

One at Samburu.

TAWNY EAGLE (Aquila rapax)

Five at Samburu, 1 at Elementaita, and 4 at Masai Mara.

VERREAUX'S EAGLE (Aquila verreauxii)

Good looks at a flying pair at Samburu.

GABAR GOSHAWK (Micronisus gabar)

One at Samburu.

BLACK GOSHAWK (Accipiter melanoleucus)

One at the Sagana Fish Ponds.

BLACK KITE (Milvus migrans)

About 25 in the Nairobi area.

AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus vocifer)

One at Samburu, 6 at Lake Naivasha, and heard at Samburu.

AUGUR BUZZARD (Buteo augur)

One near The Ark, 3 at Elementaita, and 2 at Masai Mara.

Strigidae (Owls)

CAPE EAGLE-OWL (NORTHERN) (Bubo capensis mackinderi)

Thanks to local guide Paul Mureithi we had excellent looks at a bird right in the open near Kiawara.


Day time views of a calling pair in the canopy of an acacia tree at Samburu.

PEARL-SPOTTED OWLET (Glaucidium perlatum)

One in the grounds of our camp at Samburu.

Coliidae (Mousebirds)

SPECKLED MOUSEBIRD (Colius striatus)

Common and widespread away from the arid country at Samburu.

WHITE-HEADED MOUSEBIRD (Colius leucocephalus)

Five and then 4 in the Salvadora bushes at Samburu.

Upupidae (Hoopoes)

EURASIAN HOOPOE (AFRICAN) (Upupa epops africana)

One at Samburu, and 4 at Elementaita.

Phoeniculidae (Woodhoopoes and Scimitarbills)

GREEN WOODHOOPOE (Phoeniculus purpureus)

Nice looks at 5 as we were leaving Elementaita.

VIOLET WOODHOOPOE (Phoeniculus damarensis)

Three in the Doum Palms at the Shaba Game Reserve (Samburu).

Bucerotidae (Hornbills)

NORTHERN RED-BILLED HORNBILL (Tockus erythrorhynchus)

About 35 at Samburu.

BLACK-AND-WHITE-CASQUED HORNBILL (Bycanistes subcylindricus)

Six at Masai Mara included great close looks in a fruiting tree at Little Governor's Camp.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

MALACHITE KINGFISHER (Corythornis cristatus)

Two at Nairobi NP, and 5 at Masai Mara.

GRAY-HEADED KINGFISHER (Halcyon leucocephala)

Six at Samburu.

WOODLAND KINGFISHER (Halcyon senegalensis)

We saw 3 of these gorgeous kingfishers at Masai Mara.

STRIPED KINGFISHER (Halcyon chelicuti)

Two singles at Elementaita.

GIANT KINGFISHER (Megaceryle maxima)

One at Sagana Fish Ponds, 2 at Naivasha, and 1 at Masai Mara.

PIED KINGFISHER (Ceryle rudis)

Most common at Lake Naivasha where we saw about 30, we also had about a dozen others at a variety of scattered wetlands.

Meropidae (Bee-eaters)

WHITE-FRONTED BEE-EATER (Merops bullockoides)

Six at Elementaita.

LITTLE BEE-EATER (Merops pusillus)

Small numbers at Nairobi NP, Samburu, Shaba, and Masai Mara.


Six at Nairobi, and 2 at Kiawara.

WHITE-THROATED BEE-EATER (Merops albicollis)

Six at Samburu.

Coraciidae (Rollers)

LILAC-BREASTED ROLLER (Coracias caudatus)

Widespread in open country; in all we saw about 18.

Lybiidae (African Barbets)

RED-AND-YELLOW BARBET (Trachyphonus erythrocephalus)

Great looks at 1 on a termite mound at Samburu.

D'ARNAUD'S BARBET (USAMBIRO) (Trachyphonus darnaudii usambiro)

Two on the Oloololo Escarpment.

