Monday, May 31, 2021

Forster's Tern

I saw some beautiful terns near the Salton Sea, at the wetlands off McDonald Road near Niland, and had a hard time trying to distinguish whether they were Forster's terns or common terns. I saw at least three of them, possibly more. 
I found a good article that provides ways to distinguish the two. A breeding Forster's tern (as opposed to the common tern) has a full black cap, pure white underparts (as opposed to light gray underparts), long tail streamers that project beyond the wingtips (common's do not), an orange to red based bill (the Forster's is stouter, more orange and more black on the outer end), and primaries that are silver white above and with no dark markings (outer primaries are somewhat grayer bordered by a dark streak or wedge that cuts across the wing at about mid-primaries). At close range the tail streamers are dark on the inner web, white on the outer web, and the tail is pale gray (as opposed to white). There is a white rump between the pale gray back and tail. The legs of the Forster's are notably longer. Based on the foregoing, I believe what I saw were Forster's terns. 
The tail streamers go beyond the primaries by a little bit. 

It has white underparts. 

The bill is orange and has quite a bit of black on the end. 

Pale silvery gray to white primaries. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Lake Nakuru National Park - Kenya

Lake Nakuru is at an elevation of 5,755 feet and is located in the Rift Valley 100 miles northwest of Nairobi. Lake Nakuru National Park consists of 73 square miles and includes the lake and land around the lake. There is an additional 116 square miles around the lake that is fenced off as a protection for both black and white rhinos to protect them from poaching. 

We visited in May 2014, after a long drive from our stay at the Sarova Shaba Lodge in Shaba National Reserve, a 190 mile drive which took about five and three-quarters hours. We checked into the Sarova Lion Hill Lodge inside Nakuru NP, then went out for a late afternoon game drive which was shorter than the game drives we'd had at Buffalo Springs. 

We saw our first lions, but none of our photos were worth saving. The following are photos of wildlife taken from our game drive:

I'm not sure if this is a common or ellipsen waterbuck or a defassa waterbuck (on iNaturalist I got conflicting opinions). 

Defassa waterbuck

Cape buffalo

Cape buffalo with Thomson's gazelles.

Rothschild giraffe

Southern white rhino

With cattle egrets.

Olive baboon

Grant's zebra


Helmeted guineafowl

Yellow-billed oxpecker

Red-billed oxpecker

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Shaba National Reserve - Kenya

Shaba National Reserve ("Shaba") is east of Buffalo Springs and Samburu National Reserves in northern Kenya. 21 miles of the northern boundary of Shaba is the Ewaso Ngiro River, which is also the boundary between Buffalo Springs and Samburu. We spent two nights in the Sarova Shaba Lodge which is in Shaba right next to the Ewaso Ngiro River, but separated by a chain-link fence. While we had two safaris in Buffalo Springs (afternoon and morning), we had only one partial safari in Shaba (part of an afternoon). Much of the wildlife we saw in Shaba was on the grounds of our hotel. 

The following photos are of wildlife we saw in Shaba:
This Nile monitor was seen by a member of our group in Buffalo Springs, but I saw one on the grounds of Sarova Shaba right outside our room, although it was quite a bit smaller. 

This Nile crocodile is along the Ewaso Ngiro River just off the Sarova Shaba grounds, separated by a fence. Black and white sacred ibis are along the river edge and a hamerkop is standing on a log in the river. 

Closer look at the sacred ibis.

Closer views of the hamerkop.

Superb starling on the grounds of the Sharova Shaba.

Hadada ibis, on the grounds of the Sarova Shaba.

Vervet monkeys on the grounds of the Sarova Shaba.


Buff-crested bustard

Augur buzzard

Olive baboon