By Will Knocker:
Early morning at Mokoyeti picnic site…
The King is looking to have either baboons OT tourists for breakfast…
The Queen on the lookout…
Do not mess…..
Seen it all before…..
By Will Knocker:
Apologies for paucity of updates recently, but am now back in the saddle…
The Park is looking amazing this year after record rains in April May & June.
Yesterday I took a turn around the Park & this is what I found:
Dawn in the Park is always the best time for me…
I found 3 lions: 2 lionesses & a male asleep after the night’s activity asleep at the bottom of the Sosian valley
A Browse rhino in it’s natural habitat..
And a separate bull at closer quarters…
A cow hippo at Athi dam (notice her calf in the water.)
Sadly she is grazing on the dreaded Parthenium weed which is taking over the area…& Nairobi.
Athi Dam: my favourite place….
A ‘tirikoko’ (Maa): a Yellow-bellied sandgrouse
There are hundreds, if not thousands of impala in the Park.
Gazelles, without any space to wander outside the Park, are also increasing in number..
Kongoni (a species in steep decline elsewhere owing to competition with cattle: this is a species evolved to living in long-grass environments) are increasing in numbers in NNP.
Amazingly well-adapted & intelligent Plains zebras are now in the Park in their thousands.
They DO go out of the Park, but it is increasingly dangerous owing to the Bushmeat trade.
Better to stay in the Park in spite of the danger from lions…
It is mating season for Masai ostriches, of which there are masses in the Park: we hope for plenty of chicks in September/October…
The Ngong Hills from the Park: this is Big Sky country..
Plenty of grazers in the ocean of grass this year: outside in the pockets of ‘dispersal area’, once super-productiver rangelands like these have been converted into a Man-made desert….
At Eland Hollow, I came across 3 lionesses & 5 large cubs watching the lines of zebra filing into drink…
Learning to watch………and wait…..
Nairobi Before & After….
At lease there is some competition for the skyscrapers!
NNP remains an amazing & precious & incomparable wildlife area,
full of Nature’s marvellous evolved bounty.
By Will Knocker:
Early morning impala…
White (or Grass) rhinos are doing well in the Park: they were introduced from Nakuru NP
Native Black (or Browse) rhinos in their element…
There are 40+ lions in NNP, amongst which are at least 6 adult males, all of them brothers…
Could this be a Green-winged Pytilia?
Four Black-backed jackals on the remains of a lion-kill in the Athi Basin…
Spot the difference between a Tommy & Grantis…..
There have never been so many bufffaloes in the ParK; helping to naturally manage the grasslands….
The Park is a veritable ocean of long grass interspersed with wild flowers: absolutely beautiful…..
By Will Knocker:
I was woken up by this Variable Sunbird (male of course) fighting with himself in my bedroom window…..
And at Main Gate, my guest Jess & I got caught up in the early morning circus: 2 male lions rubbing themselves in a buffalo pat!
The 2 males: looking thin: c’mon guys, you are supposed to be Super Predators & the Park is full of Prey!
A Blacksmith plover….
Kanga……Guinea-fowl have done well this year, with many grown chicks evident….
Chandler’s Mountain reedbuck in the Sosian valley….
A Yellowneck spurfowl with a runny beak….
And 2 African spoonbills………spoooning…….
Athi Dam megacroc getting some dirty looks…..
Lone bushbuck……(called Abu Naba in Arabic…any Arabic speakers out there?)
As Jess said “wall-to-wall” zebras in the Athi Basin, where wildlike is concentrated at present….
Upupa epops, the African hoopoe…what a lovely bird!
And to end a splendid day in the incomparable NNP: a monitor lizard at Nangolomon Dam (it should be Narok Omom): “Black Head” in Maa, referring to the Langata forest…..
Story & pics by WILL KNOCKER:
On wednesday this week, Ed & Jeremy Hildebrand & I spent all day in the Park in superb weather & saw the best that the constantly surprising NNP has to offer….. first, these rhinos, note the bull on the right marking his territory with a horizontal blast of pee…
Early morning along the Empakasi was like a Vision of Eden…..