GRAY-THROATED BARBET (Gymnobucco bonapartei)

One near the top of the Oloololo Escarpment.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Guide Terry Stevenson captured this view of a magnificent male Lion at Masai Mara.

YELLOW-RUMPED TINKERBIRD (Pogoniulus bilineatus)

One at Nairobi NP, 1 at Naro Moru, and 1 at Thomson's Falls.

RED-FRONTED TINKERBIRD (Pogoniulus pusillus)

One in the grounds of our camp at Elementaita.

SPOT-FLANKED BARBET (Tricholaema lacrymosa)

One at Nairobi NP.

WHITE-HEADED BARBET (WHITE-HEADED) (Lybius leucocephalus albicauda)

Good looks at a pair on top of the Oloololo Escarpment.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)


We had a single responsive bird on top of the Oloololo Escarpment.

CARDINAL WOODPECKER (Chloropicus fuscescens)

Four at Elementaita.

MOUNTAIN GRAY WOODPECKER (Chloropicus spodocephalus rhodeogaster)

Singles in the Yellow-barked Acacia trees at Elementaita and Naivasha.

NUBIAN WOODPECKER (Campethera nubica)

We saw a single male at Samburu.

GOLDEN-TAILED WOODPECKER (Campethera abingoni)

Two at Little Governor's Camp.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

PYGMY FALCON (Polihierax semitorquatus)

One at Samburu.

GRAY KESTREL (Falco ardosiaceus)

Three at Masai Mara.

LANNER FALCON (Falco biarmicus)

Two singles at Samburu.

Psittaculidae (Old World Parrots)

YELLOW-COLLARED LOVEBIRD (Agapornis personatus) [I]

Four from the boat at Lake Naivasha.

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

RED-FRONTED PARROT (Poicephalus gulielmi)

We saw several flying flocks over Naro Moru River Lodge; with a total of about 80.

MEYER'S PARROT (Poicephalus meyeri)

About 20 at Masai Mara.

RED-BELLIED PARROT (Poicephalus rufiventris)

A pair were seen on several occasions at our camp at Samburu.

Campephagidae (Cuckooshrikes)

BLACK CUCKOOSHRIKE (Campephaga flava)

We saw a male and a female at Elementaita, and then a single female at Masai Mara.


A female was seen at Naro Moru River Lodge.

Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)


One at Nairobi NP, 2 at Elementaita, and 1 at Masai Mara.

Platysteiridae (Wattle-eyes and Batises)

BROWN-THROATED WATTLE-EYE (Platysteira cyanea)

Good looks at a male at Little Governor's Camp.

CHINSPOT BATIS (Batis molitor)

Two at Nairobi NP, 1 at Elementaita, and 1 at Masai Mara.

PYGMY BATIS (Batis perkeo)

We saw a single male at Samburu.

Malaconotidae (Bushshrikes and Allies)

BRUBRU (Nilaus afer)

One at Samburu.

BLACK-BACKED PUFFBACK (Dryoscopus cubla)

One at The Residences, Nairobi, and 5 at Masai Mara.

BLACK-CROWNED TCHAGRA (Tchagra senegalus)

One on the Oloololo Escarpment.

TROPICAL BOUBOU (Laniarius major)

Common and widespread away from the Samburu aridlands.

SLATE-COLORED BOUBOU (Laniarius funebris)

One at Samburu.

ROSY-PATCHED BUSHSHRIKE (Rhodophoneus cruentus)

We saw 5 of these striking bushshrikes at Samburu.

Dicruridae (Drongos)

FORK-TAILED DRONGO (Dicrurus adsimilis)

Common and widespread.

Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)


Fairly widespread, with a total of about a dozen.

Laniidae (Shrikes)

GRAY-BACKED FISCAL (Lanius excubitoroides)

Four at Elementaita, and 1 at Masai Mara.

LONG-TAILED FISCAL (Lanius cabanisi)

Six at Nairobi NP.

TAITA FISCAL (Lanius dorsalis)

One at Samburu.

