Just back from a very intense nine days birding. Ploughing tracks between the red mud of Mkomazi, the damp Cisticolas of Nanja black cotton, and the dapper undescribed-drongos of a dripping forest-edge in the West Usambaa - a total of 363 bird species recorded.
On Friday morning December 15; after we managed great views of the ‘kuni’ pair of the now near-invisible Beesley’s Larks; they are only to be found these Indian Ocean dipole days by following-up on their shorebird-like “kreek-kreek-kreek” through the knee-high waving grasses; at ten forty a typical adult Short-toed Eagle (very probably a male) came-in low southward from Kenya (and heaven knows where else), swirling round, hovering twice, clearly hunting en route, over the driest area remaining – the acacia commiphora grazed mosaic along the northern fringe of the Angyata Osugat and over the Sinya track.
Typical is - one with a complete soft brownish grey ‘shawl’ and grey-streaked white lower throat, grey-brown covert bar contrasting with darker brown flight feathers of the upper wing, with blackish stippled lines on the underwing coverts and well barred flight feathers, and a white breast very lightly marked with crisp dark brown crescent rows, the belly and undertail coverts appeared an almost immaculate white.
My client - the illustrious ‘Greater Baltic’ conservationist Tommy Ek - managed to fire-off three pretty good, yet distant, pictures of the bird’s underside as it began drifting away toward West Kilimanjaro-Ngare Nanyuki; and then I dropped to kiss the warm yellow earth in euphoric prostration.