Monday, January 6, 2014

More Mpala

Doctor’s Blog, Mpala date 1-4/5-14.

Another day, another game ride. It’s hard to believe that one can become blasé about seeing African wildlife in their native habitat, yet, we already do not stop to photograph Grant’s gazelles or impala’s, not to mention the omnipresent dik-diks.
Chuck and Lou-Ann arrived yesterday afternoon as did Iain, Dan and Nancy, Dan’s Tropical Ecology course students, as well as Nick and Katelin from the UAV crew. Sai, the head of the UAV crew wasn’t able to arrive due to a visa SNAFU.
While Dan and the students settled in, we took Chuck and Lou-Ann along with us (“us” being Tanya, Eva, and I) on a quick game ride, so that we could see elephants (we just saw a single elephant the day before, and were interested in seeing and photographing a herd). We left at about 2 PM, thinking that we would be back by 3. Four hours and 15 species of wildlife later, we finally got to see the elusive elephants of Mpala.
We got back to the Ranch, had dinner with enough guests to justify the giant dinner table in the Ranch’s dining room, and retired for the night.
This morning, after breakfast and some shop talk, Tanya, Eva, and I tagged along after Dan and Iain’s course’s first game ride. While Chuck and Lou-Ann drove with the course, Tanya, Eva, and I followed with Jackson, driver and wildlife spotter extraordinaire. We watched wildlife, listened in on Dan introducing his students to Mpala, and ingested a decent amount of Mpala (the fate of the last open car in a convoy). This time we saw elephants galore, as well as a number of herds of plains zebras, some ostriches, impalas, Grant’s gazelles, giraffes (a pair were starting to fight, but broke it off when we stopped to watch, and some guineafowl (and other animals).
Our list of species observed:
  1. Rock Mouse
  2. Grass Rat
  3. Ochre Bush Squirrel
  4. Unstriped Ground Squirrel
  5. Scrub hare
  6. Bats
  7. Black-backed Jackal
  8. Hippopotamus
  9. Giraffe
  10. Grant's Gazelle
  11. Thomson's Gazelle
  12. Impala
  13. Hartebeest
  14. Dikdik
  15. Greater Kudu
  16. Oryx
  17. Plains Zebra
  18. Grevy's Zebra
  19. Bush Hyrax
  20. Elephant
  21. Olive Baboon
  22. Vervet Monkey
  23. Red-headed rock agama
  24. Striped skink
  25. Ostrich
  26. Vulturine Guineafowl
  27. Yellow-necked Spurfowl
  28. Crested Francolin
  29. Egyptian Goose
  30. Black-headed heron
  31. Black-Shouldered kite
  32. Blacksmith Lapwing
  33. White-bellied Go-away Bird
  34. Lilac-breasted Roller
  35. Von der Decken's Hornbill
  36. Fischer's Sparrow-Lark
  37. Common bulbul
  38. Superb Starling
  39. Greater Blue-eared Starling
  40. Spotted Palm Thrush
  41. Scarlet-chested Sunbird
  42. Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird
  43. Marico sunbird
  44. White-browed Sparrow-Weaver
As you can see, I am in some sort of sensory overload daze, with which I cope by making lists.
Anyway, Meg and her (and Tanya’s) postdoc Damien arrived in the afternoon, as did Marco and Clara, so the crowd is here (except Sai). Back to the Ranch house for yet another wonderful dinner from the kitchen of our wondrous chef, Githai. Githai is also an amazing gardener, and most of the vegetables and herbs that we eat are from his garden.

What can I say? Field work is tough, but somebody need to make the sacrifice for the sake of our planet.

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