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Here is the group scanning the shore at Lake Elementaita, with a flock of Greater Flamingos in the distance. Photo by guide Terry Stevenson.

NORTHERN FISCAL (Lanius humeralis)

Common in the high country, with a total of about 60.

WHITE-RUMPED SHRIKE (Eurocephalus ruppelli)

One at Samburu.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

CAPE CROW (Corvus capensis)

Twenty in The Ark to Naro Moru area, and 4 at Elementaita.

PIED CROW (Corvus albus)

Common and widespread.

FAN-TAILED RAVEN (Corvus rhipidurus)

Two at Samburu.

Stenostiridae (Fairy Flycatchers)

AFRICAN BLUE FLYCATCHER (Elminia longicauda)

Nice looks at this gorgeous bird at Little Governor's Camp.

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

WHITE-BELLIED TIT (Melaniparus albiventris)

One at Naro Moru, and 6 at Elementaita.

SOMALI TIT (Melaniparus thruppi)

One at Samburu.

RED-THROATED TIT (Melaniparus fringillinus)

One at our picnic site at Nairobi NP.

Alaudidae (Larks)

FISCHER'S SPARROW-LARK (Eremopterix leucopareia)

Two at Nairobi NP.

PINK-BREASTED LARK (Calendulauda poecilosterna)

Two singles at Samburu.

RUFOUS-NAPED LARK (Mirafra africana)

One at Elementaita, and 2 at Masai Mara.

RED-CAPPED LARK (Calandrella cinerea)

Three in the dry grasslands at Elementaita.

Macrosphenidae (African Warblers)

NORTHERN CROMBEC (EASTERN) (Sylvietta brachyura leucopsis)

One at Samburu.

RED-FACED CROMBEC (Sylvietta whytii)

One at Naro Moru.

Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)

YELLOW-VENTED EREMOMELA (Eremomela flavicrissalis)

Nice looks at 1 in the arid Shaba bush country.

GRAY WREN-WARBLER (Calamonastes simplex)

One at Samburu.

GREEN-BACKED CAMAROPTERA (GRAY-BACKED) (Camaroptera brachyura brevicaudata)

Three seen and many heard at Elementaita.


Singles at Gilgil and Elementaita.

GRAY APALIS (Apalis cinerea)

One at Naro Moru.

TAWNY-FLANKED PRINIA (Prinia subflava)

Heard and seen briefly at Elementaita.


Nice looks at 2 singing birds at Nairobi NP.

HUNTER'S CISTICOLA (Cisticola hunteri)

Three at The Ark.

RATTLING CISTICOLA (Cisticola chiniana)

We saw a total of about 30 at Naro Moru and Elementaita.

WINDING CISTICOLA (Cisticola marginatus amphilectus)

Two at the edge of a marsh in Nairobi NP.

STOUT CISTICOLA (Cisticola robustus)

Very common in the open grasslands at Masai Mara.

Acrocephalidae (Reed Warblers and Allies)

LESSER SWAMP WARBLER (Acrocephalus gracilirostris)

One from the boat at Lake Naivasha.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

PLAIN MARTIN (Riparia paludicola)

Six at Sagana Fish Ponds, 1 at Kiawara, and about 70 at Masai Mara.

BANDED MARTIN (Neophedina cincta)

Eight at Nairobi NP.

ROCK MARTIN (RED-THROATED) (Ptyonoprogne fuligula fusciventris)

Six in the Nairobi area, and 2 at Kiawara.

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

One at Nairobi NP, and 10 at Masai Mara.

WIRE-TAILED SWALLOW (Hirundo smithii)

One at Sagana, 2 at Naivasha, and 6 at Masai Mara.

RED-RUMPED SWALLOW (RED-RUMPED) (Cecropis daurica emini)

One at The Ark.

Field Guides Birding Tours
The scene of Blue Wildebeests in their thousands was a major highlight of the tour! Photo by guide Terry Stevenson.

LESSER STRIPED SWALLOW (Cecropis abyssinica)

We saw about 10 of these beautiful swallows at Masai Mara.

BLACK SAWWING (Psalidoprocne pristoptera)

Singles at The Residences, Elementaita, and Masai Mara.

Pycnonotidae (Bulbuls)

COMMON BULBUL (DODSON'S) (Pycnonotus barbatus dodsoni)

About 8 at Samburu.

COMMON BULBUL (DARK-CAPPED) (Pycnonotus barbatus tricolor)

Common and widespread away from Samburu.

Sylviidae (Sylviid Warblers, Parrotbills, and Allies)

BANDED PARISOMA (Curruca boehmi)

One at Samburu.

BROWN PARISOMA (Curruca lugens)

One at Naro Moru River Lodge.

Zosteropidae (White-eyes, Yuhinas, and Allies)

NORTHERN YELLOW WHITE-EYE (Zosterops senegalensis)

Two in the grounds of Thomson's Falls Lodge.

Leiothrichidae (Laughingthrushes and Allies)

ARROW-MARKED BABBLER (Turdoides jardineii)

Five at Elementaita, and about 8 at Masai Mara.

BLACK-LORED BABBLER (Turdoides sharpei)

Seven in the grounds of our camp at Elementaita.

NORTHERN PIED-BABBLER (Turdoides hypoleuca)

Eight at Nairobi NP.

Buphagidae (Oxpeckers)

RED-BILLED OXPECKER (Buphagus erythrorynchus)

Widespread on big game throughout the tour.

YELLOW-BILLED OXPECKER (Buphagus africanus)

Two were seen on the head of an African Buffalo at Masai Mara.

Sturnidae (Starlings)

WATTLED STARLING (Creatophora cinerea)

About 30 at Nairobi NP, 40 at Samburu, and 200+ on and around Blue Wildebeest at Masai Mara.

VIOLET-BACKED STARLING (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster)

We saw a male and a female at Little Governor's Camp.

RED-WINGED STARLING (Onychognathus morio)

About 30 feeding on fruiting trees at Shaba.

BRISTLE-CROWNED STARLING (Onychognathus salvadorii)

Ten (together with Red-winged Starlings) at Shaba.

HILDEBRANDT'S STARLING (Lamprotornis hildebrandti)

Two at Nairobi NP, and 4 at Masai Mara.

RUEPPELL'S STARLING (Lamprotornis purpuroptera)

Six at Elementaita, and about 20 at Masai Mara.

SUPERB STARLING (Lamprotornis superbus)

Very common and widespread throughout the tour; in all we saw about 350.

GREATER BLUE-EARED STARLING (Lamprotornis chalybaeus)

Two at Solio, 20+ at Elementaita, and 12 at Masai Mara.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

ABYSSINIAN THRUSH (Turdus abyssinicus)

Four at Nairobi, and about 20 in the Aberdare Mountains area.

AFRICAN THRUSH (Turdus pelios)

One at our camp at Elementaita.

Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)


Two at The Ark, and 1 at Naro Moru.

AFRICAN GRAY FLYCATCHER (Bradornis microrhynchus)

Eight at Samburu.

NORTHERN BLACK-FLYCATCHER (Melaenornis edolioides)

Four at Little Governor's Camp.

WHITE-EYED SLATY-FLYCATCHER (Melaenornis fischeri)

Fairly common in the high country, with a total of about 30.

CAPE ROBIN-CHAT (Cossypha caffra)

One at Nairobi, and 4 around The Ark.

RUEPPELL'S ROBIN-CHAT (Cossypha semirufa)

One at The Residences.

WHITE-BROWED ROBIN-CHAT (Cossypha heuglini)

Four at Naro Moru, 4 at Elementaita, and about a dozen at Masai Mara.

SPOTTED MORNING-THRUSH (Cichladusa guttata)

One at Samburu.

LITTLE ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola rufocinereus)

Nice looks at a male at the Kiawara quarry.

