Excursion to Ondiri

I value my sleep. And if you’re anything like me, you do too. Don’t get me wrong-I’m not lazy. I respect bed time and any interruption to this might earn you a bad slot in my book. Sleep is very important for well-being. Somebody even said: “Sleeping is nice. You forget about everything for a while”.

Before you doze off, this post isn’t about sleep! One of my good friends Kiringo convinced me to let go of snooze time one Saturday morning this January. Few things can get me to do so, one of them being photography (obviously). Especially when it’s a nature shoot. Kiringo had suggested a bird walk in Ondiri Swamp area next to home. Photography+ birds + natural environment setting= pure bliss! So I agreed.

Butterfly on ground.
Butterflies came out to enjoy the sun too.

Butterfly in grass.

The day itself was quite sunny (thank goodness) which set the mood for the walk. My friend kept me waiting at the meetup point for longer than expected. The delightful sun started to scorch as the minutes passed. This was soon behind us though as we began the walk and he helped me identify birds by their calls (songs).

Swallow on power line.
I’m so high!

In about half an hour we arrived at the swamp. I was nearly swallowed by the thick plant growth that lined the footpaths. Hairy caterpillars were also in abundance. It was a double exercise in caution holding on to tree trunks for support while also trying to avoid these prickly bugs resting there.

Hairy caterpillar on tree.
Prickly.
Reeds in swamp.
Reeds, reeds everywhere.
View of Ondiri swamp from an elevated point.
View of the swamp from an elevated point.

Kiringo pointed out to me that some bird species were absent due to pollution of the swamp. Whenever he visited he would find them, but not on this day. Sad. As human beings we sometimes don’t think about the big picture of the effects of our actions. That’s why I believe photography is a powerful tool that aids us in seeing just that.

Polluted swamp.
Not a bird in sight. This section was popular with wading birds.

Some birds still granted us an audience though. The elusive Cisticolas (Various species) preferred to sing while hidden in the foliage. We managed to spot a Crane at a distance. This is where I wished I had a super telephoto lens, for optimum zoom!

Male crane preening his feathers.
Can you see him? A crane preening his feathers.

At some point we had to go across the swamp to explore a different section. It was quite the scary walk, balancing gingerly on wooden poles floating on the surface. My pal K didn’t make it any easier by saying the water goes 6 metres deep! One wrong move there and you’re toast. I don’t even know how to swim. Much less in a swamp. By the way is it possible to swim in a swamp? Scientists help me out here.

Swamp expanse
We had to walk across THAT. Yikes.
Warbler nest in reeds.
So much beauty awaited on the other side, including this Warbler’s nest built among reeds.

Once on the other side we managed to spot Weavers, Olive thrush, Yellow-billed ducks, African paradise flycatchers, Speckled mousebirds, Red-collared widowbirds, and the elusive Black crake. And oh, the Cape Robin-chat too! I’m not that knowledgeable about birds by the way. My friend K helped me to identify them by name. I’d seen some of them often but didn’t know the species. Asante sana K.

African paradise flycatcher couple
Male and female African paradise flycatchers.
Baglafecht weaver in tree.
Baglafecht weaver attempting a somersault…nah, just preening.
Cape Robin-chat.
Cape Robin-chat.
IMG_2258
Olive thrush.

As we headed home a few hours later, I was positively tired and hungry. There was one more thing I wanted to try though. Making portraits at a boulevard close by. K was a good sport and agreed to be my model for a few minutes.

Friend close up portrait.
My friend K.

You should have seen the look on his face when I showed him the pictures. Absolutely mind-blown! Not even the curious stares of passers-by could deter us. But a dead battery did! I had used up all the charge on the bird walk. Reluctantly I packed up my gear and that was it for the day.

Yoga pose photo
Keep calm and…

Upon arriving home I duly satisfied my hunger then went on to nap. I was quite surprised when I woke up 1.5 hours later given that my naps rarely exceed 45 minutes. The walk had worn me out but it was well worth it!

Mousebird cluster in tree.
Speckled mousebirds doing what they do best- clustering.
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