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pleasant surprises

Despite having a long weekend at our disposal, we did not venture far from the leafy confines of Mount Gahinga lodge, where we spent our New Year’s holiday. Even so, the visit was at once relaxing and quite memorable.

cape-robin-chat

At first blush, D was somewhat skeptical of the birding opportunities at Mount Gahinga. It’s not that there were few birds – far from it. It’s just that the dense foliage that surrounds the lodge did not make for an easy photographic setting. Initially, all the birds that presented themselves were ones we had already seen and photographed at length. However, with a little persistence we were able not just to get some good shots but also track down at least ten species that were new to us.

sunbird-hunting-beetle

After rain cut short our initial attempt to take a walk through the village, we decided to wander around the small strand of forest that surrounds the lodge once the skies cleared. This attempt likewise proved ill fated. We did not take a guide with us and regretted it immediately – not because the path was hard to follow but rather because within minutes of setting foot on the trail outside the lodge’s property we were mobbed by several dozen children.

olive-thrush

S carried Munchkin on her back and the local kids swarmed around her, emulating Munchkin’s pleas for a snack in exasperatingly high-pitched voices. They only spoke a few words of English, but given our previous experiences, it seemed unlikely that they would heed our call to leave us be, so we cut our afternoon hike short and returned to the lodge.

red-billed-firefinch

D fared better on his solitary excursions into the woods the following day. He still received a smattering of catcalls from local children – the usual cries of “Mzungu!” interspersed with brazen calls of “Give me money!” – but by and large, the kids left D alone when he paid them no mind. Of the ten new (to us) species we’ve included below, the yellow bishop D spotted at the end of one of his solitary walks was the most remarkable.

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