SOOTY CHAT (Myrmecocichla nigra)

About 20 at Masai Mara.

NORTHERN ANTEATER-CHAT (Myrmecocichla aethiops)

Two at Kisima. and 2 at Elementaita.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We saw both species of Ostrich. These Somali Ostriches, which are found only in Eastern Africa, were seen at Samburu. Photo by guide Terry Stevenson.

BROWN-TAILED CHAT (Oenanthe scotocerca)

Four on the rocky lava flow at Shaba.

ABYSSINIAN WHEATEAR (Oenanthe lugubris schalowi)

Sometimes considered a distinct species – Schalow's Wheatear, we saw a pair as we were leaving Elementaita.

Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)

COLLARED SUNBIRD (Hedydipna collaris)

Singles at Nairobi, Thomson's Falls, and Masai Mara.

AMETHYST SUNBIRD (Chalcomitra amethystina)

Four in the grounds at The Residences.

SCARLET-CHESTED SUNBIRD (Chalcomitra senegalensis)

About 6 at Elementaita, and 1 at Masai Mara.

HUNTER'S SUNBIRD (Chalcomitra hunteri)

We saw a single male at Samburu.

TACAZZE SUNBIRD (Nectarinia tacazze)

We saw a female at Naro Moru, and then at least 2 males and a female at Thomson's Falls - a striking bright iridescent species!

BRONZE SUNBIRD (Nectarinia kilimensis)

One at The Ark, and 4 at Naro Moru.


One at The Residences, and 2 at Naro Moru.


Good views of a close singing male at The Ark.

MARIQUA SUNBIRD (Cinnyris mariquensis)

One at Little Governor's Camp.

BLACK-BELLIED SUNBIRD (Cinnyris nectarinioides)

One at Shaba.

VARIABLE SUNBIRD (Cinnyris venustus)

About 6 at The Residences, and 7 at Naro Moru.

Ploceidae (Weavers and Allies)


Four at the gate to Samburu GR.

WHITE-HEADED BUFFALO-WEAVER (Dinemellia dinemelli)

About 80 at Samburu.


Six at Sagana, and several hundred at Samburu.


Much more localized than the previous species - we saw about 40 at Samburu.

BLACK-CAPPED SOCIAL-WEAVER (Pseudonigrita cabanisi)

Ten at Samburu.

RED-HEADED WEAVER (Anaplectes rubriceps)

We saw great looking males at Naro Moru, and Masai Mara.

BAGLAFECHT WEAVER (Ploceus baglafecht)

Common in the central highlands around Nairobi, the Aberdares, and the Mt. Kenya area.

SPECTACLED WEAVER (Ploceus ocularis)

One at The Residences, 2 at Elementaita, and 1 at Masai Mara.

HOLUB'S GOLDEN-WEAVER (Ploceus xanthops)

Three at Masai Mara.

SPEKE'S WEAVER (Ploceus spekei) [a]

Thirty at The Residences, 6 at Samburu, and about 25 at Elementaita.

RED-BILLED QUELEA (Quelea quelea)

About 250 at Nairobi NP.


Nice looks at 6 males in breeding plumage at Sagana Fish Ponds.

YELLOW BISHOP (Euplectes capensis)

One at Naro Moru, and 1 Masai Mara.

GROSBEAK WEAVER (Amblyospiza albifrons)

Six in the reed-bed at The Residences, and about 10 at Sagana Fish Ponds.

Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)

BRONZE MANNIKIN (Spermestes cucullata)

Eight at Nairobi, and 6 near The Ark.

COMMON WAXBILL (Estrilda astrild)

Twenty in the tall grasslands at Masai Mara.

PURPLE GRENADIER (Granatina ianthinogaster)

We saw these beautiful waxbills at Nairobi NP, and at Naro Moru.

RED-CHEEKED CORDONBLEU (Uraeginthus bengalus)

We saw about a dozen of colorful little birds at Naro Moru and Elementaita.