Then we came across this nursey herd of eland (calves suckle from any lactating female they find, an adaption to the nomadic way of life of these antelopes, who are constantly on the move.) NNP contains one of the most significant herds of eland in Kenya & the population is rising…
We definitely had a rhino day: we saw several unusual herds of Black (Browse) rhinos at close quarters….
We stopped for coffee at the Athi Dam, where zebra were watering & this kongoni posed for us. The kongoni population in NNP is exploding, bucking the trend in the rest of Kenya, where this sp. is in steep decline..
A spiral of large raptors brought us to this dramatic site: a kill…..
Ant the perpetrator, a stuffed lioness….
A pair of jackals tried to drive off the estimated 80 vultures gathered for the feast: an eland….but were ignored…..
But all soon moved off at the ‘owner’ returned to protect her kill….
There was masses of ‘plains game’ in the Athi Basin & on the top plains, where we found these zebra twins….
The Rains have not been good so far & so most biomass is in the park owing to overgrazing in the rangelands where they usually go at this time of year. The return of both Gran’ts & Thomson’s gazelles to the Park after many years of a ‘long grass’ regime is heartening. But where are the cheetah?
Ostriches under a big blue sky….
Proved to be a group with an adolescent chick: the last survivor (there is very heavy mortality amongst young ostriches…)
Then clever Ed spotted no less than six Black backed jackals: a pair of adults & four grown up cubs: great news for these little canids, which are not common in NNP…..
A bull Grass (White) rhino…..was this the individual translocated from the Mara after all his companions were killed?
As usual the Park was A1 for birds……this is a Superb starling, though we also saw the aptly named Hildebrandt’s……
And yet another bull rhino……
This was all BEFORE lunch, when we returned to Silole Cottage, where these piggies were enjoying a cooling wallow.
In the afternoon, yet more (Browse) rhinos…..
And in the Langata forest, Jeremy spotted this pair of magnificent Bateleurs, the only pair in the Park!!
And on our way home, in the distance, a new baby rhino…we couldn’t make out which type….
What a day! What a Park!
By Will Knocker:
Yesterday I found these two magnificent male lions not far from home….looking intently into the distance & roaring softly to themselves:they were agitated…..
Soon they trotted off through the grass…..
Where THIS male was awaiting them….
And his young buddy (Micheal Mbithi please ID)…….
Males mark territory……
And wait for the Opposition….
The cause of the Rumpus: a female on heat….
But she is otherwise engaged….
With the Current Lion king (dig the mohawk!)
By Will Knocker:
After months of greenery & long grass, the Park has turned tawny & the migratory herds are back: eland do not go far: across the Empakasi into the Sheep & Goat land. This is one of Kenya’s significant populations..
The NNP kongoni (Coke’s hartebeest) population is a conundrum: it used to consist of 2 populations, resident & migratory. As the migratory population has been confined to the Park (the remaining dispersal area is short grass plain-unsuitable for this sp. which is adapted to long grass areas) the population has shot up, in spite of record numbers of lions, for whom kongoni are a favourite prey sp. …
The Plains zebra are back! In a year of good rain such as this, our population of up to 4000 roam as far as they can in the remaining dispersal areas. However it seems that even these remarkably adaptive creatures, able to deal with the suburban conditions (fences, people, dogs) outside the park have had to overcome their fears about lions & have come back in small family groups & some bigger migratory mobs consisting of hundreds of animals…the lions will be happy!
Up until the turn of the century, such sights would have included thousands of wildebeeste, but alas the last few hundred like the short grass plain of the Sheep & Goat land & only venture into the park if pressed by drought conditions….
NNP remains the last pristine corner of the Athi Kapiti Ecosystem, now a truncated shadow of what it once was. It is so encouraging to see the herds of migratory species come back to the park safe & sound after the Rains…..
ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT SEQUENCE OF PICS BY DAVE MCKELVIE: