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Birds of Soysambu

13 Aug 2012 Beauty contest 3

Here are some serious candidates for the beauty contest, the crowned cranes, but what is this spoonbill doing here!

12 Aug 2012 Beauty contest 2

I was hoping that after a bath it would look better, but frankly, I am disappointed!

11 Aug 2012 More storks

At least this pair is a bit better coordinated!

11 Aug 2012 Beauty contest 1

I do not think this one will win a beauty contest! This is the African Spoonbill. It feeds on small critters in the water, moving its immersed beak from side to side.

10 Aug 2012 Storks

The landing collision between these two yellow billed storks was very unfortunate… Indeed you can see below the beak of the left one a little fish escaping. This is a kind of tilapia which manages to thrive in the salty waters of the lake. Near the hot springs at the south of the lake, these fish breed and millions of tiny ones make the dinner for birds. Unfortunately, these hot springs are outside Soysambu limits and are not protected. Many neighboring villagers come to wash their clothes in the hot springs, using strong detergents which pollute this marvelous area.

09 Aug 2012 Flamingo ballet

On the shores of the Lake, the flamingoes seem to do another ballet of their own, all of them going in one direction, then turning the other way…
Flamingoes are a real pleasure for photographers. It is difficult not to get a good shot of them. The only difficulty is to be close enough without frightening them. Lake Nakuru National Park which is bordering Soysambu, is also a fantastic place for bird watching and over there, the flamingoes are probably more used to cars and can be approached closer. Though the three photos presented here have been taken on Lake Elementaita.
The difference in size between the lesser and the greater flamingo is clear on the above photo, which shows also how both species manage to rest on one leg, hiding the other one probably under one wing (I am trying to imitate that position every morning, but without success until now!).

08 Aug 2012 Pelicans!

Pelicans have a funny way of fishing in group. The two photos below show how the group moves in concert, and suddenly, all of them put their heads under the water!

08 Aug 2012 On the Lake shores

Pelicans can travel hundreds of miles to feed themselves and their young. They take off when the sun heats the ground and creates thermals. They ride the thermals with incredible mastery and can climb to thousands of meters. Then they glide to their destination. Hundreds of them can ride the same thermal, like a huge ballet in the sky. The photo below was taken from Soysambu with a 300mm lens. Airplanes beware!

01 Aug 2012 Welcome

Dear Blog Readers (if this is the proper way to greet you!)

My name is Jean Francois Damon, with my wife Jacqueline, we live in Kenya on a private ranch, and now a wildlife conservancy, called Soysambu which belongs to an old English family, the Delamere’s.

We are almost at the equator, and at about 6000 feet, the climate is temperate all year long, if a bit cold in July. A paradise for many living things, and not only humans!

In fact the number of birds in our area is quite astonishing. Over 400 species have been registered by scientists. Not all of them stay here all year long; some come from Europe or the Middle East or from Southern Africa, others have much shorter migratory routes, and many are residents.

What I would like to share with you in this blog is the richness, the variety, the beauty of these birds, and let you perceive why we are so motivated to make sure that Soysambu Conservancy remains as pristine as it has been for centuries past.

I would like to take you through the photos that I accumulated over 5 years a bit like we do on a game drive in the Conservancy. We visit first the lake shores. Lake Elmenteita is a salty lake, sometimes covered with flamingoes, the lesser and the greater ones. On a few small islands in the lake, the pelicans are nesting. Each nest is close to the other, in a solid cacophony that can be heard from the shores. Plenty of other birds feed on the lake shores, teals and cranes and plovers and… the list is long!

Then we visit the plains and the bushes and acacia forest of this large property (20 000 hectares), where one can see many different types of eagles, but also a series of unusual birds, very shy and unassuming, with the discrete beauty of an old master drawing.

At the end of the day we go back to the lodge, relax on the bungalow’s terrace, a glass of wine in one hand, the camera in the other (difficult!) and we look at the sun birds with striking colors, tiny beauties like the cordons bleus, and quite a few other birds attracted to our hill by the flowers, the water and a few bird seeds.

But in the morning, you must wake up with the sun and the song of hundreds of birds, because it is when the light is right for your best photo!