RED-BILLED FIREFINCH (Lagonosticta senegala)

Small numbers in the central highlands and Masai Mara; in all we saw about 40.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)

Four in a gas station on the way to The Ark.

Field Guides Birding Tours
This Goliath Heron showed nicely for us at Lake Naivasha. Photo by guide Terry Stevenson.

KENYA RUFOUS SPARROW (Passer rufocinctus)

Six at Nairobi NP, and then about 20 in the Mt. Kenya and Naro Moru area.


One at Sagana Fish Ponds.

PARROT-BILLED SPARROW (Passer gongonensis)

About 60 at Samburu.

SWAHILI SPARROW (Passer suahelicus)

One at the Oloololo Gate, Masai Mara.

Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)

CAPE WAGTAIL (Motacilla capensis)

Two at The Residences, and 2 at The Ark.

MOUNTAIN WAGTAIL (Motacilla clara)

Two along the river at Naro Moru.

AFRICAN PIED WAGTAIL (Motacilla aguimp)

Fairly widespread in small numbers; in all we saw about 40.

AFRICAN PIPIT (Anthus cinnamomeus)

Singles at Nairobi and Elementaita.

PLAIN-BACKED PIPIT (Anthus leucophrys)

Eight at Elementaita, and about 30 at Masai Mara.


We saw an immature bird at Nairobi NP, and then about 6 (including adults) at Masai Mara.


One at Nairobi NP.

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

YELLOW-FRONTED CANARY (Crithagra mozambica)

Two singles at Masai Mara.

AFRICAN CITRIL (Crithagra citrinelloides kikuyensis)

One at Kiawara.

REICHENOW'S SEEDEATER (Crithagra reichenowi)

About 30 in the Nairobi area.

WHITE-BELLIED CANARY (Crithagra dorsostriata)

Two at Samburu.

BRIMSTONE CANARY (Crithagra sulphurata)

Two at Nairobi NP.

STREAKY SEEDEATER (Crithagra striolata)

About 30 between Nairobi and The Ark.

Emberizidae (Old World Buntings)

GOLDEN-BREASTED BUNTING (Emberiza flaviventris)

Good looks at a male feeding on the road as we left Elementaita.


BLUE MONKEY (Cercopithecus mitis) [*]

Heard at Little Governor's Camp.

BLACK-FACED VERVET MONKEY (Cercopithecus aethiops)

Most common at Samburu where we saw about 150; we also saw about a dozen between Nairobi NP and Sagana.

OLIVE BABOON (Papio anubis)

Very common and widespread throughout the tour; in all we saw about 750.

MANTLED GUEREZA (Colobus guereza)

We saw 5 of the striking monkeys at Naro Moru River Lodge.

CAPE HARE (Lepus capensis)

Some of the group saw 2 briefly at Elementaita.


About 100 at Samburu.

OCHRE BUSH SQUIRREL (Paraxerus ochraceus)

One at The Residences.

BLACK-BACKED JACKAL (Canis mesomelas)

Two at Samburu.

BAT-EARED FOX (Otocyon megalotis)

Two on our night drive at Elementaita.

LARGE-SPOTTED GENET (Genetta tigrina)

Some of our group saw 2 at The Ark.

SLENDER MONGOOSE (Herpestes sanguineus)

Two looking for scraps under the bird-feeder at The Ark.

BANDED MONGOOSE (Mungos mungo)

About 40 at Masai Mara.

SPOTTED HYAENA (Crocuta crocuta)

Great looks, first 3 at The Ark, and then about 40 including adults and small babies at Masai Mara.

LEOPARD (Panthera pardus)

Two singles in the Little Governor's Camp area.

LION (Panthera leo)

Four at Samburu, then 1 eating a freshly killed zebra at Masai Mara, and then another 16 at Masai Mara which included 2 big-maned males right against our vehicle.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We had three days at the wonderful Little Governor's Camp in the Masai Mara, where we enjoyed having breakfast on the beautiful grounds while watching elephants and other wildlife. Photo by guide Terry Stevenson.

