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A Report from

Kenya Coast and Tsavo – Bird-watching and beaches, 20 September-11 October 2011,

Alan Pomroy and Nikki Piper


This was always intended to be a relaxing holiday with a bit of bird and mammal watching thrown in. My partner Nikki and I have done high-intensity, dawn to dusk bird-watching tours and wanted something less strenuous this time. After our last major tour of Northern India in 2008, during their coldest winter for 40 years, we returned to England exhausted, albeit with 385 species under our belts. 21 days travelling around Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama in 2009 finished us off. This time we were determined to take things easier. To this end, we decided to spend three weeks at the Turtle Bay Beach Club, in Watamu, on the East coast of Kenya, conveniently situated for a variety of habitats and within reasonable travelling distance of Tsavo East and, equally importantly, a sandy tropical beach in a pristine marine conservation area.

The Watamu area is internationally important for the continued survival of a significant number bird species. Under BirdLife International criteria (, one species in the area is listed as Globally Endangered, five Globally Threatened, and a further 33 listed in the Regional Red Data list of endangered species. Within a radius of just 10 km there are four internationally recognised Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and a further two within 35 km.

We selected the hotel because of its consistently good reviews and we weren’t disappointed. This was the first time we have done an all-inclusive trip and also one of the largest hotels we have stayed in. However, the hotel, rooms, facilities, staff and food all met or exceeded our expectations. The only downside, which other trip reports had prepared us for, was a lack of birds around the hotel and the constant attention we attracted when trying to walk outside the grounds.

One of the original attractions of the hotel was that they organised guided bird-watching trips, ranging from a half day up to six trips spread over two weeks. This had sounded ideal to us, giving flexibility, some birding and a couple of days off in between outings to relax and soak up the sun. However, a bit of research on the internet revealed that these trips required a minimum of four persons or the cost rose significantly.

With this in mind, we contacted Albert Baya at Spinetail Safaris,, who had been mentioned positively in a number of trip reports. Spinetail had originally devised and run the bird-watching packages at the Turtle Bay Beach Club but a change of management led to the hotel deciding to run the trips themselves. In the end we arranged the same 6-day package as the hotel for just a few pounds extra for the two of us. This was great, as we didn’t have to worry about finding 2 other birders at the hotel, were able to set our own itinerary and bird at a pace that suited us. An added bonus was that, when we went into Tsavo East, we were in a very spacious 4x4, rather than crammed into a minibus, and able to stop whenever we saw an interesting bird, whilst the minibuses tended to congregate around the larger mammals.

Before travelling to Kenya, Albert had asked us for a list of priority species. We replied that, as all the birds would be new to us, we didn’t want to spend too much time chasing after the rarer or difficult species at the expense of missing the commoner ones. Consequently our species list at the end of this account has some glaring omissions, such as tinkerbirds and barbets, which were regularly heard but we decided, not worth the time to track down the owners of the disembodied calls coming from within dense cover. The prolonged drought in northern Kenya and Somalia has also impacted further south and the number and variety of species at Lake Chem Chem and in Tsavo East were much reduced when compared to trip reports from earlier years.

The ground birds in Tsavo were indifferent to vehicles but tended to walk away or in to cover as soon as optical equipment or cameras protruded from the windows. Consequently we had to be quick to avoid getting a series of photographs of the backs of birds. Passerines tended to fly as the vehicle approached making identification frustratingly difficult or impossible on occasions.


Our package with Thomson included flights from Gatwick to Mombasa. Both flights were good and on time and we completed the formalities on arrival and departure at Mombasa with the minimum of hassle or delay. Birding trips were in a variety of cars which Albert hired and he procured an extremely comfortable Toyota 4x4 for our trip to Tsavo East.


We picked up a few mosquito bites on the first night but the hotel staff will spray the room if you ask and nothing survived their enthusiastic treatment. We also picked up a few ticks during our first trip into Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. Before this puts you off, I should point out that we walked about 10 kilometres off-trail during our first visit pushing our way through a lot of vegetation. I would expect to pick up ticks if I did the same distance around the lower slopes of Dartmoor. I think I must have been suffering from heat exhaustion when I spotted the first one, thinking “Oh look, there’s a little red crab on my arm”. Then the light went on and I realised it was a tick. Luckily they are bright red, at least twice the size of a sheep tick and easy to spot. In the end, the five I pulled off my and Nikki’s clothing were the only ones we saw and we didn’t get bitten. I didn’t pick up any during a second visit to the forest when we spent more time on the main tracks.

