Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Biodiversity in the Forest, Bush Babies in the Kitchen & Bush Pigs at the Bar!

It was only a matter of days after the arrival of our expedition members, before we were back in Shimoni's coastal forest and underway with our research programme. The beginning of 2009 did not disappoint... within just the first week it felt like we'd seen an expedition's worth of biodiversity. Heading out at 5.30am on bird surveys was made more than worthwhile with groups of colobus seemingly in every tree above. With the onset of the dry season, the leaves are falling and we were treated to clear views of colobus crashing through the branches and Syke's monkeys scampering below.

The bird surveys delivered a hatrick of hornbills - crowned, silvery-cheeked and trumpeter. Elephant shrews were in evidence every day, hurtling over the leaf litter as were the small suni antelope. The night walk provided everyone with a clear view of a suni as it stood in our torchlight for a minute before disappearing in to the bush and bush babies too, their bright orange reflective eyes giving them away. However the most exciting 'cameo' of the week was a little chap that we hadn't recorded since our first sighting nearly three years ago... an impressively cryptic species in the dry leaf litter, it seems remarkable that we should see it at all, and very satisfying to have a short-tailed (or bearded) pygmy chameleon make a reappearance on our casual observations database.

However, it seems that we didn't need to go to all the effort of 5.30am departures and hot sweaty treks to the furthest reaches of our transects to enjoy Shimoni's rich wildlife... we didn't even need to leave the kitchen. Having quietly cursed rats for leaving half chewed bananas on the kitchen floor, I was proven wrong when two brown bundles of fur climbed through the window. The short-eared bush babies have returned every night since, and I can happily report that mangoes make for a suitable alternative to bananas for our uninvited dinner guests. And just when we thought our forest week was over, and we could relax with a cold beer at Smugglers, the biggest surprise of them all dropped by... a bush pig behind the bar!