Soysambu proved to be a true introduction to the real Kenya. For four nights in Naivasha, Iker and Iratxe were treated to a comfortable bed in a sturdy cottage, and great food at a local restaurant. In Soysambu, they would be camping in a tent, in the middle of nowhere at Simon Thomsett’s (our friendly raptor rehabber) campsite. Leopards have been known to walk through the campsite, which is also home to a herd of 70 buffalos!
Soysambu: Raptors Up-Close
The purpose of going to Soysambu was to get some hands-on raptor experience by trapping and banding a few of them. First up was a sub-adult Augur Buzzard, trapped neatly, seconds after we lay down the trap. This was a young bird, moulting into its first adult plumage. Iratxe was given the honour of releasing the bird, which flew off before Iratxe was ready. But in fine feather nevertheless, and with a gleaming new band from which we can identify it when we see it again.
The next bird was special: a Black-chested Snake-Eagle. This took some waiting. This species is used to eating snakes whole, so our mice posed little interest, and he took some time coming down to the trap. It was worth it though, as up close one gets a true sense of this bird’s beauty. Big, bright yellow eyes, and spotlessly clean feathers. I pointed out the difference between this guy’s feet and those of the Augur Buzzard. The Buzzard feeds on rodents, so has relatively weak feet with long talons. The snake-eagle’s feet, however, have thick toes and strong talons, and are covered with thick scales. These scales protect it from any snake it catches that might try to retaliate.
The next morning we ran into some technical troubles along the road – just part and parcel of a driving safari around Kenya. Not long afterwards, the problem was solved and we were on our way back to Naivasha. From there we carry on to our next stop… the Maasai Mara.