We had the all the required jabs before we left the UK and took Malarone as an anti-malarial. Although expensive, it has fewer side effects than other anti-malarials and there is less risk of an adverse reaction with a daily dose than with a higher strength weekly regime.

Food at the Hotel was plentiful, varied and well cooked. Our first experience of an all-inclusive package was entirely favourable. We ate (and drank) well and often. The food at the safari lodge was also fine. Bottled water was essential but the hotel had large, office-style water coolers on each floor, which we used to top up our water bottles.

We expected hassle on the beach and outside the hotel but it was nowhere near as bad as a previous trip to the Gambia. Touts on the beach were kept at a safe distance by the hotel security but many of the regular hotel guests used them to arrange excursions, as they were significantly cheaper than the hotel.


I cannot recommend Albert Baya and Spinetail Safaris highly enough. Albert was very personable, always punctual and had an exceptional knowledge of the ecology of the habitats around Watamu. He was also a good and safe driver. Not restricted to birds, his expertise extended to plants, butterflies, reptiles and beyond. Without him, we would have seen very little in Arabuko-Sokoke and missed a lot elsewhere, particularly in Tsavo. His eyesight was truly amazing, even when driving; often braking suddenly, reversing the car and pointing out a small cryptically coloured bird he had spotted against an equally cryptic background.

Albert and Spinetail’s experience is not restricted to coastal Kenya. They can make all the ground arrangements for almost anywhere in Kenya and Northern Tanzania. Straight after our trip he was leading a party of British birders on a 17-day tour of the country. Spinetail can be contacted by email at or Albert by phone on +254 728 463 453 or +254 734 627 579. Website:

When not guiding, Albert works as a research technician for a Christian conservation organisation Arocha, who have a field studies centre at Mwamba, Plot 28, and just two kilometres down the coast from our hotel. Arocha have been critical in promoting the sustainable use of Arabuko-Sokoke forest, Mida Creek and other important habitats in the region and also in improving the health, education and employment prospects of the local people. We contacted Colin Jackson, the director at Mwamba, before we arrived and he invited me to help out ringing waders at Mida Creek. In the event, as a new trainee ringer, I decided that extracting wader’s carpal joints from mist nets in the dark was beyond my current capabilities.

Colin was on a study-break, at university in South Africa, during our visit but Henry, the manager at Mwamba showed us around and explained the work that Arocha did in the area. We donated an old telescope and a redundant pair of binoculars, which were gratefully received. If you are travelling to Watamu and have room in your bags for old optical or ringing equipment or tripods, contact Colin by email at


Not too much detail here as all of the sites are well described in other trip reports or on the Turtle Bay Beach Club website Most of the trips required an early start, usually around 6am. The hotel will provide breakfast boxes as long as they are ordered the day before. Unlike the rest of the food at the hotel, these were less imaginative, containing some fruit, a hard-boiled egg, a sausage, some cooked chicken and a selection of exceptionally dry sandwiches and sweet bread rolls. Fortunately, they also provided a bottle of water to wash down the sandwiches.

COASTAL AREA AND BEACH. Many days were spent on the beach watching the occasional waders, terns and herons that flew past or fed on the tideline and we frequently stopped a few kilometres inland during our visits to other areas. The inland roadside areas were surprisingly productive compared to the hotel grounds, particularly as this was our first visit to Eastern Africa, and we still had to get to grips with many of the commoner species.

MIDA CREEK. A large tidal sand and mudflat, surrounded by mangroves and a few kilometres down the road from the hotel. We didn’t use the rather precarious-looking boardwalk to the hide as the tide was well out when we visited but it was easy to walk across the creek, as the substrate was pretty sandy and firm. The birds were very approachable and tended to walk rather than fly away. I wouldn’t recommend walking across the estuary without a guide though, as the rising tide comes in alarmingly quickly.

