Birding Without Borders

Day 221: The Taita Hills

A morning in Kenya's wet forest.

August 9, 2015: Kilifi, Kenya — The isolated Taita Hills, in southeast Kenya near the Tanzania border, hold three birds found nowhere else: The Taita Thrush, Taita Apalis, and Taita White-eye. Only the thrush is currently recognized as a full species (the others are distinctive subspecies which may someday be elevated to proper species rank), but it was worth a couple of hours today to try for this trio among other interesting birds.

The hills are accessed by a winding dirt road; we started the day in dry forest near Tsavo National Park and climbed into wet forest this morning. Joe, Alan, and I met a local guide who knew the best spots, and the four of us moved quietly around for a while. Within a couple of hours we’d tracked down the thrush, apalis, and white-eye, with a Striped Pipit and Orange Ground-Thrush tossed in for good measurenot a bad haul!

Part of the reason Kenya is so great for birding is its diverse range of habitats, and today’s route was an excellent illustration. After waking up next to Tsavo National Park’s dry savanna and spending the morning in Taita’s wet forests, we continued to the coast and finished the day with palm trees, hermit crabs, and mangroves. Tomorrow we’ll hit a coastal humid forest called Arubo Sokoke; meanwhile, I’m falling asleep to the sound of the Indian Ocean outside my window. Good night from the beach at Kilifi.

New birds today: 13

Year list: 3896

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