September 2021

Guiding along the Mara River and Lamai Triangle

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Guiding along the Mara River and Lamai Triangle

Grant Telfer
By Grant Telfer
Field Guide

Its a story that takes a year to complete and this month’s chapter is tremendously exciting as the grass is green and thousands of wildebeest have synced their arrival to graze here. Predators have plenty of food, the sky is blue and decorated with hundreds of vultures soaring above. Hyenas, boasting extraordinary survival rates, are found all over the Kenyangaga drainage with cubs of various ages. Overall, about 200+ hyenas were spotted around this area in Lamai.

Through the eyes of a Singita guide, the Lamai area is unique with extraordinary animal sightings and birding. September is an incredible time for birding. In this month we have recorded 120 species, including grey crowned crane. As far as indicators of the health of a wetland ecosystem go, this is a huge victory. In 2012 the grey crowned crane was listed as an endangered species, due to the loss of its natural habitat.

Black-billed barbet (Lybius guifsobalito). Photo by Paulo Kivuyo

Further to this, crowned lapwing on a nest, and the black-billed barbet are not easy birds to find. There are only 29 records in Tanzania according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s app, eBird. There are only 4 of these recorded with a reputable photo. We came across this bird about 500 metres west of Mara River Tented Camp, on a hillside with scattered bush. This gave us hope of the health status of birds in the Lamai Triangle.

Migration began in early September. The camp was filled with thousands of migratory animals, and a lot of crossings happening from Crossing Point Number 0, to Crossing Point Number 4. Both upstream from camp, and sometimes happening just in front of the camp! It was a real thrill for our guests. Tent number 1 and 6 saw wildebeest and zebras together crossing due to the rains. Later in the month, herds had moved to the eastern side, so we saw a lot of crossings happening at Crossing Points Number 6, 7 and 8. Towards the end of the month crossings shifted east towards Kogatende and further towards the Sand River.