ARABUKO-SOKOKE FOREST. This lived up to its reputation for quality birds and we saw most of the forest’s specialities with relative ease. Albert’s skills came to the fore here and we had ticked off Clarke’s weaver, Sokoke pipit and Amani sunbird within the first couple of hours. A second trip, later in the holiday enabled me to get to grips with a lot of the sculkers and little brown jobs as well. Sokoke scops owl required a visit at dusk and, despite the fact it was pouring with rain, the birds weren’t calling and they had moved their roost, Albert disappeared into the dense undergrowth for about 30 minutes and then returned saying he had tracked an owl down. We were reluctant to enter the, by now, sodden and black forest by torchlight but Albert insisted and we overcame our cowardice to see a tiny, red-morph owl perched just 20 metres from the track where the car was parked.

LAKE CHEM CHEM. A prolonged drought has reduced this lake and the nearby Lake Jilore to shadows of their former selves. There was little water, much of which had been replaced by sedges, but the birds we saw hinted at the site’s potential if water levels return to normal.

SABAKI RIVER MOUTH. This site was spectacular, for both the numbers and variety of species present, although many Palearctic migrants had yet to arrive and most of the Afro-tropical visitors had already departed. The substrate here was still firm enough to walk across but a lot muddier than Mida Creek. Before reaching the estuary you have to cross the river via a large road bridge. It is worth pulling in on the left here and walking down the steps under the bridge. Apparently just upstream is a good spot to view black egret, although none were present during our visit. About 250 metres downstream of the bridge, on the southern bank, was the best place to spot roosting water thick-knees.

ACACIA COMIPHORA BUSHLAND. Inland from Watamu, the lush coastal vegetation is replaced by a drier Acacia thorn and Commiphora scrub that stretches for over 100 km into Tsavo East National Park. This ecosystem holds a selection of species not found elsewhere in the region.

TSAVO EAST. The joint mass of Tsavo West and Tsavo East National Parks forms one of the largest National parks in the world and covers a massive 4% of Kenya’s total land area. Tsavo East, the larger of the two, is about four hour’s drive from Watamu with entrance via the Sala Gate. We did a game drive across the park in the morning, following the course of the Galana River, before exiting via the Voi Gate and arriving at Voi Wildlife Lodge for lunch and a chance to wash off the dust before starting a second game drive later in the afternoon. The lodge was comfortable and the food good but, be warned, drinks, including water, are extra here and relatively expensive. The following morning we set off, by a different route, via the Aruba Dam, for our final game drive across the park before returning to Watamu. Although focusing primarily on birds, Albert’s eyesight and knowledge of the area meant that we saw a good selection of mammals as well but without the hassle of being part of a minibus convoy and their constant jostling for position when a good animal was spotted. Not driving in the cloud of red dust the other vehicles kicked up was also a distinct bonus.


The taxonomy, scientific nomenclature and English names of species are those of The Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania: Zimmerman et al. 2007. If some of the numbers seem a bit sketchy it’s because there were a few occasions, particularly in Arabuko Sokoke, when we experienced mini birds-waves and species were coming so thick and fast that it was hard to decide what to look at first let alone keep good notes! Nevertheless we recorded 222 species in a total of about 60 hour’s birdwatching.


AC Acacia-Comiphora Bushland      
AS Arabuko Sokoke Forest
CA Coastal Area
CC Lake Chem Chem 
MC Mida Creek 
SE Sabaki Estuary      
TE Tsavo East
VO Voi Wildlife Lodge               
WB Watamu Beach  

Common Ostrich Struthio molybdophanes
Several (TE).

Somali Ostrich Struthio (camelus) molybdophanes
Two (TE). Male’s blue neck and legs are distinctly different from common ostrich.

Pink-backed Pelican Pelicanus rufescens
20+ (SE)

Long-tailed Cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus
8 (MC)

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Small groups regular in suitable habitat. Absent from driest areas. (CA, SE, TE)

Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Small numbers along coast and Galana River in Tsavo East. (MC, SE, TE)

Dimorphic Egret Egretta dimorpha
Seen more frequently than little egret but exclusively coastal. (MC, SE, WB)

Great Egret Casmerodius albus melanorhynchos
Seen almost everywhere in suitable habitat. (CA, CC, MC, SE, TE, VO, WB)

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Uncommon, but singles seen in a variety of aquatic habitats including one regularly taking fish from the hotel’s ponds. (CA, MC, SE, WB)

Goliath Heron Ardea goliath
One along the Galana River in Tsavo East. (TE)

Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala
Small numbers seen in several locations. (CC, MC, SE, TE)

Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus microscelis
The first three were seen through the aircraft window on landing at Mombasa. (MC, SE, VO)

Marabou Stork Leptoptilos crumeniferus
Up to three at several locations. (TE, VO)

African open-billed Stork Anastomus lamelligerus
Several hundred adjacent to Aruba Lodge. (Due to the prolonged drought the Aruba Dam held no water when we visited). (TE)

Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis
Small numbers at several locations. (MC, SE, TE)

Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus
Seen in almost all suitable habitats. (AS, CA, MC, SE, TE, WB)

Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash
Frequently seen in cultivated areas. (CA, SE)

African Spoonbill Platalea alba
Common in suitable habitat. (MC, SE, TE)

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber
Reasonable numbers at Mida Creek and Sabaki Estuary. (MC, SE)

Lesser Flamingo Phoenicopterus minor
A few at Mida Creek. Larger numbers at Sabaki Estuary. (MC, SE)

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Woolly-necked Storks - Voi Wildlife Lodge

Fulvous Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna bicolor
Several in a mixed flock with white-faced whistling-duck. (SE)

White-faced Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna viduata
A small flock at Lake Chem Chem and 100+ at Sabaki Estuary. (CC, SE)

Spur-winged Goose Plectropterus gambensis
One at water hole. (VO)

Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus
Two at Voi water hole. One at Sabaki. (SE, VO)

Secretary bird Sagittarius serpentarius
Seen on each game drive in Tsavo. (AC, TE)

Black Kite Milvus migrans parasitus
Singles seen on several occasions, (CA, MC, SE, WB)

Short-toed Snake-eagle Circaetus gallicus
One seen on route to Lake Chem Chem. (CA)

Brown Snake-eagle Circaetus cinereus
Seen several times in Tsavo East. (TE)

Southern Banded Snake-eagle Circaetus fasciolatus
Seen on both visits to Arabuko Sokoke. (AS)

Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus
Seen regularly in Tsavo East. (TE)

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Secretary Bird – Tsavo East

African Harrier-hawk Polyboroides typus
One passed overhead on route to Lake Chem Chem. (CA)

Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus
One adult male flying south along Watamu beach. Apparently early for this species. (WB)

Eastern Pale Chanting Goshawk Melierax poliopterus
Often perched prominently in Tsavo East. (TE)

African Goshawk Accipiter tachiro
Seen regularly in coastal areas, including a pair in the hotel grounds. (AS, CC, CA)

Black Sparrowhawk Accipiter melanoleucus
Two singles seen. (AS, CA)

Lizard Buzzard Kaupifalco monogrammicus
Regularly seen perched on telegraph poles in coastal areas. (AS, CC, CA, SE)

Palm-nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis
Four soaring over Arabuko Sokoke. (AS)

Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax
One of the commonest raptors in Tsavo East. (TE, VO)

Wahlberg’s Eagle Aquila wahlbergi
Nesting beside Watamu-Malindi road. (CA, TE)

African Crowned-eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus
One immature in Tsavo East. (TE)

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Southern Banded Snake-eagle – Arabuko Sokoke

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Eastern Pale Chanting-Goshawk – Tsavo East

Martial Eagle Polemaetus bellicosus
Several seen in Tsavo. (TE)

Crested Francolin Peliperdix sephaena
A couple spotted in Tsavo East. (TE)

Yellow-necked Spurfowl Pternistis leucoscepus
Several. (TE)

Crested Guineafowl Guttera pucherani
A large flock crossed the trail in Arabuko Sokoke. (AS)

Vulturine Guineafowl Acryllium vulturinum
Seen on several occasions (AC, TE)

Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris
The common guineafowl in Tsavo East. (AC, TE)

(Buff) Crested Bustard Eupodotidis ruphicrista
A male was the first bustard seen in Tsavo. (TE)

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(Buff) Crested Bustard – Tsavo East

Black-bellied Bustard Eupodotis melanogaster
Seen on several occasions. (TE)

Crab Plover Dromas ardeola
Good numbers at Mida Creek. Fewer at Sabaki. (MC, SE)

Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
One. (SE)

Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
Two. (SE)

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
A few (CC, SE)

Water Thick-knee Burhinus vermiculatus
Three (SE)

Somali Courser Cursorius somalensis
Three together. (TE)

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Somali Courser – Tsavo East

Madagascar Pratincole Glareola ocularis
One over the dunes at Sabaki. The majority had already returned south. (SE)

Spur-winged Plover Vanellus spinosus
Relatively common in suitable habitat. (SE, TE, VO)

Black-headed Plover Vanellus tectus
Good numbers in Tsavo East. (TE)

Crowned Plover Vanellus coronatus
The commonest plover in Tsavo. (TE)

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Regular in coastal and marine habitats. (MC, SE, WB)

Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
Regular in coastal and marine habitats. (MC, SE, WB)

Kittlitz’s Plover Charadrius pecuarius
A pair amongst the dunes at Sabaki. (SE)

Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris
One. (CC)

White-fronted Plover Charadrius marginatus
Singles on coastal mudflats. (MC, SE)

Mongolian Sandplover Charadrius mongolus
Good numbers on coastal mudflats and along Watamu Beach. (MC, SE, WB)

Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaultia
Small numbers on coastal mudflats (MC, SE)

Caspian Plover Charadrius asiaticus
A group of three (TE)

Little Stint Calidris minuta
The second commonest wader. (CC, MC, SE, WB)

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
The commonest small wader. (CC, MC, SE, WB)

Sanderling Calidris alba
Small numbers regular in coastal habitats. (MC, SE, WB)

Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus
A long-billed, shorter-legged, curlew sandpiper-sized wader with a dark rump at Lake Chem Chem was thought to be this species but only gave fleeting views. (CC)

Ruff Philomachus pugnax
Several. (CC)

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Small numbers regular in coastal habitats. (MC, SE, WB)

Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
Ones and twos. (MC, SE)

Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
A group of about 15 wading up to their belly’s at Lake Chem Chem. (CC)

Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
One. (SE)

Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Small numbers present in most suitable habitat. (CC, MC, SE, WB, VO)

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
One around water hole at Voi Wildlife Lodge. (VO)

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Small numbers. (SE, VO)

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Ones and twos. (SE, VO, WB)

Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus
Several at Mida Creek and Sabaki. (MC, SE)

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Singles at Watamu Beach and Mida Creek. (MC, WB)

Sooty Gull Larus hemprichii
Regular offshore and at Sabaki. (SE, WB)

Heuglin’s Gull Larus heuglini
One (SE)

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
One offshore. (WB)

Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica
The most frequently seen tern. (MC, SE, WB)

Caspian Tern Sterna caspia
Singles off Watamu Beach and at Sabaki. (SE, WB)

Greater Crested Tern Sterna bergii
A handful at Sabaki. (SE)

Lesser Crested Tern Sterna bengalensis
Good numbers at Sabaki. A few offshore. (SE, WB)

Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii
Three at Sabaki. A feeding flock of up to 400, mostly of this species, regular beyond the reef off Watamu. (SE, WB)

Saunder’s Tern Sterna saundersi
One at Sabaki and three feeding along the tideline at Watamu Beach. Apparently the bulk arrive in late October. (SE, WB)

White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus
One. (SE)

Black-faced Sandgrouse Pterocles decorates
Several. (TE)

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Female Black-faced Sandgrouse – Tsavo East

Tambourine Dove Turtur tympanistria
Seen on both visits to Arabuko Sokoke. (AS)

Emerald-spotted Wood-dove Turtur chalcospilos
Common in ones and twos. (AC, AS, CA, CC, SE, TE)

Namaqua Dove Oena capensis
Seen in scrub at Sabaki and Tsavo. (AC, SE, TE)

Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea
Three seen at Voi Wildlife Lodge. (VO)

Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata
Common and widespread. (AS, CA, TE)

