Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Kenya #6 - Hell's Gate

Our final morning in Kenya (July 22nd) was spent in Hell's Gate NP. It is a unique park because walking there is possible, which makes birding much more enjoyable and productive. Understanding that it was our final chance to add birds to our growing trip list, we were determined to make the most out of the walk. Not sure how the boys felt about this... 

The weather wasn't great, cold and overcast and windy, but there were spots with good bird activity (eBird checklist here). Already by the gate we saw many birds, including a Greater Honeyguide, which was fun. We started walking into the massive gorge - very impressive indeed.

Perhaps the most prominent bird of the park was Abyssinian Wheatear - they were everywhere, including many youngsters. I love wheatears, even more when they are sooty-brown, and these E African endemics are especially appealing.


Two large birds were at the focus of our attention there, and were very enjoyable to watch. First up - Secretarybird. We did see several before, but this was our first close, high-quality encounter. We spent some time with a pair, walking slowly in the low vegetation, picking up grasshoppers. They are extremely comical birds, so awkward, part stork part hawk. Love them.

Down the hatch

Another mega bird was Kori Bustard. As mega as it gets. Male Kori Bustard is the heaviest flying bird in the world, and the species shows an impressive sexual dimorphism. The male we encountered was huge, quite a bull, majestically walking among larger animals - quite fantastic.

Sadly, the massive cliffs of Hell's Gate are past their glory days. Verreaux's Eagle and Lammergeier don't breed there anymore, and vulture numbers we saw were quite low. Also worth noting that the deep canyon at the end is closed to the public after the disaster in 2019. We spent some time above the canyon and actually had a nice mixed flock at the wood there, that held some cool birds, including White-bellied Tit:

That was the end of our trip. From there we drove back to Nairobi airport, picking up some final silly additions to our trip list, that stands at 314. Check our eBird trip report here.

It was an amazing trip, so much wildlife and wonderful places. This was also my first proper trip since covid, so the experience was even greater. Our team, Dan, Noam and Noam, and our guide Simon, worked very well together - thank you everyone! Simon works for CITES African Safaris - it was very fortunate to have them as our support team, especially dealing with the retrieval of my lost suitcase. 

Till the next trip - over and out! Asante sana Kenya, you were good to us!

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