CHEETAH (Acinonyx jubatus)

Great looks at a mother and 3 large young ones at Samburu.

AFRICAN BUSH ELEPHANT (Loxodonta africana)

About 25 at The Ark, 120 at Samburu, and 200 at Masai Mara, all of which led to many great encounters.

TREE HYRAX (Dendrohyrax arboreus) [*]

Heard at Naro Moru.

GREVY'S ZEBRA (Equus grevyi)

This rare species showed really well at Samburu, with numerous sightings and a total of about 180.

BURCHELL'S ZEBRA (Equus burchelli)

Common and widespread with at least 5000 at Masai Mara, and perhaps another 1200 at widespread scattered sites elsewhere.

WHITE RHINOCEROS (Ceratotherium simum)

Two at Nairobi NP, and 11 at Solio.

WARTHOG (Phacochoerus aethiopicus)

Common and widespread with a total of about 350.

GIANT FOREST HOG (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni)

Super looks at about 20 of this often shy species at The Ark.

HIPPOPOTAMUS (Hippopotamus amphibius)

Twenty at Nairobi NP, 35 from the boat at Lake Naivasha, and about 250 at Masai Mara.

COMMON GIRAFFE (Giraffa camelopardalis)

Fifteen at Nairobi NP, and about 100 at Masai Mara.

RETICULATED GIRAFFE (Giraffa reticulata)

Sixty at Samburu.

ROTHSCHILD'S GIRAFFE (Giraffa rothschildi)

At least 20 were seen at Elementaita.

BUSHBUCK (Tragelaphus scriptus)

One at Nairobi NP, and 10 at The Ark.

COMMON ELAND (Taurotragus oryx)

Twenty at Nairobi NP, and 16 at Elementaita.

AFRICAN BUFFALO (Syncerus caffer)

About 100 at Nairobi NP, 50 at The Ark, 80 at Elementaita, and 150 at Masai Mara.

COMMON WATERBUCK (Kobus ellipsiprymnus)

We saw a total of about 120 at the Samburu and Shaba Reserves.


Forty at Elementaita, and 140 at Masai Mara.

BOHOR REEDBUCK (Redunca redunca)

Three females in a dry river bed at Masai Mara.

BEISA ORYX (Oryx beisa)

We saw about 320 of these striking antelopes at Samburu.

TOPI (Damaliscus lunatus)

Fairly common in Masai Mara where we saw about 260.

HARTEBEEST (KONGONI) (Alcelaphus buselaphus)

Also known as Coke's Hartebeest we saw 20 at Nairobi NP, and 120 at Masai Mara.

JACKSON'S HARTEBEEST (Alcelaphus jacksoni)

Fifteen at Solio.

BLUE WILDEBEEST (Connochaetes taurinus)

Simply spectacular this tour as we drove amongst hundreds of thousands along the Kenya -Tanzania border. Highlight of the trip for many of the group!!

SUNI (Neotragus moschatus)

One at The Ark.

KIRK'S DIK-DIK (Modoqua kirki)

About 80 at Samburu.

IMPALA (Aepyceros malampus)

Widespread in a variety of open country; in all we saw about 1600.

GERENUK (Litocranius walleri)

About 60 at Samburu.

THOMSON'S GAZELLE (Gazella thomsoni)

Prefers the short grass plains; we saw them at Nairobi NP, Solio and Masai Mara; with a total of about 700.

GRANT'S GAZELLE (Gazella granti)

About 150 at Samburu, and 35 at Masai Mara.


Reptiles seen on the tour included;

Nile Crocodile; a dozen at Nairobi NP, 2 at Samburu, and a huge one on a sand bank along the Mara River.

Red-headed Rock Agama; a few on the stones around the swimming pool at our camp at Samburu.

Puff Adder; 1 on a track at Masai Mara.

Reed Frog sp.; 6 at our camp at Elementaita.

Totals for the tour: 283 bird taxa and 44 mammal taxa