African Mourning Dove Streptopelia decipiens
A few seen. (AC, AS, CA, TE)

Ring-necked Dove Streptopelia capicola
Common and widespread. (AS, CA, TE)

Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis
Singles. (AC)

White-bellied Go-away Bird Criniferoides leucogaster
One. (AC)

Thick-billed Cuckoo Pachycoccyx audeberti
One. (AS)

White-browed Coucal Centropus superciliosus
Small numbers. (CC. TE)

Sokoke Scops Owl Otus ireneae
One red morph at roost. (AS)

Mottled Spinetail Telacanthura ussheri
A couple around the margins of Arabuko Sokoke. (AS)

Bohm’s Spinetail Neafrapus boehmi
Two seen over a clearing in Arabuko Sokoke. (AS)

African Palm Swift Cypsiurus parvus
Common and widespread. (AS, CA, CC, MC, TE)

Eurasian Swift Apus apus
One outside Arabuko Sokoke. (AS)

Little Swift Apus affinis
Regular around larger villages. (AS, CA, TE)

Speckled Mousebird Colius striatus
Small groups regularly seen. (CA, CC, SE, TE)

Blue-naped Mousebird Urocolius macrourus
A couple. (AC)

Narina Trogon Apaloderma narina
One seen briefly flying away and calling. (AS)

Grey-headed Kingfisher Halcyon leucocephala
One at Lake Chem Chem. (CC)

Mangrove Kingfisher Halcyon senegaloides
Singles seen on a number of occasions. (AS, CA, CC)

African Pygmy Kingfisher Ispidina picta
Three at Arabuko Sokoke and one at Chem Chem. (AS, CC)

Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis
Regular along coast. (SE, WB)

Northern Carmine Bee-eater Merops nubicus
Ones and twos. (CA, CC, SE, TE)

Little Bee-eater Merops pusillus
Seen a couple of times. (AS, TE)

Somali Bee-eater Merops revoilii
A single bird in Tsavo East. (TE)

Lilac-breasted Roller Coracias caudate
Regularly seen perched on wires. (CA, CC, TE)

Green Wood-hoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus
Small groups seen on both visits to Arabuko Sokoke. (AS)

Common Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus cyanomelas
Good views of one. (AS)

Red-billed Hornbill Tockus erythrorhynchus
A few inside Tsavo. (AC, TE)

Von der Decken’s Hornbill Tockus deckeni
Several pairs seen in scrubby areas. (AC, TE)

African Grey Hornbill Tockus nasutus
One. (AC)

Trumpeter Hornbill Ceratogymna bucinator
Several seen around Arabuko Sokoke. (AS, CA)

Silvery-cheeked Hornbill Ceratogymna brevis
A male perched in trees at the hotel for several minutes. (CA)

Green Barbet Stactolaema olivacea
Several seen in and around Arabuko Sokoke. (AS)

D’Arnaud’s Barbet Trachyphonus darnaudii
A pair seen in acacia scrub. (TE)

Scaly-throated Honeyguide Indicator variegatus
An inconspicuous bird. Albert tracked down the first one by its call. Several more heard. (AS)

Pink-breasted Lark Mirafra poecilosterna
Appeared to be the commonest lark in Tsavo. (TE)

Chestnut-headed Sparrow-lark Eremopterix signata
Common and widespread in savanna. (TE, VO)

African Pied Wagtail Motacilla aguimp
Regular in suitable habitat. (CA, CC, SE, WB)

Grassland Pipit Anthus cinnamomeus
The commonest pipit in short grassland. (AS, CC, SE)

Malindi Pipit Anthus melindae
Several seen in similar habitat to previous species. Call is more metallic. (AS, CC)

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Pink-breasted lark – Tsavo East

Sokoke Pipit Anthus cinnamomeus
Four or five seen in total either on ground or in trees up to 5m. Call soft like a muted meadow pipit. (AS)

Yellow-throated Longclaw Macronyx croceus
One seen in same area as grassland and malindi pipits. (AS)

Plain Martin Riparia paludicola
One over waterhole at Voi. (VO)

Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii
A few at a number of sites. (CA, SE, TE)

Ethiopian Swallow Hirundo aethiopica
The commonest swallow. (CA, SE, TE)

Mosque Swallow Hirundo senegalensis
One on route to Lake Chem Chem. (CA)

Lesser Striped Swallow Hirundo abyssinica
Always seen in association with Ethiopian swallow. (AS, CA, VO)

Zanzibar Sombre Greenbul Andropadus importunes
“Zombies” were common around cultivation and margins of Arabuko Sokoke. (AS, CA)

Fischer’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus fischeri
One or two. (AS)

Northern Brownbul Phyllastrephus strepitans
Another bird of thickets. (AS)

Terrestrial Brownbul Phyllastrephus terrestris
Yet another skulker. A couple seen. (AS)

Yellow-bellied Greenbul Chlorocichla flaviventris
Several seen but hard work. (AS)

Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus
Widespread and common.(AC, AS, CA, CC, SE, TE, VO, WB)

Rufous Chatterer Turdoides rubiginosus
Several seen in dense cover. (AS)

Red-capped Robin-chat Cossypha natalensis
Heard more often than seen. (AS)

Spotted Morning Thrush Cichladusa guttata
One in cultivated area on margin of Lake Chem Chem. (CC)

White-browed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas leucophrys
Frequently heard and several seen. (AS)

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Two. (TE)

Bare-eyed Thrush Turdus tephronotus
One en route to Tsavo East. (AC)

Ashy Flycatcher Muscicapa caerulescens
One just outside Arabuko Sokoke Forest. (AS)

Pale Flycatcher Bradornis pallidus
Two singles. (AC, WC)

Winding Cisticola Cisticola galactotes
The only cisticola identified to species. Singles seen in a lot of suitable habitat but very few were calling and none in song. (AS, CA, CC, SE)

Tawny-flanked Prinia Prinia subflava
Seen in similar habitats to previous species. (AS, CC, SE)

Grey-backed Cameroptera Camaroptera brachyura
Several seen, usually in relatively dense vegetation. (AS)

Black-headed Apalis Apalis melanocephala
Arboreal. Several seen on both visits to Arabuko Sokoke. (AS)

Little Yellow Flycatcher Erythrocercus holochlorus
Several seen in Arabuko Sokoke. (AS)

Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher Trochocercus cyanomelas
Several. (AS)

African Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis
Fairly common. (AS, CC)

Black-headed Batis Batis minor
A pair seen in Tsavo East. (SE)

Forest Batis Batis mixta
Several seen in mixed forest. (AS)

Pale Batis Batis soror
Several seen in Brachystegia forest. (AS)

White-crested Helmet-shrike Prionops plumatus
Several groups seen. (AC, TE)

Retz’s Helmet-shrike Prionops retzii
Several parties seen. (AS)

Chestnut-fronted Helmet-shrike Prionops scopifrons
Several groups of up to 20 seen. (AS)

Northern White-crowned Shrike Eurocephalus rueppelli
Several (AC, TE)

Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor
Singles on a number of occasions. (TE)

Long-tailed Fiscal Lanius cabanisi
Good views of a couple of birds. (CA, SE)

Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra senegala
One. (CC)

Rosy-patched Bush-shrike Rhodophoneus cruentus
Several flew across the track on the way to Tsavo. (AC)

Tropical Boubou Laniarius aethiopicus
Frequently heard but good views difficult to obtain. (AS)

Black-backed Puffback Dryoscopus cubla
Several. (AS, CA, CC)

Eastern Nicator Nicator gularis
Several around the margins of Arabuko Sokoke. (AS)

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Eastern Nicator – Arabuko Sokoke

Common Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis
Seen in a wide variety of habitats. (AS, CA, CC, MC, SE, TE)

Black-headed Oriole Oriolus larvatus
Fairly common, mainly in Brachystegia forest (AS, CA)

African Golden Oriole Oriolus auratus
Several seen, (AS, CC)

House Crow Corvus splendens
Widespread. (CA, CC, MC, SE)

Pied Crow Corvus albus
Widespread but less common than previous species. (CA, CC, MC, SE)

Black-bellied Starling Lamprotornis corruscus
Groups seen on several occasions. (AS, CC)

Shelley’s Starling Lamprotornis shelleyi
Several. (TE)

Superb Starling Lamprotornis superbus
The commonest starling in Tsavo. (TE)

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Superb Starling – Tsavo East

Golden-Breasted Starling Cosmopsarus regius
A few seen in flight. (AC, SE)

Violet-backed Starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster
Two. (CC)

Fischer’s Starling Spreo fischeri
Second most common starling in Tsavo. (TE)

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Fischer’s Starling – Tsavo East

Yellow-billed Oxpecker Buphagus africanus
A few seen in association with buffalo. (TE)

Plain-backed Sunbird Anthreptes reichenowi
Several. (AS)

Amani Sunbird Anthreptes pallidigaster
About half a dozen seen in two visits. (AS)

Collared Sunbird Anthreptes collaris
Several. (AS)

Olive Sunbird Nectarinia olivacea
Two or three. (AS, CC)

Scarlet-chested Sunbird Nectarinia senegalensis
Two. (TE)

Hunter’s Sunbird Nectarinia hunter
One male (TE)

Purple-banded Sunbird Nectarinia bifasciata
Fairly common in suitable habitat. (CC, TE)

Grey-headed Sparrow Passer griseus
Seen on several occasions in villages and cultivated areas. (CA)

Somali Sparrow Passer castanopterus
One male, feeding alongside a male house sparrow, was seen during a brief stop at the last shop/café before the Sala Gate. The chestnut brown crown and nape immediately distinguished the bird from the adjacent Indicus subspecies of house sparrow. Rufous wing coverts, white cheeks and duller underparts were also noted. We were not aware of the possible identity of the bird or of the significance of this sighting until we checked the fieldguide several days later. If accepted, this record would be well to the south of the species documented range. Unfortunately, as this was essentially a toilet break, our cameras were locked in the car at the time.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Small numbers seen around coastal villages, Sala Gate and Voi Wildlife Lodge. (CA,TE)

White-headed Buffalo-weaver Dinemellia dinemelli
Good numbers in Tsavo. (TE)

Red-billed Buffalo-weaver Bubalornis niger
Seen at Sabaki and regularly in Tsavo. (SE, TE)

White-browed Sparrow-weaver Plocepasser mahali
Frequently seen in Tsavo and at Voi. (TE, VO)

Grosbeak Weaver Amblyospiza albifrons
A couple in mixed flocks of finches and weavers. CA, CC)

African Golden Weaver Ploceus subaureus
Several pairs breeding and roosting at the hotel together with the next species. (CA, SE)

Golden Palm Weaver Ploceus bojeri
A colony of 30+ pairs breeding at the hotel. (CA, WB)

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Golden Palm Weaver – Watamu

Lesser Masked Weaver Ploceus intermedius
Two roosting at the hotel with the previous species. (CA)

Black-headed Weaver Ploceus cucullatus
Several flocks. (CC)

Clarke’s Weaver Ploceus golandi
Seen on both visits to Arabuko Sokoke and about 40 seen flying to roost during the hunt for Sokoke Scops Owl.

Dark-backed Weaver Ploceus bicolor
Frequently seen in Arabuko Sokoke. Looking surprisingly like black-headed oriole at first glance. (AS)

Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea
Seen in most suitable habitat. (CA, CC, SE, TE)

Black-winged Red Bishop Euplectes hordeaceus
One. (CC)

Zanzibar Red Bishop Euplectes nigroventris
One. (CC)

Green-backed Twinspot Mandingoa nitidula
One seen in mixed forest. (AS)

Peter’s Twinspot Hypargos niveoguttatus
Several pairs seen alongside tracks in Arabuko Sokoke. (AS)

African Firefinch Lagonosticta rubricata
Several seen in mixed flocks. (CC, SE)

Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu Uraeginthus bengalus
Several seen in mixed flocks. (CC, SE)

Bronze Mannikin Lonchura cucullata
One at margins of Arabuko Sokoke. (AS)

Black-and-white Mannikin Lonchura bicolor
One at Lake Chem Chem. (CC)

Village Indigobird Vidua chalybeate
Seen in cultivated areas and at Lake Chem Chem. (CA, CC)

Yellow-fronted Canary Serinus mozambicus
Singles seen on two occasions. (AS, CC)

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